From his early exposure to Cubism and Fauvism, Hans Hoffman evolved through a lifetime of experimenting in painting to an extraordinarily inventive approach to creating art that is often as relevant today as it was when it was created in the 1960s. Seeing his evolution in the large exhibition, ”Hans Hoffman - The Nature of Abstraction” at BAMPFA, Berkeley, reinforces my own belief in each artist’s need, and capacity, to remain open and flexible to growth and change.Read More
A silverpoint drawing of a pine tree in the South Carolina mountains or many others drawings done in coastal Georgia brought back so many memories and sensations as I reorganised my framed art after Hurricane Irma's passage. Their images were an astonishingly powerful trigger that collapsed time.Read More
When John Singer Sargent painted this scene of Claude Monet working en plein air, he recorded the heyday of the Impressionists' love of working outdoors to record and celebrate nature. Ever since, there has been a long list of wonderful plein air artists on every continent, and we artists, living today, have a rich heritage of landscape art from which to be inspired. This is the final Part 5 of my blog entry on Plein Air Art- Looking Back.Read More
The 19th century saw a flowering of plein air art in Europe and in this part of my blog-series on Plein Air Art - Looking Back, I had fun trying to select images that could celebrate this explosion of energies and talent. We owe a great deal to those artists as they broke with academic tradition and painted as their hearts dictated.Read More
As plein air artists, we are standing on the shoulders of artists who were lovers and orbservers of nature from many centuries ago. This is a celebration of some of these artists in their depictions of the landscape.Read More
Whilst I sit drawing in the vineyards around beautiful, historic Evora in Portugal's Alentejo region, I am constantly aware of the myriad birds flitting from one perch to another, down the ground, up into the cork oaks edging the vineyard and off somewhere else. What impresses me is their wonderful camouflage, especially during the winter season. Unless they move, they are virtually invisible. Perhaps I have been paying their aspect closer attention than usual because I have just been reading about Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola, a French artist and soldier fighting the Germans during the First World War.Read More
Trees have always played a very important role in my life, ever since I learned to love all the diversity of tropical trees in East Africa. Baobabs, flame trees, jacarandas, grevilleas, mvule or African teak, thorn trees, and on and on. I was taught that all these trees were absolutely vital, for habitat, to help prevent erosion, promote moisture retention, enrich the soil and generally to enhance the world for allother species! In other words, trees are worthy of deep respect and merit great care. Artists have been some of the greatest admirers of trees. From early times, artists have drawn them, as portraits or in preparatory studies for paintings.Read More
Walking this morning in brilliant sunshine in a Mediterranean pine forest was an exercise in delight. The amazingly intense blue sky above was the perfect foil for a myriad dancing greys of tree trunks that twisted and swayed in graceful coexistence. Beneath, the grey-green sheen of resinous shrubs seemed to reflect the light back upwards to the pines and complete the harmony with the bright green crowns of pine needles. Beneath, luminous pink and white touches of rock roses (cistus) were punctuated by the magenta spears of tiny wild gladioli.Read More
Transformations from the object an artist is viewing to the art created always seem like magic. No matter how lucid an explanation is given about how the artist gets from point A, the subject matter, to point B, the resultant artwork, there always seems to be another dimension. Perhaps that is because none of us can really get into the head of another human being, no matter how. Each of us is that proverbial "island unto ourselves" and that includes the conscious or subconscious process by which art is created. Of course, there is that other aspect - that the art that happens is also somewhat of a mystery to the artist as well. Each artist really never knows what is going to happen during the art-making process, no matter how carefully the preparation is done, or how meticulously laid out the plan for the work.
Personally, I am learning, slowly, simply to trust that small voice inside my head that says, "look hard at what you are seeing, allow your eye to select the next aspect to draw or paint, and just go with the zeitgeist of that moment of creation." In other words, relax, don't think too hard and work intuitively as much as possible. I have also come to realise, with time, that whether I like it or not, my life experiences, my personality - who I am - will come through my art, for good or for bad.
I was trying simply to live intuitively in the moment last week when I had one of my rare, precious times to draw en plein air. I found an amazing live oak "sculpture" of the remains of a mighty tree - just the stump, the essence of sinews and strength.
The sunlight was shining on parts like a floodlight, and they sang. The only trouble was that of course, the sun moved, the light changed and other parts began to be more visible and the aspects that had interested me simply faded into shadow! Paciencia, as the Spanish say!
Nonetheless, by the end of the time spent in peace and fascination, I had done some small metalpoints. They are a version of this mysterious alchemy of transformations.
Our outer skin - nature - rewards a closer look on many occasions.Read More