Architectural Abstract Paintings – Greenwich bound.

Did you know Abstract paintings are often based on reality?

Most people see abstract paintings as a series of random marks, but if you spend any time looking you’ll realise many are more representational than you imagine.  You could argue that any form of painting is an abstract in that it has taken an object and made something of it that’s not the real thing. Depending in what you define as a “real thing”. A photograph might look like a building but you can’t live in it. So which is real?  They both exist in reality but you couldn’t pass the photograph off as a genuine building.

Google’s definition of Abstract is “relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.” That’s one of many definitions. The trouble is, there’s a very fluid line between reality and abstraction and it could fuel many hours of debate, which I don’t have time for here. Another time, perhaps.

Personally I waver between the 2 ends of the spectrum.

Abstracts allow you to play with rules and perceptions whereas the more representational angle paints what you see.

Abstracts allow you to take an element and exaggerate it. You are not confined to colour, orientation, scale etc.

So why base abstract paintings on reality?

Abstracts are a way to look at reality in a new way. People tend to ignore the routine, the mundane. Walk down a city street and you might notice a taxi or a letter box if you’re looking but chances are you won’t see the ornate window bracket holding the shop sign you walk under for the 100th time. Or the pattern on the brass handle you open to the shop you buy a paper in. The boot scraper left in the wall next to a house on the corner. The patterns formed by the roof supports at your usual station. You might notice them occasionally, but rarely daily, if at all. So why not take these discoveries and make them the centre of attention?

So how do you turn reality into abstract?

An image, a set of rules and some imagination and experimentation.

I start of with a picture,

I select an area or angle view which I translated it into a tracing. This was taken underneath Greenwich Dome or O2 arena as it’s now known. At this point I can still go more representational. The structure on the left is the bottom edge of the Dome. The right hand rocket like feature looks like it belongs in a science fiction movie. An alien rocket about to launch perhaps? These are dotted around the base of the Dome. I think they are linked to heating and/or air conditioning.

http://cathyreadart.com/wp-content/artimages/2014/10/©2014-Cathy-Read-Work-in-Progress-Greenwich-Geometry-Pencil-40-x-50-cm-a.jpg
http://cathyreadart.com/wp-content/artimages/2014/10/©2014-Cathy-Read-Work-in-Progress-Greenwich-Geometry-Pencil-40-x-50-cm-a.jpg

Some pictures are more demanding than others.

The background on this had me cross eyed for a while, I’m sure you can see why. That building is wearing what looks like the architectural equivalent of a Hawian shirt. Yet I like it, in spite of the headache it has caused. I mask the pencil and then start painting freely.

Once the colour is added it begins to make more sense, or less depending on your perspective…

Although it’s still baffling, there’s no distinct overall pattern, just lots of repeating ones that morph into new ones. I allowed the base of the turbine to morph into an alien creation. Reminds me of HG Well War of the Worlds Aliens

©2014 - Cathy Read - Work in Progress Greenwich Geometry - Watercolour and Acrylic -40 x 50 cm
©2014 – Cathy Read – Abstract painting in Progress Greenwich Geometry – Watercolour and Acrylic -40 x 50 cm

With the masking remove, the finished piece looks like this.

©2014 - Cathy Read - Greenwich Geometry - Watercolour and Acrylic -40 x 50 cm
©2014 – Cathy Read – Greenwich Geometry – Watercolour and Acrylic -40 x 50 cm – £460 unframed

Of course I could have painted if differently.

I could have:

  • Changed the colours
  • Switched the darks and light
  • Picked out two contrasting colours and alternated them
  • Placed bold outline around adjacent shapes unconnected to what was there,
  • Added a simple, solid colour shape in the centre

The options are endless, all you need is to let your imagination run wild.

 

And if you’re struggling with that, you might like to check out my other abstracts in the shop.

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Artist of the Year Art Exhibition

You never know what to expect at Art Exhibitions

And that’s half the fun. The Mall Galleries are below street level so when you come into the reception you stand at the top of the steps and have a great view of the whole room. This was the view as I arrived at the Private View of the Artists and Illustrators Artist of the Year Exhibition. As you can see there is a wide variety of styles, subjects and sizes.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Artist of the Year 2017 - digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read -Artist of the Year 2017 – digital image

First of all, when you get to the events, you have to find your painting and check it’s OK and hope it’s well positioned. I think it’s the artists equivalent to the looking for yourself in a photo. It sounds self indulgent but experience has taught me that there are many things that can go wrong. Frames and glass get damaged, labels are wrong,. A good gallery will resolve the framing issues but labels and the like are less obvious and so easier to miss.

Here’s the Toast Rack in situ.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Artist of the Year 2017- digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read -Artist of the Year 2017- digital image

Once I know the painting is up and there are no hitches, I can relax.

Then I take in the rest of the exhibits and talk to other artists like. Titika Faralou who painting Lost is on the far Right. She had traveled from Greece for the event. The other paintings are Eyes Like Sparks by Patrick Wilkins, Belfast Life by Connor McGuire and Saller Station Majorca by John Dodson

Ginny Page is another artist who’d also traveled, the relatively shorter distance from Copenhagen, to attend the Private View. Here she is with her stunning painting The Broken Thread.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Ginny Page with her painting - The Broken Thread - Artist of the Year 2017- digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read -Ginny Page with her painting – The Broken Thread – Artist of the Year 2017- digital image

Peter Davis was another artist I spoke to at length. We got chatting when he was looking around, so I didn’t immediately connect him to his painting, although we were fairly close by. Quite surprising given it’s a self portrait called Face Furniture and the likeness is spot on. Maybe it was the clothes?

©2017 - Cathy Read -Peter Davis with Face Furniture (self portrait) at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image crop
©2017 – Cathy Read -Peter Davis with Face Furniture (self portrait) at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image crop

I also spent time speaking to Sarah Hope who created Memory Scents which won the Canson award.

(You can see the full list of awards here.) I’ve seen Sarah’s work before at the Society or Women Artists Exhibition, so it was great to see her again along with another incredible piece.

©2017 - Cathy Read - Sarah Pope with her painting at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read – Sarah Pope with her painting at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image

Then there were the obligatory groups shots

 

©2017 - Cathy Read with Sarah Hope Ginny Page at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read with Sarah Hope Ginny Page at Artist of the Year 2017- digital image

In the background, either side of Memory Scents, are Catching Light by Kerri Lisa Davies and Snow White by Natasha Barnes.

©2017 - Cathy Read with Peter Davis Ginny Page Artist of the Year 2017- digital image
©2017 – Cathy Read with Peter Davis Ginny Page Artist of the Year 2017- digital image

Either side of Peter’s painting are Return of the Gladioli by Louise Stubbings and History by Susan Johnson.

All this was after the Awards when I was delighted to discover I’d received the award from Wild and Tame!

Manchester Paintins©2016-Cathy-Read-Toastrack-Mixed-Media-30x40cm
©2016-Cathy-Read-Toastrack-Mixed-Media-30x40cm

If you get the chance and are in London this week pop into the Mall Galleries, London SW1,

 

All 50 shortlisted artworks for Artists of the Year 2017 are on display until 28 January 2017.

  Open 10am to 5pm, last entry 3pm on the final day, free admission.

 

A4 Prints are availabe

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Abstract Painting – Journey Begins 2

What is an abstract Painting?

What do you think of when you hear the word abstract?

Does you conjour up images of Jackson Pollock,s drippy or Mark Rothko squares? Or do you imagine something closer to reality? Pablo Picaso’s cubism paintings perhaps?

There’s no one size fits all with abstracts.

©2012 - Cathy Read - The Journey begins- Mixed media - 40x50cm
©2012 – Cathy Read – The Journey begins- Mixed media – 40x50cm

You can have pictures that are just a little abstract.

Based on reality, they look like something but they are still abstracts. There has been an attempt to use an existing object, scene or person to begin a process which has resulted in the painting. To splodges of paint, lines or blocks of colour. This is where I’ve settled, architectural abstracts. It suits me.

One thing I’ve always found though.

The best abstract paintings abide by a set of rules.

It may be limiting the colour palette. Or dripping the paint or only using angular shapes. Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures applied the “Less is More” rule. There are many rules you can use. If you want abstracts to work, it’s not a case of just splashing colour on a canvas, throwing things together or carving as you fancy. So take your pick and make your choice.

Spending time deciding what is key to an painting and what can be left out makes a painting work.

Keeping to those rules consistently is how style develops.

So, next time you look at an abstract painting, why not ask yourself:

What rules is the artist using here?

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Sloane Square – Painting the City at Night

Painting the City at night shows a different world.

During the day you see everything but at night things are hidden and the light adds drama. When it’s a wet evening like here, there are reflections in the road as well as those off the windows. I’ve been keen to create more night scenes. When I went to Battersea in October for the Affordable Art Fair, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and got some night scenes of a very wet Sloane Square. There are several photos that worked well but I decided on one partially framed by railings.

Ready to start painting.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night Ready to paint-masking fluid, graphite and paper - 56 x 76 cm
©2017 – Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night Ready to paint-masking fluid, graphite and paper – 56 x 76 cm

Yes, it’s sideways. The board is a bit too big to paint straight on.

This is where the image starts taking shape.

http://cathyreadart.com/?attachment_id=9514
http://cathyreadart.com/?attachment_id=9514

Why paint the city red, when there’s multicoloured.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night with reference image - watercolour and Acrylic Ink - 56 x 76 cm
©2017 – Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night with reference image – watercolour and Acrylic Ink – 56 x 76 cm

Taking some liberties with the night sky though.

©2017 - Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night - watercolour and Acrylic Ink - 56 x 76 cm
©2017 – Cathy Read -Sloane Square at Night – watercolour and Acrylic Ink – 56 x 76 cm

Really happy with the finished result! I have my favourite paintings and this is one.

So where should I focus my creative energies next.

What would you like to see me do next?

 

 

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Stupid things done in the name of art – Number 1

Do you have an obsession?

You know what I mean, a “casual” mention causes you loved ones to groan because they expect you to talk for hours! Or they keep you away from certain shops because you’ll spend your life savings if not controlled?

Like most artist’s, mine is art materials.

I  managed to keep a lid on things by keeping to watercolour, pastel, oil and acrylic! That was fine…I had all I needed and just topped things up when they ran out!

But then I started mixed media painting, and discovered so many more things I “needed”.

Like the oil pastels for this one…

Faith built on sand
©2010 – Cathy Read – Faith Build on Sand – Tissue Paper and oil pastel

Working with large canvases, struggling with a field easel for a year. using string to hold the legs together.

I needed a studio easel.

My limited budget was a problem, I wasn’t selling much work at the time. Visiting  London one day, I explored an Art shop near Trafalgar square. I was specifically looking for liquid acrylics, but also decided to check out easels. They had one and  I could afford it but they didn’t have the acrylics I needed. However, their Soho store did and was “just around the corner”. Which was true, or so the little map said.

The little map lied!

It was “around the corner” but not nearly as close as their convenient little map card would have you believe. I found the store and about 20 streets not on the map! This should have made me rethink my plan but no, I have a stubborn streak. I really should have left it there, but no, I wanted a shiny new easel! They had what I wanted, easel and acrylics. Result!I

I opted for a less bulky but more expensive option- still cheaper than anything else. Now to get it home. Bear in mind this was a money saving exercise so Taxi’s were out of the question!

Ever tried transporting bags and a boxed easel on the London Underground?

During rush hour?

No? Well, here are the highlights!

  • During 10 minute walk to underground – Wishing I’d accepted the nice assistant’s offer to carry the easel to Piccadilly Circus. But don’t fancy the walk back to the shop to take him up on it!
  • At the station I realise I should have walked to Leicester Square (same distance) to save changing trains! There’s probably one closer. But I can’t bear to look!
  • Getting on packed trains with large boxes is like playing Tetris… near the top.
  • Dragging boxes along platforms causes easels to break out of boxes.
  • Makeshift handles tend to collapse.
  • You can do a really good comedy sketch where people jump/are knocked out of the way by carrying said box on your shoulder.
  • Easel home, obsession satisfied, until the next art shop visit.

Next time I’ll use the delivery service.

Do you have an obsession that made you do something you regret? Or is it just me?

Will you share and make others feel better?

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Abstract vs Realism – Which is better?

Are you a fan of abstract art?

Or maybe you prefer something more understandable. You like art that you can tell what it is?

When I started out as an artist Representational Art was my thing

Happily, creating realistic portraits and scenes  Like this one of Henton Mission Room at the marvelous Chiltern Open Air Museum – a museum of buildings no less.

©2010 Cathy Read-Henton Mission Room-31x21cm- Watercolour on paper
©2010 Cathy Read-Henton Mission Room-31x21cm- Watercolour on paper

I have a confession to make, I used to hate abstract art.

Understanding abstracts, especially paintings such a Guernica, was a struggle. I was quite happy to state my opinion that abstracts were rubbish. Until someone explained to me what Picaso was trying to demonstrate. Suddenly it clicked.

How can you paint intangible things like emotion without abstraction?

Sure, you can paint people in emotional states, but not emotion itself. So I started experimenting with my own abstracts, like this one.

©2009 Cathy Read - Order in chaos - 35x25cm Mixed Media on paper
©2009 Cathy Read – Order in chaos – 35x25cm Mixed Media on paper

The more I did, the more I realised representation is too traditional for me. Don’t get me wrong, representational looks good. It’s just restricted. You either paint what is there, create a photograph like realism. Or you develop a degree of abstraction and give yourself more freedom to express yourself. You are free to break the rules. Although, don’t break too many at once, and not all of them.

The best abstracts still have some rules behind them.

The rules may come from way outside the box, but rules create structure which can help define an abstract

Now I love abstracts. They provide greater opportunities for my creativity, not because I can’t create realistic images. But because I can add a new dimension to the images Realism informs the choices for my abstracts, So I continue to develop my understanding of the representational.

What do you think about Abstract Art?

A load of old tosh or a new dimension for expression?

Let me know in the comments.

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