Amazing Scenes at Curtis Tappenden’s Circus Demo

Curtis Tappenden was our guest artist for the demonstration on June 28th. Or maybe that should be artiste?

Curtis started by explaining his lifelong addiction to the circus, from the days when they would come to town , or the field near his home, where he could lie awake listening to all the sounds at night. I have similar memories of a steam fair, hooting across the fields!

Demonstration started early, with Curtis doing some magic tricks to warm us up, before he skimmed over his own career (art teacher, newspaper artist – I always wondered who did those court sketches), then got onto the main event.

circus demo

His history of the circus was fascinating – some things I was familiar with, but some not. The European basis which then travelled to the States and worldwide was fascinating. ‘Acceptability’ of various acts has changed, including the issue of danger – it was not uncommon for performers to fall to their deaths in earlier times. And of course, animal acts are now banned in the UK, although still allowed in the US, I believe.

The names of all the big UK circuses were linked not to traditional circus families, on the whole, but to entrepreneurs who loved the circus but loved business more. Gerry Cottle, Billy Smart… all those guys worked out how to make the circus zing in the modern era of sponsorship and television.

Curtis Tappenden showed us not only the life in the ring, but the life outside it, and entertained us with many anecdotes, especially of mishaps when he was sitting in the front row, furiously scribbling away to capture the images in front of him!

He later created two demonstrations of how he works, always at speed, and usually flat (which caused some difficulty for the demo, as he tried an upright approach). It was fascinating to see how some washes on the paper, seemingly at random, could be built into a performer in the spotlight, or the entrance to the Big Top being put up.

If you missed this, you missed a good one (they are all good, of course). At present I’m still hoping for photos.

But the good news is that Curtis will be doing a workshop for us in spring, based on printing techniques. Watch for details.

Don’t forget to get your submissions in for the Summer Exhibition, and your application for space at HOS23, both due by the end of tis month!

July at a glance

We’re flying through the year, halfway through already, and our Summer Exhibition is looming ever larger!

lindsey cole

Sat 8 July – Lindsey Cole, Summer Hedgerow Workshop

We start the month with a lovely workshop with New Forester Lindsey Cole. I love the idea of summer hedgerows, and wish I could have gone to this one! I’m sure it will be most enjoyable. 9.30 to 3.30 at the Church Hall.

Wed 12 July – Drop-in Session, Community Large Hall, Hursley Rd

Just £5 to cover hire of facilities, for a friendly morning with other creatives. Work on your own project in a relaxed atmosphere.

Soraya French

Wed 26 July – Soraya French, Mixed Media Demonstration

Soraya will be demonstration a Beach Scene in Mixed Media, from 7.30 to 9.30 at the Church. Her emphasis will be on acrylic inks. Full details here.

Summer Exhibition and HOS23

Watch out for submission information for the Summer Exhibition and instructions to book your place at the Hampshire Open Studios event.

Summer Exhibition submissions close on Sunday 30 July. Don’t be late!

Shades of Grey at Paul Berryman Workshop

by Bev Dunstan

The Art Group held the June workshop in the cool of the church hall today, 10th June. 

Paul Berryman drove down from Cambridgeshire and provided an entertaining Figures and Life Drawing in Charcoal Workshop presented in two parts. 

In the first part he taught the attendees some basic principles of life drawing, namely tips in observation; using the 8 key building blocks of the body form; drawing curves; using negative space and finding the active line in the pose. 

He followed up with how to create tone using charcoal and applying it to show light and shade before commencing part two with two hours of life drawing. 

Poses ran from 1 minute through to 25 minutes in length and everyone continued with the charcoal and applied the techniques learned earlier in the day.

The artists all finished with plenty of sketches and were totally exhausted! 

Pictures of Paradise?

Paradise is the Hillier Gardens and lovely summer weather.

And despite (or maybe because) the Committee’s preparation for bad weather for our plein air and cream tea event, all three of the dates turned out to be wholly suitable, and the latter two redundant. Yes, we turned out en masse for the Cream Tea event on May 20th, and had a great time!

It was also Gurkha Day, and the band turned out to play their way to the Gurkha Memorial. Great work from Ruth Ann Lewis to capture it.

If you couldn’t make it, why not pencil in your diary for the same weekend in May next year. That’ll guarantee rain!


PS: Don’t forget the Curtis Tappenden Circus Art Demonstration on Wednesday!

Ten weeks to the Summer Exhibition

Our Summer Exhibition will be in the Church Hall at the Dovetail Centre between 19 and 28 August (Bank Holiday Monday).

If you are exhibiting, you will need to get your submissions in, and your artwork ready according to the guidelines. But the committee have been busy with it for months.

The biggest activity has been the commitment to our own display stands. Roy and his team have been constructing, knotting (painting the knots with stain to stop them bleeding), and painting our new stands, which are kept in the storage space at the Dovetail Centre. And that had to be cleared out before we started!

We have a Sunday in July set aside for the last push on display stands, and apologies to the keen life artists that we had to steal the hall booking from them.

This is how the layout should look:

graphic of the layout for the exhibition

So, look out your best paintings, sculptures, needlework, tapestries, cards, browsers, and get them ready for submission.

And please advertise it to your friends, colleagues, neighbours, aunties, and anyone you think you can drag in off the street. The poster will be available soon.

Flaming June already?

June is here, and how long this lovely weather will continue is anyone’s guess. It’s a great opportunity to get out for some plein air painting, but don’t forget your waterbottle (for drinking!), hat and sunscreen!

Since we’ve already succeeded at having our cream tea event, the month starts with our workshop… although the postcard portraits are still on parade outside the Dovetail Cafe until Saturday 3rd.

Saturday 10th June – Paul Berryman

This ‘Figures and life Drawing in Charcoal‘ is a must for everyone who enjoyed Paul’s Zoom demonstration last winter. You may remember his approach to the ‘terminator’ – the line dividing strong light and darkness, where the contrast is greatest, then shading away from that.

For those that have been trying to apply this in their life drawing (or even when painting figures), this workshop is a must. At time of writing, there were one or two places available, so do sign up, via Roy Brophy or Bev Dunstan (members only). 9.30 to 3.30 in the Church Hall.

Drop-In session

Wednesday 14 June sees our midsummer drop-in session. This is probably the only event that continues month in, month out, so if you want to meet up regularly with some like-minded people and get on with your own project, this is the space for you. Members only, £5 per session, at the Community Large Hall on Hursley Road.

Sunday 18 June – Life session

This gives you a quick opportunity to put that learning from Paul Berryman into practice, but you can do any style you like. 2-4 in the Church Hall (members only).

This will be the last life session until September, due to the Summer Exhibition using the same venue.

Wednesday 28 June – Roll Up, Roll up for our Demonstration

We are delighted to welcome Curtis Tappenden to give our demonstration this month on Circus Art. 7.30 – 9.30 in the Methodist Church. I suspect he has many stories to tell about circus life!

If you enjoy this, watch out for details of the workshop that Curtis has kindly agreed to next year.

Getting loose with a knife – and some paint!

by Jacky Pett

Stephen Foster’s workshop on 13th May was his second this year, and presumably just as much enjoyed by us as it was for our predecessors!

This was entitled ‘Spontaneous palette knife landscape/seascape painting’ and Stephen gave short talk beforehand on methods and materials, showing examples of his work. Then he picked one to demonstrate the techniques of using a palette knife on a prepared board.

Looking from a distance, the way Stephen blurred and moved the paint around to create clouds and trees was amazing. It was even more amazing, as I saw later, his spiky trees emerging from the clump were really just rough squiggles in the paint when you looked closely. His clouds showed the scuff marks on the board, too, but from a distance, they looked fantastic.

Despite the word ‘spontaneous’ and Stephen’s advice that if we wanted a reference, to look at it once, then put it away, quite a few people carefully drew out their landscapes and proceeded to fill them in. Maybe they were being more spontaneous with their paintwork than usual. They were certainly more beautiful than mine, which I thought were a mess. But then this was my first workshop with the group, and the first time I’d used acrylic paint in nearly twenty years. Thank you to my table mates Bev and Valerie for making me feel at home, and also for helping me get the paint caps off!

Although we’d been around the room and admired each others work, we also got a critique at the end from Stephen, who went through each painting and made useful comments. I think they were useful learning points for us all, anyway. And I came away with plenty of ideas about painting with a palette knife that I hadn’t had before.

Thank you to Stephen, and to Bev for organising it. A good time was had by all, I think!

Postcard Portraits are up at the Dovetail Centre!

by Roy Brophy

The self-portrait postcards are now up in the Methodist Church Linkway – near the Dovetail Café entrance. We had just enough to fill the two boards perfectly – amazing!

What a mixed bag! We have some from artists who find portraiture easy, but it’s not simple to make a portrait – and some have been very inventive. We now know that Peter not only struggles with noses, but also with apples – or is it a plum, or a pepper or avocado? – who nose?!

I have to be honest about my offering – I cheated. Of course, I would claim that I just used the tools that were available to me at the time – isn’t that what Caravaggio did in the 16th century, and plenty of others since?!

Full marks to everyone who entered – thank you very much. It takes some courage to put your work out there! But you had a go, joined in and put forward your portrait. It’s actually not about the individual pieces, it’s the whole, and you are part of it – well done! As we were leaving this morning there were a group of people around the boards in animated conversation, pointing, laughing and thoroughly enjoying the work. It made all the effort worthwhile!

Do pop along to see the two boards of self portraits, and have coffee/tea in the Dovetail Café at the same time – best (and cheapest) place in Chandlers Ford – the teacakes and crumpets are excellent.

The Dovetail Café is open to all in the mornings – Monday to Friday 9:30am to 12 noon. Saturday 10am to 12 noon. Closed on Sunday – for the congregation to use.

The display will be there for two weeks. Let us know what you think.

Rags to Riches story of Joaquin Sorolla

by Jacky Pett

Following our AGM on 26th April, Dr Anne Anderson treated us to an exclusive tour of the life and works of Joaquin Sorolla.

Despite the name not ringing any bells for me, the pictures Anne sent in advance certainly did. It turned out there had been an exhibition at the National Gallery at which these beach scenes were featured. I must have seen them online…

Catalan’s own

Sorolla is Catalan, hence his name is not the Castillian spelling. He was born in Valencia in 1863, and was adopted after his parents succumbed to various ills. This was a stroke of luck, as he came to a family who recognised his drawing talent, and was admitted to Valencia’s Art Academy relatively early.

If you take a trip to Valencia you will find Sorolla everywhere – a whole walking tour of places related to him. But most of his painting took place on the beach, at Cabanyal. What started as a simple recording of honest fisherman at work (with oxen pulling the boats into and out of the water) developed into amazing studies of light on and through sails, and even in the shade of the backstreets where the women worked mending them.

He moved to Madrid, where he is exhibited in the Prado, but he also built a studio house there, for himself and his family, which has artworks displayed all over the walls.

His wife and daughter are featured in the painting of him painting them on the beach at Cabanyal. Huge canvases on a windswept beach. How did he keep the sand out of his oils? Or stop the canvas tipping over?

He died a rich man in 1923, thanks in part to making good in the American market, and is recognised as Spain’s most important artist of his time. That ‘of his time’ is a sop to Velasquez and El Greco!

I’d really love a trip to Valencia and Madrid to see more. Thank you to Anne for an excellent talk, and looking forward to more.

You can see more of Anne Anderson’s talks on her YouTube Channel (Anne Anderson Art and Design History), and via her website, which also gives details of tours she is leading.

anne anderson

May Delights

After last week’s packed AGM and the weekend’s Exhibition, we can go racing ahead with more summery events this month, weather permitting.

Regular events

As usual, the Drop-in Session is on the second Wednesday of the month at the Community Hall. (apologies for last month’s confusion).

The Workshop this month is a second chance for you to have a go at Stephen Foster’s Palette Knife landscape if you missed the first.

Life Drawing will be on the third Sunday, as usual. Please note some calendar clashes have been identified during the summer, and you will hear from the Treasurer if your booking is affected.

Fine weather on order

Let’s hope the weather is kind to us so we can go ahead with the first date for our Cream Tea day at the Hillier Gardens on Saturday 20th. Full details here.

Postcards on Parade

We’re expecting an avalanche of postcard portraits from all our members to adorn the linkway at the Dovetail for two weeks from the 22nd. Don’t be shy – look what the earlybirds have come up with…

I didn’t realise Alan Bennet and Ringo Starr were among our members, mind… More details here.

How can you resist our Demo?

This month’s demonstration in the Church is given by Alison Butler. She also earns the prize for the wittiest title of the year. How can I resist?! is a demonstration and discussion of the art of Batik. I can’t wait for 24th May!

Hope you can get along to at least some of these events.