This is not a question that I thought I would be asking, except that I recently read an article talking about the low lightfastness rating of many of my favourite Prismacolor pencils. Given how important I think lightfastness is for watercolours it’s somewhat strange that I haven’t considered this as an issue before.
I had a hunt through my pencil box for my Prismacolors and checked them against the lightfastness chart that the company has released. I discovered that just over half of the colours that I own are in the top two lightfastness ratings categories. Phew! Those pencils I can continue to use without worry. The rest are in the bottom three categories. That means I wouldn’t use them for any work that I would be likely to sell, but I can use them on casual projects or for general ‘colouring in’ activities.
Presently I am using my pencils to make colour interpretations of photographs of statues taken by the German artist Aglaia Konrad, in her book Schaubuch: Skulptur. (Yep, weird, but so me). As this is an exercise for me and all the drawings are in a sketchbook I will continue with using the lower rates colours, but I won’t replace them.
As an aside, when I dived into the depths of the world of colour pencils (I don’t recommend it, it was terrifyingly obsessed), I found out that 4 of my pencils weren’t included on the lightfastness list. It turns out that they are considered ‘rare’ (sadly not rare enough to get me on Antiques Roadshow, or upgrade my lifestyle). They are discontinued colours from a previous incarnation of the company and were made in the late 1980’s. These colours were later discontinued when the company changed hands.
In the end my other half decided to get serious and order a set of lightfast Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. I have swatched them out below and I am pleasantly surprised by some of the colours this set of 20 includes.
As I walked into the large room, people moving in front of me, I looked up and saw ‘The Duke’. Our eyes met, a shiver ran down my spine. OMG! IT’S A GOYA!!!
If you are wondering about my delirium over this work, apart from the fact that it’s just a bloody marvellous painting, it’s because paintings by Goya rarely make it to our shores. I did a quick check and the only Goyas permanently in Oz are of Goya’s Los Caprichos series of etchings.
I was also surprised as nowhere in the pre-publicity for this exhibition did I see a mention of a Goya, nor Vermeer or Velasquez, all of whose works were in the show.
Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, (1769-1852) was arguably the leading military (and political) figure of the 19th century in the United Kingdom. His most prominent victory was the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo alongside the Prussian army under Generalfeldmarchal Blücher.
As this was my second visit to the exhibition (see my previous post here) I decided to prepare my page with a splash of red paint. This reflects the colour of the Duke’s uniform, but I wasn’t trying to be literal about painting it.
I also chose to do a closer study of the lower part of the face. By this time I had realised that trying to replicate the fine modelling of the oil paint was more than my pencil could manage.
The actress of the title is Mrs Siddons (Sarah Siddons, nee Kemble, 1755-1831). A famous tradegienne she was renowned for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth and Isabella from Isabella, or The Fatal Marriage by Thomas Sotherne. As an interesting aside, Siddons also played the role of Hamlet on numerous occasions over a 30 year period.
The portrait of Siddons in the exhibition is by Sir Thomas Gainsborough (she was also painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence whose work is also included in this exhibition). Her head is shown in profile with her powdered wig and her dramatically large hat framing her face.
William Hazlitt said of Sarah Siddons “Tragedy personified … to have seen Mrs Siddons was an event in everybody’s life.”
The final grace note was to find out, via Wikipedia, that the Duke and Mrs Siddons were acquainted, as the Duke attended some of Mrs Siddons receptions.
From March to June 2021 the National Gallery of Australia is hosting a raft of paintings, including many masterpieces from the National Gallery, London,in the Boticelli to Van Gogh exhibition. I have to say masterpieces because there is not a single work by a female artist is included in this show! Really? Yes, the National Gallery London is a very blokey affair, although I would have been happy to see their works by Rosalba Carriera, Artemesia Gentilleschi, Rosa Bonheur or Berthe Morisot. Rather ironic as the Know My Name exhibition of women artists is taking up almost all of the rest of the main floor of the gallery at present.
I have purchased a season ticket that allows me to visit the exhibition as many times as I can. My first post focused on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers 1888, but I must admit I have spent a lot more time looking elsewhere in the exhibition.
By drawing my way through the exhibition I can spend time looking closely at the paintings trying to learn what I can by copying. Though the reality is that a pencil (the only drawing tool allowed in the Gallery), is not always the right tool to capture a finely wrought portrait.
My first sketches included Joseph Wright of Derby’s double portrait of Mr and Mrs Thomas (Mary Barlow) Coltman, c. 1770-72 (NG6496) and Frans Hal’s Portrait of a Woman with a Fan, c. 1640 (NG 2529).
The Coltman’s were painted in a ‘conversation piece’ portrait, which was a popular convention of the time, showing the couple in a charmingly relaxed pose, (something that the Curator Susan Foister notes that would have required quite some forethought on Wright’s part). It is a portrait of ease and nicely observed detail, including Mary’s horse with it’s ears back, because their spaniel (not in my sketch) is nipping at it.
Alas my sketch of the Woman with a Fan was rather less successful. I have turned the sitter from a young woman into a middle-aged version of herself! The figure itself and dress with the lace collar and cuffs I am quite happy with.
I made a somewhat better go of this work the next time I visited. At least there is some vague resemblance in this version, although she still looks much older than she does in Hal’s portrait.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we meet the Duke and the Actress!
Yesterday (20 November 2017) we went for a pleasant walk around our local landmark Black Mountain. A walking track circles it below the summit. The walk is posted as taking 45 minutes to complete, but allowing for stopping to botanise and sketch we managed the circumnambulation at a cracking two hours and ten minutes!