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.
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
I have just finished the Talented Art Fair 2019 https://www.talentedartfair.com/ so I thought it would be good to give you my take on it. My first impression? It was the sheer volume of visitors to the fair that continued throughout the weekend that impressed me. The flow of visitor traffic did not let up, whether buying or simply browsing. This created a great environment for the artist, and I personally found it stimulating. In my case I did sell some paintings which added to the experience. However, regardless of sales the ability for artists to discuss their work face to face with the general public is important.
For the viewer and buyer the art on display and for sale was diverse and engaging. This was the key to the Talented Art Fair’s success – there was something for everyone. In my case it was also a good opportunity to demonstrate a portrait painting. My demo provided a good insight into how I work and how I produce my art. Judging by the interest, comments and questions I received, viewers were interested and engaged.
What was really noticeable was that the the fair was a friendly event. Both the public and other exhibitors were approachable and supportive. Furthermore, this made the experience of exhibiting a good one. So would I exhibit at the Talented Art Fair again? The answer would be yes. This was a well organised and positive fair. Selling paintings does add to a good experience, but artists can definitely use the fair to improve their exposure. Overall a thumbs up for the Talented Art Fair.
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.
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=0KaWSOlASWcand 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:
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.
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/).
Littered with casualties, early deaths and drug misuse, for many of us that is the story of Rock and Roll. The recent litany of deaths – Bowie, Prince, George Michael and now Aretha Franklin got me thinking. I decided that a death could be sad and unfortunate (Curtis Mayfield), but could also be self inflicted (Brian Jones). But hold on, then there is Iggy Pop!
Iggy follows in the great Keith Richards’ tradition of cocking a snoot at the Grim Reaper. This acrylic painting I produced a while back is based on a series of photographs taken by Mick Rock in 1972. Iggy and his band The Stooges came over to the UK in 1972 to record the classic album Raw Power. Totally iconic and at a time when Iggy was living life to the excess, this image summed up the lot. The album a sort of punk/metal thrash was initially hampered by recording/remixing. CBS drafted in Bowie to remix it adding to its legendary status.
The ‘Godfather of Punk’ always seemed on a path to self-destruction. Consider the facts: excessive drugs and booze, self-mutilation and audience confrontation on stage and an offstage lifestyle of total squalor and degradation. Mental institutions and rehab became a feature of Iggy’s life, particularly in the 70s. Bowie finally got him out and was able to get him performing and recording again. This was just in time for the launch of punk rock, Iggy’s spiritual home.
There are many stories about the Ig, but a couple come to mind. In Detroit at the Stooges last gig in 1974 a gig full of bikers caused mayhem by constantly pelting the band with eggs. Iggy lost it and challenged the audience. The result? A 6 ft plus biker pummelled Iggy (Iggy is 5ft 1in)!
Another bizarre story is after a drug induced night of popping pills Iggy decided to eat a couple of beefburgers. Turning on the gas for the oven and bending down with the burgers he had a seizure with his head stuck in the oven. He couldn’t move and would have gassed himself if it wasn’t for the next-door neighbours smelling the gas. They broke into his house and dragged him out. If he had have died this would have appeared as a really odd Rock and Roll suicide. As Iggy later commented “what would they have made of the beefburgers?”
The game-changer for Iggy was probably Bowie recording China Girl and having a hit with it in 1983. Since this point Iggy’s career has had a more upward trajectory. Whether it’s commercial spin offs from the film Trainspotting, acting, radio work or the Stooges reunion. The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. At 71 years old he is now an elder statesman with an almost national treasure status. He’s still worth checking out, his last album Post Pop Depression (2016) stands up pretty well.
It’s a roller-coaster story, but what of the music? Here is a list of some Iggy/Stooges songs with links in no particular order. Have a listen.
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.
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.
This recent commission, an acrylic painting of John Lennon around 1968, was an interesting one and got me thinking. What is my favourite Beatle track? What is my all time favourite Beatle’s album? I even played a Beatle song or two while painting it!
Like most people born in the 60s, but not everybody I appreciate, the Beatles were either a focal point or backdrop to your musical tastes and development. Over time they have fallen out of favour and come back in again, but their influence was immense musically and culturally.
So I started to go over a few songs and albums and the usual suspects all reared their heads – ‘Love Me Do’, ‘She Loves You’,’Yesterday’, ‘All You Need is Love’ etc etc. Now this wasn’t easy with such a back catalogue, however, there was one song which I still think is one of their best. It wasn’t a single but an album track off ‘Rubber Soul’, the reflective and slightly plaintive ‘In My Life’. Lennon and McCartney at their best.
With the albums again everybody seems to cite ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band’ as the seminal album and game changer. For me this was difficult so I cheated and have picked two albums ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’ from the 1965/1966 period. What I like about these albums is that the songs are taut, simple yet cleverly constructed songs and the beginnings of intelligent and insightful lyrics.
Whatever your opinion is of the Beatles give it a go, unless you absolutely detest them you will find something. What’s amazing to me is how sometimes a simple portrait painting of somebody, who when all said and done is not somebody you know or have met, but can evoke connections and memories taking you back to a place somewhere like your childhood. Long live the power of art!
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.