Wednesday, 21 September 2016

THE HORSE IN THE HEART Whitespace Gallery, Edinburgh

An exhibition of drawings by Diana Hand  

Whitespace Gallery, 25, Howe Street, Edinburgh EH3 6TF
8th October to 13th October, 2016

The Double   ink on paper


I have been working all summer towards this exhibition of equestrian drawings.  I love to work very spontaneously and freely, but I would also like more control and understanding over what I do, and to develop a different approach to equestrian art, one that is not purely figurative.  And one which has, to quote previous blog, "a frame of wider reference" than simply my intuitive and immediate responses.

One such wider frame is the study of anatomy, and  for the past year I have been doing different courses - at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, at the Glasgow School of Art and with Alan McGowan in Edinburgh.  I have also been to clinics on equine anatomy run by Gillian Higgins at agricultural colleges in Gloucestershire.

I have been re-reading The Artist's Guide to Animal Anatomy by Gottfried Bammes.  I read this book about five years and was drawn to his expressive and free illustrations, but I skipped the anatomical information.  But by now  I know enough to make a deep study of his anatomical and dynamic structural approach, and to understand that this knowledge is the foundation of freer and more imaginative work.

I also used his suggestions about experimenting with different media and letting the medium shape the drawing.  This gave a great sense of movement and energy to start with and then I could explore the anatomy and form in this context.
Running Horses   Watercolour and charcoal on paper

Horse's Head   Watercolour wash and charcoal on paper

Another discovery was the use of a narrative.  Quite by chance I dropped a sheet of tissue paper onto a wet gesso surface.  It was beautiful and delicate and I transferred the marks onto an existing black canvas.
The shapes suggested horses' bodies and movements and the ghostly presence of horses in the distant and near past, inhabiting our psyche as they do for the horse lover.  I made a large more finished piece of this.

These We Have Loved    Charcoal on paper  1370 x 1010

Drawing from One Hundred Horses series

Later I realised that the concept is slightly similar to the "One Hundred Horses" paintings by Guiseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), an Italian Jesuit missionary in China.  I like these paintings because of the depiction of horses "off-duty" by someone who obviously knew them very well and appreciated their interaction with humans too.

This exhibition has been a much more personal "journey" than the previous exhibition earlier in the year.  I did have a system to work from and help me expand my references and knowledge, but the subject matter tended to take its own course and chance threw up new perspectives and meaning!  

Bring it on!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Anatomy of a Cardboard Box - exhibition in Dunblane, Perthshire

Inside Out and Upside Down - the anatomy of a cardboard box
2nd to 29th April, 2016

"This is an excellent exhibition and deserves recognition"  Comment by a visitor to the gallery

In an exhibition of new drawings at Dunblane Museum Gallery, I explored the shapes, shadows and corners suggested by everyday packaging material.  This work is based on my interest in these discarded fragments of our contemporary life, and the associations and stories, not to mention the beautiful shapes and shadows, that I see in these objects.

I  experimented with a particular approach to making art, consciously moving from concept to making and back again, as described by Donald Schon in his book “The Reflective Practitioner”.  The trigger in this case is a piece of packaging material that is quite architectural in nature.  This also picks up on my interest in and research into architectural space, and gives me a framework for the process.

I experimented with Schon’s ideas by shifting between by making drawings of the carton (from different angles, in different media and from different distances)  and pausing to reflect on what I was trying to say and  what was emerging, with reference to my personal reactions and to the work of other artists and writers. I thus tried to bridge the gap between ideas and making, and this is the purpose of the exhibition.  I have discovered that the drawing process gave me much more insight into ideas and that the ideas broadened the range of possibilities and gave me an on-going structure to work with.  In other words, it gave me a frame of wider reference.

I continued my research in this topic for sometime afterwards, visiting educational seminars and summer schools.  I will resume and hope to continue the work.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Painting people

Here are two pieces I did at a recent portrait painting workshop with Alan McGowan in Edinburgh.

More horse drawings

Here it is  - done for now
Going towards abstract
And more   Thinking shapes  tbc
I am a week or so into preparing for my exhibition in Edinburgh in early October, and am warming up  by making large charcoal drawings and sketches straigh from my collection of favourite images.  I have more understanding of anatomy now and it is fascinating to draw with that knowledge  It gives a freedom and confidence and helps me to express my passionate admiration for horses.  It is fairly early days, and I will see how the process develops.
I sometimes like to start by looking and making studies before then stepping into drawing from memory.

I like the "yellow jockey"picture - composition and the lines formed by the reins. Starting to explore abstraction, I think it is my natural home, but still difficult to make the leap.  It feels daring but results are quite traditional-looking!

Jupiter Artland Edinburgh

Here are a few pictures from my visit today to Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh.
The owners of this beautiful estate were inspired by Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta, not far away in West Lothian, to make a sculpture park in their land.  They have just been pipped for Art Museum of the Year 2016 by the Victoria and Albert Museum (no shame there!).

I enjoyed the landscaping, a wonderful mixture of cultivation and wild planting and managed woodland, .  For me the art pieces were interesting and added piquancy and interest to the landscaping, but I prefer Little Sparta, which is the unique and original statement of one artist.  Other sculpture parks I have liked include Belsay in Northumberland and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Toby Brown's portraits

Toby Brown

Alistair Campbell by Toby Brown

Amy Winehouse by Toby Brown

 Toby Brown paints striking portraits of people who suffer from depression and forms of mental illness.  For more read the following article

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Marcel Griaule, Anthropologist

Marcel Griaule (1898-1956) was a French anthropologist.  I spotted this quotation by him.  It applies to creating art as well as to anthropology.

 "The threshold is the knot separating 2 enemy worlds.  To cross a threshold is to traverse a zone of danger where invisible but real battles are fought"