60th Annual Open Exhibition – 6th to 19th May 2012
The number of entries for the 60th Annual Open Exhibition of the Hertford Art Society was again very high. As always selection of pictures was entirely in the hands of the 3 external judges, chosen to represent a wide spread of artistic experience. This year they comprised Geoff Hunt, a Past President of the Royal Society of Marine Artists and a leading figure in marine art; Jean Noble RI SWA, whose work explores the boundary between representation and abstraction; Martin Smith, an accomplished artist who runs art classes, gives a wide variety of art lectures and critiques; and Paul Bainbridge a freelance sculptor and member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. From an entry of over 600 works they selected 253 pictures and 43 sculptures.
The Exhibition opened in style with two very well attended Private Views, the first on Saturday 5th May when prizes were awarded and guests enjoyed the vibrant transformation of The Cowbridge Halls, surrounded by work in a wide range of styles and media. There are currently five prize categories and these are the worthy winners this year:
The John Goss Prize for the painting considered by the judges to be the best in show, won by Christine Spence for “What’s in my Bucket?”, a brilliant display of acrylic painting which looks like a one-shot dash with no revisions .
The Lady Laming Award for Abstract Art, won by Lynne Kirk for “Breaker” a rather introspective painting with a lot of depth for the viewer to wander around in.
The Bill Dale Award, for a member who supports the whole of the Society’s activities, won by Barbara Groves for “Here’s Looking at You”, a fine, confident watercolour with a touch of humour.
The Mayor’s Award, presented for the best 3D work, won by Kathy Burman for “Place”, an intriguing and original 8-part stoneware sculpture.
The Edward Mason Award for the best watercolour painting, won by Karen Murray for “Mango”, a colourful and meticulous piece which reminds us that not all watercolours are about wateriness.
This year, in addition to the above prizes, three artworks were “Highly Commended” by the judges. These were: “Urban Twilight”, a collage by Kathy Burman, “Still Glides the Stream”, a mixed media sculpture by Angela Godfrey and “River Traffic off Tilbury”, a watercolour by Alan Runagall RSMA.
Once the Exhibition closed, votes were counted for The Visitors’ Choice Award. This was won by Cathy Smale for her acrylic painting “Woodland Trees & Ferns”.
Running for two weeks, this exhibition attracted hundreds of visitors, many of whom returned several times as there is always something new to discover among the colourful and varied exhibits.
Demonstration by James Willis – Landscape/Figures in Oils – 21st February 2012
James Willis gave us a fine demonstration of landscape painting with figures. His subject was Hitchin High Street and his medium was oils. He had earlier made a detailed tonal sketch of the street, busy with shoppers.
James arrived with a canvas already prepared with two coats of gesso tinted with a yellow ochre wash which he had left to dry overnight. The broad areas of the buildings and street had been blocked in with umber and blue tones.
First he mixed a range of colours on his palette using all three primaries and raw umber and began to define the buildings. Special attention was paid to the shapes in the division between sky and buildings. The paint was applied thinly with a gentle directional strokes in order not to pick up the paint already applied and occasional scumbling. Martin used soft, flat mongoose brushes and Michael Harding oils. He used a simple palette – two colours of each primary with viridian, raw umber and Flake White. His painting medium was one-third linseed oil/two thirds turpentine.
Secondly, he established the warm and cool areas with a thin overpainting lightly applied whilst maintaining the tonal values. The final stage, what he called “the fun stage” was applying the bright colours, adding suggestions of figures and reinforcing tonal contrasts; with this the painting came alive. It was wonderful to see a painting created with such speed and smiling assurance. Throughout the demonstration Martin gave valuable advice and tips for working on this type of subject and Members greatly enjoyed the evening.
Demonstration in Acrylics by Martin Ireland – 7th February 2012
Martin offered a choice of subject and, by popular vote, members opted for a Landscape. He used a photograph of a Cezanne landscape (The Avenue at the Jas de Bouffan) and it was fascinating to see the painting emerge from seemingly random strokes into an accomplished copy of the photograph. Throughout the demonstration Martin gave a running commentary, highlighting various techniques, mixtures of paints and the use of various types of brush to show different effects. He worked with the paint in layers, gradually refining the image and mixing a vast array of different greens to echo the strong tones in the original painting, stepping back often to review the painting as it progressed.
Martin produced a dramatic painting in a very short time, working in a broad style with this medium. Members came away with many useful tips and a great sense of encouragement.
Colour - Mood and Atmosphere Workshop 17th January 2012 with Davida MacDonald
The purpose of the evening was to explore some of the ways a subject can be transformed by use of colour and tone. Using gouache or watercolour, our aim was to create a sensation by thinking specifically about colour and shape to create an impression rather than an exact likeness. As inspiration, Davida MacDonald cited the work of Hockney (in particular his I-pad paintings), Kandinsky and Derain of the Fauve Movement and Monet. She stressed the importance of keeping a sketchbook and to annotate sketches with colour notes so that they are useful working drawings for later development in the studio.
We had been asked to prepare four 6”x 4” line drawings (on good quality cartridge or watercolour paper) of the same simple landscape to incorporate a definite foreground, middle ground and distance.
Davida ended with a useful tip. A large circular shape was made from an A4 piece of paper and an aperture of about 1½” in diameter was cut from the middle to form a viewfinder. The wide border serves to block out all that is extraneous to the required image in a very efficient way and enables a view of an exact colour, separated from its neighbours.
For many of us, working to such a small scale was out of our comfort zone but it was an excellent way to cover four different aspects of mood and atmosphere through the use of colour in a short space of time.
Mark Making ‘2’ – Workshop with Nick Harrison Jones 29th November 2011
This was an evening of surprises when about 30 members sat down and were confronted with a giant toothpick, blunt pencils, slips of cardboard, a photo of a house and some sheets of paper. Our guide, Nick Harrison Jones, proceeded to demonstrate how shapes, lines and shading could be obtained by dragging paint with the tools to hand at various angles across the paper. Soon members were dunking bits of card and the skewer into paint along with their fingers resulting in interesting patterns, lines and shapes. We were encouraged to break the pencil in half and use the broken ends to further enhance our efforts.
Having “mastered” these brushless techniques we turned to interpreting a photo of a building using these methods. Throughout the session Nick gave advice and encouragement (this workshop was a follow-up to a session last year which introduced his approach to mark making). The variety of images produced illustrated the benefits of embracing a different way of working. The net result was that members gained a huge amount of confidence, some new techniques but, more importantly, judging by the mood of the evening, had a lot of fun.
14th Members’ Show 2011
Once again Hertfordshire visitors enjoyed an excellent display of our very high standard of talent at the Millbridge Rooms, Millbridge, Hertford. From a tentative experiment last year our 3D work is now an integral and valuable addition. Likewise from a previous experiment, our professional greetings card display is now a definite success with our patrons. Many of our visitors commented enthusiastically on our standard and presentation, including praise for the music from John Moss on keyboard, adding to the warm welcome.
Congratulations from all of us to the winners and my thanks to Members past and present for the funding.
Two further special thanks: firstly to Rod Lewis of Hertfordshire Graphics. For 14 years he has generously sponsored our show with a generous prize of art materials and even in these hard times has continued do so. Members and visitors to Hertford are encouraged to frequent his shop at 6 St Andrew Street.
Secondly to our two young people who for the third year running have valiantly carried our banners around town for 4 hours on the Saturday. Many people tell us that the sight of them prompted their visit.
Lastly very many thanks to all those who gave time and effort to get the show on the road.
Israel in Egypt – Concert by the Hertford Choral Society – All Saints Church, Hertford – 31st March 2012
Once a year for the last 3 years the Art Society has been invited to illustrate the Easter Concert performed by the Hertford Choral Society at All Saints Church in Hertford. This year the concert was Handel’s Oratorio ‘Israel in Egypt’. As previously the subject and venue gave Members an opportunity to paint some exciting scenes on big canvases.
The following themes were chosen:
This year I asked the conductor, Derek Harrison, if the artists might bring their paints and easels along to the final rehearsal, which is traditionally held on the afternoon of the concert.
Derek readily agreed and so it was that we were able to draw and paint as great music swirled around us. Here we all are - artists in the foreground; soloists, conductor and orchestra in the middle and Hertford Choral Society at the back.
Nigel Earle’s prize web site for winning the most innovative/intriguing work goes live.
‘Fiery Ravine’, a 3D piece by Nigel Earle won The Most Intriguing/Innovative Artwork at the 14th Members’ Show. The prize of free website design & hosting for 1 year, donated by Mark Ely of SG7.biz has been gratefully received by Nigel Earle who said:
"I am really thrilled with the website that Mark has created for me. From the mass of material I sent him he's managed to come up with a site that looks terrific and which I can also use as a practical base to publicise my latest work and news through Facebook. It is all I hoped for."
Mark Ely, designer of the Hertford Art Society website, enjoys attending our exhibitions and has enjoyed working on the new web site for Nigel Earle and said:
“I look forward to working on more art related web sites for future winners and enjoyed putting the web site together for Nigel. Keen to show off the detail on Nigel’s pieces I have included a magnifying tool that allows viewers to see each piece in greater detail.”
Life Drawing Workshop with Paul Curtis – 27th September 2011
Our first Life-Drawing Workshop of the Winter Programme Season welcomed a very popular Tutor, Paul Curtis. For the first half of the session, Members moved around the room, drawing the 2 models from different angles as they maintained the same poses. These were 8 minute sketches in charcoal or similar on large sheets of paper.
Some Members concentrated on only one model while others endeavoured to capture both within the same sketch. Paul encouraged us to really examine the figures, observing the solidity of the torso and limbs, the placement of the head etc. while undertaking the quick sketches. One of the models continued with the same pose for the rest of the evening enabling Members to develop one detailed drawing or painting while the other changed poses and modeled in a separate room. Paul spent time with each artist, giving encouragement and advice to over 40 artists as he moved around the room. There was a great variety in styles and approaches. Paul’s enthusiasm and guidance made the evening very enjoyable and the final display of work demonstrated that this was an extremely worthwhile Workshop.
For details of the regular, untutored Life Workshop sessions which are open to Society Members and non-Members alike.
Still Life Workshop with Paul Curtis – 9th July 2011
This day was far from still. We were greeted by a long hilly lane of ceramics, statues, vegetation and other knick-knacks, and everybody setting up on tables around. Paul Curtis began the session talking about the importance of finding a spot that grabs your attention and how the organic and inorganic creates an interesting composition. He also asked us to pay careful attention to the negative spaces between the objects. Paul suggested that we start off with sketching and then go on to painting. The room was full of energy as people got started and became focused on their drawing.
Paul spent the morning and afternoon sessions with each individual both complimenting and discussing ways to take their work forward. As a tutor he was generous and inspirational. The variety of work produced was phenomenal and walking round and talking to fellow artists was enlightening and fun.
Everyone was inspired by Paul’s artistic wisdom, and the fact that the day was about more than drawing a few objects, it was about the ‘idea’, the ‘story’. An altogether brilliant day.
Tuesday sketching evenings 2012
All Winter, we look forward to Summer painting evenings, especially as we have a copy of the Summer programme temptingly given to us during February. After a frustrating start to Tuesday sketching evenings, due to “British weather”, i.e. rain, we managed a few glorious painting evenings – although some were beset with pesky mosquitoes or dull, cool weather. On the evening at Little Berkhamstead, I boldly asked permission for us to paint in the pub, as heavy rain was imminent. Our chosen area for painting during the Bengeo venue, proved problematical, as tractors were busy in the fields, raising huge dust clouds and insects! They even seemed to follow us to the pub later that evening!
Trevor’s selection of venues, as always, were excellent, the Summer season ended with the Summer painters meeting for a super meal, at the Axe & Compass, Braughing. Margo Ward
Saturday Life Workshops
Hertford Art Society runs 9 life workshops per year on the last Saturday of each month. These are essentially run for Members but we do welcome a few enthusiastic visitors at a slightly increased fee of £13.50 per session. The sessions last all day from 10.00am – 4.00pm with a 1hr break at lunchtime and are untutored.
We normally have 2 models unless the numbers are small and then it is only one. During the morning we have a variety of quick poses followed by setting up one model at around 11.30am for the rest of the session – this gives artists the opportunity to work for the remainder of the day on one painting (or sculpture) if they wish. When there are two models, there will be an additional fixed pose from the second model for the afternoon. Artists work with a variety of mediums and are a very enthusiastic and imaginative group, bouncing ideas off each other.
Dates for the coming season:
2011 – 24th September, 29th October and 26th November
2012 – 28th January, 25th February, 31st March, 26th May, 30th June and 28th July
Winter 2011-2012 programme
Visitors 2011-2012 programme
60th Open Exhibition prizewinners, 2012.
“Highly Commended” by the judges.
Winners of Critique Sessions 2011-2012 season