Saturday, 20 August 2016

Wiliam Turner II

For those of you who are in doubt if they should join the trip to the Turner exhibition in Aix: GO! It will inspire you... Here's a 2012 Aquarellista blogpost about his work.. The trip is on 16 September, by comfortable bus and the cost is only 45€ for Hangar members! 
Contact Marijke Obbink to subscribe

Turner is known as "the painter of the light" which I think is a very well-deserved title. To me his work was a true inspiration, I remember going to an exhibition of his watercolours in London when I was still in art school. I realized what is possible with aquarelle and it actually made me decide to concentrate more on that medium.

sketch Turner made of the cathedral in Rouen - look at the combination of ink and watercolours

His work is impressionist (although in his time that didn't exist!). In oil as well as watercolours Turner was the first who didn't try to achieve complete realism, but gave that away for atmosphere and emotion.
I read somewhere on the internet  that Constable once said about his work "he seems to paint with tinted steam, so evanescent and airy"... In this day and age we would consider that a compliment! But it was meant as a sneer (compare "Fauvism", now a much loved painting style- but the terminology was first used to degrade the painters as wild animals...) England (the world) wasn't ready for full-blown aquarelle and impressionism yet!

In this aquarelle (Ewenny Priory, in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff) Turner used perspective and light to achieve a sense of vast space

Sunrise, 1845 - Made during the Industrial Revolution: it has been suggested that the pollution might be reflected in Turner's paintings

Turner died 76 years old (a respectable age in those days). From what I found about him he was slightly crazy, but a good person, and we should be thankful that he left us so much fantastic and inspiring work! Like all great modern artists he researched, in his case for possibilities to express atmosphere, emotion, scale, vastness in a painting. He didn't just use watercolours, his oils are also very very impressive, but hey, we're aquarellistas! Below two more extremely beautiful - and clever - watercolours...

William Turner I

For those of you who are in doubt if they should join the trip to the Turner exhibition in Aix: GO! It will inspire you... Here's a 2012 Aquarellista blogpost about his life... The trip is on 16 September, by comfortable bus and the cost is only 45€ for Hangar members! 
Contact Marijke Obbink to subscribe

William Turner (Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 - 1851) was an English watercolourist, a predecessor Aquarellista! In the next post I'll write a bit about his style, in this one more about his life.

Turner was born into a middle-class family in London. His father was a wig-maker and barber. His mother died while he was quite young. William Turner was sent to live in the countryside with relatives who soon discovered that he was very talented: he painted this castle when he was 10 years old:
Unbelievable... he could definitely observe...

He joined the Royal Academy of Art at the age of 14 - and, surprise surprise, he excelled. He left London in 1798 "with little more than a borrowed pony and pencils" and started painting a series of landscapes around Wales...
This work he made as a 23-year-old in his Hereford Court sketchbook. It fetched up £500,000 at a Christie’s auction...

Turner had success and made a fortune when he was quite young. That gave himl the opportunity to innovate freely.
Young William Turner - selfportrait as a bit of a dandy

Turner travelled widely in Europe, starting with France and Switzerland in 1802 and studying in the Louvre in Paris in the same year.
He also made many visits to Venice

As he grew older, Turner became more eccentric. His paintings changed in style and his audience struggled to understand his vision. He had few close friends except for his father, who lived with him for thirty years, eventually working as his studio assistant.
Old William Turner - in his atelier

And the atelier once more - look again - and you'll see how impressive  it is... especially if you realize that this was painted in the 19th century!

William Turner died on 19 December 1851 and lies buried in St Paul's Cathedral. He left his money to support what he called "decayed artists". He designed an almshouse for them at Twickenham, with a gallery for some of his works. But some relatives contested the will and part of his fortune was awarded to the family. The rest went to the Royal Academy of Arts who still from time to time award students the Turner Medal...

NB: I have used pictures from the Turner special in the Figaro - to have a look inside, borrow it from me or order via

Friday, 29 July 2016

Truly Zen Watercolour afternoon in the Hangar

 Sandra's fabulous Buddha head

On Tuesday 26 July the aquarellistas got together for the last time before the summer holidays. We had a fabulous time, despite the heat, painting watercolours inspired by the buddha. Main objecticve: express the peacefulness. It was an afternoon well-spent and here are the excellent results!
 This amazing picture is painted by Tana - she really understands how to use contrast & Payne's Grey!

 Elia B. created a very personal version of a classic Buddha. I love it. 

Excellent work by  Liz - not yet finished but already very decorative

Agnès's painting also halfway - It is completely convincing - go on like this!

And Brenda's Buddha. It looked great, the first wash was super and then she used salt and that didn't work out as planned. But now I see the picture and I think it is actually not bad at all! Sometimes all you need is a bit of distance...

There was also an exercise B, I had stuck cut-offs of an old abstract painting  on freshly stretched paper and asked the participants to finish the page... Here are some of the solutions:

Giraffes by Liz

Thistles by Tricia
Delicate flowers by Elia B.

The big friendly snake by Marina

And then there was 'miscellaneous' work outside the above...

Tana had 10 minutes left and experimented with green and salt, with this superb group of cypresses

Linda finished her amaryllis design. It's super!

A very promising start of a watery landscape by Carol. That sky is so good!

The last one is for Celina - her chair design! I absolutely love it - note the abstract on the wall by the way...

And that was it for now, it will be calm on the aquarellista blog for a while... In the mean time I wish you all happy holidays and a fantastic summer!!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Designing chairs! Aquarellistas do it...

 FAbulous chair by Elia B.
Last Tuesdayy in the Hangar, the Aquarellistas decorated chairs. On paper, with watercolours. Almost everyone participated and we are truly happy with the results! They are original, I would like all of them in my house -and -as always- they are so very different in style! Look for yourself...:

 Agnès' version of Rococo

To warm up, Liz practised with a simple painting of a real chair in the Hangar...
...and proceeded with this luxurious Chesterfield

Tana's design, classic look with a happy pattern - in Payne's Grey

 Super soft stripe by Carol
 A beautifully painted chair by Linda! She liked it better without patterns - and started those seperately. Clever!

Superb armchair by Cathie. Not yet finished - already stunning...

 Brenda's hip and happening modern fauteuil- for the gameroom?

After painting a very good and lifelike chair Linda worked on an Amaryllis pattern... Just feltpen -  colours to be added...

 Sandra is working on her series 'Essence of the stars'. This is the essence of Elisabeth Taylor...

And last but not least, our correspondent from Bretagne Michele, has been working too: she couldn't do the 'swapping' on her own so she crafted this still life with watering cans and flowers. Well done Michele!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Swapping: unexpected paintings

 Almost every summer the aquarellistas at least once do the 'Swapping Exercise'. It goes like this: everyone starts a painting. The background of a painting.

Be free, try stuff out, make it wet-in-wet, and keep some white... If you are happy, put it on the table to let it dry - and pick someone else's background to go on with. 
If you are done, and not yet happy, put it on the table again - for someone else... 
The good thing about this exercise is that it makes you free: it doesn't matter if things go wrong, someone else will probably see something in it, and the result-pressure is not so heavy anyway, as you share responsibility with the others.
 Also, looking at someone's background painting and see what it means to you and how it will inspire you, requires imagination. 
As you can see, the final works are pretty interesting! All more or less abstract - but with recognizable shapes...Look at the variation!
...a truly fabulous painting...
 ...a furry one...

...a fantastic landscape... interesting architectural composition...
 ...a completely 'normal' bouquet (based on a background with geometrical shapes)...
 ...a true abstract, with interesting details...
...and last but not least this hilariously funny picture...