Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny – American Impressionism Exhibition

Visited this ‘museum’ in Giverny last weekend. As it’s name, the museum focuses on all different forms of Impressionism, its origins, geographical diversity, history and development in other streams. Currently there is an exhibition of American Impressionism ( A New Vision) at this museum. There was a lively colony of American artists who travelled to France at the end of the 19th century to take in latest developments in art, especially impressionism. 80 original paintings are exhibited by American impressionists such as Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, James Mc Neill Whistler, Theodore Robinson. Artists like Childe Hassam, Chase and Tarbell inspired by the new way of rendering light effects took the impressionist technics back home to feature seascapes, countryside , depicting picnics, walks, etc., in bright colours, giving the illusion of an ideal world.
I had never heard of Childe Hassam before. His painting, Poppies, Isle of Shoal, caught my eye because of the lively brush strokes, including short diagonal strokes in the sky giving it movement and the way he painted the poppies in vibrant colour. I liked several other of his paintings.


There was a line of 12 small paintings of haystacks called Studies of an Autumn Day, 1891 by John Leslie Breck. Each has a totally different sky, direction of shadows, some without a cast shadow. I could feel the intensity of the sunlight in some. Green and blue marks on some of the hay stacks made them lively. It was a very intriguing exercise just sitting in front of them, jumping from one to the other and looking at the differences. what made one dull and the other more alive.

Next to these studies, there is a huge painting by Claude Monet, “Haystacks, Snow Effect” 1891. it has bits of snow thawing. bright orange markings next to blue on the left of a haystack in the foreground, enrich the solid forms and cast shadows and makes it atmospheric. Its given me ideas on how to use complementary colours.
Haystacks, snow effect
After driving through the countryside and seeing the sun on the wheat fields, Monet’s painting with a network of brightly coloured brushstrokes ‘Prairie a Giverny’ felt I could stroke the grass.
Prairie a Giverny

I also saw some paintings by Blanche Hochede-Monet. I didn’t know she painted and learnt from our guide, that though Monet did not teach her, he used to criticise her a lot! She used to paint with Monet, mostly of the garden. I found her paintings subdued and less vivid.

We dropped by Hotel Gaudy where artists used to stay on their visit to MoneT. They have left a studio there with easels and paints of tubes dating back nearly a century ago as if the artists have just popped out for a bit.

A quote I like by Will Low “Giverny, a greatest charm lies in the atmospheric conditions over the lowlands, where the moisture from the rivers imprisoned through the night by the valleys bordering hills dissolve before the sun and bathe the landscape in an iridescent flood of vaporous hues”


Exhibition based on South Downs and Vanishing point at the Towner

Annual Schools Exhibition – Our South Downs.
Just been to see this brilliant exhibition at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne with such a wide variety of work in different media presented by school children. I was fascinated to see different pieces of work based on South Downs, including ceramics and it has made me more aware of the use of collage and mixed media. I was particularly interested in a piece inspired by artist Tom Phillips, so I looked up more of his work.
Seeing an original painting (not a giclee print) by Harold Mockford, Chalk pit in the Downs, was a good experience. I could see the different textures, brush marks and the actual colours – not having to rely on limitations of a photograph. His interpretation of the pit and use of black next to chalky white, opens up imagination and leads you to deep inner vision.
the artist; (c) Harold Mockford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
I also saw another exhibition at the Towner : Vanishing Point by UK artists -Matthew Clark, Chris Bird and Ash Nehru of United Visual Artists (UVA).
Inspired by sketches of Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, UVA put in an installation that sends lines of light by a laser device from a single point, an arbitrary vanishing point, into space , creating different volumes, divisions and rooms to be explored by the audience. A fascination with the physical presence of light is embedded in their work and they have explored different ways of creating a structure from light. Vanishing Point employs perspective as both a tool and visual outcome to reshape, redefine and represent a space. Standing on a white line and looking at lines of light coming out from the vanishing point was fascinating. It’s made me even more aware of perspective and the importance of marking down a VP for future landscape drawings.
Leon Battista Alberti defined the canvas of a painting to be a window, with everything behind it as pictorial space. The use of perspective by UVA is an interpretation of Alberti’s window where, through projection planes, this pictorial space intersects with the real space. Although the perspective that UVA draw is an artificial one, the light makes it attractive and has an enormous impact on a space or surface. Durer and Leonardo used perspective as a cutting edge technology, relying on mathematics and rules to construct images.

Exhibition – Peter Dreher at the MK Gallery

I happened to be in Milton Keynes on Saturday and went to see the exhibition by German Artist Peter Dreher renowned for his series of over 5000 paintings of the same empty glass produced almost daily for the last 40 years.
From the video I saw at the gallery, he explained he wanted to paint an object again and again for a few days. He couldn’t paint an apple as it would die. He decided to paint an empty glass in oils on canvas. After a few days painting the same glass, he enjoyed it so much he carried on for 40 years. He painted it during the day and at night. The reflections differ at the different times of the day. He would look at a tiny part of the glass, paint in all the details, the move to the next part, paint and so on. Each painting is created in the same conditions, same position and from the same perspective, in one single sitting. It’s methodical and obsessive, and loads the painting of the glass with further meaning for the artist and viewer.

The detail is incredible. No two paintings of the glass are alike. His subtle brush work is so delicate. The glass looks real. When standing in front of the paintings, I felt mesmerised by the glasses. One would jump out and then another. The ritual act of painting the same thing over and over again is meditative, and provides quiet and peace. His work is contemplative, diaristic and obsessive. It highlights minute changes in our surroundings, deliberately marking the passage of time and ultimately providing evidence of,the artists existence.

I particularly like his flower paintings. He deliberately leaves them unfinished, yet in the areas he has painted, he puts in incredible detail. I like his choice of colours. In one of his flower painting, in was not only unfinished, he had lots of pencil lines.




National Gallery

Easter weekend MARCH 2013

Still waiting for my tutor’s report on my second assignment. Too cold to out sketching. While attending a family wedding over the weekend, I decided to visit the National Gallery.
Looking at the exhibition ” Through American eyes, Frederic Church and the landscape oil sketch” was very inspirational. His painting of the Niagara falls is breathtaking, I felt the force of water and thought the spray was about to reach me. His depiction of clouds and rivers are photorealistic. His paintings : Clouds over Olana and Iceburg are stunning.

Whilst at the gallery I had to go and look at more landscape paintings. Started of with Claude Lorraine and Turner.

Claude’s Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca 1648 with a water mill in the middle distance. The detail in the foreground is beautiful. On its left is Embarkation of of the Queen of Sheba (1648).
From this painting I can understand why Turner was inspired by Claude.

Turner’s painting : Dido building Carthage or the rise of the carthageian empire 1868, Dido queen of the Carthage is on the left of Claude’ s Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba. Turner regarded this as his masterpiece and is reputed to have turned down 5000 guineas for it.

Standing in front of them both, I could not help being moved by Claude’s painting. The way he painted the sky, clouds, the water- I could feel the movement of the water and its depth. The sea feels life like. The detail on the men in the foreground. I have now changed my view about his paintings and am now an admirer.

Claude’s mainstay was identified as landscapes and port scenes, on which he often mixed the real with fictive and his great innovation was painting the sun facing the viewer. Delicacy in his painting effects of light, sunrise or set maximised the poetic impact of his work. His work gives a timeless serenity.
I spent some time looking at the Dutch masters. A painting that stood out is View of Rhenen by
Salomon Van RUYSDAEL. He has captured the movement of clouds beautifully. In the middle distance he painted a boat on the right with windmills further back and cows in the foreground.

I was also inspired by Sisley, the way he captured fleeting effects of nature, again movements of clouds and reflections in water. As always I was mesmerised by Monet, Cezanne, Pissaro, Van Gogh and so many others.
There is so much to see but I ran out of time.

Visit to the Towner-Eastbourne

Towner gallery, Eastbourne 04 And 08 Jan
Went to see ‘Bon Hiver’ at the Towner. Bon Hiver is a greeting in French wishing you ‘good winter’ especially at the first snowfall. So the theme of the exhibition is all about winter. As you open the door to the exhibition on the 1st floor, you walk into a real forest of bare dark trees. Incredible – as i was expecting only paintings on a wall. I read the information on the side. This is ‘ the Forked Forest Path’ by Olafur Eliasson. I stood for a moment looking at the bare branches and twigs, the patterns they were forming. The walls are white and the floor light cream. The shadows of the trees look as if they are falling on snow. I spotted one lone brown dried up leaf on a twig. These are branches of sweet chestnut trees, create an omnious and eerie presence. The twigs were curling in all directions. The forked path leads you to two different areas which are a surprise and you have to make a choice which path you want to take. It was a wonderful experience walking through the path. I felt like I was in the woods in winter.
I had experienced Olarfur’s weather project at the Tate modern in 2003. It was beautiful. I felt the sun was almost real. I like his work. Eliasson’s pieces try to make the viewer participate and be aware of their physical environments
At the Bon Hiver exhibition I saw some other work by various other artists. Some of it I did not understand. A drawing of The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Berwick, Sussex by Duncan Grant really stood out. I liked the way he used different marks to show walls, trees, church roof, etc. I especially liked ticks to depict a flint wall of the church, rather than drawing the stones. The grave stones in the foreground add a different dimension to the drawing.
I also like an oil painting by Eric Wotton- Windover in Winter, Alsciston. The way he has painted snow, it feels fresh and bright on the Downs.
There is a painting there by Eric Ravilious, called ‘Winter on the Downs’. It’s beautiful. The slopes of the Downs and the tiny bare trees. His brush strokes while painting the plough are so accurate and seem to be done with an absolute steady hand. I could see the lines of the field through the handles of the plough, so he must have painted over them.
I went to the exhibition twice just to experience the woods again and sketch some of the patterns made by the branches.


A quick sketch of the church in Berwick showing the various marks.