Tuesday, 19 May 2009


This link will take you inside Geroge Seaurat's sketchbook.

Georges Seurat: The Drawings (from an exhibition between October 28, 2007-January 7, 2008)

Once described as “the most beautiful painter’s drawings in existence,” Georges Seurat’s mysterious and luminous works on paper played a crucial role in his career. Though Seurat is most often remembered as a Neo-Impressionist, the inventor of pointillism, and the creator of the painting,A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, his incomparable drawings are among his–and modernism’s–greatest achievements. Working primarily with conté crayon on paper, Seurat explored the Parisian metropolis and its environs, abstracted figures, spaces, and structures, and dramatized the relationship between light and shadow, creating a distinct body of work that is a touchstone for the art of the twentieth century and today.


Here you can see parts of a "triptych of temporary structures: waveforms marking three successive points on the predicted line of coastal retreat over the next hundred years" (quoted from National Trust leaflet: "Red Earth: Long Shore Drift", late summer 2008)

In 2008, I went to see The Storm Surge in Dunwich, Suffolk. Three vast sculptures towering over the yellow gorse. Thick guy ropes pulling the tension into and out of the twisted birch.

The Modernist perception of beauty is found in grids, in unity, and in mathematical symmetry. Is Andy Goldsworthy's work Modernist?

How do you create a circle using straight lines?
The parallels between Mondrian and Goldsworthy's work, though created and deconstructed from entirely different medium, illustrate the ether of land art.

These works show a high spirited commitment to function and unity. There is a true beauty in order.

Culture Meeting in Nature. Jorn Hansen, 2001

Displaced Egg, Max Nowell: Westmorland green slate. 7 feet tall.

The Neuberger Cairn, Andy Goldsworthy, 2001

San People. Rock Art, 400AD

Andy Goldsworthy, 2000

Cooling Towers in Soweto. There's an FNB Bank advert on one, and scenes from township life (plus Madonna and Child) on the other.

...while in our green and pleasant land we have this news bulletin from the BBC. The Tinsley Towers demolition in August, 2008. (Featured in The Big Art, Channel 4).

In October 2005 Channel 4 asked the nation to get involved in the Big Art Project. The response was overwhelming – over 1,400 members of the public across the UK said they wanted some art for their communities and proposed a site. 
The Big Art selection team tackled the huge task of working out which of those sites should go forward.

Selection was based on a list of practical criteria, including:
planning and political support
aesthetic and educational potential
funding availability
the range of art that might be possible
enthusiasm and flexibility of the nominating community
achievability within the time-frame
the potential to maximise public access to the commissioning process and the final art work.

The programme is currently in its fourth year and is being shown on Channel 4, Sundays, 7pm.


Lunar Bird, Joan Miro, 1945

Woman and Bird Before the Moon, 1944, Joan Miro

Taken from How To Draw A Cartoon Bird.

It is your decision, aptitude aside, how intense or abstract, the detail it is you choose to include. If you can draw shapes, you can draw anything you wish. It is up to you how you want it to look. You don't have to use cross hatching to shade an object and you don't have to use scissors to cut paper. It just so happens these skills aid eye to hand coordination. Once learnt, you can't un-learn them.

Quentin Blake's take on birds. The feathered kind.

Flying parrot with a pen clasped in his feet. Pen, ink and watercolour on Arches paper, Quentin Blake, 2003.

Darwin's Rhea, John Gould, 1841

This diagram of the skulls of different pigeon breeds is from Charles Darwin's Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication.


Examples of similar portrait techniques, produced (in some cases) 500 years apart

The Smudge Tool spreads and mixes content of image areas, (c. 2000).

This album is often referred to as Melt due to its cover photograph by Storm Thorgerson.
The photo was taken with a Polaroid SX-70 instant camera, and subsequently modified by Thorgerson or Gabriel. (Thorgerson does not recall whether he or Gabriel manipulated the image.) (1980)

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Gates of Paradise, 1403

Juan Muñoz, Two Seated on the Wall, 2000

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1986.

Banksy, Self-Portrait, 2007.

Addison Scurlock, Family Portrait, 1925

Liz Shaking Fist at Ray, Richard Billingham, 1995

Myra, Marcus Harvey, 1995, Acrylic on canvas
The image has gone from being an image in the press, to being a painting and then back into the press again.

Anne-Karin Furunes, Unknown from Archive, 2003.
Furunes perforates the surface of black or white canvas or unpainted aluminum with hundreds of handmade holes.

Cries Of London, 1996, Grayson Perry

Moche Ceramic Portrait, 1400, Larco Museum Collection

Albrecht Durer, Self-portrait, 1500

Zuzana in Paris Studio (acrylic on wooden board, 1300 x 1100mm), Hynek Martinec, 2007.
Check out his drawings here. Don't let anyone tell you this style of painting isn't clever. It's very clever. What a wonderful feeling to gasp at a piece of Art. Likewise below, and for different reasons.
A close up.

Shahnoza, pole dancer, 2006 (Vinyl on wooden stretcher), Julian Opie

Look above and below. Delicious mouths. Confident, deep creased line creating illusion of that biteable soft bottom lip.

Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington c.1796

Double Self-Portrait, Egon Schiele, 1915.

Triple portrait of King Charles, Anthony van Dyck

"The aim of Art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality."

"If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it."
Andy Warhol

"I can't believe you morons actually buy this shit".

"There are only two styles of portrait painting: the serious and the smirk."
Charles Dickens

"I loathe my own face, and I've done self-portraits because I've had nobody else to do."
Francis Bacon