Walks That Inspired Famous Art

by Aileen Mitchell 13. May 2016 15:38

National Walking Month

To celebrate National Walking Month this May, we take a look at some of the ways that walking has influenced some of the world's most famous and creative artists. Not only does walking get people from A to B, it helps stimulate the brain and gets the cognitive and creative juices flowing.

Many of ArtGallery's own wonderful artists take inspiration from walking, which is something they share with some of the most famous artists from Munch, to Gormley. 

The walk that inspired the Scream


The famous, The Scream, series came as an inspiration to Edvard Munch whilst he was out walking with his friends in Oslo. Munch wrote a poem on the frame of the original pastel of The Scream, which reveals how he was influenced to create this iconic scene:

"I was walking along the road with two friends,
the sun was setting - the sky turned a bloody red,
and I felt a whiff of melancholy - I stood,
still, deathly tired - over the blue-black
fjord and city hung blood and tongues or fire.
My friends walked on - I remained behind
shivering with anxiety - I felt the great scream in nature."

City walking with van Gogh


For a period, Van Gogh lived in Brixton, London. During his stay, he made sure that he went of plenty of walks both in and out of the city. We know this from the letters he wrote to his brother. In one he wrote, "I walk here as much as I can. It's absolutely beautiful even though it's a city."

Coastline ghosts


From coastlines walks to rambles through fields, Antony Gormley's art is continually inspired by the relationship between people and nature. The figures commonly used in his work are casts of himself, which reflect how much Gormley himself goes on the walks featured in his sculpture exhibitions. 

Visitors are also encouraged to walk amongst the sculptures and interact with the landscape around them. 

In 1997, three years after winning the Turner prize, Gormley created the sculpture, Another Place. The piece involves over 100 life-size cast iron figures of Gormley spread over Crosby beach in Southport, looking out to the Irish sea. The sculptures are spread out for around two miles along the beach. 

Walking on thin ice

Contemporary Dutch artist and film maker, Guido van der Werve uses walking as the inspiration for many of his thought provoking video pieces. 

Nummer acht, everything is going to be alright, one of his most famous works, shows Werve walking calmly across open plains of ice directly in front of an ice-breaker. Of course, without the trick of the lens this wouldn't be possible. Although Werve is some distance from the ice-breaker, he uses walking to create the sense of drama and shock in his film.

The speed and non-harassed way that Werve walks inspires the viewers to think about the fragility of life, the human form, and the power of nature (after they've got over the urge to shout, "run!"). 

This piece is one of the most dramatic works of art that focuses on the act of walking - a truly inspired video, if not a bit stressful to watch.

The mechanics of walking

Contemporary maker Theo Jansen uses plastic tubing and sheeting - but never electronics - to create his kinetic sculptures. These seemingly organic structures are powered by wind to move in an uncanny way across surfaces. Jansen's machines explore the mechanics of walking, showing us how we ourselves are part-machine. 

We'd be interested to know how walking has inspired you as an artist or as an art lover. 


Art History

The Golden Ratio in Art

by Aileen Mitchell 6. May 2016 11:46

Frequent readers of The Independent online will remember the New Year's Eve photograph of a street scene in Manchester that went viral.

After a keen observer pointed out that the composition of the photo had the perfect balance of the golden ratio, the image was shared by millions online.

What is the golden ratio? 

The golden ratio is a mathematical tool used in architecture and design to achieve visual harmony and balance in a composition. To many, it's the most pleasing way of arranging shapes in a composition.

The ratio is found when dividing a line into two parts (one longer and one smaller). The length of the longer part divided by the length of the smaller part should equal the same number as the whole line before it was broken into parts. Clever, eh?

Used by some of the greatest artists of all time, this calculation has been found on some of their most famous works.

The golden ratio, also known as Phi is still recommended to art students for advice on laying out their work on canvas.

Leonardo da Vinci was an artist who used the golden ratio extensively. Known as 'the divine proportion' in the Renaissance period, it's clear why it was used so much.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Saint Jerome by Leonardo da Vinci

We can't always express what it is about art that makes us feel a certain way. However, the golden ratio has stood the test of time as a theory that explains the perfection of some of the greatest works of art. 

There are other patterns and sequences based on the concept of the golden ratio, which all offer a form of symmetry in design and composition. ArtGallery artist Kathryn Edwards demonstrates the use of the Fibonacci series. 

Fibonacci's Fish by Kathryn Edwards

Next time you feel a great satisfaction looking at a work of art, take a moment to see whether everything appears to be in perfect balance. 


Art History

Celebrating 90 Years - Queen Elizabeth II in Portraits

by Aileen Mitchell 18. April 2016 16:55

Her Majesty Elizabeth II's portrait surrounds us daily more than we stop to think about - she's on stamps, coins and banknotes. We even see her initials on letter boxes. 

A Life Extraordinary: Queen Elizabeth II by Angie Wright

Our queen is also one of the most recognisable and painted faces in modern portraiture, recreated by the likes of Andy Warhol, Lucian Freud and Justin Mortimer to name but a few.

To mark her 90th birthday, we celebrate by looking at ArtGallery artists who have also taken inspiration from our monarch.

The Street Party by  Jadwiga (Yaja) Kindermann

The Street Party shines a light on other countries around the world who also join in with royal celebrations. Kindermann’s oil on canvas displays a real scene taken from a photograph of a Christian food station in Pakistan, where children are gathered to celebrate the royals and have lessons.

Buckingham Palace by Darren Andrews

This particular view from the Mall is one of London’s most popular and iconic landmarks. It features a view of the palace painted in the iconic fuchsia pink used in the game Monopoly. It's painted by Darren Andrews. 

HM Queen Elizabeth II by Chris Norman

Never seen without a hat, Chris Norman captures the impeccably dressed monarch in a lilac outfit and white gloves. On the deck of a ship, the Queen looks out to sea.

Commonwealth Head Of State by  Gary Hogben

Guaranteed to arrive faster than any letter, Gary Hogben has created a head covered in stamps that begin with Queen Victoria at the top and continue through to Queen Elizabeth II. Most countries from the Commonwealth are to be found in various places around the head.

Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth by  Eliane Ellie

Eliane Ellie depicts a more colourful portrait of the Queen. In recent years, some of the most famous official commissioned portraits of HM have also been in a more contemporary style.

Queen Elizabeth II - 90th Birthday by  Peter Mason

Things are beginning to become quite meta with Peter Mason’s artwork, Queen Elizabeth II – 90th Birthday. Here, HM is seen as the top head of the playing card, which is made entirely from Royal Mail-issued postage stamps that have featured her face throughout her reign. If you look closely, there are other symbolic tributes to the Queen’s reign in almost 3000 stamps.

Spliff Queen The 3rd Red (On Paper) by  Juan Sly

Cult artist Juan Sly has added his own quirky adaptation of the Royal Mail stamp featuring Queen Elizabeth II. His original spray paint pieces of the stamp have been made in both red and black. In a way, the addition of the arm carrying a cigarette is a nod to a more traditional style when the characteristics of kings and queens were shown by what their hands were doing.  


Buying Art

Malvern theatres - April / May Exhibition

by Humph Hack 17. April 2016 14:41

Artists and gallery owners are often asked, “If I buy this painting, will it be a good investment?” The truthful answer is always, “If you like it enough to spend the money, buy it. If it goes up in value…that’s a bonus.” Over the last few years, hundreds of people have liked the work they have seen in The Malvern Theatres enough to buy. Because the sales are through this on-line website, distance selling regulations means that they could have been returned for a full refund…..but none have.

What sells and what doesn’t, as ever in the world of Art, is simply a matter of personal choice. The selections made every six weeks or so, are based on the likelihood of sales as well as quality. Artists come considerable distances to hang their work in this prestigious venue. The vast majority can’t wait to show their work a second or third time.

A classic case in point, is Amanda Dagg.

Her dreamy, highly textured works, sell well here. Her starting point is always the natural world, but it’s the decorative possibilities which excite her. Sales are so good she struggles to keep up with the demand. She has a long list of returning customers from across the World. We are lucky enough to be able to showcase her most recent work in Malvern. If you like the look of what you see, get down to the theatre soon. As they say, “When it’s gone it’s gone.”


Totally Different are the largely abstract works of Shaun Keefe.

Going to art school in the mid '70's and loving the music of Hendrix, Zeppelin, Cream etc., gave him the foundation and impetus to develop and create his own contemporary style of work. The use of colour and textures play a major part in these pieces. Among the work on show are 3 “Guitart” pieces. These large works use a mixture of Hessian, Gauze, Glues, Cotton, Sharp sand and Gravel, with occasional use of emulsions, glazes and oil pastel work. The finished canvasses are then placed with various guitars in situ, photographed and treated with a range of photo effects. These images are then printed.

If your taste, on the other hand, is for the more traditional, the landscapes by Michael Salt, will “float your boat”.

His technically superb oils, sell with frames chosen to enhance their colour qualities. Subjects range from rural to coastal scenes, with several celebrating his local surroundings around Stourbridge. His works depicting fishing boats at rest in harbour are particularly popular.  Michael is an associate of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, and has been selected to show at the annual Royal Society of Marine Artists for the last four years. He is also a member of the Guild of Waterways Artists. All of these honours reflect his professional expertise.

This exhibition runs, all day, every day from 17 April to 28 May.

Malvern Theatres continues to showcase the very best in Theatre, Art and Music. Long may it continue.


How Shakespeare Helps Explain Art

by Aileen Mitchell 15. April 2016 12:54

In the lead up to Shakespeare's 400th anniversary we look at ways in which the Bard has so accurartely described how we feel about art.

William Shakespeare by Mike Bagshaw

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it" - Hamlet, Act II Scene II



Romeo And Juliet, 2016 by  Dimitris Pavlopoulos

Interpretation is one of art's best gifts. Part of the joy of looking at art is experiencing  something through the eyes of the artist. There are so many colours and forms that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. 

London City Skyline 2016 0185 by Eraclis Aristidou


St Paul's London by Keith Mcbride


Late Spring Snow by Emma Cownie

Ridge by Laura Hol

The personal approaches to art by each artist can give a painting so much impact. 

"Why, then the world's mine oyster" - The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II Scene II

tempest sea painting

Tempest by Graham Evans

We see such a huge variety of works at ArtGallery that celebrate everything from the small to the vast, and everything in-between. There is also no limit to the different styles and mediums used in which the artists choose to express themselves. 

Queen Elizebeth Liner Puppetised by Marcus Clarke

Blue Iris In My Garden by Simon Knott

Fishermen's Retreat by Carole Hutchings

"Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting" Henry V, Act II Scene IV


Darling buds of may flower painting

The Darling Buds Of May by Sarah Gill

It is also so important that artists are free to create what they are passionate about creating. They may be pleasantly surprised by how many others enjoy what they paint! 

Tumultuous Tide IV by Gillian Luff

"The object of art is to give life shape" The Rehearsal by Jean Anouilh, inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V Scene I

The Reconcilliation Of Oberon And Titania by Patricia Thompson

Shakespeare's anniversary is on 23, April this year. 

Shakespeare's birth place

William Shakespeare's Birthplace 1568 by David Brumwell



Capturing Beautiful Irish Landscapes

by Aileen Mitchell 24. March 2016 14:13

We love a good landscape at ArtGallery - and this month we celebrated a country famous for its painted scenes. It is, of course, Ireland. 

There are so many ways to capture the beauty of an Irish landscape, whether it's the ever-moving coastline, its lush, green hills, or a dramatic sunrise. 

Here are some ArtGallery artists who all express the character of the landscapes in a unique way:

Cooniger by Arabella Kiszely

Arabella Kiszely beautifully captures the drama of the Beara Peninsula on a cloudy afternoon. The textured sky and sea gives a real feeling of movement, contrasting with the warm orange of the rocks. This oil painting almost puts you in the scene itself. 

Coast by Jeremy Shipton

Jeremy Shipton's acrylic painting has captured the west coast of Ireland on a much calmer, sunnier day. This highlights the wonderful contrasts in Irish weather, and shows how one painting can vary so much from another depending on the season. 

The blues and aquas are what give the painting a strong sense of summer. Although the sea is calmer, there is still movement to the piece, as waves break on the rocks.

The free brush strokes of the cliff top give this area of the work a softness that highlights the many detailed lines in the cliffs below.

Irish Lough Connemara - by Steve Hawthorn

Capturing lights and darks between rays of sunshine and clouds can be done in smooth strokes, as Steve Hawthorn demonstrates in Irish Lough Connemara. Unlike the informal brushwork in the paintings above, Steve has conveyed a sense of stillness in this lake scene using the contrast in light and colour to bring depth to the painting. 

Winding Road by Barbara Craig

Winding Road is a great example of how a landscape can be interpreted in so many different ways. This bright painting of wild flowers by a field in west Ireland captures the playful breeze that gives so many Irish landscapes their energy.

The softness of the line of mountains in the distance gives great depth against the bold strokes in the foreground. 


Buying Art

Powerful Women In Art

by Aileen Mitchell 14. March 2016 17:01

This month we re-visit some of the most powerful women in the world of art.

Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia Gentileschi 1593 - 1656

Artemisia Gentileschi was renowned for her ability to manipulate light and dark in her paintings. This is a technique also used by Caravaggio known as chiaroscuro.

Gentileschi painted females as the dominant figures in her work. This was very different from the norm of the seventeenth century, where women were usually depicted as sensitive and timid characters. Also known as the ‘Baroque Genius’, Gentileschi devoted her art and life to fighting for respect as a woman – a subject that was extremely personal to her as a young painter who was abused and later pushed into a forced marriage.


Repetition Nineteen III by Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse 1936 - 1970

Eva Hesse is one of the most influential artists from the twentieth century. As one of the first artists to introduce the post-minimal style after the minimal movement of the 1960’s, her installations are constantly referred to as a source of inspiration for many current artists.

Hesse’s work is often described as ‘anti-form’ and celebrates organic-shaped, tactile sculptures that are so far away from the harsh, rigid lines of the Minimalist movement.

Famous for the use of latex in her work, Hesse used other synthetic materials with a very limited colour palette such as fiberglass and various plastics.

Although Hesse took no political stance in her artwork, she was seen as an inspiration to the Feminist art movement as a successful female artist in a male-dominated world.

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo 1907 – 1954

Perhaps one of the most recognisable faces in twentieth century art, this is one of the many self-portraits of Frida Kahlo.

Dubbed as a surrealist painter, Kahlo specialised in portraying herself in her art. Kahlo did not believe herself to be a surrealist as she insisted that she did not paint dreams, but her reality. She is known to have said, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.” 

Her 140 paintings are symbolic depictions of the psychological and physical wounds throughout her life after a severe bus accident when she was 18 years old. This resulted in life-long surgeries and procedures.

Friends with other surrealists such as Pablo Picasso, Kahlo was also admired and revisited during the Feminist movement of the 1970’s as an icon of female creativity.

Ram's Head with Hollyhock by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe 1887 – 1986

“The men liked to put me down as put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters.”

Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. Her paintings of skulls and desert terrains were created at the time of the American modernist movement. This involved art that looked at the regional aspects of America and moved away from the large, industrial cityscapes.

O’Keeffe captured the dry desert landscape of her home in New Mexico in a simplified style that has a very personal representation to it. She also painted a series of flowers and mountain landscapes of Mount Fuji and Peru.

Despite being almost completely blind at the end of her life, O’Keeffe continued to paint with the help of some assistants. At ninety years old, she commented, “I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.”


Art History | Artists

Malvern Theatre - Spring Exhibition - March 6th - April 16th

by Humph Hack 6. March 2016 18:40

As is often the case, all three artists, in this exhibition are new to Malvern. It is part of the ethic of shows organised by this online gallery, to encourage new talent, or talent never seen there before. There is a wealth of artists, of all styles, out there, choosing is part of the fun.

Barbara Fletcher studied at the Cheltenham School of Art, gaining a degree in Fine Art. She is based in Gloucestershire. She draws her inspiration from a variety of subjects, but the works in this show celebrate the coast of the South West of the UK and the wonderful light which has drawn artists there for over a century. Her work, sometimes described as impressionistic, contains enough of the atmosphere of the region to draw the viewer in, but leaves enough for the imagination to allow personal interpretation of the scene

Barbara says, “People often feature in my paintings, often in crowded beach scenes, as I find their “busyness” and enjoyment evoke a slightly ephemeral and whimsical feel to my pictures”.

Tonal and colour relationships are important to Barbara in helping to capture the quality of light, whether it be the unique intensity of the Cornish coast or the gentle and soft light of the Gloucestershire countryside. She works from sketches, photos she has taken, and from memory. She is an established artist with an international reputation.



Simon Knott’s work couldn’t be more different. His sharp focus studies of a range of subjects which attract him vary from, patches of local landscape, to work inspired by the Severn Valley Railway, but mostly animals.  Simon is “Wild about Wildlife”, because he was born in the ancient woodland of Wyre Forest near Bewdley, in the beautiful countryside of Worcestershire, by the River Severn. He has spent most of his creative life in the Wyre Forest area... which has a diverse collection of Birds and Wildlife – the greatest inspiration for his Art.

He studied Art at Hereford College of Art & Design and the University of Central England, Birmingham, where he received a B.A. (Hons) in Design. He collected awards for design including * British Design in Japan * for a Citizen Watch design and a Heals of London Award for Furniture.


 The third artist showing work here for the first time is, Elaine Allender. Her celebrations of nature do not attempt realism in a photographic sense. She came to art by the roundabout route of gardening. For the past twenty years she has loved designing and planting first her own, then other people's gardens.

A few years ago, she started to experiment with putting paint onto canvas, “not really sure what I was doing”, but enjoying the experience and finding the same compulsion as she did when in the garden. Although the images invoke the beauty of nature they are strictly imagined scenes, where the process of applying paint to canvas is part of the pleasure enjoyed by the artist and gleaned second-hand by the viewer.

Elaine explains that, “All sense of time goes, and I'm left with the sensory experience of colour and texture. I paint meadows, coastlines and landscapes, always with some of my favourite blooms”.

The exhibition runs until 16 April. The Theatre is open every day. The Malvern complex houses, two auditoria, a cinema and a good restaurant. 


You won’t believe the stories behind these paintings

by Aileen Mitchell 24. February 2016 12:08

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Arguably one of the most famous paintings surrounded by the most mystery is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The identity and facial expression of the subject is one that has enchanted and intrigued art experts for over 500 years. The painting’s figure is widely believed to be of Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine silk merchant.

It is thought that the portrait was commissioned by the Gherardini family to celebrate the birth of Lisa’s second child, Andrea.

Late last year, French scientist Pascal Cotte, revealed the work that he believes lies underneath the world-famous figure. This second image is very different from Lisa Gherardini’s pose and expression – so different that Cotte is confident that it is another woman altogether.

Not surprisingly, there has been some opposition to Cotte’s revelations, particularly from art experts who point out that commissioned portraits often have other figures below the surface. This is due to the client making requests for alterations during the process.

Cotte remains convinced that the figure underneath the Mona Lisa is of a different woman – and what’s more, he says he has found others in earlier layers of paint.

'The Night Watch' by Rembrandt

This is the famous depiction of a local Dutch militia, praised for its dark-light manipulation from the height of the Dutch Golden Age. Officially titled Officers and Other Civic Guardsmen of District II of Amsterdam, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch or Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, it is known to most as The Night Watch.

Not only did two figures not make the crop in 1715 after it was trimmed to fit in-between two columns, but it has also survived after being subject to no fewer than three separate attacks.

The most surprising fact about this painting is that it isn’t actually set at night. The very dark background is actually a thick varnish that discolours with age and the additions of hundreds of years of dirt.

This varnish was skilfully removed in the 1940s, but although the sky is now notably lighter, the painting’s nickname seemed to stick (no doubt due to its preferred brevity).

Scholars have found that this painting was intended to be part of a set to works, designed to be displayed around the walls of a great hall. This never happened as Rembrandt’s final piece was painted in a very different style from that was originally proposed.

Although the finished look was somewhat of a surprise to all, there is evidence that the guild member who commissioned the painting were happy and still displayed the painting. Whether they noticed the little cameo appearance that scholars believe is Rembrandt’s self-portrait is unknown.

This painting has been treasured since its creation, even resulting in having its own trap door at the Rijksmuseum in the event of a fire.


David by Michelangelo

There is more that can be revealed about the statue of David than first meets the eye, honest.

Initial impressions of the giant figure, standing at an impressive 17ft, suggest confidence and strength – largely due to its sheer size. The pose in the classic Renaissance style of most of the body weight on one leg with the torso at an opposing angle. But there are subtle ways in which this sculpted portrait differ from other works from its period.

Unlike other famous artist’s depictions of this biblical event, Michelangelo’s David stands alone, rather than posing victoriously over his enemy – or even mid-throw.

The facial expression of David is one that has been interpreted in different ways. Originally placed in the public square outside the seat of the civic government of Florence in 1504, the warning glare of David became a symbol of defence. The statue was positioned to glare out towards Rome, a then rival state.

On closer inspection of the rest of the statue, the neck is tense and the veins bulge in his lowered right hand. When these observations are paired with the statue’s facial expression it could be interpreted that there is a sense of nervousness and aggression. Referring back to the notion that David stands alone, this may suggest that Michelangelo has chosen a most unusual depiction of the biblical event. This may be David before he fights Goliath – a first in art.


Art History

Famous Paintings Disappointed By Valentine's Day

by Aileen Mitchell 12. February 2016 16:26

When searching for empathy because one of the most romantic days of the year fails, look no further than some of the greatest masterpieces in art history. 

 This figure in Edgar Degas' La Absinthe can't believe she even bothered turning up ...

This portrait can't believe your excuses. "I double booked" was so last Valentine's Day...

Titian, A Man With A Quilted Sleeve 

Francoise Gilot is so bored of her dinner date - who knew someone could talk so much about themselves?

Pablo Picasso's Drawing of Francoise Gilot

Egon Scheile's Self portrait with Hand to Cheek can't believe he forgot to get anything ... again ... 

Edward Munch's The Scream left it too late to buy flowers. Now he'll have to wait until next year!

Saint Francis is so tired of dates that never work out ...

Caravaggio, Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy

"You forgot again, didn't you ..."

Renoir, Portrait de Jeanne Samary


Month List

Own Art makes buying art easy and affordable - spread the cost of your purchase over 10 months with an interest free loan. Find out more

News and information

Contact us

  • ArtGallery.co.uk
    Millennium House
    Brunel Drive
    NG24 2DE