Stealing from Charity!

No, I didn’t actually steal anything, but I almost feel like I have.  Note the word almost.   I got such amazing bargains that it almost felt like stealing.

I have been working on a beast of a piece of furniture for my dining room and needed a much needed break from it.  So, I did what I usually do on a sunny day when I am not working for money, I hit the charity shops!  It is a form of entertainment for me and I never know if something will jump out at me and ask me to take it home.

Just so you know, I actually don’t really need anything.  I do have an idea to expand a piece of furniture and took some measurements before I went out, just in case I saw something I could use.  I also thought it might be nice to find some interesting artwork.  I am always on the lookout for a lovely painting.  I don’t think you can own too much art.  Charity shops are great places to score some nice paintings or frames.  Sometimes I find nice things that I didn’t even know I wanted!  Anyway, I had two intentions when I went out:  I was looking for a bookcase of sorts and I was looking for artwork.

It didn’t take long before I scored big time on the artwork.  Here is what I got today:

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1) I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spied this painting by Nigel Greaves for £20!  The picture frame is worth more than £20!  And the painting is definitely worth more than that.  I should know because I own one of Nigel’s paintings.  I felt sick with excitement and felt like a naughty schoolgirl when I handed over my money.  How this painting came to be in a charity shop I will never know.  Usually, something of this worth gets given away when someone passes away and the relatives don’t like it or don’t know its value.  Although other people’s abstracts are really not my thing unless your name is Kandinsky, I do like this painting and have the perfect spot for it.  I still would have purchased it even if I didn’t like it.  I would just stick it on E-bay otherwise.

2)  This is a postcard of the All Saints Convalescent Hospital in Eastbourne and was sent to someone in London postmarked 1916.  I need to find a frame for it.  I like collecting historical items like this.  This little gem cost £1.50!  I am amazed that it found its way back to Eastbourne!  The building still stands, but it has been turned into very expensive apartments.

3)  I found this chess set for £2.00!  This chess set is nothing special, but it is just the right size and I want to learn how to play again.  I need to find a little box for the pieces.  This was one of those things that I didn’t even know I wanted!

4)  This painting was half price, for £2.00!  It’s a pretty watercolour of ‘Christmas Roses’ by Brian Neylan.  From what I could find on the internet, Brian Neylan was a resident of Eastbourne.  He passed away in 2001.  That was all that I could find out about this man.  This painting was done in 1999.  There is something really lovely and simple about this painting and I was surprised to see it going for a song.  Brian may be gone, but now he won’t be forgotten.

So, I now have a few more pieces to add to my collection.  You never know what you are going to learn about that little gem you take home with you.

What interesting things have you discovered in a charity shop?

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I’ve Been Critiqued!

I have taken a break from my life drawing and still life classes to focus on other things including homework for the Art Foundation Course.  As encouraging as the tutor was, there wasn’t much structure and I felt that I was missing out on something.  So I’ve decided to work on my own for now.

I feel that I require more direction.  I need to sit with someone and have them show me things and then send me on my way to try it out, there and then.  Leading by example.  I have loads of books now on using the different mediums.  However, as much as I can soak it up in my brain, my hands don’t always know what to do.   I suppose it is no different to learning any other new skill.  You can’t just learn how to do things from books.  You need to go to classes, or learn from another on a one to one basis.  They you need to apply what you have learned.

There is an artist called Michael where my sweetheart lives and he has classes where he shows people how to paint.  He’s admitted that if they want to know how to make a waterfall or a cloud, he will show them how he makes his waterfalls and clouds.  I guess one has to start somewhere.  There are so many ways to make waterfalls, clouds and trees!  But I think if one is given a way, one can eventually find their own way.  When I saw Michael last weekend, there was a lady there copying a painting from a book and he was helping her, giving her direction, which is precisely what I need and felt I have been lacking.  We need a Michael in Eastbourne.

 I am at the ‘I want to draw every detail‘ stage.  Apparently this is quite common for people just learning to draw and paint.   There are some things I love working on the details, such as flowers.  I find the process of drawing the details very therapeutic.  However, I also LOVE paintings of flowers where there is hardly any detail, just an impression.  In some ways it can be more difficult to paint in this way.  It requires a sense of freedom and ease which I haven’t reached yet.  My analytical brain won’t let me right now or I just haven’t mastered how to overcome what my brain is saying.  There are times that I doubt myself and my capabilities.  Sometimes I wonder, what the heck I am doing?  Maybe I should forget it and get a full-time job.  How will doing an Art Foundation course benefit me in my future?  Is there any money in it? (See, this is what comes from having too much free time on my hands and an immigrant background.  My brain goes doo-lally.)  All I know is that if I don’t do the course I will regret it.  I don’t want to regret anything, especially NOT doing something when I have an opportunity.  So what will happen in the future?  Who knows?!  I need to focus on the now.  I really gave myself angst over this recently, so I feel very relieved that I won’t be putting too much attention on the outcomes.  Anything can happen!

My friends and family are very encouraging about my work.  That makes me feel good, but I think they can be biased, which is very nice.  This encouragement keeps me plugging along.  There have been things I have been very happy about with regard to my paintings, and yet I still felt something was lacking and couldn’t put my finger on it.  I went to see Nigel Greaves at his gallery this morning on my way to the seafront.  His paintings are varied and vibrant.  He paints in acrylic, pastels and watercolours.  He paints boats, flowers, still life, seascapes and abstracts.  Nigel has been painting for over 40 years.  He studied art and was taught the foundations.  He still paints every morning.  He can paint the same thing over and over and each painting will be different.  I like to look at his paintings for inspiration.  I actually own one now. If you are ever in Eastbourne, his gallery is worth looking at and it is right near The Towner Gallery.

I told Nigel that I have taken up painting and he had a look on my blog.  He made some comments.  They weren’t harsh, but they were very direct.  Actually, they could have been worse.  The problem is my perspective and background.  I could see immediately what he meant as he was talking about each picture.  He made a few suggestions and then showed me examples in his own work, which I love.  This was exactly what I needed, an objective eye.  We discussed planning each painting in a sketch prior to painting.  He showed me an example.  I have read about this in books, but now it really clicks.  All of this took about 10 minutes.  I learned more in these 10 minutes than I learned these last few months.  This is one reason why I am going to do the Art Foundation course.  I need to learn how to do things and have someone honestly criticise my work.  It isn’t about them telling me what is crap about the piece, but how it can be improved to make a better picture.  Working with others means that people can bounce ideas off of each other.

I have been told to re-work some of my pictures based on what was discussed today.  That should keep me busy for a while!

John Piper@The Towner Gallery

John Piper in Kent & Sussex

2 July – 25 September 2011

Today I went to see the John Piper exhibition at The Towner Gallery in Eastbourne.  The Towner is virtually around the corner from me and as part of my homework is to go see as much art as possible (which I would do anyway!), I went to have a look.

Usually the exhibitions are free.  However there are two exhibitions a year that you need to pay to get in and this is one of them.  The entry fee is £5.50 / £4 concession / under 16s free.  I expect a lot when I have to pay to view art, and this exhibition did not disappoint me.  In fact, I would pay to see it again. I highly recommend going.  Really, this is a rave!

I have come across John Piper’s works before but really didn’t know much about him.  There is a documentary film about him and his work that you can watch and listen with headphones.  I found it very interesting although a bit dated.  I learned how an aquatint was produced and was surprised how complex the procedure was.  It is very time-consuming.  I also learned that Mr. Piper would take liberties in his sketches and not always draw what he saw but would draw an impression of a place.

I found most of the works on display to be quite inspiring in that his early works were not necessarily technically skillful, but interestingly composed.  In fact, many artists at that time produced work that contained an air of naivety about them.  There were similarities of some of his collage work to that of the piece created by Christopher Wood that is in The Rugby Collection that I really liked.  In researching these artists for my blog posts, I have discovered that there were quite a few that have associated with each other at the time and must have been influenced by each other in some way.

I am particularly drawn to artists who were active from the 30’s-50’s.  Although some of the work could be quite abstract, most of it was recognisable and the composition and style is quite distinctive.  I felt a sense of excitement while viewing this exhibition.  Although some works didn’t particularly appeal to me, one can’t be everything to all people, I enjoyed most of them and found the Architectural paintings and aquatints to be quite spectacular, especially as I had more information on how they were produced.

This particular exhibition mainly focuses on work produced in the Kent and Sussex Counties.  There are some lovely works of the Brighton Pavillion.  Piper also designed a stained glass window at St. Peter’s Church in Firle, East Sussex.  You can see the photo I took here.  I am assuming that he was acquainted with Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell who resided at Charleston, which is near to Firle, and who were artists at the same time.  The painting for the stained glass window is on show at this exhibition.

The free exhibition is on the ground floor and entitled Compulsive, Obsessive, Repetitive and runs from 2 July – 18 September 2011.  It is interesting, as is any type of conceptual art exhibition with installations.  You will either like it or hate it, or find it interesting.  I leave that one for you to decide.