Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci & Raphael about 1500 – High Renaissance art at The National Gallery

‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’ Michelangelo

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Three names that, after 500 years, need little introduction to a modern audience. These paragons of the Italian Renaissance are generally credited as figureheads of High Renaissance art, imbuing their works with a psychological astuteness and dynamism, which visually embodied the prevalent resurgent interest in classical ideals after a period of cultural stagnation.

The National Gallery’s recent exhibition, ‘Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael about 1500’ aimed to explore an artistic dialogue that was initially friendly and respectful, but became at times contentious, due to the competitive nature of commissions available in Rome. The exhibition gathered together eight works by the three artists, showcasing how they learnt from, and sometimes ‘borrowed,’ from one another.

Acutely aware of one another’s presence in the social arena, each artist sought to be distinctive in his vision and execution:

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), often described as the ultimate Renaissance Man, achieved mastery in many fields of study, combining both science and art in his craftsmanship. His initial desire was to work as an inventor of military weapons for the Duke of Milan, but was instead commissioned as the official painter for the court and subsequent wealthy patrons. He amassed hundreds of drawings of his ideas, leaving him with little time to paint. As a consequence, we have been left with a few examples of his paintings, most notably ‘The Virgin of the Rocks,’ depicting the Immaculate Conception, and Mona Lisa.

‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ (about 1491) by Leonardo da Vinci:

Michelangelo Buonarrotti (1475–1564) was by his own admission, a sculptor first; he expressed the human figure in marble, reimagining its form in all its powerful and physical dynamism. All his projects were vast and ambitious, placing the human body as central to emotional expression.

Raffaello Santi, or Raphael (1483–1520) embodied the classical ideals of harmony and beauty in both his paintings and even temperament. He drew his own study of Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo and was initially influenced by Leonardo, yet imbued the face of the Madonna with his own preference for serenity and clarity and was a far more prodigious painter than Leonardo.

The Ansidei Madonna (1505), by Raphael:

The focus of the exhibition was Michelangelo’s ‘The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John,’ also known as the ‘Taddei Tondo’ (1504-5), on loan from the Royal Academy and the only marble sculpture by Michelangelo in the UK.

The psychological immediacy of the sculpture opposed the otherworldly virtues of Leonardo’s painting ‘The Virgin of the Rocks.’ Whereas revelation and relational humanity seems to be Michelangelo’s concern, Leonardo’s appears to be divine worship and reverence, aspiring to the ideals of beauty, similar to the harmonious aspirations of Raphael.

As Matthias Wivel, the National Gallery’s Curator of 16th-century Italian Paintings says: “The ‘Taddei Tondo’ provides a key to understanding Michelangelo’s evolution as an artist, following but also rejecting Leonardo’s example, as well as for the young Raphael’s development of a more expressive, dynamic style in synthesis with what he was simultaneously learning from Leonardo.”

The paintings and drawings on display in total, were: ‘The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels (‘The Manchester Madonna’) and The Entombment. Leonardo was represented by The Virgin with the Infant Saint John the Baptist adoring the Christ Child accompanied by an Angel (‘The Virgin of the Rocks’) and The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist (‘The Burlington House Cartoon’). There were three works by Raphael on display – The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Nicholas of Bari (‘The Ansidei Madonna’), Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and The Madonna of the Pinks (‘La Madonna dei Garofani’).’

This is my sepia pencil study of Michelangelo’s marble depiction of the Christ Child, Jesus; his face, almost cherub-like, emanates innocence and purity.

Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were men of their time, yet their vision transcended their history and influenced generations of painters, sculptors and art collectors to come.

Once in a Blue Moon – The Super Blue Blood Moon, January 31, 2018

‘When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him?
Psalm 8: 3-5

January 31st 2018 is set to host a rare sight; that of the Super Blue Blood Moon.

For the first time since 1866, there will be a confluence of three astronomical phenomena: A Supermoon, a Blue Moon and a Blood Moon.

A Blue Moon is the second full moon in a full month calendar, however the moon does not, unfortunately, appear blue. The tantalisingly fleeting nature of a Blue Moon has given rise to the phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon.’ However it is not as rare as is popularly believed  as it tends to appear once every 2 1/2 years, the last one appearing in July 2015. We will also be treated to another glimpse of it on March 31st, 2018.

The term ‘Supermoon’ is a relatively recent word coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and sometimes referred to with some chagrin by astronomers (as astrology is not regarded as a scientific field), who officially describe the phenomena as perigean full moons or perigean new moons (perigee means ‘near Earth’). These ‘larger-than-life’ full moons seem to have been a relatively ubiquitous sight of late, with three sightings in 2017 and one already in January. The moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth means its distance from our planet varies at different points, referred to as the apogee and perigee. Apogee is when the moon is around 30,000 miles or 50,000km farther from the earth than the perigee (also known as ‘proxigee’), when the moon is at its closest proximity to the earth. It is at the perigee point that the moon appears 30% larger and 14% brighter than a typical full moon.

A Blood Moon, or total lunar eclipse, appears when the earth lines up with the sun and its shadow cast on the moon appears red due to the earth’s atmosphere. The UK won’t experience the lunar eclipse as it begins at 10:51am GMT, so unfortunately we will not see the red/orange hue. The full effect of the Blood Moon will only be visible on Earth’s night side and to those in western North America, across the Pacific to eastern Asia. The Super Blue Moon however will make its rare appearance to a UK audience and will be a remarkable sight. Weather permitting, we should have a good view of it at dusk when the moon is lower on the horizon, or at midnight when the moon is at its highest point in the sky. According to Dr Gregory Brown, from the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the best time to view the Super Blue Moon will be at 12.40am on Thursday 1st February.

This oil painting sketch is an attempt at capturing the evanescent and confounding aspects of nature and humanity’s attempts to explain phenomena that are at times inherently unexplainable. I have tried to combine various elements of our current understanding of the moon and in doing so to bring it, hypothetically, down to earth. Here the moon has landed on a distant shore of earth, casting its illuminated light onto the sand with waves lapping around it. The moon’s gravity pulls at our planet and determines the tides but its transformation into a supermoon has real intensified physical effects  on high and low tides. This is a simple study of a not so distant future painting and series of space inspired artwork..


A documentary by BBC One at 9pm on 31st January will delve in more detail into the monthly lifecycle of the moon as it waxes and wanes.

Weather permitting, it will be hard to miss such a rare spectacle by our only natural satellite, particularly when the night is alight by a giant spotlight (apologies for the unintentional rhyming). So don’t forget to look up and enjoy the view, it promises to be a wonder to behold to those who, like myself, are captivated and inspired by nature and the workings of a divine hand. The next spectacular series of Supermoons will return in 2019!

O Christmas Tree – A Scots Pine Winter Wonderland

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!
(From the carol, ‘O Christmas Tree,’ Author unknown)

The annual tradition of putting up a evergreen fir tree in the house, richly adorned with festive decorations, baubles and lights, can be dated back hundreds of years. Although some would argue that the modern Christmas Tree began in the nineteenth century, the first person known to have brought a tree into the home was 16th century German preacher, Martin Luther.

Legend has it that one night he was walking in a forest when he looked up to see the stars shining through the branches. The sight was so beautiful that he told his children it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. There are other legends and stories of the origins of the Christmas Tree, including St Boniface of Crediton (Devon, England), who saved a young boy’s life from pagan tribes in Germany by cutting down the oak tree where the sacrifice would take place. A young fir tree grew in the roots, which St Boniface took to be a sign of the Christian faith. Another heartwarming story tells of a poor little boy who appeared on the doorstep of a forrester’s home, whose family welcomed him in, clothed, fed and sheltered him. The next morning they were awoken by a choir of angels and the little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. To show His gratitude for their hospitality and kindness, Jesus broke off a branch from a fir tree and gave it to the family. All these stories and more can be read here.

My experience with the Christmas Tree can probably be shared by many others and wouldn’t seem too unusual an encounter, each year myself and my family would source a real evergreen fir tree from a local garden centre. It has always been a fun festive occasion, with the excitement of finding our favourite tree and of course decorating it with lights and all the beautiful decorations that myself and my family have acquired over the years.

However this year, we decided to take a break from this tradition and instead harvested our very own Scots Pine tree from the Surrey Hills. I only recently discovered that The National Trust have an incredible initiative at Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punchbowl, where you can find and cut down your own tree to take home. All you need is your own saw and a pair of tough gloves. Open only for a few hours over two weekends, it was very popular with families, with excited children (and big kids like myself) hunting for the prettiest tree to take home. The trees have been growing naturally in the woodland and in abundance;  we found ours after half an hour of searching in the frosty winter wonderland for our perfect tree, a beautiful 9ft blue-green Scots Pine.

This is my watercolour illustration inspired by the beautiful surroundings:

The only truly native pine in the UK, the evergreen Scots Pine thrives in heathland and is widely planted for timber. However it can also be found growing in abundance in the Caledonian forest in the Scottish Highlands. It can grow to 35 metres and live for 700 years.

Hindhead Commons and The Devil’s Punch Bowl is worth the visit if you happen to be in the area. According to legend, the devil lived nearby and would torment Thor, the god of Thunder, who lived in Thursely, by leaping from hill to hill. Thor would strike the devil with thunder and lightning and once the devil retaliated by scooping up the earth and throwing it at Thor, leaving a depression now known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The National Trust café also provides some delicious food, the curried Leek and Sweet Potato soup with Mackerel topping was very welcome in the wintry weather.

Although the Christmas Tree has both pagan and Christian origins, Christians like myself see the tree as a symbol of the everlasting life with God. The famous carol, ‘O Christmas Tree’ immortalized the fir’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.

Here are the last few verses from the much loved carol to put you in the Christmas mood…

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can’st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There’s only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! !

Spotted at Fetcham Park House – The World of Interiors magazine and Louis Laguerre murals

‘On painted ceilings you devoutly stare,
Where sprawl the saints of Verrio or Laguerre.’
Alexander Pope

I have the privilege of living within walking distance of a beautiful 17th century mansion Fetcham Park House in Surrey, England. A Grade II listed building in the Queen Anne baroque style with Flemish bond and red brick, the ornate gardens and elegant interiors have remained largely unchanged since the 1700s. The mansion was commissioned in 1697 by Henry Vincent, who appointed architect William Talman, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren and in the service of King William III at Hampton Court, to design the building in 1705.

       Murals by renowned French artist, Louis Laguerre, adorn the ceiling in the Shell Room and the Main Staircase, depicting Greek mythological scenes.

Born in Versaille’s courts to his Catalan father, Laguerre was trained under Charles Le Brun, later becoming a pupil of Antonio Verrio. He assisted Verrio with paintings at Windsor Castle and Blenheim Palace, before embarking on his own illustrious career in 1687. Aside from Fetcham Park House, Laguerre’s murals can also be seen adorning the walls of Marlborough House, Chatsworth, Petworth and Blenheim, mainly depicting English victories against King Louis XIV.

There are five wall and ceiling murals painted in oil and plaster, and seven decorative panels painted in oil on wood by Laguerre.

The gardens are another delight at Fetcham Park House, having been designed by George London. They are incredibly romantic at night, with lights illuminating the fountains like the Trevi Fountain in the film, La Dolce Vita.

For the past two years, I have attended the Carol Service adjacent to the Mansion at St Mary’s Church, another historic gem built in the medieval era and the oldest building in Fetcham parish. The Carol Service also functions as a fundraising event for charity Transform, which helps vulnerable people out of homelessness and provides them with shelter and support. There is an opportunity to give a donation and afterwards congregate in the Mansion for mince pies, canapes and mulled wine, as well as the rare experience of enjoying the opulent interiors, luxurious gold panelling and paintings on display.


Throughout it’s history, Fetcham Park House has been a multi functional building, first as a home, then a school and now offices, but hardly opens to the public. However Parallel Venues launched it as a stunning wedding venue in 2011, available for ceremonies on most weekends and public holidays.

I’ve been wanting to find a reason to write about the mansion and it’s beautiful interiors, and as destiny would have it, my sister spotted the October issue of the World of Interiors magazine by the staircase, the very edition in which my Autumn Colour painting features!

 

The combination of carols by candlelight, the Christmas message, charity fundraising and a 17th century setting makes the Transform Carol Service a lovely start to the festive season.

It’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas!

Spectrum Miami – 6-10 December

I’m thrilled to be exhibiting my oil paintings and drawings at Spectrum Miami, Florida, from 6-10 December 2017.

Coinciding with one of the world’s most influential art fairs, Art Basel, Spectrum Miami is a juried, contemporary art experience emerging from the heart of the Arts and Entertainment District in Miami. It is an annual convergence of creative energy, where emerging and established artists and galleries have been specially selected to showcase their artistic vision and talent.

For five days, Miami’s burgeoning cultural centre will feature an exciting array of unique art events, including Art Labs, Meet the Artist sessions, Artist Talks, music and entertainment. Thousands of visitors from around the world will descend upon the Arts district this week, including art collectors, museum directors, curators and art dealers.

Unfortunately I cannot be there in person, but my artwork will be represented by Art UPClose, an art agency based in New York.

View the event location here.

This oil painting may not be one of Miami’s beaches, but I wanted to enjoy some tropical sunshine nonetheless. If you manage to visit Spectrum Miami and Art Basel, I wish you a fantastic time of art discovery!

Journeying into Narnia and The Surrey Artists online shop

“Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.”
CS Lewis, ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’

Representing my art online often feels like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, a digital world where I am suddenly (or gradually) presented with exciting new experiences and opportunities both nationally and internationally, that might not have been as readily available offline. The ability to travel cyberly and meet new connections (and keep in touch with current connections), has made the internet a pleasant asset to my art business.

The quote from CS Lewis is particularly apt, as I recently had a meeting with the Surrey Artists Network at the historic pub, The Old House in Dorking, Surrey, with parts of the building dating back to the 14th Century. The meeting was held in a secret room, hidden away at the back of the pub and only accessible through a walk in wardrobe. My first impression on opening the door on the other side of the wardrobe was like entering an 18th Century time capsule. I was immediately transported into another era, with leather seats, exposed beams, brickwork chandeliers, a roaring log fire, old paintings, bookshelves lining the walls, and an old piano. My inner interior designer/architect/historian/musician/bibliophile/antique collector couldn’t quite control itself and I just fell in love with the secret room instantly. I don’t think it’s hard to see why.

The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss the online shop which I am about to mention, but the network organisers always seem to find hidden gems tucked away in Surrey for our meetings, so I wanted to include it here, particularly with the Narnia/internet theme.

On 20th November I began an online Open Studios art shop with Surrey Artists, of which I am a member, and incredibly, received my first orders within two days. I have decided to feature greeting cards, with eight card designs in a mix and match format, suitable for any occasion throughout the year. Alongside the cards, I have included a small framed original oil painting and several open and limited edition prints that are currently only being displayed in galleries. Sharing about my commissions online in the past few weeks has also resulted in several enquiries from new clients, requesting bespoke commissions in the New Year. An etsy shop is also in it’s inception, and will be featuring (at the moment), greeting cards and prints. A lot can happen in a few weeks!

There is a seasonal Christmas discount of 30% on all my limited edition small prints, and free UK postage for all medium size prints. Both offers are available until mid January.

Most originals, aside from the one on the Surrey Artists shop, will be able to buy from me directly or through galleries or agencies representing me. You can view more of my work and upcoming exhibitions at www.charlotteigguldenart.co.uk

I am now taking commissions for 2018, please send any enquiries to info@charlotteigguldenart.co.uk.

I would always encourage other artists to focus on their artwork creation offline first and building contacts, then simply continuing it online and not giving up, especially if they are not very technically/social media inclined. Perseverence, faithfulness in doing what you love, and hope, has it’s rewards.

Remembrance Sunday and Armistice – War and Peace

‘At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.’
Extract taken from ‘This Day In History’

The National Service of Remembrance, held today at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, will unite the nation in remembrance of all who have suffered or lost their lives in war. It is the closest Sunday to Armistice Day on 11 November and marks the end of the First World War in 1918. The Queen will be present, alongside other members of the Royal family, veterans, representatives of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets and Merchant Air and Navy, as well as faith communities, politicians and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.

This year also plays host to the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, the 100th birthday of forces sweetheart, Dame Vera Lynne, and the centenary of the Battle of Passchendale in 1917. I was fortunate to witness a musical tribute and canon salute in commemoration of the battle of Passchendale at Blenheim Palace’s Battle of the Proms in July, where Master Gunner John Slough fired the canon in honour of his grandfather, Albert, who was killed in action at Passchendaele.

 

‘Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
Extract from ‘For the fallen,’ by Robert Laurence Binyon

As Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday approaches each year, scarlet poppies begin to make their appearance, but their origins are often forgotten. It was in the opening lines of the poem ‘In Flanders  Field,’ written during the First World War in May 1915, that Major John McCrae noticed the poppies flowering over the graves of fallen soldiers. His poem later inspired American teacher Moina Belle Michael and Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guerin to encourage people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war and had sacrificed their lives for their country and families. The Royal British Legion have since adopted the flower as the symbol of their ‘Poppy Appeal,’ supporting those serving in the British Armed Forces. The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance pays tribute to all who have lost their lives in conflict and their loved ones, or have suffered mental or physical injuries, with thousands of poppy petals tumbling down onto the audience and Her Majesty the Queen.
The tomb of the Unknown Warrior was housed in the nave of Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920 simultaneously with a French soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, and is the most distinguished tomb amidst kings and queens, representing every unidentified fallen warrior. Since Lady Elizabeth Bowes (married to the Duke of York, later King George VI) laid her wedding bouquet on the tomb in 1923 as a mark of respect, many royal brides have continued this tradition. The tomb’s cover is laid with a slab of black Belgian marble and enrobed by scarlet poppies, with verses inscribed onto it’s surface. One such New Testament verse, from  John 15:13, simply says ‘Greater love hath no man than this.’

With these powerful associations surrounding the poppy, I thought it was particularly poignant to find several naturally growing amidst a lavender field. These few poppies made a bright contrast to the delicate surrounding lavender, a flower that is most commonly associated with love, devotion, purity and calm.

This is my resulting oil painting and tribute to those affected by war, ‘Poppy amongst lavender.’

Art & commercialism: dispelling the myth of the ‘starving artist’

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” John Wooden

Under normal circumstances, I would now be writing a mini report on my first Parallax art fair at Chelsea Town Hall and how much I enjoyed meeting the public and fellow artists. However, whilst at the fair I was confronted with the statement ‘an artist cannot make a living on his/her art’, which I felt compelled to address.

The statement came from a fellow artist (a retired gentleman who was also exhibiting) and I was stunned that he held this opinion, especially as I have been surrounded and encouraged by artists who make a very good living. It is also incredibly easy to find many successful artists simply by doing a google search. I myself sold my first original oil painting at the age of 15 to one of my teachers, and at the time I remember being delighted and surprised that someone liked my art enough to want to buy it. I mentioned this and he seemed surprised that his worldview was not wholly representative.

To be honest, I enjoy the challenge of breaking those perceptions and walls that enclose people’s minds to possibility. When I first sold a painting, I was a very academically minded student, who loved her studies and kept her passion for dance,  sport and art in her spare time. I had an almost insatiable desire for knowledge and wanted to pursue a ‘sensible’ career.  I had many interests but felt my love for English was the surest way to a ‘stable’ job, either through becoming a cultural journalist or similar, as it would encompass my love for writing, travel, science, nature etc in one. I had also convinced myself (to the disappointment of my art teachers), that if I studied Fine Art at Uni, I would lose my freedom and style. I decided to continue painting ‘on the side’ and instead pursued academic excellence and scholarships, earning myself a place at Royal Holloway, University of London, studying English Literature.

I continued to enjoy regular paid art commissions for clients since that first sale, selling original work and having exhibitions, but I had apparently been indoctrinated somewhere it ‘was not possible’ to paint and make a living. I was guilty of building my own walls and this was exacerbated by the 18th century (perhaps symbolically archaic) phrase ‘I don’t want you to be a starving artist’ sometimes quoted over the years from a few well-meaning friends and relatives.

Thankfully, my ‘art-career’ worldview transformed when I met hypperrealist artist and royal portrait painter, Darren Baker, in early 2015. Some say that life is full of coincidences, random meetings, serendipity or fate. I am in the ‘fate’ camp, or rather ‘divine intervention,’ due to my Christian faith. Everything happens for a reason and so it is always good to be spontaneous. I had discovered Darren’s work online and admired one of his works in particular, an oil painting of a race horse. I signed up to his mailing list (essential to any artist!), and was soon invited to a private view held at his newly opened gallery, on the perhaps symbolically named Charlotte Street, in London’s Fitzrovia. Darren was present at the event and towards the end of the evening I gathered the courage to speak to him about his work.

I quickly realised Darren was far more interested in my own art and asked to see some examples. He really liked my work and, to my utter astonishment and delight, offered to show my paintings alongside his. Realising he was being serious, I agreed and soon began working on my first seascape series, ready for exhibition in September 2015. I had the privilege of being introduced to internationally renowned established artists from that point on; exhibiting alongside Darren Baker, Chinese artist/activist and Royal Academy exhibitor Ai Wei Wei and microartist Graham Short. I have kept in contact with Graham since our group exhibition and am currently working on a portrait of him (soon to be revealed!). I then met Burmese artist Min Wae Aung at a private view in London in 2016 and have kept in contact, with an open invitation to exhibit either solo or in a group.

These artists (who happen to be male, although I have never seen this as a significant factor) played a huge role in encouraging me in my painting. They were already successful and could easily advise others. I was also not intimidated by their success, nor insecure in my own abilities. Since then I have discovered many artists online whom I admire and who enjoy success, painting because they love it and the earnings follow: these include Ran Ortner, Joel Rea and Andrew Tischler. They have become my gauge as to what is possible in this field, so I remain persevering and adamant in my work. The key is to surround yourself with positive, successful (this comes in many forms), secure people, those who will most importantly pull you up, not bring you down. Always be confident in your own work, be ready to learn, and to look at the successes of others as something to celebrate and encourage you, not to make you insecure. My own security lies in my faith and my family and friends, not my ability, material success or worldly validation.

Indeed, I have the absolute honour and privilege of being part of an incredibly supportive and loving family, who have given me amazing life lessons. Due to my parents’ jobs in luxury architecture and interior design, my sister and I were introduced from an early age to very ‘materially’ successful individuals and companies. Our parents taught us to remain humble no matter our success, to identify with those who have ‘material success’ and those who have little, and to stay close to family and friends. I have learnt how to be with people from different social stratospheres and hopefully can help enable conversations between both. I believe that anyone who has the right attitude is worth admiring. There is no point gaining the world, yet losing your soul.

After I left my marketing role three years ago to first take a ‘leap of faith’ into the art industry, I was quickly tempted by a large investment firm asking me to work for them for a very attractive salary (potentially earning up to six figures in just three years). The material rewards and financial ‘security’ were promising. However, on asking them how long I would have to focus on my art, they said I would probably need to forsake it as I wouldn’t realistically have time. The job offer still stands but I have not taken it. I have been converted from an academically minded person to a full believer that I can earn a living from my art, without losing my soul to materialism and commerce or myself becoming a product.

I did not study fine art, but I have heard that at Universities, it is not always encouraged to be ‘commercial’ or in other words, to sell your art. This is detrimental to artists; as Parallax have pointed out, artists have always been capable of earning. Historically, they earned on a commission basis (as I mostly did early on) and followed what the public wanted, which gave them ‘financial’ security.

For those concerned, being a successful artist has never been limited to men. There are many successful living female artists such as Marina Abramovic, Zaria Forman, Bridget Riley and Vija Celmins to name a few. Mary Beale was the first commercially successful female artist  – there was a fascinating BBC 4 documentary recently on her ‘lost masterpieces,’ presented by art historian Dr Brendor Grosvenor and social historian Emma Dabiri. Some may argue that Mary’s gender disadvantaged her, being always compared to Peter Lely. However I am of the firm belief that she was successful in spite of such social ‘obstacles,’ indeed she was commercially successful which is incredible for the 1600s.

Both men and women have encouraged me to pursue art full time, although of course I have encountered insecure male and female artists who have become seemingly embittered and jealous of successful artists, perhaps as a result of not receiving encouragement/opportunities themselves and instead settling with unfulfilling jobs, or ones that are viewed by the world as ‘conventional.’ Many artists have had different careers before pursuing art full time later in life, but I know I would regret waiting.

I am a ‘glass half full’ person- the way you perceive a situation is usually dependent on your personality and experiences. Positivity (no matter the circumstances) conquers negativity every time – who can be creative or successful if they are negative? If you are not surrounded by positive, encouraging people, especially those closest to you, then seek them out. There lies the blessing of the internet – there are many ‘trolls’, but even more successful, generous hearted people who are excellent role models and do not care for the jealousy of others. A person’s opinion is always an extension of themselves – those who are embittered and jealous have most probably experienced negativity so be kind and encouraging at all times. Everybody needs it. If there was more love, kindness and encouragement in the world, a lot of its manmade problems wouldn’t exist, but that is for another blog and this one is already quite long.

I believe the view that it ‘isn’t possible to earn a living as an artist,’ is sadly shared by many artists who are simply not sure how to turn their painting into a business per se. The first and most important thing is to work hard, be honest and a team player. It says in the Bible that to refresh others is to refresh yourself. Be a blessing and be constructive, even if you disagree.

I am grateful to have always received admiration on my work by artists and non artists alike, however I have also at times felt a strange competitive and jealous spirit from both male and female artists in various exhibitions I have attended and exhibited at (not the ones I have mentioned of course!). Why? We are a community, we do the same discipline but in our own voice; we are not (hopefully) an echo of others. So how is there a comparison? There is a saying that there is a client for every piece of artwork, so artists should be less insecure or critical of others’ work.

John Wooden’s quote is pretty much my family’s mantra (thank you to Biljana , a lovely artist I met at Parallax, who retweeted it on Twitter the other day!). Let us deconstruct it, as I feel it is so timely and powerful

  1. ‘Talent is God-given. Be humble’ (as a person of faith, I agree with this), ‘gifts’ are often apparent early on in life and when nurtured properly, lead to success, hence protegees etc. People without a faith may not believe this, but a gift is certainly something that can be innate/possibly inherited at times, even a result of rare accidents which triggers something in the brain. Some artists are considered more gifted than others, but that is no reason to be proud.
  2. ‘Fame is manmade. Be grateful,’ as it could disappear the next day!
  3. ‘Conceit is self-given. Be careful.’ Many artists have succumbed to the temptation to self-glorify and have risked having their vanity remembered far more than any ‘talent.’ After meeting many artists over the last three years, I am not interested in conceited artists (or people for that matter), but those who are humble and have a healthy self-belief, no matter how talented or how successful they have become. Too many artists seem to be self-involved and competitive, veiling their insecurity in overcompensated arrogance.

Maybe this is my own artistic utopia that I am envisaging, but I want artists to be more generous and kind to others in their field and to know that to be humble is a very attractive thing to potential buyers and to the world in general. Art is a piece of your soul that you offer to the world on a sacrificial stone. It should be a process of love and an extension of your soul, and I hope it can be used more to give hope and joy to others. For someone who disliked social media with a passion and took years to even be persuaded to get a Facebook account, I know now how much art can inspire others and that encouragement is so needed both online and offline. I also want to assure other artists that they most certainly can make a very good living from doing what they love.

Environment Trust Secret Art Sale: 2017 Results

I’m delighted to share that the Environment Trust has held another fantastic Secret Art Sale. 234 artists anonymously donated a record making 375 A5 sized artworks to the sale; more than half were sold by lunchtime on the first day, with many visitors queuing for several hours before the doors opened.

Over £13,000 was made over two days on 21-22 September, which is a substantial increase from the first Secret Art Sale held by the Trust at the RACC last year. All proceeds benefit the charity’s work in local wildlife and environmental conservation across south west London, in particular supporting their work enabling wildlife corridors.

Results from last year are covered in my previous blog alongside a more in depth look at wildlife corridors and the themes covered in the Secret Art Sale so far.

I arrived at the event in Parkshot, Richmond, towards the end of the Private View on the first day and was thrilled to see that my own oil painting had already sold.

Donations were made by architects, artists, celebrities, students, jewelers and RA members. Wildlife photographer and the Trust’s patron, Gordon Buchanan donated an artwork, as well as another much admired patron, the Gruffalo artist, Axel Scheffler.

You can view all the revealed artists from the 2017 sale here, see if you can spot my contribution!

A close up of all the individual panels displaying the artworks are now available to view on Flikr.

I’m very pleased to have heard from the art collector who bought my painting and revealed they were excited to have it framed and displayed prominently in their home.

I look forward to donating another art work next year, I hope you can join us and support a great cause!

 

Parallax Art Fair: Chelsea Town Hall, Oct 21-22, 2017

I’m delighted to announce that I will be exhibiting several original oil paintings at the ’boutique-style’ Parallax Art Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall on 21-22 October. Held at the beautiful Grade II listed Town Hall on the fashionable King’s Road, the event will gather over 200 international emerging and established artists to display and present their unique works of art directly to the public.

Originating in 2010, the fair sought to accomplish a new art exhibition experience within a gallery-style setting. The October event will be my inaugural exhibition at this popular fair and I’m looking forward particularly to meeting other artists and discovering new paintings, sculptures, textiles and crafts, as well as meeting art collectors.

The surroundings are another, not insignificant, reason I decided to exhibit there. The Town Hall’s magnificent late Victorian architecture and interior decoration provides a spectacular backdrop, and the Main Hall (where the artist led fair is held each year), boasts glorious decorated ceilings and furnishings.

For travel information, please see the event site, here.

To attend the private view on 20 October, please RSVP by emailing me at info@charlotteigguldenart.co.uk

I look forward to seeing you there!

Ps. This pencil drawing is my slightly exaggerated and romanticised version of the building: the stairs are not in fact this high, nor are the plants tumbling down the building’s walls. Nevertheless I think they are attractive additions 🙂