Back Into My Chamber of Reflection

Today I finally managed to get back into my study for the first time properly in about three weeks due to one thing after another and circumstances beyond my control; anyway today was back to work and therefore it was set to be a good day.

I made myself a large coffee, sharpened up my sanguine pencil and started making marks on paper; a relief indeed after three weeks of frustration and eagerness to get stuff done. I didn’t create anything great, I just sketched a few figures and done some anatomical stuff; nothing went the way I wanted it to today but it still felt good to get back to it. In fact, it’s amazing how much one’s drawing can suffer after a while without doing it.

Moving on, I’m going to start a small project the content of which I’m not sure yet; this time I’m going to go for a drawing rather than a painting and whether it will be in graphite or ink yet I don’t know, that will depend on the subject matter and how I wish to portray it.

So for now, I’m going to think about what story I want to depict and then I’ll get some research done and get straight to it, by next week I will know what I’m doing and that will be the subject of next week’s post.

Well I look forward to posting again next week with a more informative post and not the ramblings of an artist who broke two pencils in one day…

JGlover

 

 

 

Inside my Sanctum of Study

“An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.” – Leonardo da Vinci.

For this week’s post I thought I’d do something a little different and show the place where the magic happens, my Sanctum of Study. All of my artwork is carried out in this room; formerly a spare bedroom containing a bed and pink walls. Once I started becoming serious about becoming an artist towards the end of 2013 I started making changes, got rid of the bed and put a small desk in there; a humble space where I spent a couple of hours a week drawing.

As I began to spend more time drawing and started painting, I realised that I needed the space to be more appropriate for what I wanted and then the work began. I painted the room, white walls rather than pink which is much more appropriate and I began collecting art materials which gradually built up over the course of time. I’ve also collected art prints and ornaments from Paris, Rome and various art galleries.  My wife then bought me a unit; purpose-built to house a computer but adapted to house my art materials and books. The great thing about this unit is that once everything is finished with and put in it’s place, I close the unit and the studio no longer looks like a bombsite.

Thus the spare bedroom became a Sanctum – A private retreat from which most people are excluded. 

Art-Studio-Study-Artist-Josh Glover

This picture shows the unit once closed and everything’s away where it lives. Cut off on the left are my two desks; I usually use these to draw and paint on as I need a higher chair to reach the desk inside the unit comfortably.

The drawing of the Arc de Triomphe is a print that I bought whilst in Paris, I find it really inspiring to surround myself in artwork and this is the perfect place to do so. Also on the side of the unit, although it may be too dark to make out properly, is a spray painting of the Colosseum that I bought from a street artist in Rome.

Art-Studio-Desk-Artist-Josh Glover

This view shows the desks better; excuse the paint marks all over the desk I was going to clean it again but I thought it may add to the atmosphere of this being an art studio. A fellow artist and friend of mine is a very hands on messy painter, a strong believer in a messy studio and would see my particular set up as unused, however I’m sure he’d be proud to see that I left the paint splatter on the desk for the photograph.

Also something to note, the window is North facing and I get good light in this room, something that is certainly taken for granted, had this spare room had a South facing window things would have been very different.

Art-Studio-Artist-Josh Glover

Here’s the workstation open, it holds all of my materials, sketchbooks, art books, canvases and more. I have also stuck up various art prints, photos, maps and a calendar. This is my box of inspiration and a gift from my wife that I’m eternally grateful for. Before having this unit I couldn’t have appreciated the value of such a thing, but since having it I couldn’t be without it; ease of access and tidiness is priceless when it comes to creating art for me; when inspiration hits, the last thing I want to do is spend two hours searching for that number 2 Filbert brush which “I know I left over there somewhere next to the thingy!”.

I should add that this room doesn’t look anything like this when I’m actually working, I have stuff all over the place; several palletes of paint, pencils, charcoal, water, coffee, energy drinks, paper scattered everywhere and paint all over the walls. This is just how the room looks between projects or works. Also if I’m in there reading, I don’t make much mess when I’m doing that.

Art-Books-Studio-Artist-Josh Glover

On the subject of reading, this is my collection of art books that I keep in the workstation, well most of them are art books some are more for reference or have artworks depicted in them. This collection started around January 2014 when a friendly lady at an evening art class gave me the Pre-Raphaelites book after a discussion about the types of artwork I like. I hadn’t heard of the Pre-Raphaelites back then and in the time since then it’s unbelievable to think how much I have learned, not just about that particular group of artists but the art world in general. I have the college course to thank for that, there’s been an awful lot of research to do over the last year and it’s taught me alot.

The Eminem book that is in there is actually not art related as such and is there because it doesn’t fit in my other book case which contains smaller books that are not art related. In fact, I have an obsession with buying new books and need to get a large book case soon, eventually purchasing a lease on a library at the rate I’m going.

Art-Books-Study-Artist-Josh Glover

This end of the room is a bit messier than the rest at the moment, it shows my other bookcase and various pieces of my artwork and an art print of the Mona Lisa and one of the Eiffel Tower.

Also on top of the bookcase is a replica statue of Michelangelo’s David and a brass Roman soldier. One problem that I have is that I’m a trinket collector, whenever I go somewhere I feel the need to bring a piece of it back with me, usually in the form of art prints or ornaments but it’s a habit that could easily run away with itself if I’m not careful. Still though, it’s probably more acceptable than having a studio full of dead animals and human skulls as I don’t think that would go down too well.

Anyway, that’s it, that’s an insight into my Sanctum of Study, a slight difference to the usual set ups most men like to have like a shed full of tools and a workbench or a garage with a pool table and a bar often referred to as ‘Man Caves’; this is my sanctuary and a place of learning, peacefulness and creativity.

Although slightly cluttered it provides the inspiration needed to carry out my work and never suffer from artist’s block, in fact I’m not at all sure what that feels like I think there’s too many creative options available for it to even be a recognised problem but that’s just my opinion.

As for the quote at the start of this post by Leonardo da Vinci, I find that I agree with it completely, having worked in large studio spaces it’s certainly easier to become distracted, discipline of the mind is vital in this trade and shouldn’t be underestimated.

JGlover

Featured Image: Gandalf searching the manuscripts of Minas Tirith searching for information about the One Ring – Screenshot from The Fellowship of the Ring directed by Peter Jackson based on the books by JRR Tolkien.

New Sketchbook Page

Drapery Study After Leonardo da Vinci - Biro on Paper
Drapery Study After Leonardo da Vinci – Biro on Paper

I’ve decided to add a sketchbook page to my site now as to avoid confusion between sketches and studies and my portfolio because before hand, all my work has been stored there. My portfolio will now only contain finished work that I’m happy to keep as a part of my portfolio and not every single work I do.

To begin with I’ve just added this old study I did of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s drapery studies, plenty more will be added as time goes by and I’ve got a few new sketches from my Lord of the Rings project to add on Wednesday.

Tristan and Yseult – A Legend of Celtic Origin – Art Project

So I had to come up with an idea for my next artwork project and with my goal of interpreting and bringing back to life British history, myths, legends and folklore, I have decided to work with a popular medieval romance tale that stems from Celtic legend; the story of ²Tristan and Yseult.

 There are numerous versions of this tale, but all of them contain prominent features and I will most probably play on the different aspects of each telling that appeal to me the most. As a base idea to work from I might even write up a short version of the story combining the various aspects and suiting to my own interpretation, thus making me able to create more works from this further down the line, that’s not presently set in stone though I’ll have to think about that¹.

With that in mind I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of the legend just yet although I have linked to the Britannica version of the tale.

As promised before, I will use the series of posts and updates on this project to show my preliminary studies, sketches and ideas, as well as a bit of prose or poetry that I intend to write for the particular scene that I will show in my finished painting. I have chosen the scene that I want to capture and have begun sketches, mainly to work out composition and background scenery, I’m also implementing a fair few symbolic features as well so I’ll have to hit the books and see what I come up with; some symbols I am certain of and relate to the story itself and therefore will definitely be added.

I’ll leave that there for now and my next post will contain my preparatory work that I’ve create up until that point, which will most probably be next Wednesday, when my posting schedule is due, this post is more of a taster for what’s to come and to give awareness of the project I am currently pursuing now that I’ve set my heart upon it.

¹More of a note to self than a definitive idea

²Link to the Britannica version of the legend Tristan and Yseult 

JG

British Mythology/Folklore – Art Project

I’ve structured my days now to help me with my efforts to self-teach different aspects of the art that I wish to learn; the aspects that I have decided to learn are anatomy, figure studies, drawing in many aspects such as observational, still life and drapery, perspective, architecture, and again human form. I also spend time trying different techniques with watercolour paints and I’m slowly experimenting with oil paint; which ultimately will be my medium of choice.

I also have more theoretical subjects to learn and my rotor for those at the moment consists of symbolism in art, colour theory and artist research. Those are the artsy theoretical readings, I’m also always researching history, reading about the ancient Romans in particular and I’m presently reading a book about King Charles I which I will review once finished; as well as Greek mythology, these last few are more for inspirational reasons.

However the reason for that two paragraphs of information is that every month I intend to issue myself a project to work on alongside these other subjects to keep me motivated in creating my own work rather than just all work and no play, I therefore intend to create at least one final work for each project I give myself. I’m thinking ahead a bit here as I don’t intend to issue myself this project until 5th July; that said though, I can here announce my umbrella theme which others will fall under.

My main theme, the subject of artwork that I intend to create for the foreseeable future is British myth, legend and folklore. As an enthusiastic reader of the work of J.R.R Tolkien, it’s my understanding that he created his body of literature around the basis of giving Britain a mythology of its own, one to rival the Greeks and even outdo them in the long run (let’s face it, we’ve all heard of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and Gollum; how many average people can name four Greek deities). This thought process inspired Tolkien to create the most incredibly well crafted epic fantasy saga that was bursting at the seams with richness and remains the most influential piece of literature of the modern age (that’s my opinion I’m not certain how it stands nowadays with Game of Thrones growing as much as it has). I am of a similar vision, but what I intend to do is bring to life and recreate the existing British mythology and interpret it into a series of visual narratives, both figurative and landscape and breathe new life into our forgotten history.

There is already a wealth of subject matter available to me to work with, more than enough to ensure I’m kept busy for the rest of my life in fact, and who knows, one day I may even start writing my own mythologies and legends of British history, but that’s an idea for a time in the far off future yet. My main inspiration for British myth/legend/folklore/history is the Arthurian legend. Some historians say he lived, others say he didn’t, most scholars deny his existence because of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fabrications. I stand in an area where I do believe he existed, just that the story of his existence has been contorted somewhat over the centuries since his age, akin to Chinese whispers these legends grow and have bits added and taken away to the current point where some people are expecting Arthur’s second coming; elevating this long dead king to the status of the son of God. The most convincing and realistic telling of the Arthurian legend, albeit a work of historical fiction, was the brilliant saga of books written by Jack Whyte A Dream of Eagles (original series title in Canada) or Camulod Chronicles (USA series title) or Legends of Camelot (UK series title). Without going into too much detail about this incredible series of books on this post, here’s the link to a short review I wrote about them previously.

With Arthurian legend being my main source of inspiration however, I don’t intend to just limit myself to being known as a painter of Arthurian legend, like I said I want to revive as much of British mythology as I can so I’ll also be focusing on other areas as well, it’s just the that Arthur story is the one I am most drawn to.

All that said then, my next post will probably be before my scheduled post, and will be to announce the exact nature of the project I intend to create. I will post everything related to my project including sketches, research, thoughts and such and then follow all that up with the final piece that I create. So if you have happened to stumble across this post, then please check back every fortnight or so to see updates and some new artwork.

Until next time…..

JG

Featured Image: Edward Burne-Jones – The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon – 1881-1898

Coffee Comes to Europe, 1615

Coffee Comes to Europe, 1615 - Coffee on Canvas Board - 16" x 20"
Coffee Comes to Europe, 1615 – Coffee on Canvas Board – 16″ x 20″

By the 17th Century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming increasingly popular across the whole continent. The opposition were overly cautious, calling this new beverage from the Arab lands the “bitter invention of Satan”. With the arrival of coffee to Venice in 1615, the local clergy immediately condemned it; causing a controversy so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. The Pope decided to try the beverage before making his decision and he found the drink so satisfying that he gave it Papal approval.

In relation to my identity and following the theme “Who are you?”,  I wanted to create a piece of work that not only told a story, but also related and described my own personality through symbolism, thus creating an artwork with two meanings.

The painting that I created is a narrative piece and was painted entirely using coffee as my medium. It depicts when coffee first came to Europe, arriving in Venice in 1615 aboard a merchant ship, awaited and opposed by the clergy. This entire piece is full of symbolism pertaining to who I am and my identity, so I’ll have to break it down into further parts.

Coffee as a medium Every single morning of my life is centred around one very important, and never-changing ritual, coffee. It begins every single morning of my life and continues on into the day. That being the case, plus with the exhibition being set up on a table in the college Atrium Café, it made sense to me to use coffee as my medium to paint with. In my research of coffee I delved into the history and discovered plenty of opportunities to create a narrative painting, which is my favourite form of art, art that tells a story.

Venice I decided to base my narrative in Venice as this is where coffee came into Europe and the story behind it really appealed to me to create a narrative scene of. Also, I have a very deep fondness of Italy and it is intrinsic to a lot of what I do, to the point that my love of Italy is almost an obsession, this made my choice of story to tell very easy and enjoyable at the same time. My scene is based at Riva Degli Schiavoni, with the isle of San Maggiore faded in the distance across the entrance to Venice’s Grand Canal.

The Clergy – The clergy, depicted standing on a small jetty, in opposition of the merchant ship bringing coffee to port, are symbolic of the opposition I feel I face with artwork, whether real or imagined it seems that in the Contemporary art industry, traditional painting and values are frowned upon and neglected, whilst Conceptual art, Installation and challenging conventions is what is the art that wins awards and sells.

Whilst the clergy show how close I feel to opposition, the distant view of the church San Giorgio di Maggiore shows how far I feel from salvation, not in a religious sense but a metaphorical one, in the industry I’m entering.

Myself – I depicted myself literally into this painting as well; situated to the right of the narrative scene I am sitting in a small boat, sketching the scene before me into a book. This shows my personality, my introversion, close by and very aware of the events unfolding around me and sketching what I see; at the same time situated solitarily, alone but comfortable to be so, concentrating on what I’m seeing and analysing it onto the paper.

This is the first piece of work that I have created entirely how I want to and have been able to project a narrative through which not only tells a story, but describes aspects of myself within it.

This work was exhibited at the Atrium Café for the day in my first real exhibition and the feedback that I received was incredible, very encouraging comments were made and a lot of interest was shown in both the work itself and the meanings behind it.

JG

Change of Direction – New Paths

So many people in this world are scared of change, whether big or little; I see it as an opportunity to adapt, start anew and build up an empire, alas, don’t ever fear change but on the contrary, embrace it. – J Glover

I recently made a decision that was found to be shocking by the people around me, my friends and even my wife, who knows me better than anyone. That decision was that after 2 years of working hard in education in order to go to uni, I will no longer be going. This decision wasn’t an off the cuff spur of the moment change of heart about my future caused by being unsure of what I want from life; my end game is the same, my objective clear and concise, a set destination of immovable strength; it’s just the road that I’m taking to get there that is different.

This was incited by troubles in getting the funding that I needed, a lot of hassle and stress that isn’t needed at the best of times, but this minor tribulation set off a whirlwind of thoughts and deep contemplation, tropical brainstorms and meditating until my pulse stopped, weighing up and reasoning on every aspect of my decision to go to university and the course that was available to me.

I had chosen to take a Fine Art BA (Hons) Degree; now when I initially pictured Fine Art, I had a beautifully romanticized vision of a modern Verrocchio’s workshop. Tutors that would teach me to draw and paint like the masters of the Renaissance, Sculpt like Michelangelo and provide plenty of hours worth of figure studies each and every week. Research on different narratives, mythologies and a study of philosophy. Obviously my definition of Fine Art is very outdated and too far gone to even be sniffed at in a modern Fine Art degree. A Fine Art Atelier would probably be better suited to my needs, but due to lack of funding available for such a course and locality this isn’t an option either.

Instead of what I envisioned, the course has dropped figure studies from its curriculum and the rest is more Contemporary than I would like to be involved in, Conceptual art, challenging conventions and Installation work; whilst I have seen artworks from each category that I have liked, it’s not what I personally want to create or be a part of. From unmade beds to condensation cubes and glittered excrement I found myself questioning if it really was for me. The end result of my contemplation was that I don’t want to invest 3 years and so much debt into something that I’m not 100% dedicated to. I’m not suggesting that the course is worthless or that I wouldn’t have learned anything because that would be a ridiculous idea, it’s just not going to teach me what I want to learn and will involve me spending too much time away from what I do want to do and my personal studies.

My next step now is to self educate, with the power of books and the internet on top of spending every day in practical work I will learn to draw and paint in the way I want to, whether frowned upon or not to prefer the traditional methods, that is what I’m going to do, staying true to myself rather than going to university on a whim for the experience or conforming to the Contemporary art industry. It’s funny really that they spend so much time trying to find new ways to “challenge convention” that they’ve lost their way, it’s turned now to the point that I’m challenging convention more by wanting to draw and paint in the traditional manners and techniques.

Also underlying all of this is the fact that I would love to work as a concept artist, for film,TV or computer games and although a lot of this work would be done digitally through software such as Photoshop, it still offers opportunity to be traditional in the sense of creating a narrative using paint, drawing and sketching, research and practice; these are the things that appeal to me more than anything. The thing that would get me a job in the field of Conceptual Design will be my portfolio based around that area, not a degree and a portfolio full of glittered turds and “this is art because I say it is” pieces.

Time is a very important factor as well, by not attending university five days a week, I have the time to go to London regularly to visit galleries, places of interest, museums and draw inspiration from them; I’ll also be able to make more trips to my home away from home that is Italy. Trips to other places of interest and long walks through natural landscapes, sketching and painting as I go will also now be a part of my itinerary. In addition to these things, I’ll have more time to build up my blog and remain consistent with posts, not having to neglect neither this or my artwork due to having to write essays or dissertations and not running on fumes every day. My creativity will be nurtured and in full bloom due to my decision and inspiration comes from within as much as from without, if not more so.

I may have rambled a fair amount through this post but the point of me posting it is to show that change is not something to avoid, change of mind is not a sign of failure or fear to commit, it is something to embrace and use to your advantage wherever possible. We are human, adapting to new situations is part of our being and a skill that comes naturally, never having to be learned as long as you don’t fear to utilize it.

JG