Saturday, 15 November 2014

To the Portrait Gallery

Yesterday was one of those occasions when your directionally dyslexic author does battle with the vagaries of public transport and fights her way to London.

A bit of research on portraits was needed. I thought I'd share some images with you interspersed with other postings in the next few weeks.  Left: Apparently Her Maj was expecting me and very touchingly thought to send out the army to do a 21 gun salute.  How kind.  I don't quite know how to tell her really, but her chaps were awful shots.  3 great cannons at almost point blank range and not one single shot hit home on the buildings opposite- not even a window was broken.  Apparently it was also Charles' birthday, so she's asked that we pretend this was all for him - he'll only sulk otherwise.

The poppies are being removed from the Tower - a huge job.  Between 9 and 15 million people were killed in the 1st World War, and of course this display doesn't cover all of them, just the deaths in the British forces. Spectacular to look at en masse, but I didn't need to see how many 888,246 dead bodies were in poppy equivalents, I can imagine that all by myself without too much problem. DH wasn't overly impessed but as an art installation I thought it was striking and glorious!
one for every death in the British forces in the First World War. - See more at:

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies fill the Tower’s famous moat.

 So to portraits at the Portrait Gallery:

Left is Arthur Scargill with a suitably red palette.  I was looking at technique/brush work on my visit and this is the first one that struck me. Not only the colour but the energy of the brush work fills the painting with movement and fire.

A complete contrast to this one of Diana.  Calm, pretty colours, elegant.

Chris Ofili - one of Britains leading artists.  .  It's a self portrait when Ofili was a student in 1991 and is oil on canvas (although his work often contains collage, resin, glitter and multiple layers of paint)

Another painting with bags of energy.
Self portrait by RB Kitaj called Hockney Pillow.

The artist is in bed. He has darkened features and reddened eyes which gives an intense emotional charge..........  could be he had man-flu?!!

All of the portraits are likenesses of course but they are conveying something else too about the sitter and their character or where they are in life.  I really need to try and be more expressive in my brush work.  We are what we are and it comes out in the way we paint, but it's always worth a try or you'll never know!

Finally can I leave you with my favourite paintings in the whole world - at the moment anyway.  Such wonderful colours. I'm sure you can guess that it's by Vincent Van Gogh.  We were listening to a free concert (piano and violin) in the National Gallery and were sat staring at his work. Truly moving.


  1. Ha ha - tried to post a comment earlier, but think it got lost in the ether. Now, what was I going to say?? Oh yes!! When you were there did you see the Grayson Perry 'portraits' from his recent TV series? (I am a bit of a fan, I have to say, but my only Grayson Perry is a tea towel from the British Museum exhibition from a couple of years ago.

    1. Thank you for persisting. My own comments frequently get lost too...although I have found it's better if I sign in first and then post, but not a guarantee. V Annoying! The Grayson Perry bit was brill, and I've got some photos etc but am saving it all for the mags new year edition due out in Feb. I'm a bit of a fan too. The exhibition is on until March.