MOMA in Machynlleth

I've just spent a wonderful weekend in Wales and whilst there I visited MOMA in Machynlleth. This art gallery and arts centre is in the ancient town of Machynlleth, the seat of Owain Glyndŵr's Welsh Parliament in 1404. It has a superb permanent collection of work by Welsh artists including Sir Kyffin Williams and a revolving programme of temporary exhibitions that offer an extraordinary variety of work by contemporary artists largely working in Wales. How lucky I was that the

Oxfordshire Artweeks

I'm looking forward to Artweeks this year. I shall be exhibiting at home for 2 weekends and I will be there throughout. For several years I have found galleries and venues to exhibit my work in but I realised I missed out on seeing the visitors coming to look at my work. This seems to be a fundamental principle of Artweeks, an opportunity for people to see artists in their studios and talk to them about their work. This has to be one of the most rewarding parts of an artist’s

Scale

One of the exercises I like to do with my students is to ask them to draw something that is very small on a much larger scale. This is often quite a challenge especially to students who haven't drawn for a long time. A large piece of paper is daunting and we feel quite exposed at the prospect of working so large. But if you continue to work really small you are not able to represent as much as you can see. Take an object such as the simple screw for example. If you draw that

Making a mark

Watching the Big Painting Challenge on BBC 1 this Sunday I was pleased to hear mentor Pascal Anson refer to mark making and asking participants not to make marks for the sake of it but to make marks with the paint that “mean something”. This is a difficult but important concept to grasp. It is easy to give in to a desire to splash the paint on without really considering its impact and asking yourself important questions such as what colour and which brush should I use? and ho

Outlets for expression

Another moving episode from the Radio 4 series, “The Art of Now, Guantanamo”. The programme focused on the lives of inmates at Guantanamo Bay and the artwork they have produced. Most of them have, or are serving, long periods of detention without having been charged, and with little prospect of that happening any time soon. Some have been subject to torture methods. Despite this, they have had access to making their own art, which has allowed them to both “hold on to somethin

Sharing experiences through art

I have just listened to “The Art of Now: Dangerous places” on Radio 4. An amazing programme about the bravery and work done by artists living and working in conflict zones. The presenter Errollyn Wallen asks why and what does it achieve. She ultimately concludes. “Every artist asks, 'what’s the point of this, what good can it do?'. Very important questions. They help us work out what artists can do that nobody else can. All your training as an artist only matters if you can s

Drawing means everything

When I’m beginning a new project, it’s often a challenge to know where to start. It’s one of the most difficult aspects of being a painter, but I know the best start is to pick up a pencil and get drawing. Reading an interview in The Guardian with Paula Rego, she holds this view and feels ”You learn so much drawing from life, you have to look so carefully. It’s very difficult to actually see what’s there, the more you do it, the better you get at looking and that’s a discipli

Where would I be without…

- David Bomberg - What an extraordinary show the exhibition of David Bombergs’ paintings is, now at The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. Not just because of Bomberg’s superb work but because I was overwhelmed with sadness that this artist didn’t get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. His life tells the tale of one so familiar with artists, their success or otherwise in the hands of a few, with set ideas of their own, that can make or break you. Bomberg was commis