Tag Archives: Contemporary Art

What is a Contemporary Painting?

What should Contemporary Painting focus on?

Have you ever wondered what Contemporary art is?

  • Abstracts?
  • Surreal Portraits?
  • Contemporary Architecture?

Most of mine focus on the latter, but what about historic buildings and features?

Do they still count?

I often wonder, especially if I have a subject that could have been painted 100 years ago.

©2017 - Cathy Read - Globe Light - 55 x 75cm_

Truth is, there’s no rule that says contemporary painting should be of a certain subject matter.

Tate modern’s website adds a note on quality

“The term contemporary art is loosely used to refer to art of the present day and of the relatively recent past, of an innovatory or avant-garde nature.
Personally, I like the addition of innovation. Artists who create new ideas and styles are exciting. If you see lots of similar work, or copies of these original ideas it can become dull. Being drawn to contemporary subjects, I find contemporary art exiting. I love antiques but contemporary works are the antiques of the future.

That’s not to say all contemporary painting is good.

Far from it, all genres have good and bad within them, but, like with music, there will be some art that transcends the genre and is appreciated by all. Art created to reflect the here and now will date, but it will reflect the mood of the present. In 20, 30 years time we will see a distinct style, but today it’s harder to define.

There is a danger of seeing an unreal world in historic art.

The act of drawing or painting a subject can render it more beautiful than reality. The past was not clean and shiny like a 1950’s TV show. Everything was not immaculately kept. Life was rough around the edges, and so is today. Showing the flaws bestows a sense of humanity. Things feel more normal. The everyday now, not some idyllic memory of yesteryear. The goal of the Contemporary artist is to reflect this.

When I paint historic architecture, recording its current state matters.

Perhaps a hint of former glory, or a chance distortion of it’s original intention. I chose this light because of the shape and the grimy nature of the lower glass.


There was a danger that I might move into the twee so I included Portcullis House in the background.

The finished painting is not very grimy though.

 ©2017 - Cathy Read - Globe Light - 55 x 75cm_

©2017 – Cathy Read – Globe Light – 55 x 75cm_

I shall continue on my quest.

So, what do you think defines a Contemporary Painting?

Let me know in the comments.













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?







9 tips to make the most of Contemporary Art Fair visits.

Contemporary Art Fairs are a great way to see art

Cathy Read Art Affordable Art Fair Battersea
Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, UK

Whatever stage you’re at from the complete novice to art expert they are an effective way to immerse yourself in a vast array of different styles and abilities.

From Graduate artwork, to established artists. From the daring to the traditional, there is  enough variety to suit most tastes. Different Art Fairs attract different groups of art enthusiast, depending on their focus. Some specialise in galleries and others in individual artists, Depending on their selection criteria, styles can vary from the traditionalist to the more avant guarde and outright shocking. Whatever your level of interest there is always something to spark off conversations.

Recently I went to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea. The Fair is well established and features a wide variety of galleries from the local, who could have carried their paintings to the fair, to galleries from west and east coast America, Japan and the Far East. Ithought I’d share some tips on how I made the most of my visit.

1. Take a notebook and pen with you.

The first thing that strikes you is there’s a lot of art!

When you first walk in it’s overwhelming and it’s easy to forget what you have seen as you wander from one stand to another. make notes, jot down stand numbers and names that interest you and artists you admire. The guide book will have all the gallery/artist details so you can investigate anything that takes your fancy later.

2. The Guide book is your friend

Every contemporary art fair will have one along with a plan of the stands. If you’ve no idea what to see then work your way systematically through. You don’t have to start at the beginning, you could always

3. Grab a coffee and plan your attack.

Get the guide book and flick through the entries and mark the ones that capture your attention. Mark them on your guide book map so you’ll look out for them when you’re near. I did say there is a lot of art and you can sometimes miss stands you want to see when your attention is caught by something new and shiny. So if you’ve come to see that amazing Jo Blogg’s work make sure you’ve highlighted it in case you inadvertently skip an aisle. Some art fairs have little side rooms and corridors which can be easy to miss if you’re not expecting them.

4. Pace yourself.

Looking at art is exhausting. You are constantly being stimulated my new visual stimuli and there is only so much that the brain can take in before overwhelm occurs. Taking regular breaks is the key. Stop for lunch and mid afternoon break. I’ve been to art fairs where I’ve looked around in 90 minutes and been shattered. I’ve done the same fair in a day another year and felt refreshed and stimulated.

5. Be open to new experiences.

It’s easy to dismiss art as being poorly done and “nothing to it” but sometimes you need to spend time with a piece to really understand and appreciate it. This year I saw work by Bul Van Hoen. At a glance the pieces can easily be dismissed as simple blocks of colour but stare at them for a while and an image gradually emerges and becomes clearer. It’s quite a magical effect.

Bul Van Hoen via artbluestudio.com
Bul Van Hoen via artbluestudio.com

6. Ask questions and talk to the Gallery staff, even if you’re just looking.

The galleries are there to sell art and you may not have any intention of buying but don’t be afraid of talking to them. They are people too and will probably be delighted to chat, especially during quiet times. Most gallery staff and artists realise people tend not to buy on first sight, although that can and does happen. You may not be in a position to buy today but someday in the future you could be. Finding out more about art you love is the first step. If you are not planning to buy work, please be mindful of other people who are looking to buy. No gallery will be happy if you keep them talking and they miss out on potential sales

7. Pick up literature about artists and galleries you like.

Most galleries have postcards of the artists work they show. These are a great way to remind yourself what you’ve seen. You might think you’ll remember everything but with so much there, do you really want to risk it?

8. Don’t be afraid to ask about payment plans.

If you see something you really love and want but it’s outside your price range you may still be able to purchase it. There’s a wonderful scheme called Own Art which helps make art affordable. Lots of galleries participate, so ask them if they’re part of the scheme if you want to pay in installments.

9. Review once you’re home.

If you’ve succumbed to temptation, enjoy your new art. Either install it yourself or arrange to have it installed if necessary. Once you’ve done that take time to review what you’ve seen while it’s still fresh. Record information in your records of anything you really love, now is the time to do it. Cull anything that you don’t feel you want to keep and make notes on what interested you. If you want to make notes on postcards or the programme, do so.

I haven’t begun to share about all the wonderful art I saw, but I will be doing so over the next few weeks.


So that’s how I do Contemporary Art Fairs.

Did I miss anything out? What would you add? Let me know in the comments.









Contemporary Art Tour of London in 30 Days

Tour London through Contemporary Art

Hi! I’m Cathy Read, a professional contemporary artist who draws with masking fluid to create art like this.

©2015 - Cathy Read - Bobbies on Bicycles - Watercolour and Acrylic - 61x45 cm
©2015 – Cathy Read – Bobbies on Bicycles – Watercolour and Acrylic – 61×45 cm

You’ve heard of virtual tours, I’m sure. well, I’m going to give you

An Abstract Tour of the City of London!

Or rather an Abstract, virtual Tour of London.


Well, here’s how it works. You sign up for the tour and over the following 30 days I will send you a email featuring one of my paintings with a story or reflection attached. Quite simple really.

Join me on a virtual tour of London as we explore the city using 30 paintings inspired by its streets and architecture?Yes, I want to come

This is for you if you: –

  • love art
  • love London
  • Love contemporary art
  • Want to hear the stories behind paintings and not just look at the paintings
  • Want to see an artists perspective on the everyday and iconic

I’ve selected 30 of my paintings inspired by London and its architecture to create this Virtual Tour.

Over 30 days I will reveal these to you in a daily email. During the tour you will see my view of the city, created in watercolour and ink. I’ll also be including stories behind the creation of the paintings.

©2014 - Cathy Read - Routemaster selfie - Watercolour and Acrylic on canvas - 20 x 20cm - (SOLD)
©2014 – Cathy Read – Routemaster selfie – Watercolour and Acrylic on canvas – 20 x 20cm – (SOLD)

What’s in it for me?

  • You get to see some cool art, for free! You also get to see the thinking behind the pictures and how they are created.
  • It’s educational, you might discover something new and exciting.
  • It’s unique

How much will it cost?

I won’t lie to you, there is a price, your precious time, but I will only share content you’ll love. The tour itself is free, I just need your name and email address so I know where to send it.

What’s the catch?

Well, I say the tour is free, and it is.

It is free unless you decide to stop for souvenirs that is?

I can’t promise it will be cheap then, but I can promise that, if you do want a souvenir, you will be getting something you will treasure.

You will have a distinctive print or an original piece of art like this by an award winning artist

London architecture ©2015 - Cathy Read - Battersea Reborn- Watercolour and Acrylic - 55 x 75 cm
©2015 – Cathy Read – Battersea Reborn- Watercolour and Acrylic – 55 x 75 cm – £810 unframed

but I promise I won’t force you into buying anything you don’t want to. Deal?


What if I change my mind?

No problem! Unlike a real tour, you can hop off any time, It’s perfectly safe. Just hit the unsubscribe button. It’s that simple.

What happens when the tour is over?

When the tour is finished you will be given the option to be added to my newsletter list. In the unlikely event you get sent the next newsletter in error, just click unsubscribe and poof they will vanish!.

So come and take the tour, see art inspired by the great city of London. Without the need to travel anywhere

Yes, I want to come

As I sit here writing this, the rain is pouring down outside.

Not the type of weather that inspires you to take a conventional tour, is it? Well, here’s the beauty of an Abstract tour, you don’t need to leave the house, or even your computer!

Just sit back and enjoy the art. And, unlike a regular tour, it won’t cost you a penny!



Care to join me?Yes, I want to come









An Artist’s View of Society of Women Artists Exhibition

Ever been part of something that makes you feel “Wow”?

As an artist there are time you feel You’ve arrived. Last week that was entering the Mall Galleries for the Society of Women Artists 155th Summer Exhibition. It was busy week with 2 social events in London. Seeing my work alongside other work of such high quality is naturally humbling.

Every year they hold a charity event to fund raiser for breast Cancer research.

During the social event 12 paintings donated by members of the society are auctioned. The evening went well and large sums raised for charity. We felt the obligatory selfie was necessary. So, here I am with fellow Artists : Sculptor Hazel Reeves and painter Orsi Cowell-Lehoczky.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Charity evening Selfie with Hazel Reeves and Orsi Cowell-Lehoczky- Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Charity evening Selfie with Hazel Reeves and Orsi Cowell-Lehoczky

The following morning we were back bright and early.

Well, early at least. There was a friendly buzz, even at this hour.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 8- Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 8- Digital Image

The speeches and presentations by guests of honour were in the morning.

First Daphne Todd gave an inspiring talk about why we still need a Society of Women Artists.

The gyst being an account of her journey to be taken seriously and respected in a male dominated world. How women are still under represented in the art establishment, that men do business in clubs and down the pub – where women are excluded for various reasons. Women work better in clubs and societies. I’m paraphrasing here, there was a lot more to it and her account was far more studied, eloquent and detailed.

Princess Michael of Kent spoke next.

Her speech was shorter and recounted her involvement and respect for the society over the years she’s been patron. She then went on to present the awards.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 7- Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View – Digital Image

Despite the early start, we usually have a good turnout, as you can see.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 6- Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 6- Digital Image

Princess Michael then did a tour of the exhibition.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 3 - Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 3 – Digital Image

I was hoping to get a picture of her when she was looking at my work (The one in the oak frame) but I was so engaged with talking to people, I nearly missed her completely.

Did I mention there were lots of visitors?

Knowing when to speak up and when to allow people quiet contemplation is a tricky art. It’s one I suspect I’ll always be working on. I feared I slipped up with someone from my hometown of Middleton, Manchester. She was talking to another group and the need to loiter conspicuously and say “Hi” was too strong. (I recognised the accent.) Fortunately, we’re friendly folk and she was delighted to meet a fellow Middletonian and a long, animated conversation followed.

I left these ladies to look at my paintings in peace though.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 5 - Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition visitors looking at my paintings

There were inevitable lulls in visitors, lunchtime being an obvious one.

(And quite welcome over the 10 hours of the PV.) We all needed sustenance and the chance to take some arty images of our work.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View 4 - Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Main Room.

And, of course, to admire some of the other pieces this fun one

Rhino by Bushra Fakhoury.

©2016-Cathy-Read- Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View - Digital Image
©2016-Cathy-Read- Rhino by Bushra Fakhoury at Society of Women Artists Summer Exhibition Private View

I saw at least one young visitor attempting to recreate this post and dance, much to the amusement of the onlookers.
The show has a wealth of fabulous pieces, so if you can get to the Mall Galleries please do, you will not be disappointed.

The exhibition is now finished but you can find out about the next one at the Society of Women Artists Website

Check it out and you’ll discover wonderful work by some top contemporary artists.












Tate Modern Repurposed Architecture.

Ever see something and think YEEEEESSSSSS!?

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you’ll know I’m a fan of industrial architecture. The no nonsense approach to buildings that produce pure functionality. I’m not averse to making things look pretty, even when they can’t be seen, but there’s an honesty to industrial architecture. It’s not afraid to admit the need for pipes and wiring or that needs change and parts need replacing.

From the moment the development of the Tate modern was announcedin the old Bankside power station I was intrigued.

And to find the Millennium Bridge leads to it, I was ecstatic. Industrial and contemporary architecture combined they were made to be.

There’s a phrase that’s popular at the moment “Repurposing”. What used to be called recycling although I think it’s meant to imply a more creative approach. It’s not really a new concept, especially when it comes to architecture. Many buildings have been remodelled to make them fit for new purposes.

The art movement of “found” or readymade objects

Has been used since ‘Fountain’, by Marcel Duchamp. It’s a fitting notion, then that the building that houses the  Tate Modern should itself be a repurposed building.

Ironically or intentionally perhaps?

As many of the Tate Modern’s exhibits are themselves readymades or include found objects.

Travelling to The Tate Modern on foot as a tourist St Paul’s Tube is a popular route as you approach via the Millennium Bridge. It is a stunning approach with the dark building contrasting with the shiny surfaces of the bridge.

And what does anyone think when heading for a museum?

©2013-Cathy-Read-Whats-on-at-the-Tate-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-38-x-28-cm £260

I wonder what’s on?


How do I own this painting?