An Evening Presentation by Celestino Valenti (Celo), Thursday 5th March 2020
"The Life and Times of a Professional Artist".
Celo's brief was to take us through his lifetime of professional work, starting with the exciting post war changes that were erupting in the 50s and 60s. This he did in a relaxed and conversational manner with a small but engaged audience. His talk was illustrated by examples of his early work, both in Life Drawing, and hyper-realistic drawings prepared for magazines such as Nova. After a refreshment break, we were lucky enough to see his extensive (and valuable) collection of contemporary posters. The work was "very much of its own time", and Celo certainly showed us exactly "how it was".
Reproduced below is a resume of Celo's life as an artist, and his recommendation for further reading.
“The Life and Times of a Professional Artist” by Celestino Valenti
(firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 07790546026)
Celestino Valenti studied sculpture, woodcarving and painting at Croydon College of Art from the age of 15, followed by a 3-year ARCA course in printmaking at the Royal College of Art. For the next 36 years he specialised in hyper-realist drawings, showing his work in a range of exhibitions, galleries and publications, including the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery in London, Steltman Gallery in Amsterdam, a one-man show at the Gallerie des Differences in Paris, and a number of features in Nova Magazine.
In the early 1990s, after restoring some antique wire jardinières, he was inspired to take up wirework and rapidly created an extensive range of original designs and commissions, including chandeliers, urns, hanging baskets and wall scones, as well as sculptural pieces such as birds and shells. His work has appeared on BBC1 television, in features in Gardens Illustrated and The World of Interiors, and at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Celestino was Head of Printmaking at Ealing School of Art for 7 years, and also taught foundation courses, fashion drawing and life drawing at a number of art colleges around the UK. He continues to teach life drawing in public classes based at the Village Hall in South Cerney.
Throughout his career Celestino’s love of figurative work has been a constant feature of both his own artwork and his teaching. In his presentation for Fairford Art Society he will talk about how his experience in differing branches of the visual arts has informed his ongoing journey in life drawing.
Following on from Jem's successful Demonstration, he was invited to return for a full workshop, so that members could build on his technique with his advice easily to hand.
Jem introduced the workshop by giving us his painting philosophy:-
Use up paper and paint.
Enjoy the Process – don’t worry about the result
Take Risks – be willing to fail
Regard everything you do as practice
He began by showing us examples of his work pointing out the importance of tone and how to use hard and soft edges not only to convey distance and atmosphere but also to give the work interest All of his paintings use a very limited pallet of just 3 colours normally Thalo Blue, Raw Umber and Indian Red and just two brushes and rarely using more than two washes or layers of colour.
Jem has a distinctive style of painting that has been described as ‘loose and impressionistic’ but as the workshop progressed it became apparent that this is achieved with considerable ‘hidden strategy’ taking place in the composition and application of the paint together with lots of practice and experience.
He gave us plenty of practice painting a natural looking cloudy sky, using the shape of clouds to lead the eye to the focal point of the painting. We tried painting realistic looking trees with very few strokes, trying to capture the essence of the tree rather than every detail branch and twig. The afternoon was spent following his way of painting a local river scene. It was fascinating to see how quickly and confidently he could capture the main features of the scene, simplifying and moving features to get a good composition.
Jem was an excellent teacher – well organized, always encouraging, delivering a really practical workshop without bombarding us with the need to buy this particular colour, brush or paper. What I will take away from his workshop is how important it is to practice with your own paper, brushes and colours to see what effects they can achieve – remembering of course to enjoy the process and not to worry about the result.
Afternoon Demonstration by Jem Bowden, 6th February 2020
Bold, Plein Air Landsacpe Watercolour.
Jem Bowden is a professional artist based in Bristol, who specialises in plein air watercolour landscape painting. Jem arrived in Fairford on a misty morning, and he took some time before the meeting to prepare a tonal composition of St Mary’s churchyard. This was to be the subject for today’s demonstration, the bold shape of the church, and a muted, atmospheric pallet to capture the misty morning. Jem used an 8b pencil for his sketch, to draft out the composition, and to set the all-important tonal values.Jem then used this sketch to draw in the simplest way the composition onto his unprepared, 200g cold pressed Bockingford paper. Considerable care was taken to get the correct perspective for the church outline, and to make changes to the position of objects to enhance the balance of the composition. Jem used two or three brushes, three colours, Indian Red, Raw Umber, and Phthalo Blue, and a palette with large mixing areas. If you wish to expand the range of colours, have a warm and cool version of each. He continually emphasised the importance of TONE above colour.
Once Jem started to paint, he worked very quickly, some areas “wet on wet”, trying to get the all-important TONE correct first time. He does not like to go back and re-work, as this loses freshness, and errors tell the story of the painting process. Take care with the hair dryer, and remember that after use, the paper will be warm. As the paper had not been pre stretched, small wrinkles could be pressed out with the hand and use of the drier.
Jem proved to be an excellent tutor, and he will be returning to Fairford for a full day workshop on the 29th February.
This will be your chance to try out his techniques ready for our Plein Air sessions in the summer.
Afternoon Demonstration by Maggie Cross, 7th November 2019
Chinese Watercolour Painting: The Four Treasures
This well attended afternoon demonstration by Maggie Cross was a real pre-Christmas treat for everyone. We were introduced to the materials used in Chinese Watercolour painting, jade or slate stones for grinding ink, plant fibre papers handmade from hemp, linen, bamboo, mulberry and silk, and brushes from goat, sheep, horse, squirrel, deer or sable. Armed with these, you should relax, plan a balanced Ying Yang composition, hold the brush correctly, paint without drawing, and perfect the 4 or 5 basic brush strokes which are used throughout Chinese paintings.
Maggie’s first demonstration was a beautiful group of peonies. The highlight for me was the technique of loading a brush with one colour, followed by a ½ dip in a second colour, followed by a third colour dip for the tip of the brush. When lightly brushed across the paper, a beautiful peony petal was created, preserving the three colours in a subtly blended manner. Another tip from Maggie, use acrylic white for the stamens. No Chinese picture is complete without the artist’s signature in Chinese characters, and a carefully positioned monogram stamp.
As if this wasn’t sufficient, Maggie finished the session with two additional pictures, an owl by moonlight, followed by a "ten minute" cheetah. All three pictures are shown below, together with other examples of Maggie’s work. Once again, we used a video camera to project the demonstration onto a large screen, so that the audience had a clear view of the artwork as it progressed. Maggie is the second tutor we have had this year who run workshops at Ardington School of Crafts. If you do not know this venue, it is a great place to visit, with a wide variety of excellent tutors. For more information on their courses, go to: www.ardingtonschool.com .
This was a delightful and informative demonstration, and we are very grateful to Maggie Cross for agreeing to travel a considerable distance to be with us in Fairford. Anyone wishing to contact Maggie, they can do so by email at email@example.com
Working Evening, 3rd October 2019
REALISM USING COLOURED PENCILS
Our Working Evening on the 3rd October was for most of us something rather different. Local artist Laura Wright introduced us to her technique of realism using coloured pencil work. She explained and demonstrated the various tools of her trade (types of paper, coloured pencils, and light box) which enable her to produce incredibly detailed portraits of dogs, birds, insects and various animals. Our members were then able to try out the various materials. The meeting was well attended, and was followed by a lively discussion of the technique. If you like detail, and have bucket loads of patience, this might be the technique for you?
DEMONSTRATION, 5th September 2019
STILL LIFE IN PASTEL:
The illusion of Three Dimensional Forms
The September demonstration featured Clive Eastland who shared his unusual way of using pastel with the group. He works by putting the chalk pastel onto his hand and brushing the pigment onto the paper surface to build up the colour of his still life images. Clive, a self taught artist, runs workshops at Ardington School of Crafts, near Wantage.
The evening also saw the use of a new piece of equipment, a video camera which will allow the audience to see what the demonstrator is doing on the large screen.
The committee hopes that members will find this equipment adds to their enjoyment of meetings
There was a good attendance at this years meeting and the Chairman reported on a good year. The new venue for the exhibition was discussed and generally approved of by the meeting. Points about the difficulties of the setting up of the show, movement of heavy screens for example, and how this might be addressed were discussed. The treasurer reported on the state of the society's funds which are in a good state. Suggestions of how money built up might be spent for the benefit of the society were debated including the purchase of equipment to allow demonstrations to be filmed and shown on a large screen.
There followed a social evening with drinks and nibbles and a competition for the most popular painting won jointly by John Hewett and Sallie Seymour and an art related quizzes won by Liz Harding and Wendy Challoner.
Outdoor Painting Sessions