At the end of last week I posted an introduction about the artist LS Lowry, he is one of my favorite artists and from my home town of Manchester in the UK. I have started a full study of his work and intend to post a few times relating to his artistic development as well as the different styles he worked in and area he selected for his art works.
It think its important to match Lowry with his night school teach Pierre Adolphe Valette, who was a French Impressionist painter. His most acclaimed paintings are urban landscapes of Manchester, now in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Today, he is chiefly remembered as L. S. Lowry’s tutor. I post here some of his painting as they cover a lot of the inner Manchester city areas that Lowry also later work in.
L S Lowry is known mostly for paintings,however the artist valued his drawings just as much.
Lowry was concerned with the qualities of line and tone. He continued to draw compulsively until the last years of his life, producing a huge range of works. His work does not just consist of his industrial scenes, but also includes highly finished drawings of the life model, careful portrait studies, rapid sketches made on location and harming sketches of children and dogs.
Lowry did not merely see drawing as a means to an end in producing his paintings, but as a significant and worthwhile medium in its own right. He would often makPierre Adolphe Valettee sketches, in situ or from memory, and later produce a much more detailed, fine piece of art from this sketch. In his early work, Lowry drew in a very strict and linear style, with little or no shading. Over time, however, he came to prefer a technique of rubbing out and over-drawing. Lowry would rub heavily worked areas of tone with his finger to achieve a dense velvety smoothness.
This technique of layering often gave his work a sense of ghostliness especially where traces of an earlier drawing can be seen underneath. Lowry did use mediums other than pencil for his drawings and his collection of work includes pastel, chalk, pen and ink, felt-tip and biro drawings.
Lowrys Night school teach was Pierre Adolphe Valette, when Lowry became a pupil of Valette he expressed great admiration for his tutor, who taught him new techniques and showed him the potential of the urban landscape as a subject. He called him “a real teacher … a dedicated teacher” and added: “I cannot over-estimate the effect on me of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette, full of French impressionists, aware of everything that was going on in Paris
Valette’s paintings are Impressionist, a style that suited the damp fogginess of Manchester. Manchester Art Gallery has a room devoted to him, where the viewer may compare some of his paintings with some of Lowry’s, and judge to what extent Lowry’s own style was influenced by him and by French Impressionism generally.
The Lowry hosted an exhibition of about 100 works by Valette, alongside works by Lowry, between October 2011 and January 2012. It included paintings of Manchester from Manchester Art Gallery and loans from private owners.
I feel that you can see just how well these two artists click in the night school classes, as the influence that Valette had over Lowry clearly stayed with him all his artistic life ….
The Painting of Pierre Adolphe Valette
More painting by Pierre Adolphe Valette here
Selection of drawing by LS Lowery
Wind Farms, Love them or hate them ?
They must be one of the most controversial additions to the modern landscape, many like them but more people dislike and protests against their construction.
Here in Ireland, over the last decade or so we have seen a massive growth in their development with our landscape increasingly covered with them !!
My personal feelings are more neutral than some, I feel it has to be remembered that Ireland has few natural energy resources and sourcing them from around the world is expensive.
There are also much more damaging methods of creating energy than these modern windmills.
The area of the hills above Kilmanagh, county kilkenny is currently having two news wind farms developed, these images below show one of them. The image at the top of this post shows the views of the area before the development started, clearly very stunning!, yet I still find the construction of these massive towers more interesting than not.
Wind farms, I guess – they are always going to be loved and hated at the same time !!!
New wind farm, county Kilkenny
Allihies in west county cork is one of my favorite locations to visit in Ireland.
The town is located at the far end of the Béara Peninsula, west cork, the landscape scenery here is just stunning. The town itself is about as remote as it gets in this part of the world. There are many coastal walks along with paths that wind through the hills. The town is also well known for its copper mining history with many of the old mines still standing in the hills acting as a backdrop for the town.
There is a museum that you can visit details here : Allihies copper mine visitors center
My painting / sketch here was painted digitally using a combination of PC applications and taken from some sketches and photos I came home with on the return from my last visit.
At the start of January while I was back in my home town of Manchester in The UK, I spent sometime with family members in visiting the Lowry Gallery in Salford, Manchester, UK.
Lowry is a much loved English artist, particularly in the North west of the UK, being born in Stretford, Manchester.
Here are some basic details about him,
Laurence Stephen Lowry was born 1 November 1887 in Barrett Street, Stretford. His father, Robert, worked as a clerk in an estate agent’s office. His mother, Elizabeth, was a talented pianist. By 1898 the family were living in Victoria Park, a leafy suburb in south Manchester, but in 1909 financial difficulties necessitated a move to Pendlebury, an industrial area between Manchester and Bolton. Lowry’s mother hated it, and so did Lowry, but, ‘After a year I got used to it. Within a few years I began to be interested and at length I became obsessed by it.’
After leaving school Lowry took a job as a clerk with a Manchester firm of chartered accountants, Thomas Aldred and Son. In 1910, after being made redundant from a second job, he became rent collector and clerk for the Pall Mall Property Company and stayed there until his retirement in 1952.
As a child he had enjoyed drawing, and he used part of his income to pay for private painting lessons with the artists William Fitz and Reginald Barber. In 1905 he began attending evening classes at Manchester Municipal College of Art. His tutor in the life drawing class there was the Frenchman Adolphe Valette, who brought first-hand knowledge of the Impressionists, such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro to his classes. ‘I cannot over-estimate the effect on me at that time of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette… He had a freshness and a breadth of experience that exhilarated his students.’
By 1915 Lowry had begun attending evening classes at Salford School of Art, based in the Royal Technical College on the edges of Peel Park. One of his tutors there, Bernard Taylor (art critic for the Manchester Guardian) advised Lowry that his paintings were too dark. In response, Lowry tried painting on a pure white background, a technique he was to retain for the rest of his career.
Peel Park, and the views across it from the Technical College windows, appear regularly in Lowry’s work. He had begun to see the possibilities of painting what he saw on his doorstep, rather than more conventional landscapes based on the countryside nearby. The best known story Lowry told of how he became interested in the industrial scene described how, after missing a train at Pendlebury station, he saw the Acme Spinning Company’s mill turning out, ‘I watched this scene – which I’d looked at many times without seeing – with rapture.’
A closer study of Lowry
Over the next few days and weeks I want to take a much closer look at the paintings and drawings that Laurence produced, looking at the subjects that he worked with and the technique’s he used to record his world.
As an artist he has been labeled and stereotyped as a naïve “Sunday painter”, based on the way he painted his landscapes and drew people along with animals.
During this visit to the Lowry Gallery however and with the help of the guided tour, it became very clear just what a complete artist Lowry was. Having a chance to see a collection of his work from his very early days at night school, until the final works of art he produce has helped to show me just how diverse and skilled an artist he was.
The areas of his work I want to study can be seen in his work I have selected below, including (Life drawing, pencil sketches, oil paints, landscape and city scape work), I will enjoy very much looking at his art work and I hope to learn a great deal from him, for my own efforts at drawing and painting.
Art works by LS Lowry
We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening–
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Is wooed into the cyclops’ eye
Of a tarn. Our un-fenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.
They’ve taken the skeleton
Of the Great Irish Elk
Out of the peat, set it up
An astounding crate full of air.
Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter
Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They’ll never dig coal here,
Only the waterlogged trunks
Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking
Inwards and downwards,
Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.
Using classic Camera lenses
In the world of Digital photography it feels like a new bit of equipment is released almost every month, new Camera bodies, lenses, flash guns etc….
In the last few years however the image quality of digital cameras has begun to reach such high standards that its hard to see as bigger need than every before to keep upgrading your SLR camera body. I remember so clearly the day I first purchased a digital SLR, it was a Nikon D100, a body that was very closely based on the Nikon F80. I also remember reading sometime later that for a digital Camera to match the print size of 35mm film you would need 24 million pixels, a target that was reached sometime back in the Nikon range and surpassed with the 36mp Nikon D800.
Looking back at Film cameras, most of the end print size and quality came from the type of film you selected to use. The camera bodies themselves offered different levels of capture capabilities, some bodies offered all you needed to take landscape images while other more advanced bodies allowed you to capture fast action activities such as sports.
Once you had the camera body that you needed, for the type of photography you worked with, there was little need to upgrade until you had almost worked your camera into the ground.
Today in 2017, it is a very legitimate question to ask if at last after many years of the megapixel race, have we not now reached the point that you can purchase a camera body and keep it for life or until you finish it off by using it so much ?
What about Lenses ?
In the first years of digital SLR cameras it was not always possible to use all your old lenses with your new wonderful Digital body, Many Cameras would only for example allow you to use the latest Auto-focus lenses.
Over time the manufacturers started to launch bodies at the top end of their range that allowed you to use many older lenses including Manual focus lenses. Once this happened many photographers started to look backwards at the classic lens market, to workout what lenses from the past still offered great performance on modern cameras.
Personally I love using classic lenses and the Tarmon Sp 35mm-210mm F3.5-4.2, is one of the lenses I love using the most, produced by Tamron in Japan in the early 1980’s and only ended production in late 1987, it was available new well into the 1990’s.
This lens is one of the best made Zoom lenses of all time and even includes a Macro mode, offering a close focus of 11.8″ (0.3m), for a zoom lens this is very good. It is also very fast and falls into the professional level of F3.5 at 35mm to F4.2 at 210mm, on a current Digital slr with its low ISO noise this speed is excellent. It also has some amazing Lens flare that when used in video mode is amazing !
For times when I can use manual focus and want a zoom lens that has a great focus distant range and is fast, I am more than happy to have this lens with me. Its sharp at all F-stops, feels just amazing to use and can take any kind of usage in any type of conditions.
I will let the images below do the rest of the talking here, its fair to say however that not all old camera equipment is outdated and not worth using anymore. Great Lenses like these ones, if looked after last for ever.
When new this lens would have cost top money and for a reason!
Over the Christmas and New year period I visited Arley Hall and its great Gardens
Arley Hall is a country house in the village of Arley, Cheshire, England, about 4 miles (6 km) south of Lymm and 5 miles (8 km) north of Northwich. It is home to the owner, Viscount Ashbrook and his family. The house is a Grade II* listed building, as is its adjacent chapel. Formal gardens to the southwest of the hall are also listed at Grade II* on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. In the grounds are more listed buildings, a cruck barn being listed as Grade I, and the other buildings as Grade II.
The hall was built for Rowland Egerton-Warburton between 1832 and 1845, to replace an earlier house on the site. Local architect George Latham designed the house in a style which has become known as Jacobethan, copying elements of Elizabethan architecture. A Gothic Revival chapel designed by Anthony Salvin was subsequently built next to the hall. By the mid-20th century parts of the house were in poor condition and were demolished, to be replaced by five private homes in a matching architectural style.
The present gardens were created in the 1830s, and were developed during the 20th century. The garden’s Herbaceous Border was one of the first of its type in Britain, and remains one of the finest. The house and its gardens have been open to the public since the 1960s, and have also been used as a film location. Stockley Farm, part of the Arley estate, is an additional visitor attraction for children and families.
Sometimes when out on a walk you find things that ask questions in your mind, old cookers or TV’s, items long past there use. At the weekend I came across this burnt out car, turned over and then burnt until all that remains is a twisted rusting shell.
I my mind it is most likely stolen but then it has its own story to tell !
I am a big believer that the skills involved in producing any kind of art work come from the base level of being able to represent the world around us, even the most abstract of painting and sculpture has to come from some kind of desire to represent thing in the real world.
So I wanted to before doing any more painting, take a step back into working on basic drawing skills.
The images here are taken over two nights during the week as I started and finished a pencil drawing of my Violin. they show some of the steps as I first worked on the basic outlines of the image and then moved into adding some details and shading.
I am happy with this first effort but will keep working over the next few weeks on different angles of the violin as well as working in different mediums such as pens and ink and charcoal.
The House on the Hill
Edwin Arlington Robinson
They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.
Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.
Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away,
And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.
There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.
Sketching in the great outdoors
This year I hope to use other forms of recording the landscape that I find around me other than photography alone, I love creating images using my camera but I want to dig in a little deeper and spent a lot more time at each location.
There are so many art based media that can be used to create a sketch, such as (Pastels, pens, pencils, charcoal and paint).
Personally I love using Pencils and Waterolour paints, both are very simple to use and very easy to carry around. Pencil is the most direct and very easy to always have with you in a bag. Watercolour paints requires you to have a supply of water and a palette for mixing colours, both simple to have available and easy to use. A monotone Watercolour sketch is a great way to make use of this medium, used to capture all the tones that you can see in the landscape in-front of you and a lot faster than using a pencil to record the lights and dark’s in your image.
I find that the process of starting and finishing a sketch outside to be the perfect way of relaxing, its very hard to think about anything else on your mind from the moment you start working and by the time you have finished, your mind is filled with little else other than how you can use you finished sketch later for a painting or more detailed drawing.
Add your sketch to some photographs you took and you have the perfect set of images available to create larger works in oil or acrylic paints.
The sketches here are a small sample of some work produced during an art course I completed a while back …..
So then 🙂 , this is my first blog post of 2017 – Happy belated New year to everyone 🙂
We returned home to Ireland a couple of days ago , following a wonderful Christmas spent with my sister and family in Manchester. It was a great time catching up sharing time, out side walking and visiting museums and art galleries, talking lots and watching the odd movie or two.
Today I spent sometime organizing my studio room and then shopping, I needed to get some new art supplies , including paint, brushes and sketch pads. Towards the end of last year I worked mainly with digital media for both photography and art work, however in 2017 I want to add real media including pencils , charcoal and acrylic paint to my work.
I am approaching this year in the form of a set of projects that I want to work on and complete by the end of the year. My main aim is to spend as much time as possible developing real skills and end up with a developed portfolio of work that records all the small steps involved with anything I do.
I feel strongly that art of all forms (including photography, drawing and painting) is a skill that involves development. This development needs in some way to be captured/recorded so that you can look back on the steps taken.
So I hope to find a method to record my year ahead, in the form of recorded steps that involve (notebooks, sketches, photos, poems, painting etc…) that all in all build towards finished works.
Above all I am looking forward very much to just getting going and being on a path again 🙂 🙂
Some work from 2016 …..