Dorothea Tanning: notes from a student’s talk on the artist.

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Last term I had the opportunity to give an art lecture. My chosen artist was Dorothea Tanning.

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I first came across her work at the Alison Jacques Gallery on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition entitled Web of Dreams. It was named after one of her paintings and spanned the periods 1939-89. She has since become one of my most favourite artists, from whom I draw great inspiration. The title, Web of Dreams, really sums up what I love about her work: the jumble of fractured ethereal spaces, tangled bodies, prismatic surfaces and rich colours. Together, they deliver a deeper emotional richness and at times a dark eeriness that I really enjoy.

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Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012) lived until she was 101. She was an American artist who, to begin with, was closely associated with surrealism; over time she developed a more individual style. In addition to her work as a painter, she wrote two autobiographies and several novels, launching a second career as a poet in her 80s. She won the Wallace Stevens Award of the Academy of American Poets. Dorothea Tanning was married to Max Ernst, the German painter and pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

‘Family Portrait’, oil on canvas, 1977

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An evening in Sedona, oil on canvas, 1976

To my mind, the series Insomnias, beginning in 1955, is amongst some of her most poignant work, described by her in unpublished notes: all of my pictures of this period I felt you should discover slowly and that they would almost be kaleidoscopes that would shimmer and that you would discover something new every time you looked at it.


57-1-01midietdemithumb‘Midi et demi’ (Half Past Noon), oil on canvas, 1957 –
Full of hidden forms, the colours in these paintings seem almost crystalized in their fragmentation.

 

 

 

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Alongside Insomnias, and bearing the same intensity are her ‘living sculptures’, completed towards the end of the 60s, and her matured paintings in the 70’s. The latter encompasses her series of flower paintings exhibited this year in London – the first time since 1999.

 

‘Asclepius formidabilis’ (Griefbane), oil on canvas, 1997 – Dorothea Tanning: Flower Paintings, September/October 2016, Alison Jacques Gallery

I prepared feverishly for the talk and in the end it paid off, I enjoyed sharing sharing, and in some cases introducing, the work of Dorothea Tanning to my peers. The time spent researching was beneficial in enriching my own knowledge and understanding of her journey as an artist. This was aided by the fact that Dorothea Tanning was a proloific writer as well as artist who left behind a wealth of fascinating and insightful material. It felt as if I were receiving a guided tour into her life.

For those keen to learn more I would recommend her autobiography, Between Lives: An Artist and Her World, 2001 and her novel, Chasm: A Weekend, 2004. A Public Space is a NY based literary and cultural magazine that this year featured a short story by Dorothea Tanning, Dream It Or Leave It, along with extracts from her personal journal, rough sketches and letters written to friends while she resided in Sedona. These can be found in Issue 24, Spring 2016.

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‘Pounding Strong’, oil on canvas, 1981

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joys and Perils of Landscape Painting – Autumn Term

Richmond Park | London Fine Arts

This Autumn Term we have braced the cold every Thursday to go and paint by Pen Ponds in Richmond Park.  Not only have there been beautiful views to paint but also some very characterful interventions from the wildlife crossing our path – we’ve had battling swans one week and a wandering stag another.  Nevertheless, we have returned each week to develop our work and I feel hugely rewarded for it. 

Here is an overview of my four week project in landscape class.

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Week 1 – A tonal grisaille in colour harmony. The lake was keyed dark with the intention of scumbling lights on top.

Week 2 – Learning about colour relationships and perspective between the sky, clouds, trees and lake. Also paint handling and brush techniques to describe sky holes, foliage and skyline relationship.

Week 3 – Building up on colour complexities in lights and shade. Describing the tree trunks and branches in preparation for week four.

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Week 4 – I spent this lesson applying brighter cleaner colours, as well as softening the tree trunks which I had painted in too sharp the week before. I also refined the darks and lights  in order to better describe the different plains of the landscape and emphasise the distance relationship of the trees to the foreground.

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And for an insight into our adventures in the wilds of Richmond Park, watch this video!

 

 

New de Laszlo Foundation Scholars announced

De Laszlo Scholarship | London Fine Art Studios

We are grateful to The de Laszlo Foundation for their continued support of the school.  Now in its third year, the scholarship programme has enabled many talented young artists to further their training and build their confidence, successfully making the transition into the professional realm.

We are pleased to announce two new scholars for the Autumn Term and look forward to witnessing their development as artists:

 

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Oolong with Roses by Nneka Uzoigwe

Charcoal Portrait by Tim Daoust

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