Portrait painting in oils workshop at Yardley Arts

I recently hosted another portrait painting in oils workshop at the Yardley Arts Centre. This was another enjoyable experience with some enthusiastic and willing students and some great results.

In the same vein as my other portrait workshops http://www.cordellgarfield.com/workshops/  the portrait painting in oils workshop set out to really help beginners. Above all portrait painting and its anatomy are difficult to master and I tried to simplify the process. We approached the portrait painting through understanding the landmarks of the face. This could be the position of the eyes, distances between the eyes, nose and mouth and so on. We also worked on some colour theory and using a limited colour palette to produce a variety of flesh tones. Here are some examples of the work produced:

portrait painting in oils workshop yardley arts

portrait painting in oils workshop yardley arts

portrait painting in oils workshop yardley arts

portrait painting in oils workshop yardley arts

 

I also want to give a big shout out to Yardley Arts. Yardley Arts is a not-for-profit arts organisation that is really placing a focus on the arts in Northamptonshire. The spacious and light-filled centre is based at Yardley Hastings. Its range of courses covers drawing, painting, sculpture, jewellery and photography. There is even an animation workshop! Moreover, there is something for everybody with previous experience not necessary on many workshops.

I will be running another workshop at the centre in the future, but I would recommend checking out other courses. The courses are all run by experienced artists who will help improve your skills whatever your ability. Have a look at their web site https://www.yardleyarts.org/about

 

 

Alderton Art Festival 2019

It’s no secret that I’ve always been a strong supporter of local art events in Northamptonshire. As a result I will be showing my work in the 43rd Alderton Art Festival. The festival held over Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September as always will host an exhibition and sale of paintings. Furthermore, there are also craft stalls, beer tent and musical entertainment.

Alderton Arts Festival
Alderton Art Festival logo

Set in the picturesque village of Alderton, South Northamptonshire, the festival will feature many high quality local artists. Above all this is a festival that is well supported with something for all art lovers. I will have some original paintings and prints on show for sale. Therefore, for Northamptonshire art lovers the festival is well worth a visit. So come along and have a look.

http://www.aldertonartfestival.co.uk/art_festival.php

https://www.facebook.com/AldertonArtFestival/

Art Fairs – the way forward to buying art?

Abington Park Museum Christmas

A shout out to Northants’ art outlets

 

Yardley Arts Portrait Painting workshop

I recently hosted and run an introduction to portrait painting in oils workshop at the Yardley Arts Centre. This was an enjoyable experience with some enthusiastic and willing students and some great results.

Cordell Garfield Portrait painting workshop student work Yardley Arts
Portrait painting workshop Yardley Arts

My own portrait painting in oils workshop was successful but I wanted to give a big shout out to Yardley Arts. Yardley Arts is a not-for-profit arts organisation that is really placing a focus on the arts in Northamptonshire. The spacious and light-filled centre is based at Yardley Hastings. Its range of courses covers drawing, painting, sculpture, jewellery and photography. There is even an animation workshop! Moreover, there is something for everybody with previous experience not necessary on many workshops.

I will be lucky to be running another workshop at the centre in the future, but I would recommend checking out other courses. The courses are all run by experienced artists who will help improve your skills whatever your ability. Have a look at their web site https://www.yardleyarts.org/about

Talented Art Fair 2019

Painting portrait of woman in bar
Where were you?

The Talented Art Fair #talentedartfair2019 is one of the most successful independent art fairs in London.  This fair has quickly established itself as a platform for emerging and established artists to sell their work. Above all, it is a fair offering affordable work for the general buying public.

For me it is an opportunity to engage and make a connection with art lovers and buyers. Being involved with like-minded artists in a well organised and friendly event is a great way to do this. What better way to display your artwork than in such an environment. For example, in a previous blog post you can read my thoughts on the growing importance of fairs. http://www.cordellgarfield.com/2018/09/25/art-fairs-the-way-forward-to-buying-art/

I will be showing a series of portraits and figurative work, some of which will be musical icons at the Talented Art Fair. Furthermore all of my artwork will be on sale. The fair runs from Friday 1st March to Sunday 3rd March. Hope you can get along to have a look.

https://www.talentedartfair.com/

Lou Reed: New York musician oil painting portrait

Lou Reed 1970s
Lou Reed portrait

My latest oil painting portrait, and this time it’s Lou Reed, New York musician and founder member of the legendary Velvet Underground. Best known in the UK for ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KaWSOlASWc and the BBC charity single ‘Perfect Day’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y. Lou Reed was a big influence on Bowie as well as a few of the bands who came out of the 70s punk explosion. . He had a track record of drugs and alcohol abuse although cleaned himself up in later years. Irascible and an absolute pain for rock journalists, Lou sung a lot about New York and its misfits. His songs touched on no go subjects junkies, transvestites, rent boys, bisexuality and were often no holds barred and provocative.

I chose this image which was probably around 1974 as it sums up Reed at his peak. This was on the back of his success with ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in 1972. This was the Glam Rock period and Lou was all shades and leathers. He didn’t quite fit in with his British contemporaries (think Sweet, Slade, Glitter Band etc), being more street and savvy. Bowie (obviously), Roxy Music and Iggy Pop http://www.cordellgarfield.com/2018/08/21/iggy-pop-and-the-stooges-raw-power-1972-acrylic-painting/ were the closest to him in spirit at this time.

I really enjoyed painting this one, and it’s only a small oil painting (12 x 10). The pose is great, not sure if the two fingers were a deliberate set up but it works and fits Reed’s punk image. It really is a picture of its time, not long before punk/new wave hit the streets. For the painting aficionados out there I worked quickly, alla prima with a fairly limited palette.

Top Lou Reed song? Difficult to choose but here are some links to a small selection of some more well known tracks:

Sweet Jane – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHxLawJONeQ

Pale Blue Eyes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisHhIRihMY

Vicious – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM9JG-oQm1Y

 

 

Northampton Town & County Art Society’s latest annual exhibition

Northampton Town & County Art Society Winter Exhibition Dec 18
Abington Park Museum Show Dec 18

The Northampton Town & County Art Society is holding it’s latest annual exhibition at the Abington Park Musuem. Set up in 1913 this long standing art society continues to exhibit regularly. Our members and associates continue to produce high quality artwork, making the Society the county’s premier art group.

With the closure of the Northampton Central Museum for refurbishment, the Society has been very busy. The Alfred East Gallery (https://www.kettering.gov.uk/gallery), The Castle (https://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre) and The Storehouse Gallery (http://www.storehousegallery.com/) have all been exhibiting venues for the Society in the past year. As a Society we have been active, reflected in numerous sales at our exhibitions, particularly the Summer Show at the The Storehouse Gallery.

I’ve exhibited some of my work at these shows http://www.cordellgarfield.com/gallery/landscapes/, and I would recommend a visit to a Society show. A range of the county’s diverse artwork is always on show at the Society’s exhibitions. For instance, you will find original paintings, drawings, printed media or sculptures all produced by society members.

The Abington Park Museum exhibition runs until 20th January 2019. Opening hours are normally 12pm to 4pm and admission is free. You will need to check with the museum for opening days over the Christmas Holiday period (https://www.facebook.com/AbingtonMuseum/).

My visit to the BP Portrait Award exhibition

BP Portrait award Zack Zdrale
BP Portrait Award – Sister – Zack Zdrale

I made my annual visit to the National Portrait Gallery to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition 2018, sandwiched between watching England’s surprising progress at the World Cup!

One of the most prestigious portrait painting competitions, the BP Portrait Award has been running since 1980. There’s usually a mix of professional and student artists. So I just thought I’d put in a word for an inspiring exhibition and praise the art of the portrait.

The BP Award is where I go for inspiration and to marvel at the technical skills of the artists involved. I always find portraits that interest me every time I visit. Whether it’s photo realistic painting, paintings with some great inner psychology or simply colour, it’s all here.

So this time I saw great examples of photo realistic painting and some brilliant compositions. It’s not simply about a likeness, but also a mood or feel. Also I love the attention to surroundings and the depiction of props and clothing.

Looking round the exhibition I was drawn to this small portrait entitled ‘Sister’ by American artist Zack Zdrale http://zackzdrale.com/. Why was this? On first viewing it looked a little imposing and the model, Zack’s sister, a little stern with her intense gaze at the viewer. In his commentary Zack stressed that it was his sister’s expression of strength that dictated his painting. May be that’s why my first reaction was how imposing the pose seemed?

However, I think my reaction to the portrait chimed with what Zack set out to achieve. The slashes of light that hit the face and lower part of the neck immediately caught my eye. The strong triangular composition and use of chiaroscuro links in with the strength of the sitter’s gaze. Using a limited palette and with huge swathes of dark paint, my eye was directed to the boldly lit face.

This is just one of 48 paintings on show at the exhibition. You can look at the other paintings on the National Portrait Gallery’s website https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/bp-portrait-award-2018/exhibition/exhibitors/. However, I would seriously recommend a visit when you’re next in London. The exhibition runs until 23rd September.

David Byrne. Stop making sense!

David Byrne
David Byrne

A recent gig to see David Byrne on his ‘American Utopia’ tour at the Birmingham Symphony Hall immediately reminded me of an earlier oil painting I made of the great man. I thought I’d give it an airing and revisit him and his old band, Talking Heads. This image was when he was lead singer with Talking Heads around 1979, and I just had to paint it. It was also about the time they released one of their finest albums ‘Fear of Music’.

On this tour, Byrne himself is in good form, more comfortable in his own skin than ever before. The show, Samuel Beckett minimalism meets London Palladium variety revue, has no drum kits, amps or PA system on view. The band 12 strong, barefooted and in matching suits move around the stage with their instruments strapped to their bodies. Backed by excellent lighting, heavily choreographed and with a quirky upbeat mood throughout, Byrne has deconstructed the modern live performance while at the same time embracing existing modes of stage performance. This is no small feat, and Byrne’s claim that this is his most ambitious tour feels spot on. Here’s a link to a snippet of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vlNvQkT_c8

This tour follows in the great tradition of David Byrne as art pop rocker, collaborating on films and in theatre. However, there is still the legacy of Talking Heads not only in some of the old songs performed. In the 1970s and 1980s Talking Heads were an intellectual art school dance band. They fused post punk, new wave, krautrock, afro, funk, and an avant-garde sensibility crossing over into pop. Lead singer David Byrne was an anxious, nervous, arty oddball, “borderline Asperger’s” by his own recent admission, but constantly looking to reinvent his music. They produced one of the finest and slightly left field rock concert films in recent history “Stop making sense” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKKgwuAoshA. Give it a look but stick with it.

Whatever your view on the band and their music, it worked and was quirky. Taking the mundane and suburban, Byrne used the classic artifices of juxtaposition and counterpoint in his lyrics to make a point or not. He continued this throughout his career with Talking Heads even when they became commercially successful. Citing life giving air as painful, taking happiness as something mundane or viewing the world from the point of view of a psychopath or urban guerrilla, his take on events was never obvious.

He’s back on tour in the UK in October and November. Enigmatic with a good back catalogue as well as new stuff, I’d recommend trying to catch him.

In praise of Still Life

"<yoastmark

Critics often say that still life paintings are a little uninspiring, an acquired taste, decorative yes, but a little dull. When compared to human subject matter and landscapes, still life ranks quite low in the pecking order of art forms.

My view is that still life art is more than just genre paintings, something pleasing to hang on your wall. So what is it about  the portrayal of some natural or man-made items that should make us reassess the impact of still life painting?

As an artist, and this is a technical standpoint, they are an exercise in looking once, and then looking again. For an artist it is the demand on the observation, the attention to composition and the arrangement of space and objects. The artist’s level of technical skill involves depicting colours, light, form and a response from the viewing experience. This experience could be anything. It could be realism, emotion or symbolism, but it depends on your style, your outlook and approach as an artist.

Still life paintings can be symbolic, as shown by many of the Dutch and Flemish 17th century painters. They would use books to represent knowledge, skulls to represent death and wine for pleasure. The still life painting would be bound up as an overall reminder for the viewer that we are all mortal and life is fragile. Known as ‘Momento Mori’ artwork (Latin for ‘Remember you must die’), http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/memento-mori and taken further with ‘Vanitas’ paintings http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/v/vanitas , they were a sort of visual cautionary tale that the pleasures and goods we pursued in our life were effectively worthless.

Obviously these paintings were symbolic, steeped in and framed by the strong influence of the church at the time. However, still life painting should act as a catalyst, making us look in more depth at the world around us. How many times do you watch TV, look at your mobile, answer a text while still talking to somebody? There is no focus on any of these things to any real extent, but that is how we seem to function these days. How many times have you walked to get somewhere, yet have no recollection of what you’ve really seen when walking? Do you really look at buildings, natural objects, people etc, other than a cursory glance?

Modern life has a bearing on how little we observe and really take time to look at something. Our attention span can be short on a variety of different issues. However, we know that many medical and technological innovations have come from somebody simply observing something in the first place. From really looking and understanding a problem or disease, a solution or medicine has been created. If we spend time really looking at something for more than a few seconds we can probably understand, appreciate and inform ourselves about what we have seen. May be our first impression was not entirely correct, may be we are not seeing the full picture!

Still life paintings take everyday objects we take for granted and show them in a new light. There might be symbolism, but the act of looking again is something we should probably try to practice in the outside world. In all this I’m not referring to spirituality or religion, but just the simple act of looking and observing. So the next time you see a still life painting, have a look, and may be later on see what’s around you in the real world. You might be surprised or look at things a little differently.

‘Ship of Fools’ – Painting can be a laugh

Sometimes it’s fun just to create a painting that’s a bit of a laugh. I started to paint this one with poking fun in mind, particularly the pompous Tory crowd on this boat just about to go over the edge of a waterfall.

The painting loosely inspired by Bosch’s painting ‘Ship of Fools’ http://www.hieronymusbosch.net/ship-of-fools/ and gives a big nod to the works of James Gilray and John Heartfield. In their time all these artists were capable of sending up the establishment and the rich and powerful.

Whatever your political stance the art of wit, humour, sense of the ludicrous and general lampooning should never be lost, and for me this is what this painting has recreated.

This painting is on show at the Alfred East Art Gallery, Kettering until 26th May 2018 if you want a closer look.