This monograph covers the sixty-odd years Kyffin Williams painted. Expect lots of moody Welsh landscapes, but also portraits (including bright red military uniforms), linocuts, drawings, and watercolours. The reproductions enable you to clearly see the texture of his impasto, knife-painting style and visualise individual strokes. The accompanying text is an engaging and accessible read about his painting, influences, and life. • “Kyffin Williams: The Light and the Dark” is published by Lund Humphries
” … reading “intensively” [was] the common practice of most readers before the nineteenth century, when books, which were scarce and expensive, were often read aloud and many times over. As reading materials—not just books, but newspapers, magazines, and ephemera—proliferated, more recent centuries saw the rise of reading “extensively”: we read these materials once, often quickly, and move on.”
I have favourite fiction books I have read many times, favourite films/series I have watched many times, and favourite reference books. Wearing my non-fiction editor hat, I read things at least three times, first for the gist, second to line-edit, third to check my edit. Maybe it’s inevitable that I revisit subjects and locations to paint them time and again, looping around and coming back to things with myself being the variable not the constant.
Random fact: “Extense” is an archaic word. “Intense” we still use.
The sun was in that stage on its was towards the horizon when things become golden as I wandered in the Uig Woodland this afternoon. Because the trees don’t have leaves at the moment, a sliver of sun reaches the river by the gate.
The Kunstmuseum Den Haag currently has a Monet exhibition centred around the restoration of their wisteria painting by him (info here). They’ve also produced this documentary which I enjoyed watching. (And an exhibition catalogue that has me repeating to myself: “don’t need another book on Monet, don’t need…“)
” …you can take the first draft of any poem and improve it 80% by lopping off the first and last stanzas.
“… with the first stanza we are struggling to get the creative juices flowing; by the end of the poem we are so enamored with what we are doing that we don’t want to stop
“… what do we agonize over most when writing a piece? The first sentence, the first paragraph, the first scene. Jump in, don’t worry about it; assume you’ll throw this part out when you revise, anyway.”
It took an entire afternoon to upload on my single-track broadband (fibre currently ends three miles down the road), but eventually it did. So cue the dramatic music, my very first long video is a now available to rent (watch online) or buy (watch and download) here.
It’s 27 minutes long, featuring me painting this month’s project and “thinking aloud” about what I’m doing. It’s like watching me do a demo in a workshop. (And being on Vimeo rather than YouTube it’s advert-free.)
All my current Patreon subscribers should have received an email with a code to watch it for free; check your spam filters if you haven’t. If you beome a subscriber (on any tier) by 15 January 2020, you’ll also be sent a VIP code. Find out more here…
(If you don’t see the video embedded above, go here…)
Do I get bonus points for ticking something off my to-do list before it’s even fortnight into 2020? Thoughts and comments appreciated, as always.
I think this project photo gallery really shows how it’s our individual preferences and interpretations that make us paint familiar things differently, keeping things interesting both for ourselves and others. (It feels somewhat like a continuation of the topic of my last Monday Motivator of 2019: Subject Isn’t the Most Important Part.) Enjoy!
This month’s project features a technique as well as a subject — painting with a knife, using a reference photo I took on Iona last summer as a starting point. Iona is a much-painted island with turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and jaggered dark rocks; famous for its abbey. (Click on the photo to get a larger version.)
A painting knife gives quite different marks to a brush, and is ideal for mixing colours together on a painting itself to give visually intriguing results. For the sake of this painting project, the whole painting need not be created using a knife, but mark making with a knife must be evident. Don’t think knives are for oils or acrylics only; they create interesting results with watercolour too.
The fundamental technique of knife painting is the same as you use for spreading jam on bread: you pick up some jam (paint) and spread it as thickly or thinly as you desire; if there’s butter (other wet paint) on the bread, it will mix in depending on how much pressure you apply. Tapping at the surface with the knife, either flat or on an edge, gives different marks again. And if it all goes horribly wrong, you simply scrape it all off and start again.
There are many different shapes of painting knives available. My favourite has long been this one with a longish flat edge and a sharp point that is perfect for scratching into paint (in artspeak: sgraffito). If you don’t have one, a piece of stiff card or plastic will do a similar job , though a knife has the advantage of being comfortable to hold in the hand and a degree of ‘bounce’ in the metal).
The Scottish Colourists Samuel Peploe and Francis Cadell often painted on Iona in summer. Contemporary Scottish painter Frances MacDonald continues the tradition, saying on her website that “she finds delight in the juxtaposition of angular rock and white sand. Her use of the palette knife creates a dynamism and animation in each painting, She works her paint across the canvas in angular lines; her assured marks arrived at through careful elimination of aesthetic non-essentials.” For online catalogues of her paintings, see the Scottish Gallery‘s website here and here (click on ‘view catalogue’ link on the pages). Another artist to look at for knife painting is Kyffin Williams (read my blog here).
To have your painting included in the project gallery, email me a photo on art(at)marion(dot)scot ideally with a few sentences about it (think of the things you might say when talking to a friend about it). I’ll post photos with first names only, unless you ask me otherwise.
Kyffin Williams (1918–2006) was a Welsh artist who mostly painted with a knife. Slatherings of oil paint, using a limited palette of muted colours and black outlines. His paintings range from minimalist and quite abstract to landscapes full of suggested detail as well as portraits. My favourites are his sheepdogs and seascapes, plus his stone walls.