After several weeks planning and two days hanging paintings, the preview day had finally arrived. The weather was reasonable, not too hot that people would flock to the beaches and not too wet that they would stay at home. Arriving early, Sue and I set up a table with some drinks and snacks before setting down to have some lunch. The group in the other gallery were still busy hanging pictures, as they hadn't realised that they could put work up on the corridor as well as their gallery.
1pm soon arrived as did a few visitors. One of the first was a past pupil of mine and it's always nice to catch up with how they are going on, and to my surprise he even bought a painting. Slowly, more people arrived as well as family members. I was busy talking to people and Sue was busy at times serving complimentary drinks as well as explaining to visitors how the digital drawings were done. One lady, who follows me on Facebook, decided to buy one of my oil paintings. She spent a long time agonising over which one as she liked quite a few but when a final decision was made, she was delighted with her choice.
Eventually, after a couple of hours, it quietened down and I had a chance to view the other artists' exhibition and have a quick walk in the colourful gardens outside.
The setting at the Old Parsonage is excellent and the grounds are really impressive. The turnout was pleasing and so too was selling a couple of paintings. A few people were away for the weekend and have said they are looking to visit before it finishes on the 27th May.
I was delighted to see fellow members of Salford Art Club, who not only came to support me but to sketch in the grounds as well, although the cold eventually forced them inside! It will be interesting to see their work.
I'm looking forward to going back a couple of times when it's less hectic and enjoying the building and it's grounds before taking the paintings down and preparing for my next exhibition at The Castle Park's Centre, Frodsham from the end of June.
Thank you to all of you who came to share this experience with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
After Bake Off and Celebrity Bake Off as well as the many cookery competition programmes; it looks like the analysts are looking to take painting into main stream TV. I wonder how many of you remember, 'Painting With Nancy' (Kominsky) from the 1970's and Hannah Gordon's 'Watercolour Challenge' first shown in 1998?
Home Is Where the Art Is.
Another BBC programme on at the moment is, the 3.45pm daily art programme, Home is Where the Art Is. There are 15 programmes altogether and this week was the start of the final 5 programmes.
"Each episode of Home Is Where The Art Is sees artists compete for the chance to create a piece of unique artwork for a mystery buyer’s home.
The artists visit the home of a potential buyer to glean inspiration before delivering a pitch of their idea.
The buyer then chooses two of the three artists to create their artwork before finally selecting which piece they would like to purchase.
In each show, three artists, whose skills could range from painting, metal work and embroidery to woodcarving and ceramics, will get to look around a mystery buyers’ home for inspiration before pitching their ideas and creating something unique for the buyers – but which one will they go for?
Rather than spending money on ‘off the shelf’ pieces from the high street, this series will show how easy it is to commission local artists."
This is of particular interest to me because I was originally interviewed as one of the artists. After this, I think they matched the artist to the commission required. From watching the programmes so far, I don't think I would have liked to gave been chosen. This may seem an unusual response but I'm not inspired by portraits of animals or some of the 'brief' - ideas people wanted. I offered Landscapes and Cityscapes but no one, so far, has wanted these.
There has been some really interesting requests, some for very personal reasons; others to fit in with the house or area. Looking around the buyer's house can help but can also confuse at times, when there is already a range of artwork.
I have been fascinated by the wide range of skills offered by the artists, and in all but one case, impressed with their artwork offered to the clients. It shows that there are many artists around that can offer superb individual artwork.
From the two artists chosen to make the final pieces, one has always been purchased and on a couple of occasions both have been bought. I'm not sure what would happen if they liked neither. That might make an interesting final meeting though!
,Nick Knowles is an excellent host and the programme flows well, I'm sure there is a lot more that happens behind the scenes, but it is an interesting concept. I'm not sure if the early scheduled time is to catch a different audience or that the planners were not confident enough to put it on at peak times.
On Facebook, I saw one post where the comments were quite derisory of the programme. This seems very unfair as it is the first time it has run and like everything could evolve over time. To me anything that advertises the quality of artwork available to the public is a good thing. Some of the clients had never considered an original artwork and were pleased with the end result.
Nick Knowles' summing up at the end of the programme encourages people to think about buying original art and that can only be a good thing!
I hope they do another series because programmes such as this can influence people to buy original artwork rather than the mass produced work found in every large retail outlet.
After a short walk away from the Manchester Art gallery, we arrived at the private gallery called Contemporary Six, which was showing the work of the Northern Boy; who are nine of the North's best 'plein-air' painters. Although each member has his own style, they are united in their love of painting outdoors and in all weathers. This gives their work a distinct feel of the moment, and yet still appear timeless.
The work was impressive and what was even more interesting, was that a lot of the scenes were of Manchester many of which we had walked through on recent trips to the City Centre. Thankfully, the growth of groups such as this and the Urban Sketchers, show how healthy the art scene is, in the UK.
However. this makes me think of the decline of art in schools where the focus and energy seems to be dwindling. This is no fault of the dedicated teachers who try to inspire but are hindered by the constraints put upon them by a Government who show no interest in developing this part of the curriculum.
My #Manchester paintings
I have painted several scenes from Manchester but mostly from watercolour sketches or with the help of photographs as reference material. I started by capturing the rise of the modern shopping centre from 1979, when the Arndale opened and before the Trafford Centre was even an idea.
My paintings, in a way, are an historical documentation of the changes in Manchester, as large stores took over from smaller outlets.
They also show how the Arndale changed from a darker space into a brighter one, as they opened up the roof. Some of these shops and attractions are no longer part of the Arndale setup. In my paintings below, I have tried to capture the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre and the painting in the left hand corner, reminds me of many of the backgrounds painted by L S Lowry in his paintings
I do a lot of sketching from life, however, I am more comfortable sitting in a quiet corner observing people and my surroundings. I haven't yet plucked up the courage to spend time, stood amongst the busy crowds, painting my oils!
Maybe, one day, there will be an addition to the Northern Boys! You never know, in the future, there might even be a Northern Boys and Girls group! I would like to think so.
,After an enjoyable walk around the Leonardo drawings we wandered down to the lower floor of Manchester Art Gallery. Here we were pleasantly surprised by the carved bowls and sculptures of Halima Cassell.
The images above show the large selection of intricate carved bowls produced so far. This display is a series of bowls made from clay taken from different countries. Number 13 is the Honour bowl for the United Kingdom. You can't help but be impressed by the amount of effort involved in creating each bowl. As she developed her techniques, she became interested in a Japanese technique of Kintsugi, where cracks are repaired using lacquer dusted with gold. This celebrates rather than hides the repair, an interesting concept and certainly adds interest to the piece.
A fascinating insight into this artist's work and well worth a visit.
It seems quite a time since we have had a chance to get into Manchester but thought of visiting the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci exhibition was the inspiration we needed.
After an enjoyable meal at the quirky Richmond Tea rooms, we set off to visit Manchester Art Gallery. Having been warned about possible queues to get into the Leonardo exhibition, we were pleased to find we had timed it perfectly and walked straight in. The room was dark to protect the drawings but we had the opportunity to view a range of his work. These included his anatomical work, where he was exploring the human body, as well as some portraits.
Apparently, he was studying human proportion; attempting to find the mathematical formula for ideal beauty. In the last sketch below, he distorted the features of a couple to see if he could create ideal ugliness. An interesting concept that shows how he was developing his thought process.
It was interesting that these were never really meant to be shown and many were just Leonardo trying out ideas.
Another sketch showed him drawing a series of small thumbnail sketches to cover all the knowledge he believed a painter should possess to represent the world accurately. Here he attempts to capture every action of the human body. The very small sketches are fascinating in the amount of detail and movement he achieves; something all artists could learn from.
A fascinating and thought provoking exhibition and it was interesting to see that there are other exhibitions of his work around the country, giving a chance for many people to appreciate a selection of his work. We hope to visit one or two ourselves.
After a hectic few months I finally got down to spending a day completing an oil painting. After attending a painting holiday in Norfolk I have been busy practicing my watercolours ready to be part of an exhibition in July.
I have been busy for the last couple of years preparing for my exhibition at The Old Parsonage, Didsbury in May, so it was a nice change to just try something different. The exhibition there will feature my oils and Digital drawings in two of the galleries. I'm looking forward to that and managed to go to the preview of another artist yesterday for a final look around.
This oil painting is painted in my usual way, building up the layers with a palette knife. I started with the light colours put on very loosely before adding more and more detail.
Another reason for doing this is that I'm doing a demonstration for my art club and needed to check my materials and get myself focussed again.
After two busy weeks, we were back at our starting point. Knowing that packing was on the agenda later, we decided to have an easy day, so we didn’t book a last- minute trip.
Walking along the Quayside, we were faced with the throng of local taxi drivers fighting for our business and offering all types of island tours. Passing through these we made our way to the car park, where we picked up a licenced taxi to take us into the beach resort of Pantal Chenang.
Walking along the main street, we looked in several of the shops but having already purchased our requisite souvenirs there was nothing of interest for us. Cutting through to the beach area there was a long sandy beach, with the typical layout of sunbeds, which were rented out by locals.
Sitting under the shade, we relaxed and ate our lunch, watching the people sunbathing or enjoying the sea. By now the heat was getting quite intense so we found a cool bar to have a drink before getting a taxi back to the ship.
Langkawi is a beautiful island and they are working hard to improve the facilities, as well as providing lots of activities for tourists to enjoy. If you can stand the heat and are looking for a Winter holiday, it is well worth a visit.
Summing up the last fourteen days is difficult. We really enjoyed the experience and are glad we came. It has been more hectic than other cruises, we have been on, with some of the towns being so far from the ports.
Singapore is stunning and worth a longer stay whereas Cambodia, at this moment in time, is a third world country, with all that entails. I’m not sure we will be returning to this area, because of the flight time and there are several other countries we would still like to see. Thailand was interesting and Langkawi was beautiful. Having looked now at the Facebook page, something we wish we had known about before the cruise, we realise how much more there is to see in the ports. Several people on the site also write that they have already booked the trip again for next year.
Now, after getting over the flight back, made worse by the extra delay because we couldn’t fly over Pakistan’s air space, I’ve had time to write up these notes and look at my sketches. I realise that since this was one of the busiest cruises that I’ve been on, I haven’t done as many as I would have liked!
Never mind, we can now look forward to planning our next adventure.
Anchoring just away from the town, it was to be a tender service into the port. After breakfast, we collected our tickets numbers 488/489; these seemed quite high numbers, but the wait wasn’t too long, and we were soon on our way in one of the lifeboats. The journey there was quite pleasant, however, the one back, in a larger boat, wasn’t as it was like being seated in a large dark sweat box!
After several quite hectic ports, we were surprised, when we got ashore, that this one was so relaxed and quiet, even the rickshaws drivers were not as persistent as others we had encountered previously. We fancied one of these colourful rides but watching one older man struggle to pedal off with his two guests, we decided it would be quicker to walk, as well as being kinder.
After perusing a local information map, we set off to explore. First, we found a nice park to walk through, and was fortunate to see our first native wildlife; a toucan, hopping from branch to branch in a distant tree.
Climbing the nearby hill, we arrived at a ruined church with superb views over the city. As we descended the hill, it was good to see the stalls of local artists selling some original artwork and souvenirs rather than the mass-produced ones in the shops.
At the bottom of the hill, it was interesting to see the historical buildings, all coloured in red, reflecting the Dutch influence, as well as several museums showing Muslim culture.
Only having a short time on shore, we decided to explore the city further. After a short stop for refreshment, and our Wi-Fi fix at a Starbucks, we looked around a modern shopping centre. We then ventured over to the local market stalls. You could certainly arrive here with an empty case and buy plenty of cheap shirts and T shirts to take home!
Eventually, after a long queue to get back on the ship, we set sail to our last port of call.
After a few more busy days, this week we had two sea days. Last week we found seating by the side of the pool quite easily. For some reason the ship seemed busier this week, or maybe we just had more sun worshipers. Anyway we finished up sitting a bit further away in the end, eventually moving closer later in the day and finally getting a sunbed later in the afternoon. Still it did give me plenty of chances to do some sketches as people relaxing around the pool area, some sunbathing, others reading or just having a conversation.
During our evening meals, we shared tables with other guests, which was a nice way of meeting different people from all walks of life and places. Consequently, we talked about trips that they had already been on with the consensus that The Mekong Delta trip was preferable to the Ho Chi Minh city trip. We weren’t looking forward to the three -hour journey but as we probably wouldn’t be visiting this area again, this couldn’t be avoided. Expecting a coach, we were surprised to find ourselves in a mini-bus; unfortunately, this wasn’t to prove to be very comfortable with three people on each bench seat.
Driving into the city, we were surprised by the sheer volume of motorbikes and scooters. In places they weaved in and out of the different lanes; in other places they had their own lane separated by a barrier.
Arriving in Ho Chi Minh, the skyline was dominated by the typical modern high rises but as we drove further into the countryside, we passed through shanty towns and rice fields before arriving at the river. Here we boarded a boat and had to wear life jackets, although drowning would have been the least of our worries, looking at the state of pollution in the water.
As we sailed along the river, we were treated to a variety of fresh fruits to try, which was refreshing after the journey there. Soon we stopped, so that we could transfer to a smaller boat, for a trip through the tributaries. The Vietnamese lady, on the back of the boat was meant to row but at first ours cheated by using the engine to avoid being caught in a traffic jam!
As the tributary narrowed, she stopped the engine and stood up, and using long oars she manoeuvred us through. Surprisingly here, as on the whole trip, we didn’t see any wildlife although, talking to other people on our return to the ship, they had seen two very large lizards about to fight over some food
After boarding the larger boat again, our next stop was a small market area, where we could see how different products were made from rice. It was an interesting short break watching them being made. We sampled rice paper, a candied rice sweet and rice wine, although I don’t think anyone was brave enough to try the snake wine. There was also a shop with a local artist displaying their work.
Another stop was at a villa that had been restored to how it would have been ninety years ago. As well as being interesting, we had the bonus of free Wi-Fi.
The highlight of the tour was to have been a visit to a local floating market! Having seen the pictures on the ships screen of sailing along with the small market boats coming up to us trying to sell their goods, we were looking forward to experiencing this.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. As we sailed along, we saw a few shops in the houses along the side of the river and some of these looked like they would fall into it at any minute, the small boats failed to materialise. A few large boats were moored in the river, but these appeared to be living quarters. It was certainly interesting though, seeing how the locals lived although some of there toilet habits, as we passed, were not as impressive.
Our stop for lunch was interesting as the food was based on local cuisine. As we sat down, we were faced with a fish that, in theory, was then taken away to be cooked. The food was not to our taste but was plentiful and enjoyed by the other members of our group.
We were soon back on the mini-bus with another three- hour journey, to look forward too!