Thursday, 20 November 2014

Your Current Inspiration

Inspirational paintings selected by Oil Painting students at Runshaw College

Maureen Walker.

Artist: Paul Hedley

I found this painting whilst scrolling through examples of figurative art. I was immediately struck by the wonderful light and use of colour in the painting not only the skin tones but the many shades of red in the skirt and the cool blues used throughout the composition contrasting with the dark tones suggesting reflections on the floor. Although this artist does paint more complex subjects I like the simplicity of this one .

Bob Overton
Artist: Rembrandt van Rijn
The Night Watch      
1642, Rijksmuseum
363 cm × 437 cm (142.9 in × 172.0 in)

In the 18th century the painting became known as the Night Watch although it is actually a daylight scene, as became clear when the very thick, dark varnish was removed. It was originally titled The Company of captain Frans Banning Cocq and lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch preparing to march out.
One of the most famous paintings in the world by, in my opinion, the best painter ever to have lived (apart from NL of course!)
This painting shows a party of musketeers stepping from a gloomy courtyard into the blinding sunlight. The dramatic use of light and dark tones makes this an outstanding work. The pictorial composition is carefully managed to show the juxtaposition of individual figures amongst groups of companions.
It is an enormous work, full of detail, narrative and drama.

Marilyn Cooksey

Artist: Edward Hopper
Rooms by the sea, 
Painted 1951 oil on canvas
101.98 x 73.66 cm - Private collection

I like the way it engenders a feeling of airy space, clever use of light and shade on an otherwise plain wall and floor manage to impart sounds and scents of sea and sunshine.

Alison Angior

Artist: Paul Nash
The Shore Dymchurch 1923

Nash combines a geometric strength of line with a gently receding horizon.
The arc disappears but directs one back into the dramatic foreground.
An overall impression of a "wider aspect".

The balance of colour, almost complementary and so low in value allows a quiet vibration which contrasts so sharply to the solid darkness of the wall.

Sarah Thompson

Artist: Gwilym Pritchard
39cm by 46cm

I love the colours he uses, which are quite unusual, bright but totally
believable. Cold and warm blue and a warm green. This painting is like a
His shapes are strong and bold and simple but a delight. The way he uses
the palette knife produces lovely textures. The design is as important as
the subject I think.

Norma Lumb

Artist: Pablo Picasso
Girl before a mirror

I have had a print of this for many years. Last week in the MoMa (excuse  me for bragging)
I saw the original. What amazed me was the power of the actual painting. The size, the sheer energy and confidence of the brush strokes, the colour, and the complexity of the composition were stunning.

Debra Ludlam

Artist: Andrew Salgado
"An  Altered  Peace"
48 x 59 inches 

How can a portrait with such vibrant colours and painted in a style that seems almost random, look so good.

Maybe it's the steady gaze or strong nose, or maybe it's the pouty lips or could it be that Andrew Selgardo is just a genius !

Denise Pickles

Artist: Joan Eardley
Catterline in Winter
c1963  Oil on board 
120 x 130cm

My selection is based on the paintings scale, the way subtle suggestions have been made through texture and mark making and for the passion with which Eardley paints: her ability to create a dramatic atmosphere, in this example the heavy winter sky, weak glimpses of sunshine, huddled cottages, revealing more with each viewing: I literally shiver looking at this!

Jacquie Bannister

Artist: David Shevlino
Yellow Tube
30 x 33 inches

I was initially attracted to this painting by David Shevlino because of the nostalgic feelings it provoked. A moment has been captured and suspended to make it last forever and all with decisive, expressive marks and the use of bright intense colour. In places some lines are broken creating unexpected blocks of colour to form transitions and connections which cause a cohesive effect.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Your Current Inspiration - 2014

This selection is from the Oil Painting class at Norman Long Studio School
(click on images to see larger versions)

Debbie Heys

Artist: John Martin (1789-1854)
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah 1852
84" x 54"

I was impressed by the sheer size, intensity of colour and drama when I saw it at The Art Gallery Manchester. The yellow, red and black create an impression of heat from the fire and the bolt of lightning seems to direct your attention to both the background and foreground.


Kevin Johnson

Artist: Vincent Van Gogh
Self Portrait, 1887
41.0 x 33.5 cm.
Wadsworth Athenaeum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut

This is my favourite picture by Van Gogh although I have never seen the original which is in a museum in Conneticut. It is a small self portrait - obviously Vincent is looking into a mirror. I like the picture because his face seems to explode off the background and the face contains many colours although they don’t show up on this copy of the picture in the print I have on a book of Van Gogh there are a wider range of colours in the face.

Dave Walton

Artist: JMW Turner
Staffa, Fingal's Cave

Much of Turners work seems to consist of wild turbulent skies and seas, which I enjoy. His paintings in his early years, from 1793  seemed to be quite detailed, but somewhat contrived scenes. Using many different mediums. Following his trip to Italy in 1821 he began to discover the effect of light and colour. This is probably what he is most famous for. In later years many of his paintings became very indistinct and loose in style leaving much to the viewers imagination, whilst striving to capture light.


Liz Eastham got rather carried away with Rembrandt, but that can be forgiven in my book.

An Old Woman reading. 1655

 (Isn’t she beautiful? What a personality beneath that hood.)
Titus at his desk 1655.

(Such a beautiful boy! Dreaming, you can see his imagination at work.)
I visited the Rembrant Late Works exhibition at the National Gallery this week. It was stunning and incredibly moving. I was in awe.
(It was good not to be crushed and to have just the right amount of light and cool air to enjoy being in each room. A well planned event.)
For me, I gained a two things – Rembrandt’s powerful mastery of paint and brushstroke, and his individual approach to his work. But I also felt something else, something universal, a deep sense of our humanity and in particular the vunerability of us all along life’s journey.  The two pictures above are looking at life from it joyous potential to its dignified end.

Portrait of a lady with a lap dog.
It is this painting I looked at closely. Colour attracts me immediately and the red fabric, tawny fur and creamy skin tones against the dark background bring the lady closer to her viewer. We engage with her, though she is looking to one side.
The composition is beautifully balanced. While head and shoulders are centred, a pleasing diagonal line is formed by the fur wrap on the left, down to the hand, the wrist, the sleeve and the bottom edge of the fur on the right. But it is the almost vertical line from the little lap dog’s head, up to the pearl drop and to the lady’s face which gives the picture its strength. Our eye returns to the lady’s serene face.
The soft flesh of the face, the heavy lidded eyes, slightly uneven nose and a hint of jowls convey a thoughtful woman rather than just a wealthy beauty of the day. Rembrandt used ashen shadows against her pink mottled cheek to create both form and texture.
His loose, unfinished painting of the dog and the fabric of the sleeve in the lower foreground serves to enhace the head and shoulders of the lady which is finished in finer detail.
But it is the pearls I studied closely, trying to dechipher his technique. Brightest spot, edged by darkest curved line, plus reflected light, in repeated pattern...but what colours had he used? It was a magnificent 3D illusion. To have recreated the depth and weight, complexity and beauty of her pendant in paint...phew!

Janet Grierson

Artist: Francisco de Goya
Title: ‘Slices of Salmon’
Date: 1808
Dimensions: 17¾ x28⅜ inches

A humble subject is made dramatically important and real in a painterly, organic manner.  In this spare image the neutral palette, and tonal difference between back and foreground, is punctured by vibrant, red salmon surfaces.  Lights and darks interweave with reds and touches of blue-green; gentle diagonals off-set an implied horizontal horizon.

John McCloskey

Title: Maximus
Size: 60cm X 45cm
Medium: Oil on canvas

Artist: Carl Melegari

A combination of factors attract me to this work.
The way the artist almost sculpts the image onto the canvas with thick impasto, the almost monochromatic palette and the way the features of the figure, although not clearly defined, still evoke a strong response from the viewer.
For me, it speaks of resignation, of desperation and defeat but still retaining a sense of dignity and even nobility against the odds.

Susan Brown

Artist: Pietro Perugino 
Virgin and Child with an angel 
National Gallery

I don't think a reproduction will convince anyone of the stunning effect it had when I saw it close up many years ago. I think the purity of light and atmosphere  around the figures was astonishing and it's the main memory of why it made such an impact. The subject is devotional so the angels don't look  odd in this context -it's not meant to be realistic. The main figures are grouped firmly on the earth and are strongly linked by their gazes. The colours  of garments are intense. The landscape is delicate and isn't too detailed with buildings or people to distract. I liked the gracefulness of the figures  and remember the Virgin's hands especially. I saw it in Italy but I've only now seen that it's in the National Gallery. I'll have to go.
Debra Siegal

Artist: Rose Frantzen
A portrait from the project "Portrait of Maquoketa"

In a year 2005-2006, Rose Frantzen painted 180 12" x12" 2hr portraits of anyone who turned up to sit for her. There is an inspiring youtube video where she discusses the project. I have selected this particular portrait from the project because I love the expression on the sitter's face. She looks like she's enjoying having her portrait painted. She looks animated, not just sat rigidly trying not to move. Frantzen seems really to capture the character of her sitters. Infact in the video she describes how they may sit and chat while she is painting, depending on the person, certainly looks like what was going on here.  Her style for these quick portraits is quite loose and painterly and really amazingly finished considering the time scale. 

Can I choose another....? Its just a little one - 
Katy Schneider, 
Living Room, 2000

I love the choice of subject matter, a scene from everyday family life. The three figures are all in the same room, not interacting with each other but busy doing their own thing. They also occupy different distances in space, creating a strong sense of depth. I like the use of colour, there are small shapes of red, blue, yellow and green, which are like colour accents against the neutral hues used in the rest of the painting. It also seems to capture a moment in time, as the child is about to leave the room. 

 Jacqueline Hilton

Artist: Norman Garstin
"The Rain it Raineth Everyday" 
95cm x 164cm  

Norman Garstin was a leading figure in the Newlyn School of painters and this painting is to be seen in the  beautiful Penlee Gallery in Penzance.

I like it because of the wonderful way Garstin has captured the the opalescent quality of rain on  the wet promenade . 
Garstin is a master of the very subtle use of greys to create a feeling light and atmosphere
In situ at the above gallery, this painting, is a show stopper.


Ian Tidswell

Artist: George Clausen RA
"Spring morning on Haverstock Hill"
Bury Art Gallery 

I saw this picture "Spring morning on Haverstock Hill" by George Clausen RA at Bury Art Gallery last week. It does not look likemuch on the screen but when seen at close quarters is amazing. Thecomposition and subject matter makes the viewer feel like part of the picture and compelled to move out of the way of the mother and daugher
walking out of the canvas.
Brilliant painting and well worth the trip to see it. 


Norman Long

Artist: Rembrandt
Portrait of and Elderly Man
81.9 x 67.7cm

This is what I wrote in my sketchbook while stood in front of this painting in the Rembrandt Late Works show.
"Perhaps the greatest bit of direct painting I have ever seen. The ground colour (NOT burnt sienna but an opaque mix between b. sienna, raw umber and white) performs as neutral cools in the face and as very warm beneath the black in his vest. Here the marks are SO rapid, so sure, that the ground IS used, but not over-deliberately. The overall fuzzy evocation of the face sits next to slabs of flat black (hat) and white (collar). Here is the high point of what is possible working fast from life. You may never see this painting again, but remember it IS possible when you lose yourself like this."