Inspiration

Weathered Wall blog

Weathered Wall (30 cms x 23 cms mixed media 2016)

If you’re serious about your drawing or painting but haven’t been fortunate enough to go to art school you have to learn where and how you can. You might enrol in evening classes or study life drawing, follow online courses, blog tutorials or exercises in magazines.

Nothing, I think, can replace the feedback you receive from a good teacher: some years ago I discovered some excellent drawing classes by Helen Gilbart, who emphasised ‘looking’ above everything else, and life drawing with Ed Cooper and his proactive model, Blue King. In addition, I learn a great deal from looking at work by other artists – whether on blogs or in galleries.

Over the past year I’ve been trying, in oil and acrylic, to develop a style that avoids outright realism, yet remains recognisable for what it is, has a looseness about it but contains some graphic elements from the noble art of illustration.

This week I’d wanted to paint the ripening fruits that were growing in our own garden: at the moment, mulberries and transparent gages. Mulberries lend themselves to a very graphic style:

Mulberries blog

Mulberries (A6 acrylic with colleaged borders 2016)

but I was somewhat at a loss how to paint the gages.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a striking painting by Karolina Gacke that I saw in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I like the idea of drawing and painting objects or groups of objects far apart from each other, and found this painting on Karolina Gacke’s website (you should also look at her compelling self-portraits). Borrowing from Karolina’s composition, the picture that heads this post slowly came together.

Collaged newspaper cuttings formed the basis of the weathered wall. Odd bits of collaged words or phrases suggesting food or flavours scattered here and there on the tabletop hopefully give the picture some unity. The jug is one I bought some years ago in a local gallery, rendered here in a mixture of acrylic and pastel. The gages I tried to paint loosely, smoothing their rough edges as I painted the tablecloth around them.

Without seeing Karolina Gacke’s painting I couldn’t have put this together as it is, yet I hope – in the end – I’ve created something different, something that is ultimately mine.

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31 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Love your images, Michael. And thanks for the link to Karolina’s images. They are a whole new way of seeing things. I’m still digging that book about the art of Richard Thompson. I’m starting to look at some of the folks who influenced him as well. You are a wealth of great and useful information!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I like this a lot.
    There is definitely way too much to look at giving me always way too many ideas. It’s good that you can focus on one thing and work on it. Not something I’ve yet been capable of doing. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I really love both art works. I think both are very striking in their use of colour and composition. I think as visual people as well as as arty people, we draw our inspiration from all over the place but that sort of experience of learning and meaningful feedback is definitely very useful for progression and growth. I really love that you are working hard to develop your own style. I find I flit around between a few styles and I don’t know if that stops me getting stuck in a rut and is beneficial or if it makes me a jack of all trades and master of none.

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    • I used to worry about that a lot. In the early days of my blog someone said that each picture could have been done by a different person, and for about 15 minutes that worried me. Then I realised it was largely down to the medium. If I only painted in acrylic and drew in ink I’d have two distinct styles, but I dabble in pastels, collage, pencil, etc., and each is different. I think it’s healthy to experiment, Laura, as it keeps us fresh. That’s what’s so compelling about your portrait drawings: they’re clearly by the same hand, but every one is different. If you’d done 100 exactly the same how dull would that be!

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  4. You really capture the essence of your subject Michael, these images are like distilled fruits, they’re mouthwatering! I missed going to art school when i was young so i appreciate what you’re saying here and i’ve found guidance and inspiration through a couple of special people too. And i’m glad i live in the digital age as i get so much inspiration from seeing other artist’s work online too 🙂

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  5. You really made this composition your own and I love the berries. I wish I had gone to art school, but I’m so inspired by fellow artists such as yourself who create beautiful images without that experience. With that said, I’m very excited about 2 painting classes I’m signed up for this fall.

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  6. Beautiful work, but what ever happened to the motto practice makes perfect? Don’t you believe someone can self learn when it comes to art and painting. After all art is a form of expression there only so much of it to be taught.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, classyqueeny. I’ve been drawing and painting alone for some years and I’ve discovered that, for me at least, I make a significant step forward with a little guidance. It doesn’t work that way for everyone: van Gogh never had a lesson in his life. Practice is certainly important – the discipline of blogging once a week has been a great help for me – but sometimes I find a course correction is required, and that I get from teachers, other artists and looking at paintings in galleries.

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  8. I definitely am going to try collage. Been thinking about it and your piece is pushing me in that direction. And I love the composition of Karolina Gache’s still life…another idea to pursue

    Liked by 2 people

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