Autumnal Art - Capturing the Colours of the Season

by Lisa Doherty 10. October 2018 08:52

The great British weather. Totally unpredictable and a topic of conversation that never gets boring!

One thing you can be sure of though, is the seasons. As we now hit Autumn, the nights start drawing in and the onesies or the cosy clothes start to make an appearance. Besides that, it’s also a great time for artists, and in today's blog we're looking at some of the best art for this season.

Falling leaves

From an artistic perspective, Autumn is the complete package as the light becomes softer and more dramatic and the leaves change, transforming the landscape into a riot of colour.

This gives the artist so much scope to create works that are very different in light, shape and colour, even though they may be capturing the same view. It’s also why we have over 700 paintings on our site on this season alone.

Autumn is also great from an interiors point of view. The range of tones this season provides means autumnal art is able to work with a range of schemes and styles. It can provide a splash of colour to a minimalist or modernist interior, as well as help define a style like Mid-Century or Vintage.

Despite the fact that Autumn can be quite chilly, the colours of this season are really warm and vibrant with rich reds, yellows and orange tones. This means it can add warmth to a cold or dark space that may not get much light.

It’s not only about colour at this time of year, as there a range of well-loved festivals and events in the run-up to Christmas, which provides loads of inspiration to create atmospheric and dramatic art.

Halloween

Of course, Autumn wouldn’t be Autumn without Halloween. A great time to get spooked and go trick or treating, as well as a chance to have a lot of fun with art.

Paintings can really help create a haunting atmosphere, not to mention capture the imagination. Many classic horror films have used art to add to the feeling of fear in a scene … to great effect! Think about the spyhole scene in Psycho where Norman Bates stares through a hole in the picture Susannah and the Elders, which itself portrays a voyeuristic and ugly scene. 

Halloween is a great time for artists to get really carried away and let their imagination run riot. A good painting can also be the stuff of great memories, especially if it’s quite a haunting image.

Why not create more of an atmosphere by hosting a Halloween party and make up stories around an image to get all spooky with children, grandchildren or even friends?

Fireworks

Probably the noisiest time of the year, Bonfire night really marks the start of the cold weather. It’s also a time of amazing colour when all around can feel and look a little grey.

For artists, fireworks are great for capturing noise and colour in a painting. Its chaotic nature is a great way to show movement and energy, as well as a chance for an artist to do more abstract work.

The other good thing about fireworks paintings is that, unlike Halloween, it’s not specific to one season as it’s also used for celebrations or to mark change. As a result, art on this theme can stay on the wall all year round.

Latest artists

Gill Bustamante creates atmospheric scenes that are mainly set in forests and really capture the essence of the seasons. Amazingly, most of her work is painted from memory.

Oleg Riabchuk paints highly realistic scenes of countryside at various points throughout the year. He comes from a family of artists and has also exhibited in museums, so if you’re looking to buy art as an investment, he may be an artist to watch.

Finally, Louise Gillard paints scenes from parks and open spaces around South London. Her use of light and brush work gives them a vintage feel. And, the fact that her scenes don’t usually include people, also means they’re great paintings to capture the imagination.

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Artists | Buying Art

How to Read a Portrait

by Lisa Doherty 26. September 2018 16:00

Portraits can say so much with so little. Portraiture requires a very high level of skill and it's an amazing form of art.

Even so, portraits are so personal and intimate that some people can doubt whether it's an appropriate form of art to hang in your home. Let us change your mind and show you how this form of art can be really engaging and will mentally always keep you on your toes.

Symbols in portraiture

Before photography, a painted portrait was the only way people could represent themselves to friends, family or potential suitors.

As a result, the artist had to capture and communicate a lot in one image, such as the status of the sitter, whether they were wealthy, from a powerful family or the subject’s profession. One way to communicate this was through symbols, which could be jewellery, clothes or ‘tools of their trade’, such as a map for a merchant or trader.

If you take a look at the images above it is clear that both sitters are wealthy or from successful families. The older lady is wearing gold and pearls and is dressed in a way that we recognise to be the style of mature, affluent people.

Again, with the young girl you can see that she is wearing pearls, a traditional symbol of wealth, and her dress is made with a rich fabric, which could be silk. The necklace with the pendant also represents a figure, which communicates that she is not only from a rich family, but also a powerful one.

If you want to delve a little deeper then both of these paintings can tell us so much more than what we at first see. For example, why is the little girl wearing those particular earrings, what is she holding in her hand, or why is she wearing that dress?

Just as you would look your best for a family photo - you also want to communicate something about you that shows your personality and identifies who you are, and this is no less the case with a portrait.

Playing with the past

Once photography became popular and mainstream, there was no need to accurately represent a person in a painting, so portraiture became more about capturing the ‘essence’ of the sitter.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and capturing that depth is key to a good portrait, which can be shown in a variety of ways.

There are some artists that like to merge the present with traditional portraits of the past. Christopher Gill likes to paint contemporary subjects in the style of a Renaissance-style portrait.

By doing this he’s highlighting that there are still similarities and connections between the old and the new. Although the girl in the painting above is in a leather jacket, the painting is framed with traditional gold gilt, typical of a renaissance painting.

The fact that the two elements contrast or conflict with each other, also means it has a great effect. It’s this contrasting of styles, and the associated questions they raise, that makes portraits so interesting.

Contemporary portraits

The pursuit of the ‘essence’ of the sitter remains as strong as ever today, which is why portraits are now captured in so many styles and subjects.

There are some artists that paint abstract portraits in order to catch a mood, and others that use charcoal or pencil to capture the sitter in their ‘rawest’ form.

Using the simplest materials for portraits makes them feel more like ‘studies’ or practice drawings for the final portrait, which is a great way of capturing the subject’s personality.

This was also a practice used by Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and other Renaissance artists in order to make sure they communicated the right pose and message in their final painting.

Latest artists

There are many artists doing exciting things with portraiture. Dimitris Pavlopoulos paints abstract portraits in a primitive style, which are visually very striking and engaging.

Hannah Musial uses felt pen to create her portraits, which are mainly of women captured in a moment or pose. They really make you think about what the subject is doing or thinking to great effect.

And, Marc Riley paints both abstract and non-abstract portraits that can be quite haunting and dramatic. They would make great standout pieces in a living room or study.

The list of artists could go on as there are many more on our site, but these give you a flavour of how exciting and interesting a portrait can be.

There’s so much more to this style than just a face.

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Art History | Artists | Buying Art

How to Hang Pop Art

by Lisa Doherty 8. July 2018 23:00

Who doesn’t love pop art?! It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s colourful and gets noticed. It’s from an art movement that’s over 50 years old, but still looks great and very contemporary, even today.

By turning the ‘trashy’ or mass-consumer into art, the Pop Art movement has been incredibly influential and has inspired many artists, such as Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and The Guerrilla Girls who continue to turn everyday objects into art.

If you’re thinking of investing in Pop Art for your home, then you’re going to have a lot of fun selecting a painting. We give you our tips on buying Pop Art and the best rooms to hang this style.

What is Pop Art?

Believe it or not, there are different types of pop art. When asked about this movement, we instinctively think of Roy Lichtenstein’s comic strips, and of course, the Pop Art master himself, Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol by sharon coles
Andy Warhol by sharon coles

However, in the 1950’s when the movement first started, there was British and American pop art. The Brits took a more collage-based or illustrative approach - with artists like Patrick Caulfield and Richard Hamilton leading the field - and they commented on all things American culture.

Richard Hamilton defined Pop Art as: Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low cost, Mass produced, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, Big business

The Best of British by Angela O'Donnell
The Best of British by Angela O'Donnell Room 22 by Tim Gilpin
Room 22 by Tim Gilpin

At the same time in the US, there was Lichtenstein and Warhol also commenting on popular American Culture. As we know, the 1950’s was the start of mass consumerism and technological advancement in the states. McDonalds drive thru’s, popular cinema, household gadgets and convenience food. Not forgetting, space travel and an obsession with life on other planets.

Bratatat Triptych - Very Large (9 ft wide by 4 ft high) by Peter Mason
Bratatat Triptych - Very Large (9 ft wide by 4 ft high) by Peter Mason

What to look for when buying pop art

This is the fun part! As Richard Hamilton says, mainstream, glamorous, sexy and expendable is what you need to be looking for when identifying and buying Pop Art.

One Artist who really embodies the Pop Art sentiment is Juan Sly. His work represents all things pop and his series of paintings entitled: ‘Other People’s Paintings, only Much Cheaper’, highlights the disposable element of this movement.

Other People's Paintings Only Much Cheaper: No. 4 Warhol (On Paper) by Juan Sly
Other People's Paintings Only Much Cheaper: No. 4 Warhol (On Paper) by Juan Sly

In true Pop Art style, Sly also takes iconic images and subverts them to make a statement. His treatment of Donald Trump from Obama’s ‘Hope’ image is a great example, where he’s been placed in a heroic context for purely ironic purposes.

Other People's Paintings only Much Cheaper: No. 10 Fairey (Trump) (on The Daily Telegraph) by Juan Sly
Other People's Paintings only Much Cheaper: No. 10 Fairey (Trump) (on The Daily Telegraph) by Juan Sly

Other artists painting in the Pop art style, include Peter Masonand Joe Henry. Mason uses postage stamps to create his abstract and popularist images, whereas Henry takes iconic figures of the 20th Century and creates ‘pop’ collages.

The best interior styles to have pop art

Pop art is a very strong and colourful style, so this needs to be hung in a more contemporary looking interior. It would probably jar in an art deco or antique space. It’s also best to hang against white or neutral-coloured walls to make it really, well, pop.

Pop art works well with the cleanest and most cutting-edge interiors, and it can also work with a modernist, retro or vintage space. After all, it is a ‘vintage’ art movement. As it’s art that really shouts at you, it’s also worth carefully considering the room or space you want to hang it.

Where to hang pop art

Now, there are no hard and fast rules to hanging art in the home, but you’ve made an investment and you want it to stand out, so it is worth giving it some serious thought.

Going back to Richard Hamilton, pop art is trashy and noisy, so this style of painting needs to be hung on its own and probably not part of a gallery wall, otherwise it will look too busy and confusing. Ideally, it needs to stand out on its own.

KATE MOSS - WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME by JOE HENRY
KATE MOSS - WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME by JOE HENRY

This movement is also irreverent, but this is the fun part of pop art. Hang it in a central location, such as over a fireplace, or in a central location in a hallway where it makes people stop to look at it. Pop art isn’t shy, so make it stand out!

We have a great selection of pop art, as well as artists using the medium of art to make a statement on politics and consumerism. Not everybody wants to hang a traditional portrait or landscape in their home, which is why we also showcase the latest and most innovative artists who are bucking conventions and making a noise. Just like true pop artists!

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Art History | Artists | Buying Art | The Art World

Spotlight on: Sally Lancaster

by Lisa Doherty 27. April 2018 09:00

Sally Lancaster is a Devon-based artist who specialises in figurative art. She is largely self-taught, and her paintings focus on movement, muscle, motion and tone.

She recently appeared on the global TV show Colour in your Life, which takes an in-depth look at her paintings and shows Sally at work in her studio. The programme also looks at how artists, in general, manage the ongoing process of selling their work.

One thing that’s made clear in the show is that great painting takes time and patience. So, looking at Sally’s art in a bit more detail, we show you what’s involved when artists go through the creative and artistic process.

Figurative work

Having started her career painting pet portraits, Sally moved on to focus on equestrian art - predominantly studies of racing, dressage and polo horses that were captured in motion to highlight muscle tone and light and shade.

In recent years, however, she has moved away from equine art to focus more on figurative studies, which includes dancers. Again, like horses, the human body enables her to capture motion and form, as well as light and shade.

Curvation by the artist Sally Lancaster

Curvation by Sally Lancaster

To enhance the figurative form, Sally captures bodies in ‘stretched’ or elongated poses, which really enhances their build and highlights the detail and honed musculature of the subject’s body. Not only that, but the fact that Sally portrays figures mid-movement really makes the viewer want to imagine what they’re going to do next.

Material Feeling by Sally Lancaster
Material Feeling by Sally Lancaster

In order to capture the movement and muscle of her subjects, Sally holds a photoshoot in a local theatre hall and, through the use of blackout blinds, she puts the space into darkness in order to control the light source and enhance the variations between light and shade.

Sally then directs the model to move into positions and angles that will make for strong and compelling subject matter. Once the shoot is done, she then sorts through the images to create a portfolio, or shortlist, of potential paintings.

Reach by Sally Lancaster
Reach by Sally Lancaster

The creative process

Once Sally has chosen an image from the shoot, she then gets to work on creating her art. As you can imagine, this much detail doesn’t come out on the canvas overnight, so, on average, her paintings take over a month to produce.

The reason for this is because not only does she have to draw and paint the figure, but also work on the intricacies involved in light and shade, which can be very complex. And there’s a lot more to light and shade than black and white.

In fact, there are many shades, well, in shade. For example, if the subject is placed against a blue backdrop, then these colours will manifest themselves in various tones on the figure or surrounding areas.

To help capture this and help her gauge colours, Sally works alongside a large monitor with the photo of the subject on display. This enables her to zoom in and out of detail and clearly pick-up these tonal shades.

You can see this detail in ‘Fragile Transparency’ where the dancer is shrouded by a veil, so not only does Sally have to capture the dancer’s form, but also the light and shade in the folds of the veil. Trust us, this is not an easy task!

Fragile Transparency by Sally Lancaster
Fragile Transparency by Sally Lancaster

Interiors focus

As is common practice with most artists, Sally looks to exhibit her paintings wherever possible. She currently has her work on display at Lympstone Manor, which is owned by Michelin starred chef, Michael Caines.

Sally Lancaster's work on display at Lympstone Manor

A display of Sally Lancaster's work at Lympstone Manor

If you’re thinking of buying one of Sally’s paintings and you’re in the Devon area – or you’re even going to stay at the Manor - then this is a great opportunity to see how her paintings look from an interiors perspective.

As you can see in the photo, the copper tones and creams of the bar area really help make the painting stand out and be a striking focal point in the room. It’s also positioned in a way to make a great talking point while at the bar.

Seeing a painting in real-life, or in situ, can really help with the decision-making process and help you see it from a different perspective as well, so getting to see an artist’s work ‘in the flesh’, or using a room visualiser, can make all the difference.

Price range

With this much detail and skill, Sally’s paintings start from around £2,000 and up into the £5,000 price range. Our premier Artists are carefully selected and are noted for their outstanding work and reputation, so their work is priced accordingly. All Sally’s paintings are sold with frames, which does save on the additional cost of having to go to a framer.

Sally’s reputation is growing year on year, and she is a highly respected and regarded artist. With that in mind, purchasing her work could be viewed as a long-term investment. Not to mention that the subject matter will always be of interest to people and it’s hard to tire of looking at her work.

There are ways you can invest and own one of her paintings, however, such as the Own Art scheme, which can help you make those dream purchases with interest-free monthly instalments.

We are proud to say we are part of the scheme, so if you’re thinking of buying one of Sally’s paintings, then get in contact and let’s see how we can help.

Final note. Calling all male dancers!

Currently, Sally uses a female dancer for her paintings, but she is also keen to focus on figurative studies of the male form. If anybody knows a male dancer that would be happy to pose, then get in contact. They will be captured permanently on canvas and become a work of art, an amazing opportunity!

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Art Galleries | Artists | Artists Corner | Buying Art | The Art World

Creepy Halloween Art from ArtGallery

by Ros Rowlatt 18. October 2017 12:28

Halloween and art goes hand-in-hand from making decorations to face painting. Whether you're spooked by Francis Bacon or terrified of William Blake's turbulent seascapes, there's no denying that October 31st is as good an opportunity as any to appreciate some great art. Here are some of our favourite seasonal creations on our online gallery.

Halloween For Crows

Julie Stevenson has created a fun Halloween scene to bring a smile to any viewer's face. With creepy little spiders, a gang of crows, bats and pumpkins, there's so much to see. Not to mention the starry night sky being topped off with little stars!

Halloween For Crows by Julie Stevenson
Halloween For Crows by Julie Stevenson

The Joker: Are You Scared?

Ever feel like someone's watching you? This eerie black and white charcoal drawing of The Joker from the Batman comics really comes to life with dark, deep eyes and an energetic sketching style.

The Joker: Are You Scared? by Edward Sheldrick
The Joker: Are You Scared? by Edward Sheldrick

The Ballad Of The Sad Happy Clown (Version III)

They're either the subject of fond childhood memories or terrifying flashbacks! Clowns are always a great addition to Halloween decorations and celebrations. This surreal hand drawn piece is a bold and imaginative image that is bound to draw attention in any space.

The Ballad of the Sad Happy Clown (Version II) by Spencer   Derry
The Ballad of the Sad Happy Clown (Version II) by Spencer Derry

Ghost in the Paint

Moving away from the fun side of Halloween, we come to a more abstract and ethereal interpretation in the form of acrylic on canvas.

The texture creates so much depth that you can see an ethereal spirit but also many faces looking back at you from the background, is this the imprint of a ghost?

Ghost in the Paint by David Smith
Ghost in the Paint by David Smith

Christopher Lee

A great pencil drawing of the legend Christopher Lee. The soft pencil approach to this drawing creates a black and white film effect – it's almost like watching Lee as Dracula in one of the classics!

As we all know, lighting is an essential thing to get right with creating the scary look and there is plenty of lighting detail played about Lee's face. A great gift for anyone in to old horror classics.

Christopher Lee by clare reed
Christopher Lee by clare reed

Keep Back Dracula

John Newbold has created a more modern interpretation of black and white film stills. This dramatic pose and pop art feel creates a striking piece that would look good all year round! The popping red completes the Halloween feel for added effect.   

Keep back Dracula by John Newbold
Keep back Dracula by John Newbold

Literally Frankenstein's Monster

A clever take on a mixed media piece made from the pages of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein's monster. Channelling the black and white classic horror film theme, Frankenstein's face is cleverly shaded with layers of text to create a very realistic head and shoulder portrait – we wouldn't be surprised if his eyes followed you around the room!

Literally Frankenstein's Monster by Gary Hogben
Literally Frankenstein's Monster by Gary Hogben

Make sure to scare and share this Halloween by taking a look at our online gallery for paintings, drawings and much more by our talented community of artists.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates of the latest works of art and news.

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Artists | Buying Art

From Palette to Painting - Dani Bergson

by Aileen Mitchell 7. July 2017 09:37
Dani Bergson

Some ideas come at the most inappropriate times and I have to jot them down while they’re fresh. I always have my sketch pad sitting next to me as I work, and this way I can continuously refer to it and develop a theme before actually painting.

Next I decide on my colour palette which may come spontaneously or involve creating a mood board with pictures of various objects I cut out of magazines. I usually work on stretched canvas or board with acrylics or oil bars.

The beauty of acrylics is that they are so immediate. I can achieve a host textures by scratching and marking and finish a painting in one day. Once I have sketched the form of the painting and decided on the colour palette I treat it like an abstract piece of work to balance colours and textures. I gain a lot of pleasure in discovering new ways of adding texture to my paintings.

When I worked as a textile designer I learnt how to achieve different finishes by printing with scraps of material and using a variety of implements to scrape scratch and mark. Usually I know when a painting is finished. I do like to assess and reassess days later and make final tweaks if necessary.

I find it very hard to be fully satisfied with every piece I produce and I guess this is what keeps pushing me forward and striving to produce better work. Every new canvas is a means of developing as an artist and will hopefully bring more pleasure to those who see my art.

Flamingo Lovers by Dani Bergson
Flamingo Lovers by Dani Bergson

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Artists | Being an Artist

Ery Burns - Special Promotion

by Gordon Smith 18. April 2017 09:00

There was excitement in the gallery this Friday as up-and-coming artist Ery Burns was being filmed for a new special promotion (more details coming shortly). 

Ery's style is an energetic mix of pop art/abstract and have a wonderful dreamlike quality. 

Ery Burns art

Ery Burns art

Mineral Garden by Ery Burns
Mineral Garden by Ery Burns

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Artists | Exhibitions

Stephen Williams - Creating Art with the iPad

by Gordon Smith 7. April 2017 12:35
Stephen Williams

On my retirement from parish ministry the move from a vicarage to a smaller house meant that space was limited for storing all the art materials and canvases. I have always been interested in working with various media and took the opportunity to acquire an iPad when the parish presented me with a cheque. I have had the iPad for about six months and have been experimenting with various drawing and painting apps.

My initial inspiration came from David Hockney and his book 'Drawing in a printing machine'. My interest grew more and more when I saw the iPad drawings in the book of his exhibition 'A bigger picture'. There are lots of artists now producing work on the iPad and I have found it a very good tool to work with.

I began experimenting with drawing directly on to the iPad and to help me to do this I bought a rubber tipped stylus. The finger works very well after all the iPad was designed to work with the finger however the stylus gives me little more accuracy. My initial concern was that I didn't have a desk top computer to transfer my work so that it could be printed. By by doing some research I discovered that a desk top is not necessary, everything can be done from the iPad wirelessly.

I invested in a good colour printer which also scans and copies and have been able to print my drawings this way. The scanner facility on the printer also enabled me to scan all my A4 fine line pen drawings onto the iPad and with the camera I can photograph my larger pen drawings. The apps that I use for my drawings have a copy function so that I can transfer my scanned drawings from the photograph storage facility in the iPad.

It is early days yet but with time and patience and a great deal of practice some worthwhile work can be produced.

Summer in the Country by Stephen Williams
Summer in the Country by Stephen Williams

The beauty about working with the iPad is that it can be taken anywhere. I can also work without having to have a larger space in which to paint. My wife had a stroke two years ago and that together with a busy parish meant that I had no time for painting. The iPad has changed all that and I can now produce my art work while keeping my wife company. It has given me a freedom and a new medium with which to work and in some ways in greater detail than before. It is possible to use individual pixels to pick our highly detailed features in the drawings.

Gothic Towers by Stephen Williams
Gothic Towers by Stephen Williams

One concern was the printing clarity of the finished art work. Would the definition be clear? Would the pixels dominate the finished print? I need not have been worried, the A 4 prints are very sharp and distinct even printed on standard printing paper. The definition and colour is even better with glossy photo paper and I am about to try printing on high quality art paper. The definition is so good that I have produced a collage print as I call it.

I have a publisher app on the iPad which enables me to transfer my drawings, not only that but I can enlarge each drawing section by section. By doing this I have been able to produce A4 prints of enlarged sections of the drawings to produce large scale separate prints which have then been put together to produce large scale prints from an iPad drawing which measures no more than 4 inches by 6 inches on the iPad itself. The larges multiple print of A4 sheets so far is 46 inches by 35 inches made up of 24 individual A4 sheets of paper.

As I said it is early days yet and there are many artists working in this medium, but for people with limited space and time the iPad is a tool well worth considering.

Aspects of Britain by Stephen Williams
Aspects of Britain by Stephen Williams

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Artists | Being an Artist

Easter Eggs in Famous Art

by Aileen Mitchell 14. March 2017 11:10

This is for everyone who has been told to "stand back please" when examining a piece of art. This month we bring you 'Easter eggs' in famous works of art - the secret bits you may have missed. 

Easter eggs - unexpected or undocumented features in a piece of work - have appeared in artwork as far back as ancient societies and have been anything from a sneaky self-portrait to a UFO sighting! Here are some of the most well-known Easter eggs in art that you may have missed:

The Creation of Adam c. 1508-1512 by Michelangelo 

The Creation of Adam

This renowned work from Michelangelo has graced the Sistine Chapel since 1508, and has been copied, parodied and satirised many times. But how many noticed a tribute to the artist's passion for science and the human anatomy as well as his fine painting?

It appears that God floating in his crimson pod to the right of the piece, complete with seraphim, is the exact outline of the human brain. The leg of one of the cherubs is in the correct place and shape for where the spinal chord is attached, and another's foot is in the place of the pituitary gland. The floating green scarf is even in the precise location and shape for the vertebral artery. 

If that all sounds a little too much like coincidence, you may also want to know that God even extends his arm to Adam through what we now know as the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that gives humans the gift of reason and deliberation - something that sets us apart from animals. There is also a sad looking angel in the area of the brain that is activated when we experience sad emotions.

Although the discovery of the prefrontal cortex was not until the 20th century, Michelangelo had a profoundly advanced knowledge of the human anatomy due to years of dissections from the age of seventeen. But the mystery continues as dissection of the brain alone does not reveal which parts are activated for different emotions. Could this be coincidence?

With all this new information, a controversial interpretation of the art has arisen. For hundreds of years scholars believed God to be pointing at Adam as the title suggests, giving him life. After the discovery of the anatomically correct brain representation, some believe Adam is in fact pointing at God, which gives the painting an entirely different meaning. Was Michelangelo suggesting God to be a creation of the human mind? We'll never know the true answer, as none of these things were recorded by the artist. We are left to gaze and wonder...

Madonna with Saint Giovannino - Domenico Ghirlandaio

Madonna with Saint Giovannino (1449-1494)

This Italian Rennaissance artwork by Domenico Ghirlandaio is subject of much online debate. There is some speculation over who actually painted the piece, but this is not the issue that has fuelled so much debate. People are talking about the small, dark shape in the sky behind Madonna's right shoulder, which is believed by many to be a UFO. Up close, the dark shape certainly does look a little extra terrestrial and almost spaceship-like. Others have backed up this observation by adding that the lone figure in the distance and his dog are also looking up at it. 

These shapes, however, are quite common in this era of artwork and were intended to resemble a gap in the heavens where divine light would shine through onto the subject in the painting. It is very much a religious trend that was around a lot in Rennaissance art. Not alien appearances. 

 

The Mona Lisa 1503-1505 - Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa

One of the most famous artworks of all time, mentioned in many conspiracy theories and books is Leondardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Art historians recently discovered the existence of another woman painted below the surface which raised even more questions and theories about the work. On close inspection we can also see that the artists has initialled "LV" in her right eye and the number 72 on the bridge in the background. There is also a theory that the lady in the painting is pregnant, as her arms are covering her stomach and she is wearing a veil commonly used by Italian women before and after childbirth.

 

The Arnolfini Portrait - Jan van Eyck

Close up of The Arnolfini Portrait Mirror

The Arnolfini Portrait

Another very famous painting from 1434 that demonstrates Jan van Eyck's meticulous brush skills in the details in the woman's dress to the right of the scene. Although it's bursting with detail for us to appreciate, there is something you may not have spotted from behind the red ropes of the National Gallery. 

Look carefully at the back wall in the painting and you'll see a mirror. There are two new people painted in the reflection of the mirror, presumably the other guests in the room that we cannot see from the position the portrait was taken from! Art scholars think that one of these people may be a sneaky self-portrait of van Eyck himself, as one of the guests in the mirror has their hand held up in a gesture of greeting. 

Take a look at our online gallery and see if you can spot an Easter egg in our own artists's paintings!

Image credits:

The Creation of Adam/ en:Image:Creation of Adam.jpg/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Madonna with Saint Giovannino/ http://www.italymagazine.com/news/madonna-saint-giovannino-ufo-inspired-art/ 

The Mona Lisa/ Musée du Louvre/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Tags:

Art History | Artists

Artists Inspired By Mothers

by Aileen Mitchell 27. February 2017 10:37

Mother’s Day is just around the corner (26th March – put it in your diary!). Today we look at mothers who inspired, encouraged and modelled for some of the most famous artists of all time.

Mother and Child by David Freeman
Mother and Child by David Freeman

Lucian Freud, one of the most celebrated 20th century portrait artists, had a close relationship with his mother, which we can see in his portraiture. Throughout Freud’s childhood his mother took a very keen interest in his talent, and later his career. This all stopped, however, when Freud’s father died. The death of Ernst L. Freud had a catastrophic effect on his mother, Lucie, who suffered from deep depression until she died.

It was in her long period of depression that Freud began to paint her in a collection of very intimate works. These are very detailed snapshots into a private time with mother and son that really shows the lengths of her suffering and distance from her son and the world. Works such as, ‘The Painter’s Mother Resting I, 1975-1976’ are some of Freud’s most well-known and critically acclaimed. 

It is believed that throughout his mother’s period of depression, Freud spent over 4,000 hours painting her. Art historian, Lawrence Gowing, wrote that this was the longest time in three hundred years since a painter showed so much about their relationship with their mother in art since Rembrandt.

This picture is a faithful representation of one of Rembrandt's portraits of his mother.

Rembrandt van Rijn, iconic Dutch artist, is well known for documenting his own self-portraits to show his aging process. He also used his mother as a model for many of his portraits to display similar details of aging. It was common during Rembrandt's era for artists to hone their skills by creating portrait studies of aging subjects, however Rembrandt took his portraits one step further. Using costume and lighting, he created much more theatrical interpretations of his mother that have become highly collectable. 

 

Potrait of the Artist's Mother - Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh has to have a mention here, as he is also one of the most famous artists who was directly inspired by his mother. Anna Carbentus van Gogh was an energetic, family oriented woman who always expressed great affection for her children and husband. One of her beliefs to a happy life was spending time watching flowers grow. She divided up responsibility of the family garden between all the family, which meant her son Vincent spent a lot of his time around flowers that can be seen later in his artwork. Anna was an enthusiastic amateur artist herself and loved to sketch flowers and plants. She noticed van Gogh had a keen talent for drawing and painting their garden flowers from a young age and continued to show her support when he became a full-time artist.

 

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler

The Whistler's Mother, or to give it its correct title, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 is one of the most famous paintings of an artist's mother. Originally meant to be a portrait of the much younger daughter of an MP, Maggie Graham, this convas was instead used as a study of James Abbot McNeill Whistler's mother. 

In a letter to a friend, Whistler's mother explained how Graham had not shown up for a potrait appointment, and how she had decided to stand in. Anna McNeill Whistler also detailed how her son had failed to finish a painting of Mr Graham despite several sittings, producing only half finished, unsuccessful portraits. Anna Whistler was also a very supportive mother and was even James Whistler's art agent for a time when she stayed with him in London.

Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott
Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott

Van Gogh’s feelings of isolation from the family increased as he got older. His unusual love life, his unorthodox views of the world and his battle with mental illness were all said to be strains on the family. Despite this, he always enjoyed sending his most prized paintings back home to his mother. These included giant irises, roses and great bouquets of flowers – all of which he knew she would love. Van Gogh’s famous portrait of his mother also captures her proud and vibrant nature in the colours chosen by the artist. Whilst painting his mother’s portrait he wrote to his brother Theo, “I am doing a portrait of Mother for myself. I cannot stand the colourless photograph, and I am trying t do one in a harmony of colour, as I see her in my memory.”

The theme of motherhood is also used by many of our own artists at artgallery.co.uk. Have a look at some of our own artists inspired by mothers…

Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison
Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison

Stephen Davison has taken inspiration from visit to an Inuit community and their culture of loyalty and motherhood. This rich monochrome oil painting is based on a photograph taken by Henry G. Kaiser circa 1906.

Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes
Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes

Mrs Wilkes’ line drawing is a great modern take on the notions of motherhood. The simple addition of red lips and the mark on the mother’s tummy draws the eye to the main theme of the drawing. 

abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes
abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes

Sandy Jai Hughes has created a portrait of a mother and three children in the famous cubist style of Pablo Picasso. She has also incorporated texture into the piece by adding papier-mâché stained with coloured ink.  

Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied
Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied

Hanan Saied has created a dramatic acrylic on canvas depicting a Nubian woman in traditional dress protecting her baby from the natural disasters in the wold like flooding and tsunamis.

Take a look on our online gallery to find more art from our own artists inspired by their mothers.

Image credits:

Portrait of Rembrandt's mother/ Own work photo of Horst Gerson 1968 catalog/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of the Artist's Mother/ Mefusbren69 (talk | contribs) / Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler/ Musée d'Orsay/ Publlic Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

 

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Art History | Artists


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