Friday, October 9, 2009

Made in the Central Library (Part 2)

Max Hale painted two portraits over the week-end (see previous post). On the first day, while he was painting, Benoit Philippe did a quick oil study to capture the artist in action.

The painter - oil painting study by Benoit Philippe

On the second day, Benoit started a landscape painting from photograph. The final painting is displayed below.

Last summer walk - oil on canvas (20" x 16") by Benoit Philippe

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Made in the Central Library

Max Hale in front of his paintings

During the Swindon Open Studios 2009 week-end, Max Hale set-up his easel in the Central Library exhibition space and did two portraits of his wife Jan.

The first one was in acrylic and, on the second day, Max worked in watercolour.

Jan's portrait - Acrylic on panel by Max Hale

Jan's portrait - Watercolour by Max Hale

Max Hale is a professional painter and tutor. You can find out more about his work and his workshops on his website:

Derek Gale Swindon Open Studios

As part as Swindon Open Studios, Derek exhibited at Pat Elmore’s sculpture garden at Nutford Lodge in Longcot (Sat Nav postcode SN7 7TW).

Derek produced some new abstract Fine Art images using the “Bokeh” technique and selected about 50 of his favourites. He exhibited some large (over 1 metre wide) images from the “Invisible Beauty” series. Derek pointed out: “This type of printing really suits these abstract images. They are lightweight, durable, and even waterproof, which means you can hang them almost anywhere.”

Invisible Beauty 48 by Derek Gale

Derek commented on his blog: “The weather was great on the Saturday, and it looked more like the Med than Oxfordshire!” While going around Pat’s garden, Derek took some stunning photographs that you can see in his blog article “Making an exhibition of myself ".

During the week-end, he had lots of interest in his Fine Art abstract images printed on aluminium.

One of Derek’s photographs is still exhibited in The Arts Centre, Devizes Road, Swindon until the end of October.

You can read Derek’s own account of the Swindon Open Studios in two articles he published on his blog:

If you want to learn more about Derek Gale, you can read his interview previously published on this blog.

Make sure you also visit Derek Gale's blog
and his Website.

Framework exhibition - Vikki Loeber and Karen Miller

Vikki Loeber and Karen Miller exhibited at Framework during the Swindon Open Studios 2009. The photographs below will give you an idea of their superb display, in case you did not get a chance to go visit their exhibition.

Swindon Viewpoint films the Swindon Open Studios 2009

Ana Kelly and Martin Parry from Swindon Viewpoint came along to make films about the Swindon Open Studios 2009. You can see the result on the Swindon Viewpoint web site.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hodson’s artists eventful Swindon Open Studios

Mollie Gratland textile artworks

West View, Hodson, Swindon SN4 0QG (Venue 20 in the Brochure) was hosting the exhibition for five artists:

  • Mollie Gratland – Textiles

  • Christine Ratcliffe – Clay

  • Melinda Smith – Mixed Media

  • Marjorie Snell – Clay

  • Nicola Weir-Blankenstein – mixed media, mainly ceramics

Works by Christine Ratcliffe and Nicola Weir-Blankenstein

Hodson is a very nice village, close to Swindon, with many thatch roof cottages. The venue was close to The Calley Arms pub, a good address to stop for lunch.

Works in clay by Marjorie Snell

Swindon Viewpoint came to film the event

Visitors came all week-end and litres of tea were served.

Everyone enjoyed the art and the venue received some unexpected visits: The Red Arrows crossed the sky at one point, Swindon Viewpoint came to film the event and Tony Hiller, Swindon Community Poet, paid tribute to the artists by writing and declaiming a poem for the occasion.

Tony Hillier , Swindon Community Poet

Hodson's Choice

Loved the garaged gazebos
avec le first aid dowling
sans dowling
sans roof
sans sun gazebo

Loved most of all
B&Q overflow pipe
avec elbow
silk painted Tibetan Peace Flag
whose artist abandoned
Wednesday's Nationalistic football fervour

Loved them all
Hodson's, is my Choice

Tony Hillier, Swindon Community Poet enjoys his visits to Swindon’s Artists Open Studios 12 Sept 2009

Tony commented, when answering our request to publish his poem: “I would add that Swindon Open Studios is now on my list of Swindon's Hidden Treasures (alongside TWIGS, Lower Shaw Farm, Lanterns on the Lake, International Food Fayre, Coate Arboretum , Richard Jefferies Museum) and others - all gems that should not be hidden to Swindon residents.”

The last words go to Mollie Gratland who commented: “We all had a lovely time and everyone sold some works. Thanks a million for all your hard work in organising the event.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

Swindon Open Studios - Still a chance to see some artworks

Open Studios 2009 Swindon at the Swindon Arts Centre

Swindon Arts Centre showcases examples of the work of each artist who took part in Swindon Open Studios 2009. The exhibition will last until 30 October. Entry is free.

Swindon Art Centre
6 Devizes Rd
Swindon, SN1 4BJ

Belgravia Lettings

Belgravia Lettings, sponsor of the Swindon Open Studios 2009, is hosting an exhibition of paintings by Ken White for one month.

Belgravia Lettings
69 Commercial Road,
SwindonSN1 5NX

Artsite - Post Modern

Artsite is an artists’ lead gallery with artist studio spaces located at Post Modern (the former Town Centre post office in Theatre Square).

Artists having their studio include Paul Exton, Paula Sullivan, Martin King, Maria Holohan, Sue Wigmore, Vicki Silver, Sally Taylor, Lynette Thomas, Tracey Baker and Bill Cox Stewart.

You can see their works in the gallery.

For more information and check when the gallery is open, visit the Artsite website.

Post Modern
Theatre Square,
SN1 1QN Swindon

Thursday, September 17, 2009

They talk about Swindon Open Studios - Part 3

Swindon Advertiser newspaper published on Wednesday 16 September 2009 an article title "Artists throw open doors"

Swindon Advertiser article - page 1

Swindon Advertiser article - page 2

In the article, Phyllidia Richards, senior supervisor at TWIGS (that provides space where people with mental illness can use their creativity) tells how their participation was enjoyable and important: "Not only does the exhibition help lift the stigma surrounding mental illness but it also helps our clients take important steps forward in their lives."

The article also mentioned that during Swindon Open Studios 2009, the Central Library where 8 artists were exhibiting had its highest number of visitors for a Sunday since it opened... A very concrete sign of the success of the event.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Steve Dixon's Exhibition

In case you did not get a chance to go around and see Steve Dixon's exhibition of photographs and paintings, here are a couple of photographs... until you can see his works in next year Swindon Open Studios.

Monday, September 14, 2009

They talk about SOS - Part 2

Katherine Tyrrell, artist and author of the blog “making a Mark”, in her post titled 13th September 2009 - Who's made a mark this week? invited her readers to visit the Swindon Open Studios. Katherine has a huge following which is justified by the high quality of the content of her blog. This is a definite resource for artists and art lovers alike.

Visit Making a Mark

Maggie Harris invited people to visit the Swindon Open Studios on her blog Stitching with Schnauzer and Siamese. Maggie works with mixed media images, enjoys digital and traditional media that and uses both in her work. She commented about her visit to SOS 2009: “Had an interesting afternoon in Town today, which is quite an unusual event these days.”

Visit Stitching with Schnauzer and Siamese

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 1 of the Swindon Open Studios 2009 at the Central Library

The first day of the Swindon Open Studios 2009 went well at the Swindon Central Library. A steady flow of visitors came to meet the artists during the whole day, enjoying seing paintings done on site (Max Hale painting a portrait and Benoit Philippe painting him painting his model).

Max Hale painting a portrait

Plenty of talks between the artists and the public. There was even some art sold during the day.

Barbara Mason and Jane Milner-Barry

Barbara Mason and her display of handmade glass beads

Jane Milner-Barry's paintings

David H Jones and some of his paintings

Benoit Philippe in front of his paintings

Margaret Sadler discussing her work with Mike Pringle, Director of the Swindon Cultural Partnership

Terry Humphries (on the right) in front of his impressive cityscape paintings

Rachel Marwick's display

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet the organisers of the Swindon Open Studios 2009

Putting together an event like an open studios takes time and efforts, which is not something you realise until you become part of the organising team.

Swindon Open Studios 2009 is almost there, on the 12th and 13th of September. Its preparation started almost one year ago.

From left to right: Mike Pringle, Bea Menier, Linda Kasmaty and Benoit Philippe

Mike Pringle is the Director of the Swindon Cultural Partnership. He is an artist and a published illustrator.

Bea Menier is one of the artists taking part into this year's open studios. You can learn more about Bea by reading her interview.

Linda Kasmaty is an art enthusiast. She has been helping organising previous Swindon Open Studios.

Benoit Philippe is an artist taking part in this year Swindon Open Studios. You can see Benoit's paintings on his website and on his blog, My French Easel.

Swindon Open Studios launch party

The launch party for the Swindon Open Studios 2009 was this evening at the Swindon Art Centre.

Each artist showcases one of her or his works at the Art Centre and the exhibition will stay up for two months.

Many people came to the opening, including the Mayor who talked to many artists...

And there was already some pieces of art sold!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

They talk about the Swindon Open Studios 2009

In case you missed it, LINK Magazine published an article titled “Swindon Open Studios 2009 put Swindon on the Arts map” announcing the coming Open Studios week-end.

Sharon Rich also wrote an article which has been published in Farington Folly.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

An interview with Benoit Philippe

Q – Could you introduce yourself briefly to the readers?

I am French and I moved from Paris to Swindon with my family more than ten years ago. I paint in oil, watercolour and pastel. I am also one of the organisers of the Swindon Open Studios 2009.

The harvest is done - oil painting (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

Q - How did you become interested in art?

Art runs in the family. My grand father and father were painting as well as my brothers and sisters. It was natural for me to start drawing and painting and I could try my hand on oil painting early, as I had all the material readily available. I started oil painting at the age of twelve. Two years later, I participated in my first group show and carried on ever since.

Q - What inspires you most as an artist?

I am inspired by light and colour. What I try to do when I paint is to “draw with light”. I like to take an ordinary scene and show that it is something interesting and beautiful. When you live in one place for a long time, you stop looking at your surrounding and you forget to see the beautiful simplicity of the world around. I want people to see my paintings and rediscover their world.

Summer walk - pastel (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

Q - What is your favourite medium or media? Why?

I paint with oil, watercolour and pastels, depending on the subject and the type of effect I want to achieve. Oil painting is quite forgiving and offers great textures and effects. Watercolour allows both rapid execution and a wide range of techniques, from spontaneous flows and merger of colours wet on wet to tightly controlled strokes.

Cardiff art gallery - Pastel (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

I also like pastels to because this medium bridges the transparency of watercolour and the brightness of oil. The dry pigments offer infinite variations of texture and shades and are perfectly suited to depict light effects. Pastels are just a feast for colourists.

Q - Could you tell us some more about your work?

For the moment, I paint landscapes and still life. With oil painting, I combine studio work and sessions outside. Plein-air painting allows me to capture the sense of space, light and to feel the mood of a place. Scenes come to life with instinctive brush strokes during an intense session of a few hours. The work is then brought into the studio where colours are modelled and glazes enhance the first impression captured outside. I also combine studio and outdoor work with watercolour.

Morning break - Oil on panel (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

Q - How would you define your style?

My painting is figurative and influenced by colourist and impressionist artists. I have however developed a personal style over the years and I cannot imagine better compliment than hearing someone telling me: “I saw the new paintings in the gallery; I immediately knew they were yours.”

Q - What are your influences; artists from the past or present who inspire you?

I have been influenced by several artists, in particular French artists or artists well-known in France. This is probably due to the numerous hours I spent in art museums in Paris, studying paintings by impressionist painters like Monet, Sisley or Pissarro. But I could add to these artists Turner, Henri Moore, René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti and living artists like David Curtis or Ken Howard. I try to remain open to all forms of art and I am always curious to discover what past and present artists have produced.

On the beach at De Hann - oil on canvas board (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

Q - How do you choose the subjects of your works?

I keep an eye open. More precisely, I keep a painter’s eye open and I can visualize how a scene could translate in oil, watercolour or pastel. You need to keep a fresh eye. One place which has no interest in summer can become staggering during winter… Sometime, your best landscape is in your back.

Heavy snow - Oil painting (18 x 14") by Benoit Philippe

Q- How do you prepare yourself for an exhibition or a show like the Open Studios?

The first point is to have sufficient number of works framed and ready. As I have put together a number of exhibitions, I have a good number of paintings. The other point would be to start early on the promotion. In this case, I am behind because I am one of the organisers of the Swindon Open Studios 2009 and I have been working of the promotion of the event, rather than on my own promotion.

Chrysanthemums and apples - oil on canvas (46 cm X 38 cm) by Benoit Philippe

Q- Did you take part in the Swindon Open Studios in the past? What did it bring to you?

This is my first open studio. I will participate in a wonderful space in the Swindon central library. As we will be eight artists exhibiting there, it should be good fun. I also plan to paint over the week-end so that visitors can see the painting in progress.

Q - Are there territories (media, subjects, etc.) you want to explore in the coming years?

I would like to do more figure paintings. I would also like to work on a really large format.

Q - As an artist, what would be your dream?

Having my own permanent studio would be a plus. For the moment, I have to set-up each time I want to paint and this is less time to paint.

Dig this! - Oil on canvas (40 x 40 cm) by Benoit Philippe

Q - Could you share one thing that you have learnt in your own art practice that would be useful to other artists?

Work from nature: do some plein-air painting or set-up a still life in your studio. I work also from photographs, but I learn a lot each time I paint from nature. Invest in a pochade box that allows you to do small paintings in one hour or so and therefore paint on a regular basis, everyday if possible.

Visit Benoit’s website and make sure you also visit his blog My French Easel, where you can read articles on painting techniques, art history, art museum and exhibitions… and much, much more.