When needing inspiration I often look at one of my favourite art mediums and go from there. Watercolour painting is a versatile and flexible medium that allows artists to create their own colour opacity. It’s a fantastic practice in that it’s unpredictable and can be experimented with in so many ways, from technique to the materials used, to how much water is left on the brush. I always feel overwhelmed painting in watercolours because there are endless possibilities in what you can achieve with them.
I recently went to The Royal Academy of Arts block buster Exhibition, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. It is worth seeing if you are interested in the Impressionist artists or if you just love floral paintings as it’s full of them. The Exhibition covers the main Impressionist artists, Post-Impressionist and Avant-Garde artists of the early 20th century, thematising around the modern garden. Monet’s masterpieces being the highlight including his infamous Water Lilies painting, The Agapanthus Triptych. This piece finalizes his career brilliantly – got me a bit teary as they are overwhelmingly beautiful and reflective of Monet’s mental state at the end of his life.
An impressionist artist who’s work really grabbed my attention in the Exhibition was Emil Nolde. He was a German-Danish painter who supported Nazi Germany from the 1920s and believed that Expressionism was a distinctively Germanic style. Hitler considered this art movement ‘degenerative’ and banned artists like Nolde from painting and removed his work from public display. He secretly produced a massive series of water colour paintings that are known as the ‘unpainted pictures’. Nolde painted portraits, landscapes and flowers as his subjects. His brush strokes are vigorous and textural producing expressionistic, luminous paintings – often with sombre undertones, fascinating to see up close.
Dan-ah Kim, a Korean film maker and artist who’s work really captures what illustration is all about. Her work reminds me of eastern folk tale illustration. Her paintings have an emotive presence through composition, colour and narrative appeal. These mysterious, beautiful illustrations often put the viewer in a voyeuristic position as though we are looking in on something that we shouldn’t. Kim often paints on wood panels, beginning with pencil and paint, then layering with other medias such as paper and thread. Check out her website to see more of her work.
I have frequently been posting about 21st century artists and their work recently, so I thought I would do a post about an artist from the early 20th century, who’s work I have come across quite a few times on museum visits. Mabel Royds, an artist who studied at Slade best known for her woodcuts. Her two most well known series of colour prints are her Indian and Tibet scenes from the 1920s and her woodcuts of flowers that came after. Its understandable why her later work became so popular to exhibit at the time compared to her earlier pieces as they are far more bright and glamorous. See below. The original prints are in the care of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum London.
This young artist is big in publishing, fashion and other media circles, you will understand why once you look at her work. Random House Canada, Bloomsbury, Harper Collins, TeNeues, Hardie Grant, Blue Apple Books, UNIQLO, and Orla Kiel are just some of the clients Emma Block has been commissioned by.
I have got to say looking through her portfolio I like her own personal project work inspired by old films, books, hobbies and day to day life. I can definitely learn something from Block’s techniques since I work primarily with the same medias, paper craft, ink and watercolour. The way she uses cut out silhouettes of paper combined with watercolours adds another dimension and different focus points to her illustrations.