Friday Inspiration: Norman Ackroyd

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It is surprising to me that in the UK there is a TV series that answers the question “What Do Artists Do All Day?“. Perhaps we really are living in the era of the creative as Chase Jarvis tells us. Having blown the best part of a day watching these videos my favorite had to be the one that shows printmaker Norman Ackroyd producing one of his large scale prints. In reading about David Hockney I was fascinated to learn more about the etching process to prepare prints and to see a master in action, in the videos below, adds another level of understanding. It’s amazing to me that such delicate watercolors can be produced by working on a copper plate with the added level of complexity that the work on the plate has to be done in reverse. Ackroyd has his reference image set up in a mirror to facilitate this seeing in reverse.

I was struck by the nature of Ackroyd’s project – to make images of the outlying islands of the British Isles – and that he tracks where he’s been using push pins on a map of the british isles. This of course has parallels with the Atlantic Basin project of Thomas Joshua Cooper. His work references watercolors that he’s made on location which is quite an undertaking in itself. A collection of his watercolor sketches from the Shetland islands is available and this work will be the subject of an exhibition later in 2014.

Check out a day in the life of Norman Ackroyd in the videos below.

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Friday Inspiration: Thomas Moran

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It’s always surprising to me how there is a common thread between the things that catch my attention. I’d been looking at the work of Turner in recent weeks and in the course of that exploration read of his influence on the Hudson River School painter Thomas Moran. I was recently fortunate enough to be in a position to have access to to a couple of great books, ‘Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains’ by Thurman Wilkins and the National Gallery of Art book ‘Thomas Moran’ and was able to spend some more time reading about the influence of Turner on Moran’s work. The Wilkins book is quite dense and was something of a labor to get through, even though I only had time to read the sections on the intersection of Moran and Turner’s work. Moran spent time in London studying the work of Turner, learning the fundamentals of Turner’s technique such that he was able to make high-quality copies of the masterworks. This exploration of the use of light and color that began with emulating the work of Turner remained with Moran even as he developed his own distinct style.

Moran is perhaps most famous for his paintings of the american west and particularly of Yellowstone which were instrumental in making the case for the creation of Yellowstone National Park. It wasn’t these images that caught my eye but rather the ones that represented Shoshone Falls. The Shoshone falls when Moran painted them were considered to be unexplored by painters, although long recognized to be second only to Niagara Falls in magnificence. The section on the falls in the National Gallery book is particularly interesting. I was surprised to read that the painting of the falls at the top of the page was the last of his large panoramic landscapes and remained unsold at his death. My interest in the Shosone falls was piqued because it was the subject of another one of my favorite photographers Thomas Joshua Cooper. I’ve mentioned Cooper on the blog previously in a couple of posts first here and then here. His interpretation of the Shoshone falls can be seen in his book Shoshone Falls. A book that I’m going to revisit soon.

Check out the discuss of Thomas Moran’s work in the video below:

Friday Inspiration: Thomas Joshua Cooper

The people that I feature in these Friday Inspiration posts are artists whose work I enjoy looking at and so it’s natural that I follow what they doing. I particularly enjoy Thomas Joshua Cooper’s seascapes and was quite pleased to find a longer video of him talking about his atlantic basin project. Check it out below:

While I was looking for videos of Cooper talking about his work I found another video, a conversation facilitated by Roger Wilson between Chris Wainwright & Thomas Joshua Cooper about their work, the journeys that they take and what it is to be an artist. Well worth a look.

Friday Inspiration: Thomas Joshua Cooper

I’m intrigued by Thomas Joshua Cooper’s work, made with a 100 year old field camera, particularly that which documents the atlantic basin. In this project Cooper is charting the extremities of the land and islands that surround the Atlantic Ocean. As I understand it each photograph begins as a location that he finds on a map, this is then further researched before the trip which because of the typically remote location often involves difficult journeys by air, sea and land. Once on site Cooper makes only one photograph, the product of a lot of gazing and waiting.

Some of this work is captured in his book ‘True‘ that I’m now waiting for to arrive.

Check out the video of Thomas Joshua Cooper below: