The Library of Obscure Wonders

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Tag: nature

Newsletter October 19

Fossil Oyster
Devils Toe Nail – Oil on Canvas

This is the first post for quite some time. I had a difficult summer moving flat, but I’m now all moved into my new place, which is lovely, and ready to start looking at exhibitions again.
This month I’ve just been to a wonderful exhibition in the basement of the Hundred Years Gallery, Pearson Street E2. It is called The Floating Forest and is by Montse Gallego. If you are interested in the power of forests, trees and the beauty of hanging rice paper, Montse is well worth looking at, unfortunately I think the exhibition is only on till the end of this week. Free
I’m very interested in going to see the William Blake exhibition at the Tate Britain. The poet, artist and printmaker (1757-1827) spent his life creating mesmerising, tiny works to illustrate poems. histories and mythologies. This is one of the largest exhibitions of his work in a long time, it’s on till the 2nd February 2020 and costs £18
Gaugin portraits is an exhibition on at the National Gallery, from 7 October until 26 January 2020, it should be a good show and a bit different from the normal exhibitions of his work.
Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is a very famous artist in Finland  The exhibition at the Royal Academy is the first chance London audiences have had to see her work. Tickets cost £14.
Lastly, and going back to my days as an art student when I was a big fan of Phillip Guston, Co Westerick, another artist whose work is rarely seen in London, is on display at Sadie Coles HQ, Kingly street W1, until the 2nd November. These paintings remind me very much of Guston’s work, though the colour is more subtle. Free.
Classes and workshops
Monday classes are back on at Lordship Hub in Tottenham where we explore all sorts of subject matter in relation to watercolour painting. 11.30 to 1.30pm. Beginners are very welcome, as are those with more experience. It costs £10, or £8 if you book 3 or more sessions in advance. It is ‘drop in’ so there is no need to book in advance.
Thursday the 10th I’m starting a new 10 week series of evening classes in Drawing and Painting from Nature at South London Botanical Institute.This course is run by Imperial College London. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/evening-classes/autumn-spring-courses/october-courses-list/drawingnature/
I’m running the Botanical illustration class stage 1 at City Lit this term starting on the 16th November. This class goes over 4 full days on Saturdays and gives you all the basic knowledge and skills you need to draw effective plants and flowers. https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/botanical-illustration-stage-1Enroll soon to get a place.
Patterns in Nature is another course I’m running at City Lit this term. This looks at the geometry and patterns within nature, such as the honeycomb, cacti, shells and insects, and how these can be used to create effective designs for textile or print. It starts on 27th November, 18.00 to 21.00 and lasts over four weeks. https://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses/drawing-workshop-patterns-in-nature.Painting tip: ways to create black that will be more interesting than just using a ready made black.1. Mix Alizarin crimson with viridian green in equal measure for a rich strong black. 2. Mix ultramarine with burnt umber. 

The Snake Amongst Rubbish.

Art work - Snake painting

Watercolour and Gouache on handmade paper, with bed springs and litter.

This beast has just successfully got to America, much to my relief. I could see the authorities objecting to rusting bed springs in a package arriving from across the continent, but it got there safely. It is one of my earliest experiments in embedding and painting on handmade paper. It is an incredibly lengthy process with a high possibility of it going wrong at any stage – the paper-making, the drying, the embedding, and when it comes to the image, well you can’t rub out on handmade paper! The error possibilities are enormous, quite crazy in fact, but it is very rewarding once finished. There is also the curious thing that because it’s created from recycled materials the materials and the making process play a role in how the final image turns out, almost tell their story by influencing my decisions as I make it.

I found the bed springs in my garden, when I was trying to build a pond. An entire mattress is buried under the ground, rotten away so that it is just a huge bunch of strings and wire. I thought I saw a snake slithering amongst the strings, but it was probably my eyes playing tricks on me again.

The snake is a fascinating animal. The word snake comes from the term “to creep”. The forked tongue smells as well as tastes, and is constantly in motion sampling particles from the air. Many snakes also have infrared-sensitive receptors to detect the heat given off by warm blooded creatures. Most impressive, from a visual point of view, is their  jointed skull and highly mobile jaw which enables them to eat prey far larger then their heads, and often live.