What is good art?

The euphoria of our big European trip is wearing off and life has returned to its normal hum of kids, school, business and routine. My eldest has been couch-bound with the flu and as such studio time has been put on hold.

Unfortunately no studio updates to report but I can report on the feedback I received from my last blog post – Constructive Criticism.

Thank you for all your heartfelt responses. It was a pleasure to read them here, via email and all social media platforms.

I thought I would share some responses.

Paul Mordetsky (artist), USA writes: “… it wasn’t criticism at all. It is more like you inviting me over for dinner, serving a splendid stew, and I tell you that stews - any stew - gives me indigestion due to the vagaries of my own digestive system. …… I am not saying anything about you or about your cooking - just stating a valid but purely personal opinion”.

Artwork by Masolino & Masaccio at the Branacci Chapel Florence.

Demetria Verduci (Architect & Manager, La Macina di San Cresci), Italy writes: “As a person arises in front of a work of art … (their response) depends on their background, their culture and even their daily life.  It should not be interpreted as a negative criticism of your paintings, but as a subjective reaction…I believe that if we are serene people and in peace with ourselves, we are also able to understand that a painting, a piece of music or a book express the vision of the author, its personal aesthetic and its message”.

Amy Menzies (artist), Australia also feels the same. “Art is subjective so criticism is an occupational hazard. Emotional on both parties..”

Personally, I want art to make me think. Art that makes you question aspects of life. I think that is the responsibility of the artist. Artists are sensitive (there’s that word again!). These days I see it as a gift, not a hindrance. To convey ideas, feelings and opinions through our craft. After all we are a visual culture.

Art is a powerful visual language which can access society and make us think/feel and act upon. For example, Renaissance art was simply a form of advertising to the masses. Works usually commissioned by the church to teach society how to behave.

Judith Slaying Holofernes, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1614

The Madonna is often depicted breastfeeding Jesus in paintings and frescoes. I had the opportunity to visit the earliest recorded Renaissance frescoes while in Florence at the Branacci Chapel.

One of my favourite paintings from the Renaissance is Artemisia Gentileschi’s, Judith Slaying Holofernes (I don't know if this was commissioned by the church!). You can see it at Florence's Uffizi Gallery. On its own it is a powerful religious piece but to understand the artist’s background makes this piece even more poignant. A female painter in a male dominated profession must have been challenging.

I love it when people respond to some art and say “Oh but I could do that!”  and my favourite is “My 5 year old paints better than that”.

So, what do you think constitutes good art?

What type of art do you buy?

I love reading your comments. Please feel free to comment and like below.

Yours in art,

Bec x

“Various Storms and Saints: paintings & drawings from Hunter Valley, Australia and Tuscany, Italy” is currently on at Galerie Belimage, Switzerland.
Please view Australian works here.
Please contact the gallery for sales: info@belimage.ch

Arrivederci San Cresci

My time at La Macina di San Cresci is coming to an end and as I reminisce on my special experience, I reflect upon my initial proposal which I sent in 2012.

Searching through my computer files I found my proposal. At the time I was painting landscapes and I wrote “I currently live in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley which is wine country of Australia.  My work responds to this environment and I would therefore enjoy working en plein air within the rural, wine country area of La Macina. To compare, contrast and explore the similarities of these two rural towns would be inspirational”.

It has been 4 years since the proposal and upon my first visit I was so overwhelmed and intimidated by the beauty of the landscape, I decided to go back to what I knew best and draw. This resulted in large gestural drawings of local produce. I was happy with what I had produced but I left with a feeling of disappointment that I hadn’t been brave enough to complete my initial project.

Soft pastel drawing in the garden at San Cresci

Small soft pastel drawings on the church floor

Oil on ply panel paintings

Two years later and equipped with my pochade box (en plein air box) of confidence, I embarked on my initial project of painting this majestic landscape. I’m still rather in awe of its beauty however after a month long residency, resulting in 30 paintings, 3 boxes, 20 drawings, sketches and 2 large soft pastel drawing, I am feeling more assured to paint this breathtaking scenery.

I don’t know if I will ever be completely relaxed, in the company of this historical backdrop, but I’m happy with the work I’ve produced. I look forward to bringing a piece of Tuscany home with me and using the colours, marks and textures I’ve discovered here in future landscapes.

It is always hard to say goodbye especially when you fall in love and that is certainly the case here. I love this experience more than I am able to express in writing and to say farewell to my second home (seconda casa) is not easy.

It will be another patient two years (fingers crossed) until I return to take on this landscape again.

A special thanks to my patient little family, Andy, Oscar and Baxter, for joining me on this wild adventure. I hope you had fun too!

Grazie mille e arrivederci Mimma, Duccio, Ugo. I will miss you and San Cresci very much.

Please feel free to like and comment below.

Yours in art,

Bec xx

"Various Storms and Saints: paintings and drawings from Hunter Valley, Australia and Tuscany, Italy" opens Saturday 9th July 2016 Galerie Belimage Switzerland. All work is for sale. Please contact the gallery if you are interested in buying work.

The first Instagram exhibition!? May I blow my own trumpet?

There is a saying in Australia, to blow one’s own trumpet. It means to say self-gratifying statements to raise one’s ego or status. It is looked down upon and seen as egotistical. Therefore if this offends please tune out now or if you are happy to placate me, then please keep reading.

August 2014 I curated an exhibition called “#Fridaysketchclub”. It was held at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Australia. The premise was an international drawing exhibition showcasing the work of artists who all meet through the social media platform, INSTAGRAM. At the time I did not assume that we were the first group to organize such a show therefore didn’t publicize accordingly. How egotistical would that have been!? Little ‘ol me in country Australia organizing the first ever Instagram exhibition. It is now coming to light that perhaps we were “one of the first”. A gallery in America did a similar show in 2012. Now a gallery in London, The Unit Gallery, is claiming to be ‘the first ‘Instagram exhibition.

A little background information about our show.  In March 2014 a fellow Instagram artist friend, Jon Hayes (@j.hayesart) and I had the idea of creating a hashtag for artist friends- #fridaysketchclub. The idea was to create a drawing or sketch on a Friday. Hashtag the work, post it on Instagram, then over the weekend look at the hashtag and comment on the work of a fellow artist. Non-competitive, a safe and happy environment for like-minded people to connect through their love of art. During this process I had the idea of an exhibition. I organized a meeting with Brad Franks, the manager at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre. After pitching my idea, he graciously offered me an exhibition slot in August 2014. It was a boon as my fellow artist friends were creating beautiful work and this was a wonderful time for a show.

Inviting my friends to take part, 11 committed to the idea and the exhibition coordination was in full swing.  Although I was excited, I was just about to embark on a month long artist residency in Italy so the timing was challenging. Arriving in Italy I found that I could not use my email and laptop so I had to coordinate the entire exhibition via Instagram. My artist friends were amazing and very encouraging. Each artist, who I have never met, trusted me and I was very appreciative of the support.

The artists included: Jon Hayes (USA), Paul Mordetsky (USA), Jakob Pinto (USA), Joy Thomas (USA), Curtis Jensen (USA),  Brian Martin (USA), Caragh Savage (UK), Jerome Royer (France), Anne Kristensen (Norway), Terge Thomassen (Norway), Reza Doust (Canada) and myself. Each artist sent 2 works. I framed all the works and with the help of the gallery we hung the show.

#fridaysketchclub exhibition Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre August 2014

#fridaysketchclub exhibition Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre August 2014

Fast track to a few months ago and my group of passionate Friday Sketch Clubbers contacted The Unit Gallery and the curator to explain that they were not the first Instagram exhibition. A small social media confrontation ensued and we all finally came to an agreement that neither was the first. Naturally I thought they would do the gentlemanly thing and change their PR but no. Now they have blocked all my friends from their Instagram account. Why block us? What are they trying to hide?

I know we are a smaller group of artists who don’t have the support of a so-called high profile London gallery but we do have a voice and we do count. Recognition should be given when it’s due and this is such a case.

You have kept reading this blog so you must feel the need to support our cause and blow our trumpets. Please help give our group the recognition we deserve. Your voice counts!

Please comment/like below.

Bec x