Tag Archives: London

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.

©2017-Cathy-Read-Globe-Light-reference-image-digital-image-

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

St Paul’s at Night – Stop Motion Painting in progress

After last year’s filming, I fell in love with Stop Motion Painting recording.

One of the most exciting pieces of film from the Landscape Artist of the Year filming last June was seeing the stop motion film they took of me on the day. I love the way you can magically see everything fall into place. As a result, I’m trying to set up some recording in the studio as a routine.

Painting inspiration is a curious thing.

Sometimes it can be hard to find. And others you just walk down the road and it leaps out at you. This one of St Paul’s is a case in point. I’d been out for a wonderful evening celebrating at Sadler’s Hall – my husband receiveda long service award last June. The night had been foul, when we arrived. I met him at the nearest underground. Sheltering from heavy rain in the station, I watched as water poured down the steps. When he arrived we ran to the venue and were soaking. We dried off, enjoying the evening immensely and  forgot about the weather.

Leaving the hall after the dinner, the rain had stopped but it was still very wet.

Night was falling and the lights reflected of the wet road. Seeing St Paul’s lit up, I had to take a picture, with the traffic moving so much the cars were a blur.

I loved the sense of movement so kept them in.

The masking stage is difficult to see so I didn’t start recording until much later. Here is the piece after I’d finished masking off areas.

©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-work-in-progress-masking-55-x-75cm
©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-work-in-progress-masking-55-x-75cm

And a few close up details

©2017 - Cathy Read - St Pauls at Night work in progress- masking detail 2 - 55 x 75cm
©2017 – Cathy Read – St Pauls at Night work in progress- masking detail 2 – 55 x 75cm

I really loved the painted bike detail

©2017 - Cathy Read - St Pauls at Night work in progress- masking detail 3 - 55 x 75cm
©2017 – Cathy Read – St Pauls at Night work in progress- masking detail 3 – 55 x 75cm
©2017 - Cathy Read - St Pauls at Night work in progress- masking detail 5 - 55 x 75cm
©2017 – Cathy Read – St Paul’s at Night work in progress- masking detail 5 – 55 x 75cm

Here’s the painting before the clean up.

©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-work-in-progress-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-55-x-75cm-
©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-work-in-progress-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-55-x-75cm

And the finished picture

©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-55-x-75cm
©2017-Cathy-Read-St-Pauls-at-Night-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-55-x-75cm

I haven’t any stills of the painting so

Finally,  the Stop Motion Painting in Progress

The edited video has no sound and I had a few technical glitches with the camera stopping unexpectedly and moving. I’m getting the hang of doing them now, though.

I think it’s fair to say I’m hooked on Stop Motion Painting.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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?

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

10 Points to Consider when Choosing Contemporary Art?

Choosing Contemporary art for a room can be difficult.

1. Where you want the art to go.

Contemporary art in a bedroom has to appeal to a different set of criteria than art you’d want in a study or dining room.

©2014 - Cathy Read - Ground Star scene - Watercolour and Acrylic - 40 x 30 cm £270
©2014 – Cathy Read – Ground Star scene – Watercolour and Acrylic – 40 x 30 cm £270

2. Will the Art be on its own?

or will it be placed alongside other pictures and sculptures. Bring photographs of other work already in the room, especially if they are bold pieces or very subtle.

3. What is your budget?

How much can you afford or do you want to spend?

4. Do you really like it?

Seems obvious, but this list would not be complete without me mentioning it.

5. Take your time.

You don’t have to rush to make a decision and it’s best to look around. If a piece is still calling you, then chances are it’s the one to go for, If you’re not sure and want time to think but don’t want to miss an opportunity, you can always leave a deposit to secure a piece and pay the rest on collection. Say if you need to consult with your other half or need to measure a space,

6. Do ask to see the work close up?

Don’t be afraid to ask for a piece of work to be taken down so you can look at it more closely. The artist/gallery will expect this of a serious buyer.

7. Ask to see it against a blank wall.

Art on a wall among other paintings, looks very different to a single piece on its own. Some work is best seen in isolation, others need company. Seeing a piece in isolation can really change its impact.

8. Look at it in daylight.

Maybe not outside but certainly by a window. Colours look very different under artificial light compared to daylight.

9. Ask questions.

Ask about the way the art is made. Is there a story or an ethos. If you see something you like but doesn’t quite fit your requirements, ask if they have other work by the same artist or in the same style.

10. Remember, It’s OK to browse!

There is a perceived culture of galleries being officious and frowning on people who are “just looking”. If you come across this attitude then by all means walk away. But any gallery worth visiting realises that people have to start looking somewhere. They may not be ready to buy yet for many reasons. They may not have the budget at the moment but if they see something they love they will be back and if circumstances change they will remember the service and the art they have seen Also, if they see something they love, they might move heaven and earth to own it.

Art is a big purchase so take your time and enjoy the process.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Knowing when to Stop Painting – Painting Admiralty Arch .

A perfect painting can be wrecked in seconds.

Knowing when to stop painting is a dilemma. If you’ve created anything from scratch you’ll know that you can be progressing well with a creation. Everything is working out well until..

You do a little bit too much, then panic sets in. You try and salvage the situation but your efforts just makes it worse.

Next to actually starting, knowing when to stop is the single most important stage in the creative process.

Which is why it’s important to know when to stop painting

Personally I tend to err on the side of under-painting, and this can work well but some paintings, like my one of Admiralty Arch took a bit longer to get there.

I started with this

©2016 - Cathy Read - Admiralty Arch - graphite- 40 x 50 cm 2
©2016 – Cathy Read – Admiralty Arch – graphite- 40 x 50 cm 2

Yes, this is probably too soon to stop but there are times when I wish I could.

Just look at the masking up close. There is a beauty in it.

©2016 - Cathy Read - Admiralty Arch - Graphite masking fluid- 40 x 50 cm 600
©2016 – Cathy Read – Admiralty Arch – Graphite masking fluid- 40 x 50 cm 600

Why don’t I stop here then?

Well I know that whilst it looks pretty now the masking will turn a revolting brown colour and loose its freshness. So I add a bit of colour and I fall in love with the blooms and textures that occur early on.

Should I stop painting here?

2016 - Cathy Read - Admiralty Arch - Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm Stage 1
2016 – Cathy Read – Admiralty Arch – Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm Stage 1

Well, the answer is that I could, probably, but to my mind it’s lacking.

So I paint a bit more…

And then a bit more…

Until I’m left with something like this and I wonder if this is it?

©2016 - Cathy Read - Admiralty Arch - Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm Nearly Finished or am I
©2016 – Cathy Read – Admiralty Arch – Watercolour and Acrylic- 40 x 50 cm Nearly Finished or am I

So what do I do? Well, I just walk away!

There’s nothing like a bit of mental distance from a painting to help decide if it’s finished or not. When you work on a piece for any length of time you get too close to the subject and don’t see what’s wrong or unfinished. Better to leave it and little longer than start removing the masking fluid and realising that you need to re-mask because you’ve missed a bit. Or worse still

Use white Paint!

Heaven forbid, I’m getting palpitations just thinking about it. I like my white lines to be the paper not ink.

Yes, I did tweak some more and after cleaning up I ended with this.

©2016-Cathy Read-Admiralty Arch- Watercolour and Acrylic-40x50cm
©2016-Cathy Read-Admiralty Arch- Watercolour and Acrylic-40x50cm

So what about you?

How do you decide when to stop? Let me know in the comments.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save