Framing – 20.2.19

“He painted like a man going over the hill singing”

Robert Henri from – The Art Spirit

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Four Apples and a Frieze & a moment of smiling

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I know! It seems almost back to front to begin these blogs with Framing but they will be topical and, in the studio, that’s what is happening.

This painting and four others are going on show in March and I’m busy signing, varnishing and framing.

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The ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of choosing frames

There are many different ways to do this and I thought I knew what I wanted. Fortunately I have found two framers who I trust. One is in Italy and makes genuine bespoke frames that are glorious, fragile but so beautiful – what can one do? And one in England – lovely Italian and German moulding that are always spot on. I see this stage as a transition from the studio into the broader landscape of the world and am more than happy to hear what these experts have to say. We make choices together.  It is exciting but also worrying – but you will know if its wrong, maybe later, maybe in the middle of the night.   I do recommend listening to skilled experts – then using your instincts.

Choices

Using the same moulding profile for each work gives a signature look, it looks smart. That’s one way. The other? Each painting wants its own setting. Whichever you opt for, the setting you choose makes a difference and so needs consideration – and from experience I have seen how these finishing choices are always a bit risky. But then painting has its risks. How often have I been tempted to make something better in one of the those creative impulses.

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It goes something like this

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With paint brush in hand in front of a new work, even when it could pass as finished, there is this something that still pushes us on to find out . . . if THIS really does it.

And it was just such an impulse that changed the still life set up of ‘Four Apples’ during its creation. Please scroll up and have another look at the painting and let me talk you through how something did not work and what I did about it. We need to travel back a bit to answer these questions:

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Why is there that light wooden frieze along the front?  Where is it going?  And why?

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A bit more than framing

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After attending a two-week summer workshop every year for 6 years at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence and working day and night (this is almost the truth) for the rest of the year trying to master what I had learnt, I had 4 wonderful and agonizing years on the Full Time Program from which I graduated in 2013. This painting owes everything to those years.

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Grapes and Red Wine – a detail & some dark background

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It was at Angel we learnt to paint Still Lives that stem from Tenebrism.  That is to say they come out of the infinite, dark space behind them.  Their backgrounds are like looking into the darkest night sky.  One can feel both infinity and depth, which is created by handling paint in a certain way and . . . if you like? I shall write about this in soon – we can call it Dark Ground. 

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Bruno, Maestro and Me

But back in my studio a few years on I did not know if I could do anything but paint these beautiful, breathtaking, velvet, spaces.

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Why should  one move out from what one can do?  I think it is human nature – Artistic Nature.  Always take a challenge that seems necessary no matter how difficult.  If it is too difficult, you will leave it and intuitively search for what you need in order to return. 

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‘The Picture that looks as if it were done without an effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making’

Robert Henri from – The Art Spirit

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Anyway, there was a need for me to move into light.  To see if a more contemporary look would find a different audience, would encourage me to look for this wider audience, open me up to the world outside my blackout curtains! 

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Back to the frieze . . .

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. . . and this hand-carved wooden frieze of Acanthus Leaves was not there to begin with.  I had painted the apples, the background, the plate but there was not enough feeling of depth in the composition, it lacked the excitement of ‘real’ space and I thrashed around in my mind, wandered around everywhere looking for a clue, and thought about many things I had been taught.  And there and then I knew !

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An Architectural Element in the Foreground

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Look at many paintings, particularly at portraits over the centuries.  Pompeo Batoni, Titian, Valesques . . . from every time and everywhere, its an artistic device 

If you put some structure – and it can be as simple as a twig and as magnificent as a portico – in the foreground, it will push what is behind it BACK IN SPACE.

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And that lovely piece of wisdom is what I would like to give and share . . .

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. . . . . because it is so exciting! 

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But what happened to FRAMING? Look out for Part 2 . . .

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Next time

There will be a series of different topics every few weeks which I shall often return to. They won’t run concurrently but from now on, all can be found by looking in ONGOING TOPICS in the MENU above.

Anyway, there was a need for me to move into light.  To see if a more contemporary look would find a different audience, would encourage me to look for this wider audience, open me up to the world outside my blackout curtains! 

Links:

http://www.angelartschool.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Wild-Goose-Carvings-430749537022836/