Sargent is a hero of mine. I find his work inspirational, exciting and so beautiful. Most of the work I have seen are of his oil paintings and its mainly his portraits that really float my boat. However this last week I have been to see some of his watercolours at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Yet again I was blown away by his work. He makes it all look so easy yet you know that if you have a go just how quickly you can muck it up. His use of colour is incredible and the simplicity to the work was stunning, so effective. His work really shows you how important it is to remember that everything is a shape and that nothing is a line. His decision in what to define and what to loosen up is key to the work. One can be so tempted to define everything as our eyes tend to want to do that. This takes away the magic. When you see his work it makes you realise how much of what you see isn’t in detail and that you don’t need to see everything in so much detail, it is not important.
His composition is also very interesting. One has a habit of wanting to include everything but instead he chooses very small key areas of the subject which you can see here in the fountain that he did. The whole fountain is not included but that doesn’t matter, the cherubs are the beautiful part of the fountain – the rest is not so important. He also shows this with the background. It can be very easy to get caught up on the background of something you are painting, thinking that it is good to record everything. Here Sargent paints a really simple and washed out background because what he wants is for you to concentrate on the fountain. Painting in a really detailed background would just distract you from the main reason for the painting. This is what I really like about his portraits. Sargent is so clever at putting detail into the most important part of the portraits – the face. The rest of the portraits are so loosely done, with huge brush strokes giving the audience an impression. This really draws your eye into their faces just like you are really drawn into this fountain.
This exhibition is on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. If you are near, I think its a great exhibition and a must see!
It has been such beautiful weather here in the UK for the last week or two. My mother really kindly invited me for a couple of days away in Suffolk where we could get on with some painting. I haven’t really been able to use my new art box much yet as its been a busy summer with cousins. With my son away we had plenty of time to paint. It was the first time I had ever painted plein air so the whole experience was pretty scary to begin with. There was a lovely graveyard nearby which we painted first. The light was lovely on the gravestones creating lovely shadows.
The second day was spent painting a typical view of the fields in Suffolk with wonderful grass in the foreground, stubble fields with bales and lovely trees and hedges. I decided to use really small canvasses as I really like small paintings at the moment. They are easy to place on bookshelves and great to put together as a montage on a wall. I had never painted this small before and wanted to give it a go. I was quite pleased with the result in the end. I’m feeling thoroughly inspired now by the countryside and every time I get in the car I’m finding great locations. If only I had more time. The art box was a brilliant buy too. I’m thrilled with it.
This week Christmas has come early. Its August and I have been continuing with my styling but this time on a Christmas theme. Its often the hottest time of year that I do the Christmas shoots for magazines which always feels a little daft. Yet again I was in a London house and this was the wreath that I did for the door.
The house was in some beautiful greys and so I wanted to compliment it using eucalyptus as the greenery with some classic roses and the soft pinks and greens of hydrangea. I really enjoy unusual wreaths and often like the use of vegetables or fruit in them. Artichoke can often be a good choice as the purple and the spikey leaves can compliment the softness of the flowers. Also pomegranate is a good idea as they are very much a Christmas fruit with a really lovely red colour and wonderful shape.
Be bold this Christmas and do something crazy. Its a fun time of year so its nice to reflect this in your wreath. Don’t be scared!
Look out for my styling and paintings in January’s issue of Homes and Garden (UK).
My Backyard – oil on canvas board – 10’x12′ – £80
This week I have mainly been at home as poor Kea has been ill with tonsillitis. He has been feeling dreadful but is now on the mend. This has meant that I haven’t been out of the house.
I love the view from the back of my house from up in the loft and so I decided to have a go at painting it. Its the first time I’ve tried painting houses but I rather like the result. Its a little naive but I think it has some charm. I love the backs of the houses in London and all the different fun gardens you can look into. Luckily unlike most other houses in London my neighbours are quite far away. I love the colour of the bricks and the way the houses are higgledy piggledy. Its very easy to imagine Mary Poppins flying in for a cup of tea.
Its been half term this week so sadly I haven’t had a chance to do much artwork. Instead we went exploring around the part of the UK I was brought up in. Some of the houses around the area are very old. They were beautiful and fascinating, but the superstitions they had while building them were very cruel. Strange.
The picture below is not for the faint hearted……
Poor cat. It looks so scared.