Saturday, 8 June 2013

Forests, flowers and.... fossils.

"Wild Garlic in Sewerby Woods"
Original Watercolour
Glenn Marshall

Do you like springtime? Of course you do - everyone does. Just a few short weeks ago  it seemed as if nothing was ever going to happen and then - an explosion of life. The trees so bare are suddenly heavy with leaves and the ground is bursting with exuberant plants and flowers. In forest you first get a carpet of wood anemones and then the beautiful bluebells. Here in Sewerby park we also get aconite, celandine,daffodils and buttercups, not forgetting the gardener's friend (!) dandelion. All these are rightly featured in  paintings throughout the ages. But there is another less well celebrated spring flower. For me, this plant is the very essence of spring with its all pervading glorious smell - 'Allium ursinum' - 'Ramsons' to you and me or 'Wild Garlic'. Crush the stems or leaves and the smell of garlic can be overpowering, but the plant has other attractions - beautiful white star-like flowers. So, as well as its medicinal uses, its culinary attractions, it also looks good!  This is my painting in tribute to this unsung symbol of spring.
First Wash
We use the woodland walk in Sewerby Park most evenings. It is a delightful stroll and just over the road from us. The powerful garlic smell announced the presence of this splash of white long before we came across it. I really wanted to try and capture the energy and vitality of this spring scene so this meant a lot of 'flicking' to create random effects for the foliage. I had masked the garlic flower heads so I could be as free as I wanted especially in the initial stages. Then I carefully painted  the trees in ever more detail and tone to create 'space'. Lastly remove the mask and there we have it -"Wild Garlic in Sewerby Woods"
This is a very traditional painting produced using classic watercolour techniques that have to be learned and practised. I was talking to a good friend of mine Keith Blessed very recently. Keith is a very talented pastel artist who has his own gallery and studio based in Whitby. He has sold paintings all over the world, gives lessons, and does demonstrations for art clubs and societies all over the country. But he has one fault. Like me he is totally committed to representational art - he wants his paintings to look like real places or things. We had a good moan together about  the state of the  art scene  today, especially how people like us who have learned our craft over many years, are derided and scoffed at in favour of contemporary artists who just pick up a brush and 'express' themselves freely.  If you don't like it or understand what these great artists are trying to say, its you that's at fault
 - you must be old fashioned, 'uncool' and still living in the dark ages. Brilliant marketing but very confusing to the buying public, the majority of whom can see through this 'Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome' - but do they want to seem uncool or out of touch? Do you? So here's my simple guide to appreciating art - if you like it - it's good, if you don't like it - it's not so good! That's all there is to it really despite what art critics might pretend. We live on the dinosaur coast here in Yorkshire so have decided we are happy to remain a pair of old fossils and enjoy ourselves and our art!

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