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For Christmas I received the beautiful book “Mary Fedden, Enigma’s and Variation’s”. I read this book from cover to cover and learnt so much that I thought I’d share a little with you – I know there are some fans out there!
When I shyly converse with some people about being a painter, they naturally always ask ‘a painter of what’ and I’ve always felt a little lame as I’ve answered “Still Life mostly…flowers…and objects…” I’ve tended to trail off then as the majority of conversations with the uninitiated stop there. Apparently, in the past, still life painting was demoted to the lowest level of painting genres as it was thought to be too close to the kitchen, too much like woman’s work and often too female. I think I’ve definitely picked up that vibe from a couple of men before!
For Fedden “Still Life under pins her visual world, it is domestic, accessible, solid, close-up and real.” (Can you hear me cheering?!)
Another criticism often levelled at her work is that it is too decorative or overly concerned with pattern. Well we definitely share something there! But that’s why I like her work. The author describes her painting beautifully when he says that she “finds balance with colour and pattern (like line and verse) a visual rhyming.” And like a piece of music, Fedden prefers a dominant colour (like a dominant key in music) around which everything will harmonise. “Then some small part of the painting might punctuate the this main colour with a vividly contrasting hue.”
Amazingly, the author says that Fedden is not critically acclaimed in the art world even now after a lifetime of painting. Nor is she particularly bothered by that. I should take note!
“Fedden is modest about her work. She does not make stupendous claims for it. It does not make great claims for itself.”
I find that humility really inspiring. We all need some measure of success to validate ourselves and our work, but it must be really liberating to be painting just for the love of painting.
I was always under the misapprehension that Mary Fedden lived somewhere coastal in Britain. In fact she has always lived in Twickenham! I wonder sometimes how I came to have stayed living in Birmingham of all places, for 20 years without a ‘view’. I’ve even told my other half that it hampers my artistic development! Well Mary Fedden has blown that argument clean out of the water (just in time for house hunting to commence.)
Her advice is sketch incessantly. Draw everywhere you go and in effect, compile a book of backgrounds. Then once you are back in the studio use it as a backdrop to a still life. Genius!! Why is it that something so simply obvious has eluded me thus far?
“The objects and the view have never been anywhere near each other except in Fedden’s imagination and pictorial invention.”
She also uses her imagination more creatively that I can. I find it really hard to add objects to the still life that aren’t actually there in reality. But the idea of including a cat, or person is an interesting idea for the future.
I have seen many painters locate still life in a landscape before but wondered how. Fedden utilises the “vertical tabletop” method. Sounds technical eh? Basically everything on the table top plane gets tipped up forward (artistically not literally) in order to flatten the visual planes. the background then slots in behind and provides the perspective. Clever eh?!! I’m definitely going to give that a go but fear a steep learning curve ahead!
I also found a like-minded soul in Fedden because of her love of gouache paint. Why is it that art shops rarely sell a good range of this nowadays? Is it out of fashion? The range seems to be reducing. For example there is only one grey now (and a horrible brown grey at that – where is the lovely light grey?) Fedden and I ( I like saying that – we’re best friends you know!!) enjoy the way gouache can be both thick and opaque for over painting, but also act like water colour if thinned down.
Well I hope you have enjoyed my mini art lecture! I studied Art History and doing this has reminded me how much I enjoy studying other artists and getting under the skin of their work. There’s so much to learn still!! Have a good week.
Okay, I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself now!
Yesterday, a good friend took me to a lovely garden center/ art shop. It’s amazing what therapy can be found among the greeting card section (I’ve got more new companies to apply to) the art shop (I’ve got a stack of crisp white water-colour paper waiting to be painted on and some new brushes) and bedding plants (I’ve got a beautiful variegated lilac Primula that must be captured for all time.) Not to mention lunch, tea and cakes and good company. I have also been lucky enough to make a blog friend who completely gets where I’m coming from, and she gave me a virtual hug and a good pep talk. So I feel ready to bounce back! Thanks for listening to me whilst I was feeling like Eeyore.
Just after Christmas I submitted my work for consideration at a national card company.
I wanted to be the blogger who today posted about finding success and realising that if you take a risk doors open.
Instead I’m licking my wounds (they didn’t want my work ‘at this time’) and wondering what now, why not me, why couldn’t it be as easy and instant as it seems to be for others…
I painted this in my journal a few months back. I’m reading it, hearing it but not feeling it right now.
Okay I’m back to break the embargo! I don’t know what happened…I dropped off the blogging routine and never got back on again. Perhaps it’s the winter blues. The distractions of selling and buying a house. The stamina needed to keep painting and believing. Too much good TV. Feeling really tired out. Anyways I’m gonna jolly myself back to blogging! Hi!
I’m glad last week is behind me for all sorts of reasons. I don’t like the snow for one! Well maybe one day is OK but then it becomes so tedious to continue living real life with snow hampering you at every turn. I’m not an early bird, so waking up each morning to check three different websites to see if schools are open (the children’s two and the one where I work) is not my idea of a gradual start to the day. Then there is the narrow clothing choice ( whats warm and will go with those boots) the ten minute de-icing exercise on the car (I even had ice inside the windscreen one day) the longer, slower, hazardous route to work, the days when I was banking on solitude at home and got company instead (when the kids schools shut) or the days when I stayed at work with a full school – imagine 200 children who have not been out for a break time or lunchtime play for five straight days…you get the picture. So sorry for sounding like a grumpy old woman but I’m glad it’s gone for all those reasons and more.
These buttons are a good visual picture for how I feel at the moment – scattered about! I was ready to greet the New Year with lots of vim and vigour. So here’s hoping for some normality, routine and some Spring in my step now (and no more snow thank you!)
…another You Tube gem worth a look.
I knew when I got up this morning that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders today. Sometimes it’s got to be enough that the intention was there.
I intended to finish this painting of buttons. In fact I hardly started and it was a long, convoluted start at that.
In the end I was willing distracted by this little lady (home because of snow) and by hot chocolate, TV Burp and The Hills!
New year, new inspiration, new challenges, new ideas…
but still some awful photos – sorry. New year, new camera, new Photoshop skills?….
I received this beautiful and inspiring book for Christmas and was instantly taken with her line drawings. I love the way she uses tone, space and texture. I thought that today was a good day to try this out because of all the snow on the ground making lots of white negative space to draw.
It’s good to be back in the rhythm of everyday life and back to blogging. Just before Christmas I happened across this yarn at our local market. The woman who runs the stall was knitting with it herself and enthusing about it so it didn’t take much to distract me from my original intent and purchase this as well.
It took some adaptation to knit with because you fit two stitches between each pompom and because every time I looked at it my brain told my stomach I was hungry for marshmallows!
Seriously though, how is a girl to spend time knitting without giving in to that thought? (Anyone ever played Bananagram and wanted to eat white chocolate? Then you know what I mean!) The end result is a lovely soft, spongy scarf which fits regardless of how large I may have become eating a bag of marshmallows in the process!
Remember this? She sewed away in secret mostly, with only a little help when she was too ill to finish the tricky bits. Bonjclaws has come to life and I’m the proud owner! Merci bien. x