Friday 31 January 2014

Dave Fry and Peter Smith art exhibition at the York Street Gallery in Ramsgate.

Another one worth a visit and on until next Wednesday  

The art of secondhand art book buying and selling

This post is intended both for those selling and buying art books and I have illustrated it with pictures of the art books on the shelves in my bookshop.

The books are split (because of the size of art picture books) into two alphabets of artist’s surnames, general books on art and books on how to paint draw.

For the most part people wishing to buy secondhand art books are looking for a book about an individual artist “what have you got about Picasso, Renoir?” or whatever.

For the most part people wishing to sell art books seem to have books about groups of artists, “I got this amazing book about the impressionists got Christmas would you like to buy it?”

I guess the other side of this is the way the internet impacts both on finding out about art and artists and on buying and selling books about art and artists.

I think the most noticeable difference there is that most art was intended to be displayed on a coloured surface and not on a screen emitting coloured light, so that in some instances once you have found the picture that you want to look at on the internet you may need to print it out. The printing out process is neither cheap nor is it easy and if you haven’t seen the picture before colour matching can be tricky.

The other aspect of the internet is that anyone can contribute to it then anyone does, so it is difficult to tell if the information about the picture is accurate.

In yesterdays post I said various things about Turner’s watercolours which were entirely conjecture on my part, by this I mean I looked at some of his paintings and what I said about his watercolours of rainbows I made up entirely.

Well now it’s published on the internet but this doesn’t make it a fact.

Ok at this point compare a painting and the information about it

I will take “Yellow Christ” by Paul Gauguin in 1889 the medium is Oil on canvas Dimensions 91.1 cm × 73.4 cm (35.9 in × 28.9 in) and it’s hanging in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery which is in Buffalo in America.

You can Google the picture and click on the image search where you will find it displayed in various shades of colouration, depending on the settings of the camera that took the picture of the picture and the settings of the monitor you are viewing it with. 

You can pop down to my bookshop and look in the books about Gauguin

This is the worst rendition in the books I have on the shelf at the moment

and this is the best. The reason that it is likely to have reasonably accurate colouration is that the book is published by a reputable art publisher and they would go out of business if they got lots of things radically wrong.the money is to understand the size.

The same can be said of the text about the picture really, and of course it also says who wrote the text so you can check if they are an authority on the artist, something you often can’t do with the internet.

On to buying and selling books, I have chosen a couple of art books of the shelves on my shop at random to illustrate what I mean, neither are particularly desirable art books, so they are unlikely to sell and no I don’t want to buy more copies of them, although I always want to buy quality books about individual artists and about learning to paint and draw.  

 The books are:

“Larousse Encyclopaedia of Byzantine and Mediaeval Art” available on Amazon or ebay for around £5 including postage


“Michelangelo : his life, work and times” by Linda Murray available on Amazon or ebay for around £3 including postage.

We have them both on the shelf for less than £3 inline with our policy of being cheaper than the internet.

Selling them online would be difficult as the postage price is around £7 buying them online difficult too as they are the sort of books that you want to have a good look at before buying them. Frankly how anyone looking online for a book about medieval art or Michelangelo could tell the good ones from the bad ones or browse the books about these subjects in any meaningful way is totally beyond me. 

Thursday 30 January 2014

Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and JMW Turner at The Turner Contemporary Margate fragments towards a review and some thoughts on JMW Turner’s rainbows.

I am not very keen on Helen Frankenthaler, to my mind a bit of a poor man’s, sorry I mean person’s, Jackson Pollock, well you can do a Google image search and make your own mind up. She applied paint to huge canvasses laid on the floor and to me her work just looks like a mess.

However they are brightly coloured so all that said they do create a jolly feel and something that could be called an aesthetic contrast to the Turners.

The Turners are a particularly good batch this time, quite a few of them not sourced from The Tate and some I had never seen before, there are even three fairly local ones of Deal, including one of Walmer Castle which is definitely identifiable.

Anyway as an exhibition there is something that works with this contrast whether like me you are not very keen on Helen Frankenthaler but like to look at Joe Turner’s work of you are particularly keen on Helen Frankenthaler and want to see the first exhibition of her works since the 1960s.

On to Turner’s rainbows, over the last nearly three years that The Turner Contemporary Art Gallery has been open there have been a lot of Turner’s paintings displayed there. as the gallery isn’t usually particularly busy and entrance is free I have visited it a lot and as you can get close to the paintings I have had a close look at lots of the originals of Turner’s works.

Now if turner pained any oil paintings with rainbows in them I don’t know of them but I think about seven or eight of his watercolours with rainbows in them have been exhibited at the TC since it opened and there is one on show there at the moment.

All of them the rainbows that is basically consist of a white curved stripe on the sky.

I think what Turner did was to paint the sky first, I do this by painting the sky white first and then I put some blue and some diluted black on while the white is still wet, something like this.

I have put a deformed goose on my picture, Turner painted very realistic birds, so there can be no confusion.

If you try to put a rainbow on this is what happens, not very convincing is it. 
What I think Turner then did was leave the thing for a couple of days and then paint a stripe of zinc white gouache on like this. Watercolour is usually a transparent paint the opaque version of watercolour is called gouache.

Then when the gouache had dried he painted the rainbow on top of it like this then I think over the years the zinc white either absorbed or chemically reacted with the other colours leaving a white rainbow.

Incidentally when visiting the gallery in winter a very good option for a light lunch is Café G almost opposite but the TC my wife and I had a panini each I had bacon and brie and I think she had cheese and tom, she had a hot chocolate and I had a pot of tea this all came to £12.50.   

So let’s assume that Turner was painting a sky like the one this afternoon

Slop on the white

Bung on some diluted ivory black (ground up burnt bone) for the grey bits add a bit of dingy blue.

I can’t wait until tomorrow so have dried it over the gas heater and sprayed it with fixative.

Bung on a stripe of white paint some rainbow colours on top, you get the idea, I think that something may have happened over the years and perhaps we are not seeing what we should be would have been seeing.

I am wondering if what time fading and chemical reactions has done to Turner’s watercolours is justifying some of the stuff written to justify a comparison here.

This is what it says on The gallery’s website:

'It is the excitements of this conjunction between a Romantic nineteenth-century Briton and an abstract expressionist twentieth-century American that the exhibition seeks to evoke, revealing the fellowship that the two artists share in paint across their temporal divide, and the vibrant correspondences which uncover something of the timeless cerebral foundations of landscape art. These two artists could only have met and talked in our imaginations: so bringing their work together takes imagination just one small step further towards reality and allows us to examine values common to both.'
James Hamilton    

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Ferry Interesting but Stupid, a midweek ramble

Having read The Lawyers Tale in The Gazette, see and noticing that our very own ECR seemed to be going along with it I have to admit to having some reservations.

No one seems to have asked the obvious question. Which senior officers did the harbour master phone after Harvey failed to pick up. Which raises the question. Which senior officer or officers gave the OK for the ferry to sail. Which raises the further question. Why would thy do that? What would be the incentives for handing out our money in this way?

With the chief executive and the editor of The Gazette I am reminded of something from Alice in Wonderland here about the red queen and the black queen, did they have tea together before or after the Queen of Hearts started saying “off with his head”?

I wonder if when choosing a fall guy a lawyer is the best choice? Could this be expensive? 

Anyway this morning I phoned the council’s press department and put my thoughts to them. And yes they did say they had other enquiries along these lines. And yes I put my take on the situation to them and although they didn’t say much in reply, there wasn’t any of the usual “Michael you have got it completely wrongs” associated with my having got something completely wrong. 

So the answer from the council’s press office was that they would send me a written statement about this by email by 1pm. I will add it to this post when/if it arrives.

No statement from the council but this instead:

-----Original Message-----
From:**** ***** <*****@THANET.GOV.UK>
To: MichaelChild
Sent: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 17:07
Subject: Transeuropa statement

Hi Michael,

Apologies for not coming back to you until now. I’ll send you a copy of the minutes taken at the meeting once they are available which will probably be the most helpful way to address this.

**** ****