Sunday, 8 May 2016

Stanley Spencer: Visionary Painter of the Natural World

Stanley Spencer was a rather good landscape artist.

I must get to the Stanley Spencer Gallery at Cookham. Here's the description of the current exhibition

Stanley Spencer: Visionary Painter of the Natural World
24th March to 31st October 2016
Glorious depictions of the natural world, exploring Spencer's consummate skill in a series of exquisitely executed flower paintings, garden vistas and landscapes. Figurative and spiritual scenes amongst these wonderful paintings movingly remind us of the visionary element pervading all of Spencer's work.

Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham

Monday, 2 May 2016

Forest, Field & Sky: Art out of Nature

Tomorrow the BBC will broadcast a programme about Forest, Field & Sky: Art out of Nature on BBC4 at 9pm.

It's about artists interact with the landscape to create and make artworks.
Dr James Fox takes a journey through six different landscapes across Britain, meeting artists whose work explores our relationship to the natural world.

From Andy Goldsworthy's beautiful stone sculptures to James Turrell's extraordinary sky spaces, this is a film about art made out of nature itself.

Featuring spectacular images of landscape and art, James travels from the furthest reaches of the Scottish coast and the farmlands of Cumbria to woods of north Wales.

In each location he marvels at how artists' interactions with the landscape have created a very different kind of modern art - and make us look again at the world around us.
There are two clips which you can view to see if this is the type of art which appeals to you. It certainly appeals to me!

They are James Turrell's Skyspace at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Excerpt - Sky Space by James Turrell at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
and David Nash's Ash Dome - which exists at a secret location! This 'living sculpture' of a perfect circle and dome made from 22 ash trees was planted as saplings in 1977. Over the last 40 years it has matured to create a dome centred on an otherwise empty plot in woodland "somewhere" in Snowdonia in North Wales. (David Nash lives in Blaenau Ffestiniog)

Cornell University have come up with instructions for how you can sculpt trees to make your own living dome

This is a link to an interview Real Living Art: A Conversation with David Nash by John Grande

Where can I see art in the countryside?

In addition, an interactive map has been created showing you places where you can see art.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Wildcard entries - Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2015

You too can be a Wild Card entry to the new Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year competition! Each of the heats are going to have places for 50 Wild Card entries.

All you have to do is:

  • enter a heat as a Wild Card
  • bring your own easel, canvas and materials
  • come to one of the heats at National Trust properties around the country
  • paint one of the landscapes in front of the judges

It's first come, first served - click on one of the below links to enter as a Wild Card for your preferred Heat: You never know - you might impress the judges and win the opportunity to go through to the semi-final!

If you did you could win the prize of a £10,000 commission for the National Trust's permanent collection and become Sky Art Landscape Artist of the Year 2015.

The Wild Card is open to artists who previously applied and were unsuccessful as well as artists who didn't apply.

For full terms and conditions and to apply to become a Wild Card, pick your heat and enter via

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Art Competition: £10,000 prize for Landscape Artists

Read my blog post about the Call for Entries for the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2015 If you're interested in:
  • winning a £10,000 landscape art commission from the National Trust
  • participating in an art competition which has a number of knockout rounds prior to the final; and
  • creating landscape art on television - while Sky Arts film you for a television programme about their brand new competition to find the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2015!
Image for the Landscape Artist of the Year 2015 competition on Sky Arts

In summary you need to:
  • be aged 16+
  • resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man or Channel Islands for one year or longer on 2nd February 2015
  • be a competent landscape artist in any of the following media Watercolour, Oil Paints, Pencil, Charcoal, Pastel, Acrylic, Alkyds, Mixed Media (including collage) and "Other". Note sculpture or any form of digital media is NOT allowed
  • complete and submit and online application form by 12pm (midday) on Friday 20th March 2015 together with images of landscape art completed in the last five years
  • not mind being filmed for television while you paint!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

BBC4 Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice

Tonight, BBC4 is repeating an excellent programme Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice which explores how the onset of winter has been depicted by Western painters across the centuries. The programme will be available on BBC iPlayer shortly after it is broadcast at 7.30-9.00pm.

If  you don't live in the UK and would still like to see it, I suggest you take a peek at YouTube and view the same programme in six films of 10 minutes.

The programme comprises several commentators, many of whom are wrapped up warmly and clutching reproductions of the paintings as they revisit places the artist knew and review how similar the painting is to what's there today. I'm a complete sucker for programmes like this and I'll definitely be watching!

Tales of Winter - The Art of Snow and Ice

  • Part 1 of 6 covering the very cold winters in the 16th century - including Brueghel's painting of Hunters in the Snow - the first ever painting of a landscape under snow - with comments by Grayson Perry and Jonathan Jones and a cartoon based on it by Peter Brookes
Hondius - Frost Fair 1684
A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs (c. 1684) by Abraham Danielsz Hondius (Abraham de Hondt)
Caspar David Friedrich 002
The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich
  • Part 4 of 6 - continues with 
    • Ruskin's painting of waterfalls including "Le Cascade de la Folie, Chamonix
    • before moving on to the Impressionists' absorption with the colour of the snow effect "the illusive colour of the shadows in snow". The programme visits Vetheuil where Claude Monet lives when impoverished and where his wife became severely ill. It shows you the house he lived in when he had to choose between paint or medicine for his wife. 
    • It also include paintings of winter by the American Impressionist  painter Childe Hassam.  
    • Next it considers what is probably the first ever photograph of falling snow - "Winter, 5th Avenue" (1893) by Alfred Steiglitz and other photographs of "The Terminal", "The Flat Iron Building" and "The City of Ambitions"
  • Part 5 of 6 - focuses the contrast between rural and urban winters. Giovanni Segantini painted the Swiss mountains in all seasons including winter.  George Bellows, one of the Ashcan painters, paints the raw, bitter, cruel New York winter in The Lone Tenement and John Nash, a  Royal Academician and serving solider fighting in the Artist Rifles Batallion, paints the bitter winters of the First World War
Giovanni Segantini 002
Death (1898-99) by Giovanni Segantini (1858 – 1899)

George Bellows - The Lone Tenement (1909)
The Lone Tenement (1909) by George Bellows (1882 - 1925)

'over the Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 Art.IWMART1656
Over the Top - 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917 by John Nash

I guess my only criticism of it is it presents a curiously Western European/American view of landscape painting in winter - and misses out the very significant contributions made by the Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans, Russians and Canadians.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The view from Richmond Hill

One of the most famous views in the history of landscape painting is "The View from Richmond Hill". In the last it was liked so much that it's now the only view in the UK which is specifically protected by an Act of Parliament.

I've created a small website about it - The View from Richmond Hill - for those who want to know exactly where it is and what the view looks like - and some more about the artists associated with painting the view from the hill e.g.
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds whose home (Wick House on Richmond Hill) has this view, or 
  • JMW Turner who painted it several time or 
  • Jasper Francis Cropsey, the American landscape painter (Hudson River School) whose painting of the View of Richmond Hill recently sold at Bonhams in New York. Cropsey later produced a massive painting of the same view - some eight feet wide - based on this study (and presumably others he made at the same time).  This study is principally focused on the features of the landscape and doesn't have the figures seen in the later painting.
View of Richmond Hill - Jasper Francis Cropsey (1823-1900)
previously exhibited as Study for Richmond Hill in the Summer of 1862
oil on canvas 12 1/2 x 20 1/2in
sold 21st May 2014 for $50,000 at Bonhams
Back in 2010 I visited to see what all the fuss was about. Like many such views I've visited in the past - the trees have grown!

I found it very tricky to get a place where you got a decent view of the bend in the river without running into other problems - like trees obscuring the view.

This is my "failed" photographic view. It's a classic one - with the horizon bisecting the image! You can at least see the river and the fact it has a curve and an island and some boats on it - plus some water meadows next to it!

The view from Richmond Hill - in 2010
This local photographer has had a go at showing us what is the magic of this place in this video

I'm thinking maybe a visit in winter when there are no leaves might prove more fruitful - although it would appear this brings different challenges

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Peder Balke and Norwegian landscapes at the National Gallery

On the 12th November, a new exhibition of 50 paintings by the 19th century Norwegian artist Peder Balke (1804 - 1887) will open in the Sunley Room of the National Gallery in London. Admission is free and the exhibition will continue until 12th April 2015. Most of the paintings have never been seen before in the UK.

This exhibition continues a theme of exhibitions of landscapes by Scandinavian artists in recent times. Previous ones have included
This exhibition has been organised by the Northern Norway Art Museum, Tromsø, in collaboration with the National Gallery, London.  The paintings on display include ones from private and public collections across Europe that represent every facet of the artist’s career.

Peder Balke, The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene’, about 1845
Peder Balke, The Mountain Range ‘Trolltindene’  c.1845
Collection of Asbjørn Lunde, New York
© Photo courtesy of the owner
There's a video on YouTube of his paintings with some rather marvellous music


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