Shining A Spotlight On Andrew McNeile Jones

by Christie Cluett 17. July 2015 14:39


In the 1980s, Andrew McNeile Jones graduated with a first in Fine Art from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Art. Despite this, he then trained as a filmmaker before going on to produce and direct many dramas, documentaries and commercials.

However, in 2002, he decided to leave the filmmaking industry to concentrate on his art. Here’s what he had to say to about his work:


 Describe a typical day in your life as an artist

Andrew McNeile Jones: I like to start the day early, because, with three children, I know there are going be interruptions later. I often get up around 6, and sit at my easel with a first cup of tea. I can usually get an hour or two in before the breakfast and school run chaos. Then I settle down again just after 9.

I usually have several paintings on the go at any one time, and I try and do a block of three or four hours on each painting, before moving on. This will depend on how much wet paint there is, and how much I just need to let it dry. 

If a painting is in its early stages, I block in the main shapes and masses, and it will be fairly quickly covered in paint; soon I’m in danger of smudging part of it, so I move on. Also, over-working wet paint can lead to muddy colours, so it’s best to put a painting at this stage on one side to dry. However, if I’m working on a smaller, detailed area, I can keep going if the surrounding paint is dry. 

Hours just mysteriously disappear; I often have Radio 4 for company, and the news bulletins are a good way to keep track of the time. But I alternate the radio with audio books, and then there’s no clue; if it’s a good book, I can easily miss lunch and be in danger of forgetting to pick the kids up.

The later afternoon is often when I will deal with emails and some of the necessary admin – updating websites, photographing new work, and so on. I really should be better at the social media thing, but it just takes up too much time, so I try to ignore it.

When all is quiet again in the evening, I can ponder new ideas and maybe pop back into my studio to plan what I’m going to tackle first thing tomorrow.

Where do you gather inspiration for your artwork? 

AMJ: Inspiration sometimes comes just from moments around the house – a shaft of light coming through the window, a jacket tossed over the back of a chair makes me think “I could do something with that.”

It could be an exhibition or a picture in a magazine or a website that just gives me the germ of an idea that I can chew over. And sometimes it is not even pictorial: it could be an idea in a novel, or a piece of music – on occasion, these can all set me scribbling.  I have notebooks and lists of thoughts and possibilities, and just never enough time.


Above: ‘The Hour Of Meeting, The Hour Of Parting (II) by Andrew McNeile Jones

What was the first piece of art you created and the first piece of art you sold?

AMJ: I returned to painting after a first career in the film and television business. Around the time that I was working out my new direction, I went to an exhibition of William Nicholson’s paintings at the Royal Academy, and I was absolutely inspired by it.

I then decided to see if I could make a fair copy of one of his pieces – a silver bowl with pea pods on a tablecloth. This was the first piece in my burgeoning new career; I was satisfied with it, but never showed it, and it still hangs in one of our bedrooms.

I then started on my own small still lives and interior paintings, and my first sale was a painting of a wooden box full of home-grown tomatoes. There were all sorts of varieties and shades from green to deep red. What amazes me now is not the painting but the fact that I had the time to do the gardening, in order to grow all those tomatoes!

What is the most important piece of equipment in your artist’s tool box?

AMJ: Over and above the obvious essentials – the paint, the brushes and the canvas – the next most useful item I have is a mahl stick. It is nothing more than a bamboo cane with a pad of chamois leather tied over one end.  The pad rests on the top of the canvas or on the easel, and my painting hand can rest on the stick. This gives steadiness for fine work, and also the ability to hold my hand away from areas of wet paint. It cost pence to make, but I can’t imagine working without it.


Above: ‘Rice Bowl & Spring Blossom’ by Andrew Mcneile Jones

If you could own any piece of art, which would it be?

AMJ: It is tantalising to be told you can have any – but only one – work of art.  It would probably be an old master, and there are Titians and Velasquez’s that I would kill for, but right here and now I would choose Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels’. She was his mistress, or more correctly, common law wife, after his first wife died. She stares out at us – at him – with such tenderness and yearning, and the brushwork is absolutely magical.

How has helped you progress your artistic career?

AMJ:  I first met Mike and Aileen of several years ago, when I was first exploring the idea of trying to sell my work online. I had my own website of course, but that does little more than provide an online ‘presence’ and point of contact. I knew that selling online was a lot more than that, and have taken that on magnificently.

The site is simple to use, and they have built up an enormous database, which means new paintings can be targeted at potential customers very rapidly. I think the personal contact Aileen develops with clients means that relationships can be forged, which is invaluable, not only for sales, but for helping build the artist’s reputation – which can only be a good thing!

Are you interested in hanging an artwork by this wonderful artist on your own wall? Then take a look at Andrew McNeile Jones’ profile now.








Machine Picks The Most Creative Paintings Ever – Do You Agree With Its Choices?

by Christie Cluett 9. July 2015 15:17


Image by Jan Vašek

To an outsider looking in, the disciplines of art and science might seem like polar opposites. Art is driven by emotion and the desire to create something of beauty from instinct. On the other hand, science is fuelled by intellect and is relentlessly systematic in its approach.

However, on closer inspection, there is a clear symmetry that exists between science and art. For example, be it philosophically or empirically, both are dedicated to trying to find answers to some of life’s biggest questions. Plus, both the laboratory and the artist’s studio are environments where failure is openly accepted as part of the learning process.

Thanks to two computer scientists, however, the line between art and science is now closer than ever. That’s because Ahmed Elgammal and Babak Saleh from Rutgers University in New Jersey have created a visual algorithm that ranks historical art works according to the creativity they display. What’s more, they believe their machine can do this better than any art critic or historian alive.

Here Comes the Science Bit

Two technological advances have converged at once to make this feat possible. The first of these is the advance in the capabilities of machine vision – where a computer can classify images by the visual concepts they contain.

Ahmed Elgammal and Saleh’s machine can now easily distinguish between high level features such as how a painting looks and low-level features, such as colour. In fact, when analysing every painting, the machine can reference up to 2,559 different visual concepts.

The second major advancement is big data. Huge databases of art now exist online, which computers such as the one in question can use to hone their virtual eye. The largest of these is housed on the WikiArt website, which contains images of over 62,000 of the most important art works from throughout history.

The Virtual Network

So that their machine could choose the most creative artworks ever from the WikiArt database, Elgammal and Saleh created an algorithm that viewed the history of art as a network. This allowed their machine to compare every artwork in the database based on age and the visual concepts that they displayed.

The machine was then able to decide which artworks were the most creative by discovering when visual concepts were used for the first time. By this method, ground-breaking paintings were classified as artworks that had spawned a huge number of derivatives. While paintings that had no peers in terms of style and form were considered as truly original.

The Computer Says

As it turns out, art history is jam-packed with examples of paintings that were unlike anything that appeared before them. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1469 ‘Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate’, Goya’s 1780 ‘Christ Crucified’ and Edvard Munch’s 1893 ‘The Scream’ are three influential works that had a massive influence on paintings that were to follow.



 Above:  Although Edvard Munch exhibited creativity when he painted ‘The Scream’, his painting is one of the most imitated art works of all time. Image by Mike Licht

By looking at art in chronological order, the machine was also able to determine several spikes in creativity throughout art history. The two biggest corresponded with the High Renaissance period around the turn of the 16th century and also the late 19th and early 20th century. Therefore, the machine rated works by Michelangelo, as well Picasso and Salvador Dali highly for their creativity.



 Above: Many of Picasso’s paintings scored highly for creativity and originality. Image by Rian Castillo

Other instantly recognisable paintings the machine decided were exceptional in terms of creativity included Claude Monet’s ‘Haystacks at Chailly at Sunrise’, Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art masterpiece ‘Yellow Still Life’,  and Vermeer’s ‘View of Delft’.


Above: ‘Haystacks at Chailly at Sunrise’ by Claude Monet – one of the most creative and influential paintings ever created. Image from WikiArt

 While most of the paintings listed thus far are already darlings of the art fraternity, interestingly, the machine also downgraded a number of artworks that are widely considered great. 

For example, some artworks by old masters, Ingres and Rodin, are considered by the machine to lack originality. Similarly, despite being considered as one of the 20th century’s most seminal artworks, Paul Cezanne’s ‘Garden at les Lauves’ was also ranked poorly by the machine in terms of creativity.

And the Winner Is…

Despite being a relative unknown, certainly in comparison to the more illustrious names listed, the machine deems history’s most creative artist ever to be Fernando Calhau.

Due to rights around publishing images, we are unable to show you pictures of any of his work here – however, you can check out his portfolio at the WikiArt Database. There’s no doubt that this abstract artist has created some truly unique pieces, but is he the most creative artist in history?

A Machine has proved it’s got a fantastic eye for art, but have you? The collection includes a huge range of affordable art from some of the most creative artists working today. So why not check it out to see what you think?



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