Self-portraits

WARNING this post contains a nude portrait. (It’s OK, it’s not me).

It seems there is a trend amongst my artist friends to be doing self portraits. So I am jumping in, along with Carol Haywood and Rose Davies to share my recent versions.

I started drawing myself in March and then quickly fell by the wayside. I recently got re-inspired by Jennifer Higgie’s book the Mirror and the Palette, looking at the herstory of the self-portrait.

Highly recommended, fascinating and a darn good read.

The portraits of older women artists are often the most experimental. Perhaps the most visceral portrait I know is by Maria Lassnig, (1919- 2014), painted in her 80’s, it really sorts the women from the boys. I saw it in Amsterdam in 2019 and it certainly hit me in the gut.

Oder du ich (You or Me) Maria Lassnig, 2005, oil on canvas , private collection.

Alice Neel has also painted an unapologetic nude self-portrait in her 80’s, which is on display in a current retrospective of her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See here for a online veiwing of the exhibition.

You will probably be relieved to know that I don’t have the guts of Lassnig or Neel to do nude self-portraits. Maybe later. Maybe when I turn 80.

So here are the portraits I have made so far. Most, with the exception of the watercolour, have been sketched on paper roll from Ikea.

Self-portrait. Acrylic marker and brush pen.
Self-portrait with watching painting. Pencil.
Self-portrait Night repair. Collage and brush pen.
Double self-portrait. Gel pen.
Self-portrait with blue lips. Pen and ink, acrylic marker.

Sunflowers come to Canberra

The first big ‘block-buster’ exhibition, since the pandemic started, has made it to the National Gallery of Australia earlier this month. Called Boticelli to Van Gogh, it is a rare sharing of paintings from the National Gallery, London, of some of their most precious works.

Sunflowers at night, the National Gallery of Australia sent it’s members sunflower seeds to plant in advance of the latest blockbuster show.

Not surprisingly the gallery marketing team are really banging on about the Van Gogh Sunflower painting. It is a star. But there are so many others as well.

Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.

So here are some shots so you can get up close and personal, even if you can’t make the show itself.

Detail, of the Sunflowers
Detail of the Sunflowers.

PS if you are interested I have written previously about looking at Van Gogh’s work in these two posts: Up close to Van Gogh; and Van Gogh’s box of wool.

Tall weepers and other inspirations

For a few months now I have been joining a group of people via Zoom for Sunday Art Time. They live on the other side of the world to me and I didn’t know any of them when this started.  That hasn’t stopped us getting together for an hour each week just to chat and make art.

One of my earlier mini-zines made from various pages from Mindfood magazine.

Working with collage and simple book forms let’s me make work that can be finished in one or two sessions. I like the ability to make a work quickly, given most of my serious textile work takes ages to complete.

Featuring adventure penguins.
More adventurous penguins on luxury yachts!
And concluding with the one and only Mr John Waters

I have also found some good ideas from the broader reaches of the “junk journaling ” movement, such as cutting up large print books for useful phrases.

“A wild ass from North Africa “, a work in progress.

These mini-zines and collages give rein to the less formal (aka sillier) side of my art and has given me a lot of enjoyment in these grim times.

Sound advice for the masses. A mash-up of paint sample chips with rose names.

You can find some other examples on my collage|books|zines page.

Van Gogh’s box of wool

A red painted box with balls of wool inside. I wondered what the box was used for. Vincent Van Gogh used the balls of wool to consider possible colour combinations.

Van Gogh’s box of wool, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Synthetic dyes were discovered in the 1860’s, influencing both fashion and the colours on the palettes of artists.

Up close to Van Gogh

While in the Netherlands in 2019 we had the opportunity to binge, in person, on the works of Vincent Van Gogh at both the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo. The latter is the largest private collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world and the second largest collection after the Van Gogh Museum. Unlike the Van Gogh Museum, the Kröller-Müller does allow photography so I was able to take photos and details of some of the works I saw during my visit.

The reason I am posting these photos now is that a fellow blogger, Rose Davies, has been spending some of her recent time attempting to copy Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. As she commented in her recent post, “it’s so interesting to analyse a famous artwork and see what has gone into it”. So I thought I’d share a few of my detail shots and two drawings I made in the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Please note that these photos were taken standing back and using a close up lens, rather than with my face on the painting. Although I did see a man literally lean over a barricade, place his hand on the wall next to a Van Gogh self portrait in the Rijks Museum and literally stick his face only a few centimetres off the glass!

Enclosed Wheat Field with Rising Sun, late May 1889,

Detail from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the painting, Enclosed Wheatfield with Rising Sun.

Wheatfields in a Mountain Landscape, early December, 1889,

Details of the tree from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

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Detail of the tree in the centre right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the colours of the tree on the centre right of the painting

Terrace of a Café at Night (Place Du Forum), circa September 1888

Detail of the street and figures to the far right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

You can see those black arcs of ‘dry brush’ skipping over the other layers of paint.

Portrait of a Young Woman, late June-early July 1890

Detail of the left shoulder, (as we are seeing the painting).

I love how we are so simply led over the contour of her torso by those blue brush strokes, something that I noticed Van Gogh often does in his self-portraits as well.

Let’s hope that in the near future we will be able to see such art in person again.