A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, E if For…

Eis for East, Alfred. I did not really have an E that sprang to mind so had to do a search and after dismissing a fwe others settled upon this gentleman.

Painting of East by Laszlo
Painting of East by Laszlo

East was born in Kettering in Northamptonshire and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. His romantic landscapes show the influence of the Barbizon school. His The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour was published in 1906. In April 1888 he had shared an exhibition at the galleries of the Fine Art Society with T.C. Gotch and W. Ayerst Ingram, and was commissioned the following year by Marcus Huish, Managing Director of the Society, to spend six months in Japan to paint the landscape and the people of the country. When the exhibition of 104 paintings from this tour was held at the Fine Art Society in 1890 it was a spectacular success.

East visited Spain after 1892 when he visited Algeciras at the southern end of Iberia.[2]

In 1906 he was elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, a position he held until his death. In that year, he published his 107-page illustrated “The Art of Landscape Painting in Oil Colour”; in its preface, he made the observation: “The greatest errors in landscape painting are to be found — contradictory as it may appear — not so much in the matter of technique as in the painter’s attitude toward Nature”. In this book he described his techniques using colours, half-tones and pencil sketches.

He was awarded a Knighthood in 1910 by King Edward VII. His portrait was painted by Philip de Laszlo. The Alfred East Art Gallery in Kettering, designed by John Alfred Gotch opened on 31 July 1913. The Alfred East Gallery is Northamptonshire’s oldest purpose-built art gallery.

East was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1899, having been a regular exhibitor since 1883 and elected to full membership in 1913.

On Sunday, 28 September 1913, Alfred East died at his London residence in Belsize Park. His body was taken back to Kettering and lay in state in the Art Gallery, where it was surrounded by the pictures he had presented to the town, and attracted crowds of several thousands.

I cheated and lifted the bio from Wikipedia simply as there is not much said there apart from a list of his accomplishments, for those outside the UK you may not know Kettering is an army town and has been for many years and I would speculate he came from a fairly well off military family but for all his travels there is something very homely about his art.

BAL14993 The Fiesta by East, Sir Alfred (1849-1913) Roy Miles Fine Paintings English, out of copyright
BAL14993 The Fiesta by East, Sir Alfred (1849-1913)
Roy Miles Fine Paintings
English, out of copyright

I chose this picture first as it struck me that on the one hand you have the feeling of an impressionist, Monet himself regularly painted figures in the garden but the back ground structure was what really made me stop and look again. I cannot be sure if it is an aqueduct or a railway bridge, certainly by this point the age of steam was in full flow, Monet and several other artists painted in the stations in Paris yet East chooses to show architecture blending into the landscape rather than jarring against it,

Many times writers go to extremes in an attempt to surprise and entertain but it is just as true for us that in integrating layers of ideas subtly you can create depth in a story and achieve the same impact  eventually but at a what could be considered a slower pace, in some ways this makes the juxtapositions of ideas more surprising than an initial jarring at seeing them side by side.View_at_Kettering

The final one reminds me again of numerous other artists but I think it also serves as a reminder that just because something is similar to other things it does not negate the quality of the work or the time spent crafting it. They say all stories can be tracked back to half a dozen themes, after that everything is just a variation. Likewise when you consider that there is every chance dozens of artists have stood in that self same spot he paint from at countless points through time, the time differences caused by his eyesight looking at that spot on that day may not be obvious without another next to it for exact comparison but just consider how very different that same painting might have felt if there had been black clouds and rain on that day.

We should all remember that often it is the slightest things that can change everything without seeming important at all.

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, D is for…

Dis for Degas, Edgar, though I confess it was a close thing between him and Dali, he was born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, {19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) and was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He was born in Paris though his family were of Creole descent from New Orleans.Edgar_Degas_(1834-1917)

He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called a realist. He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.

At the beginning of his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.

It would be very easy to write hundreds of words about his career and paintings but others can do that far more easily than me, I could talk about his bathing nudes or his series painted at the racetrack, I could discourse on his bar paintings which are similar to those of another French painter of the time, Manet but it is of course his most famous painting that I really fell in love with.1280px-Edgar_Degas_-_Ballet_Rehearsal_on_Stage_-_Google_Art_Project

The dancers! I cannot paint it is just a skill I do not possess and could not master despite trying but this artist taught me that similar effects really could be achieved in different mediums, while this dancer painting is in oil he also created beautiful works of art depicting the same dancers in pastel, he captures the excitement of the performance with the grace of their movements and yet it was not his drawings or paintings that really captured my heart.

It was this young lady… Degas_3x

The figure of a ballerina aged 14 years, now let me state I have not seen the real thing, in this case it was a smaller bronze reproduction which I saw at the Rodin Museum in Paris, but it was the whole fact that this amazing creation could not be forced into a box, it was not simply a sculpture, it was a mixture of so many things, the use of hair and material from the time that you could imagine coming from a little girl he had based it on, the fact that this was not the classic elegant ballerina but a little girl with a glimmer of attitude in her face, so was the immortalisation of a real person trapped in a moment of time. This one girl has become an iconic image, one of those few artistic creations where even the someone who knows nothing of art would recognise her, she stands alongside the Mona Lisa, and a vase of sunflowers as a legacy for her maker. And as writers, and creatives she represents that to which we all aspire, the legacy that one day years from now a complete stranger will view our work and be moved by it.

I am behind on my A-Z due to being a little off colour this week but hope to be caught up very soon so I will apologise if for a the next few days you receive to posts rather than the normal one xxxx

(I have taken some of the facts and the images from Wikipedia for speed but the thoughts on the paintings and emotions and ideas provoked are entirely mine)

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, C is for…

Cis for Cox, Robert, and maybe for con?

Does it matter who the artist is if you love a painting, surely it shouldn’t? I bought two paintings twenty years ago from a second hand market stall, I got them both for £25, bargain. But being the curious creature I am with the internet came the chance to research them and try to find the artist. The first had a dodgy signature, hard to make out but was done in a French impressionist/Monet-ish style, research uncovered it was the work of a group of artists working under a banner name to mass produce the paintings for mass market sale, I didn’t care I like it. The second was clearly marked Robert Cox, my initial attempts found nothing then I would find the odd painting on Ebay or listed as for sale with an auction house but still nothing. Then I came across a few posts like this one…

I found several paintings by this artist at a local thrift shop. I also found the biography below on several sites. I think this may be some sort of a scam or perhaps similar to the many “Burnett” paintings from Mexico. All of the paintings in the local shop bore the stamp of “Creative Interiors” and “Hecho en Mexico”. I could not find Robert Cox with the birth and death dates given below in either the Social Security Death Index or in the California Death Index. I could find no mention of a company called “Mayhew Peakes”. There is a Katherine Gibbs School, but it appears to be a 2 year college. The Art Workers Coalition was founded in New York City in 1969, seven years after Cox supposedly moved to California, and only existed until 1971. The only mention I can find for the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour (or Honor) is in this biography.


“Born on July 14th, 1934 in Mt Holly, New Jersey, he studied at the Katharine Gibbs School of Art from 1953 until 1956 before joining Mayhew Peakes Inc. as a graphic designer. Dissatisfied with his progress he resigned in 1962 and moved to California where he married Marjorie in 1966. The new Californian environment gave him unrestricted floral subjects for his painting and he painted furiously to make up for the lost time he felt he had spent in Philadelphia. It was important to him that art was available to the general public. He appreciated that most people could not afford thousands of Dollars for original works and, often to his own financial detriment, he strived to keep his sale prices low.

Although generally shy and unassuming, he was a founder member of the Art Workers Coalition and very active in promoting the rights of artists. He was awarded the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour for services to art in 1986.

One of the most prolific painters of the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Cox established a huge reputation in the United States for his almost neo-Victorian style and his early adoption of the pallet knife in creating stylised flowers. His work is represented in many American museums, galleries and private collections as well as having been frequently exported to Europe and Australia and has been auctioned at Christies, Bonhams and Cheffins.

Robert Cox died on June 18th, 2001 in Escondido, California after a long illness. His wife, Marjorie, and his daughters, Kate and Ginny, survived him.”

I found this summary on Robert Cox’s bio  here, and I have to say I pretty much agree with his assessment. The question is does it matter? $_57

So this first painting I found on Ebay just for comparison purposes ‘Pink Roses in a Brown Vase’ the paintings are all floral arrangements and one could take that as evidence of the ‘scam’ in itself, after all surely a painter would paint other things not just sit day after day painting the same things, secondly the sheer volume of paintings out there suggests one man could not be responsible for them all.

I found around fifty just on the UK Ebay site ranging in price from £45 to £300 buy it now, the frames range from plain brown to highly ornate gold frames, personally I think mine had been in a more ornate frame and that the frame was taken to be used for something else and it was re-framed in a plain one just because the framing is not done very well and is not as well centred as many others seem to be. This is my painting…

Blue flowers Oil on Canvas by Robert Cox
Blue flowers Oil on Canvas by Robert Cox

The fact is it does not matter if a painting or a book is created for mass enjoyment rather than for a small group of academics to enjoy, what matter is that the individual finds pleasure in it, when I saw it along with the other painting at the second hand market I was not thinking I wonder what this would be worth, I saw it and thought I want that, I love it. Of course I worry a group of what could be incredibly talented painters are locked in a room somewhere being forced to paint vases of flowers from morning till night but is it any different to those who work in ceramic factories hand painting designs over and over again, maybe doing this during the day covers the bills so they can paint stunning sunsets for their own pleasure or under their own name.

The going rate for both the paintings I bought for £25 for the pair is £200 based on the size and subject/colour would I ever sell them nope not if you offered me double that amount, they were bought for the pleasure looking at them gives me and an authors name does not change that.

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, B is for…

Bis for Bell, Vanessa (née Stephen; 30 May 1879 – 7 April 1961).

Vanessa Stephen was the eldest daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Duckworth (1846–1895) for many of us she has been overshadowed by her sister Virginia. There were also brothers Thoby (1880–1906) and Adrian (1883–1948), and half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, and they grew up in Westminster, London. She was educated at home in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons, she attended Sir Arthur Cope’s art school in 1896, and then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901. 2-vanessa-bell-7

In later life she alleged that during her childhood she had been sexually molested by her half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth, though of course one can only speculate not only if this was true but if it was whether she was the only sister effected and if that had repercussions later in their lives.

After the deaths of her mother in 1895 and her father in 1904, Vanessa moved to Bloomsbury with Virginia and brothers Thoby and Adrian, where they met and began socialising with the artists, writers and intellectuals who would come to form the Bloomsbury Group.

She married Clive Bell in 1907 and they had two sons. The couple had an open marriage, both taking lovers throughout their lives. Bell had affairs with art critic Roger Fry and with the painter Duncan Grant with whom she had a daughter, Angelica in 1918, whom Clive Bell raised as his own child

Vanessa, Clive, Duncan Grant and Duncan’s lover David Garnett moved to the Sussex countryside shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, and settled at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle, East Sussex, where she and Grant painted and worked on commissions for the Omega Workshops established by Roger Fry. Her first solo exhibition was at the Omega Workshops in 1916.vanessa-bell-self-portrait.1257676666

Some of Vanessa Bell’s works were related to her personal life. For example, her illustration for To the Lighthouse, the book by her sister Virginia Woolf, which was not published until 1927, is about a beach with lighthouse that was a part of Bell’s and Woolf’s childhood in St Ives, Cornwall.

I chose two paintings by her the first a self portrait, and I have to say in both this painting and the photo of her there is a definite air of melancholy. it is easy to see that this is a woman who has known pain, something which obviously ran through the family. Though the majority of her paintings are fairly abstract there are other example of still life compositions which I feel are better for demonstrating her actual artistic ability, the more avant garde painting do of course testify for her creativity.

This is one I really liked…

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

White Roses a simple composition however it evokes so much more, the fading blooms wilting, life cut short by the removal from their nature environment and enforced confinement in a vase and the books also trapped by the weight of the water. And of course we know water is the element that took her beloved sister from her.

Do we read too much into the words or paintings of the author or artist? Of course we do! We place our own knowledge, beliefs and theories upon what might be a very simple thing, she may have just seen the roses decided they needed raining a little to catch better light, hence the books and it might just have been a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. The thing is we are both right and both wrong, no interpretation means more than any other because we cannot know every possible meaning for everything. If Virginia had lived would Vanessa’s work have been more well known? Would Vanessa have painted herself smiling in her old age?

So many possibilities but maybe the only real truth is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and needs no other.

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016, A is for…

Ais for  Amigoni, Jacopo (1682–1752), also known as Giacomo Amiconi,  he was born in Naples or Venice in the late-Baroque or Rococo period. He is thought to have begun his career in Venice, but is known to have been well travelled and was prolific throughout Europe, where his portraits were in demand. Jacopo_amigoni,_il_cantante_farinelli_con_amici_(detail)

Amigoni initially painted both mythological and religious scenes before becoming sought after to decorate the homes of the wealthy. In 1717, he is documented as working in Bavaria in the Castle of Nymphenburg (1719), and yes part of the reason I picted him was because I love that name lol. then in  in the castle of Schleissheim (1725–1729); and in the Benedictine abbey of Ottobeuren. He returned to Venice in 1726. His Arraignment of Paris hangs in the Villa Pisani at Stra. From 1730 to 1739 he worked in England, in Pown House, Moor Park Wolterton Hall and in the Theatre of Covent Garden. I love the fact that he painted in such diverse places from theatres to monasteries in a time where you would have though that doing one would exclude you from another.

In 1739 he returned to Italy, perhaps to Naples and surely to Montecassino, in whose Abbey existed two canvases (destroyed during World War II). Until 1747, he travelled to Venice to paint for Sigismund Streit, for the Casa Savoia and other buildings of the city. In 1747 he left Italy and established himself in Madrid. There he became court painter to Ferdinand VI of Spain and director of the Royal Academy of Saint Fernando. He died in Madrid.

Jacopo_Amigoni_-_Juno_Receiving_the_Head_of_Argos_-_WGA00272This painting is entitled Juno Receiving the Head of Argos (1730-32) and I have a couple of reasons for picking it first I love the fact it is mythical rather than religious but also having seen this type of work in real life you know that it will be a substantial piece and a photo will never do it justice.

I also love peacocks which of course are depicted here as a sign of the wealth and extravagance of the patron for whom this painting was commissioned. I love the fact there was no question of body shaming that having saggy boobs and love handles was totally okay, although I will say the cherub on the floor looking up does look a little creepy, like an old mans face on a babies body.

I could discuss more the technical aspects, there are issues with this painting in terms of multiple light sources and a couple of anatomical abnormalities but the fact is sometimes you just have to over look the details to enjoy the big picture something that in today’s society has become increasingly difficult for a lot of people as everything is placed under a microscope and scrutinised.

One thing I am going to do with each painting I feature is consider what type of book would it fit on the cover of, I think this would be a story of revenge and betrayal, the scorned woman receiving the head of her murdered lover for whom she feels nothing but contempt, in the story the messenger would be the new lover who has acted on her wishes but of course she would in turn betray him and it would be a he said/she said case for justice to determine the true criminal before they are both condemned, she going to her fate with a hard heart him heartbroken still at her abandonment of him.

(I have taken some of the facts and the images from Wikipedia for speed but the thoughts on the paintings and emotions and ideas provoked are entirely mine)

A - Z Challenge 2016

A – Z Challenge 2016 – Theme Reveal

Yes it is almost that time of the year again and so time is time to reveal my theme for this years challenge! Last year we did places but this year I have decided to examine another love of mine for this years challenge, ‘Art!’

I want to try to find an artist for each letter, A – Z obviously, art and writing do go hand in hand while the artist creates visions with oils or acrylics, the writer attempts to do the same with words. In both forms the ultimate aim is drawing people in and evoking emotions, and as much as we all say you should never judge a book by it’s cover, lets face it we all do.

So from the first of April we begin a journey from A to Z, some artists will be more familiar than others, so letters are harder to fill while others are harder to choose between for example Dali or Degas? Where possible I will try to add in some background information and a portrait of the artist but I have not yet chosen them all so I do not know if that will be possible yet.

Fridays you will get a double post of the A – Z post plus a vlog so that way we can keep Lazy Sundays.

Right time for me to get some work done and start finish editing Sports Relief footage out of the way but if you want to join in this years A – Z Challenge there in still time to sign up here.