Clay Modelling With The Medics

I want to say a big thank you to The Medical Arts Society and in particular my friend and neighbour, the sculptor Sally Joyston-Bechal, for inviting me to join their group for a weekend clay modelling from life.

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As an artist and painter, I am used to creating the illusion of depth and space in two dimensions but this is the first time that I have worked three dimensionally. The course was held at The institute of Fine Arts in East Finchley and included the model’s fee, superb tuition and the cost of firing.

Our goddess of a model was reclining on a mattress with her back supported by an old chest and cushions. I found the structure of this back support as interesting as the model herself. The contrast between the box shape, soft cushions and rounded flesh made fluid shapes and the basis to create a strong composition.

What I enjoyed most was the feeling of clay beneath my fingers, the molding, pushing, slapping and scraping. It somehow felt primeval – as if I was joining my ancient ancestors, creating the most fundamental art in the most human way.

I went along with the aim to produce a contemporary work – with influences from Henry Moore and Lynne Chadwick – but when I was actually there in the studio, I felt that I shouldn’t run before I walk – especially when I’ve not really walked yet. What i did discover was that my interest was drawn to the structure of the model’s support as much as the model herself, with the planes making up the whole. Of course two days is such a short time to complete a model. I felt as this stage was the start and would have welcomed far more time to finesse, simplify and lighten.

The experience taught me to look in a different way and should I be fortunate enough to be invited back to clay model with the medics, I will start to explore angles, planes and curves.

If you would like to look at my two dimensional paintings, you can see my work at ionastern.com/portfolio

 Ready for firing

Ready for firing

 
Nicky Campbell
You May Need Sight To See But An Artist Must Have Vision To Paint.

Surprisingly there are a number of artist’s who have lost their sight. The most famous of these is Claude Monet, who would in this day and age be classified as blind, or if not blind, certainly partially sighted. It’s common knowledge that he painted his vast water lily paintings when his sight had all but gone.

As an old art college friend, (Chris Burke, the illustrator and satirical cartoonist) said to me,  “Monet’s paintings got better the worse his eyes got.”

Then there are other artists whose sight has cruelly diminished…
The contemporary artist, Sargy Mann, lost his sight. Now completely blind, he still produces wonderfully artistic works. He achieves this with ingenuity, determination and the help of his artist wife. If you’re interested in seeing more of Sargy Mann’s work and reading about how he works, see his page at Cadogan Contemporary.

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Well what about my story?
Twelve years ago I was a successful advertising creative director, running my own marketing and design business in the heart of London’s West End theatre land, with offices opposite the Ivy restaurant.
I was also then, as I am now, passionate about art and painted and drew at every opportunity..

Then out of the blue, I started to trip up street kurbs and found myself walking into chairs at pavement cafes. At the same time, my night vision just went.

As I’d always had 20/20 vision, I hadn’t had an eye-test for years. “Maybe I need some glasses?” I thought.  So off I trotted to the optician on Longacre, looking forward to choosing some funky frames. He looked into the back of my eyes, patted me on the head then said, “I think you need to see a specialist.”

I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa.
This would be a shock for anyone, but as an artist and designer, it was a real blow.

As my sight worsened, so did my ability to get about, to walk unaided and to attend meetings. I could no longer art direct photography or go anywhere unless softly lit. But the worst aspect was trying to appear fine. How could I let anyone know how bad my vision had become? My job and the company depended on me carrying on as normal.
Eventually I realised that I couldn’t keep up the pretence any longer and so I started to work less days until I left altogether. What has sustained me is art. And I have found that as a painter, diminishing sight increases the urgency to ‘put down my vision’ on canvas.

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Remarkably there are some artistic advantages to having reduced vision: I don’t have to screw up my eyes to focus on shape and form rather than detail. The detail just isn’t there anymore.  I’m only too aware of contrast, light and shade. No one needs to point out tone to me. What’s dark is seriously dark. What’s light can be almost unbearably bright. It can make for exciting work.

You may need sight to see – an artist needs passion, determination and above all vision to paint. See my paintings at ionastern.com

 
Nicky Campbell
London Art Exhibition

Iona Stern. London Art Exhibition. 20.01.2014

An exhibition of Iona Stern’s most recent contemporary landscapes and artworks.
Save the Date.
20- 26th January 2014
54 The Gallery, Shepherds Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QD

 Olhao Old Town. Painting by Iona Stern

Olhao Old Town. Painting by Iona Stern

Nicky Campbell
Painting Landscapes – Looking For Pattern

Whilst painting with Tony Rothon, one of the most helpful pieces of advice that he passed on was to ‘look for the pattern’. These simple words, delivered in his quiet and considered manner, has since given me much food for thought.

When in Olhao, southern Portugal and working on a large canvas, Tony suggested that I look at the work of ‘Patrick Heron’ – especially his late garden paintings. Formerly a textile designer and writer on art, he developed an abstract style using unusual colours and intricate patterns.

 Waiting for the approaching tide. Painting by Iona Stern

Waiting for the approaching tide. Painting by Iona Stern

The late garden paintings were painted at his home, Eagle’s Nest, an imposing stone house perched on a cliff near St Ives. Staying recently with friends in Cornwall, en route to St Ives, we drove past this windswept house and garden. Having seen the house and its setting suddenly made perfect sense of the wonderful Patrick Heron paintings and prints that we saw later that day at the Westcott’s Gallery, St Ives.

 'Red Garden Painting' Patrick Heron

'Red Garden Painting' Patrick Heron

Another artist I’m excited about is from the Scottish school, Christine Woodside.

In the Cotsworlds, the John Davies Gallery, is soon to be holding an exhibition of her work. From pouring over the beautifully printed catologue featuring her recent paintings from Scotland and Spain, it appears that pattern is very much part of her landscapes and still life.

This is what was said by Robim Wilson about Christine’s last exhibition:

“Venetian exteriors have been painted many times but Christine has a fresh eye. Her buildings are sharp, fractured hallucinations. The pattern of their arches,roofs,doorways and shutters is melodic. The painting is assured, rythmic and generous. She has observed meticulously the foundations of the old city walls and then waved a magic wand.”

 Landscape painting by Christine-Woodside

Landscape painting by Christine-Woodside

I can’t wait to see the paintings and hope to cover Christine Woodside’s exhibition at the John Davies Gallery, Moreton-in-Marsh. 12/11/2001 – 03/12/2011

To see more of my paintings or to contact me, visit my website at:http://ionastern.com

 
Nicky Campbell