SGFA Annual Exhibition @ The Menier Gallery, London

Opening on Monday the 5th of October and running until the 17th the Annual Open Exhibition of the SGFA shows drawing in all its forms. I will be showing three pieces, “Golden Boy”, “The Red Tree” and “Autumn Leaves“.

"Rebecca and Violin", oil on canvas, 90x90cm, 2015.

Rebecca and a violin 

A square canvas and a brief to get two figures in… I chose a palette of Indian red, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, zinc white, black and Paynes grey to start thus piece. Later,  to push the redness of the red satin dress I added in a strong cadmium red. As a general rule I dislike painting redheads wearing red lipstick in red. It always strikes me as overkill, and it’s hard to focus on painting when faced with the Orange fighting against the blue-red dress. However, like so many thibgs in life it’s all right once you get stuck in….

Bermondsey Street Festival, Tanner & Co. Exhibition 

From the 16 – 30 September, as part of the Beemondsey Street Festival, Tanner & Co. will be displaying works by members of Southwark Studios. I’ve submitted the following three canvases:       For more information on Southwark Studios click here. For more information on events and exhibition at the Bermonsdey Steeet Festival click here.

"Lucy's Dream", oil on canvas, 76 x 122Cm, Charlie Kirkham 2014.

Lucy’s Dream 

The painting developed from a life drawing of Lucy, seen from above. The drawing was a good exercise in balancing on a box as well as drawing from a high view point. Something about the drawing reminded me of flying and so it seemed natural that Lucy developed wings in the pairing. Rather than being in the studio sun lounger she is transferred to a textured dreamy space. I limited the colours to reflect the initial drawings limited graphite colour shades, but I added in the bursts of bright yellow. The painting will be on display at Tanner & Co….

After Rembrandt “Portrait of Margareth de Geer”

The best time to visit the National Gallery is when it’s sunny as all the tourists stay outside! Bearing this in mind, I took my watercolour crayons along to room23 where Rembrandt’s double portraits of Margareth de Geer and Jacob Trip hang.  http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/rembrandt-portrait-of-margaretha-de-geer-wife-of-jacob-trip This portrait is imposing and captivating. It is thought that Jacob Trip’s portrait was posthumous, created from a selection of other portraits. This may explain the contrast between the two portraits.  De Geer is a presence we notice from across the room. A woman in mourning, determined and strong.  Drawing from Rembrandt is always a challenge and…

After Tintoretto: Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples. Sketchbook page, HB pencil on paper, Charlie Kirkham 2014.

After Tintoretto : Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples

Although badly worn and in part dubiously restored, this painting still has impact. Tintoretto was a very fast painter, favouring a dark ground. Sadly, many of his paintings are badly deteriorated. The picture above is much clearer than the painting itself. I enjoyed drawing from this because the composition is very complex. As you scan it more figures seem to appear out of the ether.

After Caravaggio: Salome Receives the Head of John the Baptist

Caravaggio was the master of dramatic chiaroscuro. This was hard to capture using my HB pencil! The intensity of the scene is compelling. What really attracted me was the post of Salome, the faux modesty and disdain over what she has done. For more on the painting click here. This piece influenced my painting “The Conversation“.

After Manet: Corner Cafe Concert

After Manet : Corner of a Cafe Concert

  Manet is all about black. I had to use colour to copy this painting as the harmonies are so beautiful. It’s hard work to concentrate in this area of the gallery as it is a constant mob of tourists, generally offering a little too much free advice. That said, I had great fun discovering the compositional quirks. This follows an earlier study I took at the Courtauld of Manet’s “Bar at the Folies-Bergere” with it’s strange half trapeze artist.

"After Garofalo: Allegory of Love", Charlie Kirkham, watercolour pencil on paper, 2015.

After Garofalo: An Allegory of Love

  The strange caped man in red swooping in, the lizard, the goat and the weirdly headed cupid all make this a great painting to draw from. That’s before we get onto the beautifully painted landscape on the left. This very strange painting follows a popular theme and shows us another Allegory of Love. Hosted by the National Gallery for more information on the painting click here.

"After Willem Kalf: Still Life with Drinking Horn", Charlie Kirkham, watercolour pencil on paper, 2015.

After Willem Kalf: Still Life with Drinking Horn

  There’s something that always appealed to me about lobsters. I’m not normally a big still life fan, but the iconic nature of Kalf’s lobster is captivating. As you can see from my page extension, I misjudged the height and needed to glue a bit more onto my sketchbook. Click on the image of the original painting to find out more about it. This piece has influenced my own work, I’m starting another large tree drawing, this time themed loosely on Saint Sebastian.

After Moroni “Portrait of a Gentleman”

The RA Moroni exhibition was an inspiration. London has the best collection of Moroni’s work outside of Italy, he was enormously popular with the Victorians. I’ve learnt so much from looking at his work. Here is my version of his “Portrait of a Gentleman”. I return to Moroni because his work is so compelling. It also a great exercise in tonality as the flesh isn’t the brightest, lightest part of the picture. For more about this portrait the National Gallery website has details.

El Greco “Agony in the Garden” version two. 

Working from a pair of paintings lends the copying experience an intensity. Like working from Veronese’s “Allegory of Love”  set, working from the El Greco pair means you can compare and reassess throughout. Drawing the second “Agony in the Garden” was easier in many ways. I had a clearer sense of the composition. This didn’t stop me wildly underestimating the width of the angel again though!   Fantastic experience of copying from one of the most idiosyncratic masters.

El Greco “Agony in the Garden”

When you find a new painting in the National Gallery it’s a good idea to sketch it fast! I was very excited to see that this El Greco version has been lent by a private collection and is hung next to the gallery’s own version of “The Agony in the Garden”.   El Greco is a complicated painter, taking Tintoretto’s school of composition and running with it. Always an exciting artist to copy.  If you’re near the National Gallery this week run in and see this painting before it returns to its collection. 

‘Minerva protects Pax from Mars (‘Peace and War’)’ after Rubens

  At the moment the RA is showing the blockbuster exhibition of Rubens and his influence. In light of this I thought a bit of drawing from Rubens was in order. Once again, while the RA is full to bursting the National Gallery’s collection of (free) Rubens paintings is rather quiet. Minerva Protects Pax From Mars is a stunning painting. Rubens is famous for the sensuality of his paintings. He captures flesh in such a powerful,believable way. When I was drawing this I was conscious of the weight of each of the figures. The arrangement is really complicated and working in monochrome…

Respect, after Veronese

For the first time in my lifetime the four paintings of Veronese’s Allegory of Love are being show together. Wow! Having driven myself slightly mad drawing from The Vision of Saint Helene I thought I would further the experience with Respect http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paolo-veronese-respect Strangely, working from this complex piece was delightful. The elusiveness of Veronese coupled with the believability get me every time. There’s also something about seeing the Allegory as a whole which makes it so much more than the sum of the parts.

After Veronese, The Vision of St Helene

At the moment room 9 of the National Gallery is even more of a treat than usual. With a host of Veronese pictures hung together, including the four ceiling paintings, it’s worth a lingering visit. Captured by Veronese’s use of anatomical exaggeration to lend theatre to his work, I began sketching “The Vision of Saint Helene”. It’s been a difficult learning curb. Helene’s tilted chin, so artfully painted by the master utterly confounded this student.

Wren in the Treemen’s Wood With Three Goldfish

The Wren started off as an idea in my sketchbook, as so many drawings do. It was an image that I liked but was unsure what to do with. Later, as I began the series exploring the imaginary woods of the Tree People, a people who are based on mythological tree spirits. For more myths about trees see http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Tr-Wa/Trees-in-Mythology.html Working in paintmarker and ink for the colours I wanted to fully integrate the pencil drawing into the work. Each branch of the trees and the shadows of the fish are creating using HB pencil. The leafless branches become a pattern…

ING Discerning Eye 2014

I’m delighted to have had three pieces accepted from the Open Submission for the 2014 ING Discerning Eye exhibition. The Discerning Eye annual exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Work is selected from open submission and from artists invited by the individual selectors. Each selector’s section is hung separately giving the impression of six small exhibitions within the whole. Running from the 13-23 November at the Mall Galleries, London. Here are my three pieces.

"Urban Forest", 23x24cm, Green Ink Aquatint on Fabriano Paper, limited print run. Charlie Kirkham 2014.

Urban Forest

I started this as a hard ground etching, it’s only a small 25x25cm plate (roofer’s zinc, 1mm). After running a proof of the etching I wanted to add in tonality. Aquatint is a great method for adding tone either in addition to or in place of etching’s cross hatched lines. Based on this sketchbook page: The colour is a mix of ivory black and viridian green intaglio inks, I used Fabriano paper as it’s a nice in between, the smooth effect of cartridge with more bite, but not as thick and absorbent as the Somerset papers. It is showing at…

Lucy’s Summer Hat

Inspired by the current Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern, the set up includes ferns cut out of cream paper on a turquoise background. Lucy’s hat matches them and her peach summer dress stands out wonderfully against the fabric. This is an oil on canvas, 38×42″. Displayed as part of the Heatherley School of Fine Art end of year show 2014.