Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Whistler at the Hunterian Art Gallery

After over 5 years here in Glasgow, I finally got round to visiting the Hunterian Art Gallery. This is a hidden gem within Glasgow University. The exhibits complement the work displayed at Kelvingrove and the Burrell collection very well. What I didn't realise was that the Hunterian contains one of the largest collections of James McNeill Whistler's work.
Whistler - Red and Black: The Fan 1891-94 (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

Not only are there paintings, but also letters, sketches, artists equipment and even furniture. This range of materials gives an insight into how he worked. There is a letter he wrote detailing a step-by-step guide to painting a portrait, next to portraits that he never finished, so you can visualise these individual processes. There are details on how he diluted his oil paints, to create translucent layers like watercolours.
Whistler - Grey and Silver: The Thames (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

There are long handled brushes that he had specially made, half used tubes of paint and his box for painting en plein air. The letters also give you a feel for Whistler's personality, how he liked to invite guests over for an elaborate breakfast and how he mixed within popular circles. The Hunterian have attempted to put this huge catalogue online, which makes a fascinating resource.
Rose et Argent: La Jolie Mutine c.1890 (oil on canvas)
Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

Monday, 24 January 2011

Knitting or Gardening?

I've been making more squares for sitandknitabit 100 Million stitches using up scraps of acrylic yarn I had stashed away. Once I started to photograph them, I realised that they looked a little like fields...
I think the last field is a little overgrown!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

I want to be the Sherrif of Stationery Village!

On Thursday night the lovely Life Craft had a Journal Making Workshop. As an admirer of crisp fresh notebooks I just had to have a go. The class was led by the fantastic Lucy Jackson, who not only gave us great hints and tips, sent us home with our journals made & instructions in hand, so we can do it again. Lucy describes herself as a craftaholic - this is a term I can so understand! We made A5 journals, with padded covers, and 60 pages inside. We learnt to do coptic binding to tie it all together. And when asked if I wanted to put buttons on the front - of course I said yes!
I am a quite a messy person, and did fear that my journal would come out with odd shaped pages and a little wobbly - but my fears are vanished, the journal is very sturdy and professional looking. This is certainly a craft I want to try again and again. Maybe one day I'll get to have my very own stationery village like Howard Moon!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Young Ones!

As a youngster at weekends we would often visit my grandparents. Among their video collection was a tape of The Young Ones episode 'Boring' that my uncle had recorded years earlier when he still lived at home. Me and my brothers must have watched this episode tens (possibly even hundreds) of times, and would repeat the lines to each other regularly. I blame The Young Ones for giving me a distorted view of what going to university would be like (in my experience there wasn't nearly as many lentils). I also have The Young Ones to thank for the name of my hamster as a teenager - he was of course called Special Patrol Group.
Before Christmas I noticed that those lovely craftster peeps were having a Young Ones themed swap and I signed up. With my swap partner having received their package, I can now display what I made, inspired by minipops...
A Vyvyan and Special Patrol Group needle case, complete with this on the back...
As an extra special treat I found a copy of the Cliff and The Young Ones single Living Doll. My swap partner lives in the USA, and I'm not quite sure that the legend that is Cliff is quite so well known over there.
From my swap partner h-chan I received a fantastic Special Patrol Group ZhuZhu Pet! He is awesome, or should I say Rick would say bwilliant!

Monday, 17 January 2011

This week...

So this week I... Busy, busy, busy! What are you up to this week?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Giotto - The Lamentation of Christ

As part of my UWA I have been annotating images. My annotations have now progressed to form paragraphs! Albeit small paragraphs, but hey ho - got to start some where. I am currently studying the early Renaissance, and here is my first text...

Giotto - The Lamentation of Christ c. 1305 (fresco)
Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy

The fresco image is split in to two halves. On the bottom half you have Christ's body being held and surrounded by mourners. In the top half you have ten angels in the sky. In the top right corner, there is a lone tree on a rocky ridge, this moves down the painting to led you to where Christ's head is being cradled by the Virgin Mary. It is clear that Christ's body has just been taken down from the cross, yet this is not shown in the picture.

The arrangement of people in the scene is unusual, as the closest figures are two men with their backs facing the viewer. These help to indicate that Christ is encircled, people overlap and the image is not flat. A sense of depth is created in the picture, similar to that of a theatre stage. Religious figures are indicated by their halos. A crowd of mourners are cut from the frame on the left. All the characters display grief and sorrow, through their different facial expressions and their posture. It is said that Giotto visited funerals to watch people as they mourn.

Christ's body is being held above the ground by the mourners. This could be interpreted that his body had weight, like that of a mortal; or that his body is soon to be resurrected. His face is cradled by his mother Mary, similar to images of her cradling him as a child. Each person is individual, and you are able to tell who they are, for example Mary Magdalene is shown with red hair, touching his feet and John the Baptist is shown outstretching his arms in anguish. Light falls down on Christ's body, and highlighting John's robes.

The lone tree is bare of leaves, which could indicate death. Though as trees renew their leaves in spring, it could indicate the resurrection and eternal life. The tree could also be the the garden of Eden, where sin was first committed, and that Christ then dies for our sins. The bleakness of the background contrasts with the richness of the robes, the array of colours, and the detail of folds indicating the body shapes underneath. The angels are all painted with different postures and show foreshortening.

The Lamentation is an important piece of art, it moved pictures from being flat images, to those that create a sense of depth. Giotto draws the viewers eye to the bottom left of the picture (in contrast to the more traditional centre of a piece) by use of the mountain ridge line and the characters arrangement. The individual expressions of both the people on earth and the angels, highlight the real sense of emotion and anguish of the piece.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Begonia play around...

A fun begonia pattern (watercolour resist, gouache and oil pastel) goes on an adventure with the various functions in paint.net.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Cathedral sketches

When I was putting together my UWA assignment, I remembered that I hadn't shared some of my sketches that I did at Glasgow Cathedral.
And for the introverted creative types out there, a link to a great post.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Calorie Free Biscuits for the New Year...

Don't worry the health kick hasn't started yet. There are far too many treats in the flat to eat first (let alone a delayed Christmas or two in January).
This felt empire biscuit is for a secret project, shhhh! I'd never had an empire biscuit until I'd moved to Scotland. I had never lived. You know how shortbread is rather sweet; well imagine two shortbread circles, joined in harmony with jam, coated in icing, with a cherry on the top. It should probably carry a health warning.
One interesting fact is that the rather patriotic (and extremely dated!) name of the empire biscuit results in them previously being called German biscuits. Apparently they didn't sell too well with that name during WW1, so had a revamp. Whatever they are called, they are rather tasty.