Clarice Beckett Australian Painter, 1887-1935 rediscovered in 1971
We are house-sitting in McLaren Vale in South Australia for three-and-a-half weeks. I have covered house-sitting before in Germany and England in earlier articles.
House-sitting is a great alternative to tourism because it takes you to wonderful places that you probably wouldn’t go to otherwise, sometimes off the tourist track. You have a chance to experience culture and lifestyle different from one’s own. This, of course, has been the driver for most of my travel in Australia and overseas.
Because, I left behind certain materials I can’t continue with my Karakorum Highway articles until I get home.
In the 1970s and early 1980s several feminist friends were of the firm opinion that women artists in Australia as with overseas had been neglected because of the male dominance of the arts. Yet, in those days they were struggling to provide anything more convincing than anecdotal evidence. Continue reading “Clarice Beckett Painter, 1887-1935”→
One of the pluses and minuses of making photomedia artworks on the computer — as well as not enough time in the fresh air — is that it is possible to make very large works that will sit in cyberspace for years, before you have enough money or a convincing enough reason to print them in hard copy.
In the next few articles on my making art, I am going to describe and attempt to show large works – some of which I have exhibited and some of which I haven’t. The latter I have only viewed as small-scale versions and as details.
Terms for Digital Works
In my article Pandemic Art Update is used the word cartoon as a description of a small-scale physical print of a much larger work. This isn’t an ideal term as cartoon in art used to refer to a full-size drawing or modello (model) for a painting, stained glass, or tapestry. Cartoons are particularly relevant to frescoes, but also to tapestry, where pin-pricks can be used to transfer the design to a wall or pattern.
There are no new words for these words in digital art. A sketch is traditionally a rough drawing or painting, in which an artist explores preliminary ideas for a much larger work to be made with much more precision and detail. My friend Allan Byrne suggested digi-sketch. In one sense digi-sketch is appropriate because the smaller version, together with details (a blown up specific area of the work) may suggest changes before the larger work is printed, but in another it is not because the digi-sketch is an exact copy of the final version of the artwork.
In other words a smaller-version in digital art is useful in the sense of creating a model that one can use to examine and correct, before embarking on the final printing of the large-scale version. Another concept that of a detail, a blown-up or expanded part of the whole, is also incredibly useful in the decision-making process. And, is a term that is both useful in conventional and digital art. (The use of details is important in describing paintings: see my article on Hieronymus Bosch.)
Thumbnail is another concept that though useful and important does not describe what I am talking about, either. However, let’s not get caught up in semantics. It is the process that is important not the label.
Another way of looking at the issue is to think of postcards and larger catalogue prints of major well-known artworks (let’s not worry about the issue of colour reproduction and assume that the colours are a perfect representation of the original).
Unless, you know the original painting — a knowledge based solely on a postcard or even a good catalogue print, often means that you are completely surprised when you finally view the original artwork, because it is not at all what you had expected.
The problem with a digital ‘cartoon’ or a digi-sketch for a much larger-scale work is that it does not really reflect what the work is going to look like in a much larger size. In my work this is sometimes not a problem, but sometimes it’s a major problem.
I don’t know how many artists consider the process of their art and their art practice and how many never reflect upon it. When I was involved in science (biology), I was very interested in the process of how science works. Indeed, I was interested in the philosophy of science and science practice.
Most scientists, however, didn’t give a hoot about the process or philosophy of science other than learning to conduct their work as a rigorous practice that would pass muster under the peer review system. This approach didn’t have any direct negative consequences. Except in biology, I thought occasionally the gung ho approach led to an indifference to statistical processes and sometimes to poor and even wrong analysis. Most scientists, however, didn’t give a hoot about the process or philosophy of science other than learning to conduct their work as a rigorous practice that would pass muster under the peer review system. This approach didn’t have any direct negative consequences. Except in biology, I thought occasionally the gung ho approach led to an indifference to statistical processes and sometimes to poor and even wrong analysis.
With reference to art, some artists are interested in the process of how they make art and why, while others just get on with it. I naturally fit in to the former camp and because of this I tend to see some benefits, though not enough to justify any artist from changing their natural inclinations.
The benefits I see are that you are at least aware of the flow of your work and its direction. While you may not pay much attention to your process when the flow is energetic, creative and satisfying. And, you have barely enough time to make the work you are driven to create. When things change, you may be more able to understand.
You may be frustrated that things aren’t the way they used to be, but you also have the tools to analyse why. You can either accept the hiatus; or you can seek out reasons and techniques to cope with change. You are more likely to be experimental and to seek out new directions.
This is not meant to be overly philosophical, but I am interested in my own practice. For ten years, I became what I termed an accidental artist, but I was inspired by what I was doing and powered ahead without thinking more than necessary about the process. The period was creative and immensely satisfying. Then came the hiatus. I basically stopped what I had been doing and for a long time engaged in what I thought of as mucking around, including going to basic courses with my partner Denise.
More recently, I taught myself linocutting and joined a print making cooperative called Megalo in Canberra to learn how to print my works professionally. I still haven’t explored the extent of my potential relationship with Megalo Print Studio.
Also recently, I have done several more courses and joined a Thursday art group hosted by artist Jenny Manning, which I have found both inspiring and stimulating. Because of this group, I have begun to place works in exhibitions and have expanded my repertoire. Continue reading “Pandemic Art Update”→
In my last article International Peasant Foods, I spoke of a trip from Canada down through Mexico and South America, which included two-and-a half weeks in New York. From this article and the one on Winnipeg food you may have gathered that I was a conventional soul. From this it should come as no surprise that the first old master I fell in love with instantly I saw the real paintings was Johannes or Jan Vermeer.
In New York I was fortunate to see and admire three Johannes Vermeer paintings at the Frick Museum and five at the Met. All profoundly wonderful. Eight Vermeer paintings represents about one fifth of the Vermeers in existence.
After I left South Africa, I spent two weeks with my girl friend’s brother in the Hague and a few days more in Amsterdam. My first view of the Girl with a Pearl Earring c. 1665 at the Mauritshuis was gobsmacking. I had a similar feeling because I wasn’t expecting it when I first saw the large Art of Painting 1666-68 at the Kunst Historische in Vienna. I viewed Art of Painting several times on that trip and spent at least an hour on two occasions contemplating it. I’ve done the same thing with Girl with a Pearl Earring.
The Mauritshuis in the Hague and the Riksmuseum, Amsterdam added another seven Vermeer paintings to my viewing tally making fifteen and I saw two more in London at the National Gallery and two at the Louvre in Paris which made up nineteen or 51% of the total Vermeers in the world (37, including three disputed ones). All this by 1975 was more by luck than intent. But I have never lost my admiration for Vermeer as a painter.
Many years later I’ve raised my tally to 76% or three quarters. None of this has been by major intent and some of it has been by accident. I am not a twitcher (a term for ticking off bird species) and I am always happy to see Vermeer paintings over and over again because each is a rare occasion. I never tire of them. Each viewing is through the same naïve eyes as my first impression of Vermeer in New York.
I have added to my tally with trips to Dublin, Vienna and Berlin. Denise and I were also quite fortunate to view Italy’s first Vermeer exhibition Johannes Vermeer and the Golden Age of Dutch Art. We stumbled upon it at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome in October 2012. It was open in the evening and there were hardly any other visitors. The exhibition had eight Vermeer paintings, several marvellous and two disputed ones.
I have shamelessly referenced other painters in my own art because of a joy in art. In particular, I have used Hieronymus Bosch, Italian Renaissance artists and MC Escher among many others in my art making. I haven’t used Johannes Vermeer in the same way, but his art does perhaps indirectly underlie some of my main ideas in making art.
I love world art from all eras, but it is only Vermeer and my excitement at walking into the Jeu de Paume (tennis courts) on my first trip to Paris and viewing the wonders of impressionism that have made the earth move. It took me years to forgive the French for moving these works to the Musée d’Orsay. Continue reading “Johannes Vermeer Paintings”→
Linocut 101 for Artists — A Practical Introductory Guide
My art practice was languishing, partly I think because the three quasi-religious works in the Moral Ambiguities exhibition in 2011 (which I had been working on for some time) and even the generic protest posters were an end point of my photomedia work and I didn’t really have anything more to say. It had been a wild ride for ten years and I’d always thought of myself as an accidental artist. Hence, I wasn’t particularly upset at the time.
Denise and I then embarked on an amateur learning endeavour, trying out drawing, life drawing, basic painting techniques and other things, which were both enjoyable and satisfying.
Huw Davies Gallery, Manuka Arts Centre, Canberra, 27 October — 13 November, 2011
Moral Ambiguities in 2011 was a major exhibition because it was a compilation of artworks that had been tentatively shown elsewhere in smaller size. It was the first time that the majority of works from this period had been shown together in one venue and at full size.
The two 500th year Bosch Exhibitions in the Netherlands and Spain
Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, Netherlands from 13 February to 8 May 2016. Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition, Museo del Prado, Madrid from 31 May to 11 September 2016.
Introduction, controversy and a little spite
We’ve got to take the rivalry of the Dutch and the Spanish exhibitions with a grain of salt. Both were masterly. The Prado had three more important pictures loaned by other galleries, plus its two disputed attribution pictures. The Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch (colloquial name for ’s-Hertogenbosch) did an amazing tour de force for a small galley. As the Guardian Review says: From all accounts the The Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch has put on one of the most important exhibitions of our century.
Denise and I only visited the Prado and managed to do that that just two days before the exhibition closed. Both exhibitions celebrated the 500th year since Hieronymus Bosch’s death and I suspect that we’ll never see the like again for a generation and perhaps forever. You will know of my interest as an artist in Bosch from the article Hieronymus Bosch painter, 1450-1516.
Tag II February 2007: A Solo Exhibition at X Gallery, Bungendore
Tag II Tony Stewart
X Gallery, 32 Gibraltar Street, Bungendore NSW, 22 February to 22 April, 2007
On suggestions by friends and mentors, I decided to revisit the Tag Exhibition with a smaller version in a different location. This was also a first for me in moving a major exhibition into what could in effect be called a smaller travelling exhibition, except only to one place and not that far.
Huw Davies Gallery, Manuka Arts Centre, Canberra 1-19 September 2005
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Following the success of my two opening exhibitions Use By and Transit in 2002, I set out to create a body of work in a new direction, but building on the inspiration that I began with.
One driving idea behind the making of work during this period was the idea of SIMPLICITY that is focusing down and trying to create meaningful work with few elements.
The other idea, which actually took up much more time, was the honing of skills learned and technique, that is, getting much better at the photomedia methods that I had been learning on the computer, and attempting to produce a more polished product through practice.