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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Nicky Philipps: 1 minute without a paint brush.

One minute with Nicky Philipps has given us a lot to think about - a whole list of artists to read up on, a new genre of music to listen to, and an exciting young exhibition to put in the diary for June! 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, oil on canvas, 96" x 60", 2016

1.) Most influential artist on your work & why?
I’m afraid one is not an option, the list is constantly growing; Van Dyck, Velasquez, Sargent, Rembrandt, Lawrence, Manet, Monet, William Nicholson, Peploe. There is always something new to learn.

2.) Favourite medium & why?
Oil, there is such vast range of colours.
3.) Do you listen to music when you paint, if so what genre? 
Country and western. It’s "feel good" music, it even makes me feel good if a painting isn't quite working.

4.) When you’re not painting what do you most like doing?  
Anything to do with horses. Cook, play bridge or design things... And travel, except that this can sometimes count as work because I always take my sketch book.

5.) Favourite Art Collection?  
National Portrait Gallery, especially their early 20th century rooms.

6.) London’s best kept secret?  
Rossetti Studios. Although we’re planning an exhibition for young artists there this summer, so the secret may not be so well kept after that… Hopefully it will inspire the next generation though.

7.) Dream studio location? A barn in Chianti.

8.) What portrait are you working on at the moment?
A very funny lady from Dallas who loves Sargent and country music.

9.) Any (discreet) amusing anecdotes from a sitting?
 I wish I could remember them, but as most of my brain is focusing on painting the portrait only the most dramatic stories seem to register, and they will remain secret...

10.) Who would you like to paint next?  
My current sitter's husband/family. That will be proof that she likes her own portrait. Or Dame Edna Everage.

11.) Any tips for young portrait artists starting out? Learn to draw properly.

12.) Last meal you’d like to eat?
Mashed potato and lemon cheesecake. In that order. Both with cream.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Jamie Coreth: One minute without a paintbrush

      Our twelve big questions were put to Jamie Coreth this week.  Read below for some great tips on jazz in London, what goes into becoming a portrait painter, and why we may ban him from travelling to Scotland, he could decide never to return...

     Right, here we go....

1.)    Most influential artist on your work & why?  

Mark Coreth. Without meaning to sound too fuzzy, he's a constant source of motivation and enthusiasm for me, and helps to keep me focused on the important things. (Jamie's painting 'Dad Sculpting me' depicts his father, the sculptor Mark Coreth, sculpting him (image above). The painting won the Young Artist Award at the BP Portrait Awards 2016, National Portrait Gallery, London.)

2.)    Favourite medium & why? 

 Oil paint.... it is such a flexible medium. You can treat it like water colour if you want or build it up indefinitely...

3.)    Do you listen to music when you paint, if so what genre? 

Sometimes. And varied.... electropop through to classical. Bob Dylan, fleetwood mac, Leonard cohen all play music that is uplifting more than it is distracting.
 I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

4.)    When you’re not painting what do you most like doing?

      Looking at animals.... nice landscapes.... I like fishing, flying.... netflix, I guess, actually.

      5.)    Favourite Art Collection?   Prado 

6.)    London’s best kept secret?  606 club 

7.)    Dream studio location?   Western Highlands.

8.)    What are working on at the moment?  A couple of huge canvases. 

      9.)    Any (discreet) amusing anecdotes from a sitting? 

      I once jokingly told a portrait sitter to pop their clothes in the corner so we can get started...unamused response.

      10.)  Who would you like to paint next?

      Um... dream sitters must include Obama, Brian Blessed and Richard Leakey. 

11.) Any tips for portrait artists starting out?  
Work hard. 

      12.) Last meal you’d like to eat?   .... something seafoody. Maybe scallops.

 Thank you so much Jamie.
       Ur welcome.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Beyond Caravaggio, The National Gallery, London

On Wednesday 12th October, 'Beyond Caravaggio' will open at The National Gallery. This is the first exhibition of its kind, celebrating the influence and legacy of this Italian master. 

Caravaggio's first public commission was unveiled in 1600, which triggered a mass exodus of artists to Rome where they could see his work. Contemporaries were astonished by the visual and anecdotal power of his paintings and inspired by their dynamic naturalism and striking use of light. 

This exhibition unites a selection of Caravaggio's most outstanding works as well as paintings by the Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, French and Italian artists who were inspired by him, paying homage to the sensation known as Caravaggism. The exhibition runs until 15th January 2017. 

Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio 1602-3 © National Gallery, London

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

James McNeill Whistler's legacy lives on in the work of artist Rosalie Watkins

We take a look at how James McNeill Whistler's iconic portrait of his mother inspired Fine Art Commissions' artist Rosalie Watkins: 

James McNeill Whistler was an American-born artist who divided his time between London and Paris. He is best known as a mouthpiece for 'art for art's sake' and his part in the controversial Ruskin trial of 1877.

In 1856, Whistler enlisted in Charles Gleyre's studio at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and a couple of years later entered into business with Alphonse Legros and Fantin-Latour in order to try and make his works as widely seen as possible. Fantin-Latour's painting, 'Homage to Delacroix' placed Whistler at the centre alongisde Manet and Baudelaire, which declared his status as a member of the avante-garde in the Parisian art world.

'Homage to Delacroix', Henri Fantin-Latour, Oil on Canvas, 1864 © RMN Grand Palais (Musee D'Orsay)/Herve Lewandowski

The psychological sensitivity of the portrait is effectively conveyed through the pared down, linear composition and further enhanced by the neutral palette. This highlights Whistler's interest in Japanese prints, including 'View of the Thames', which hangs on the wall above his mother in the painting.

'Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1' is also referred to as 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother.' This double title serves as an expression or Whistler's gradual progression from a realistic to more stylised aesthetic. 

'Whistler's painting of his mother was initially completed as part of a series of monochromatic studies, and its title (Arrangement in Grey and Black No. I) confirms his sense of detachment to it and reinforces its value as purely an exericse in aestheticism.' - Rosalie Watkins

'Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1', also called 'Portrait of the Artist's Mother', James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Oil on Canvas, 1871 © RMN Grand Palais (Musee d'Orsay)/Jean Gilles Berizzi

'I was interested in the concept of painting flesh tones in a monochromatic setting and Kandis was wearing black and greys that made a dramatic visual impact against the studio wall. Whistler's muted palette adds to the sense of repose and stillness, but Kandis felt more dynamic, particularly with the less conventional leg crossed and trainers. The stronger visual contrast felt fitting when playing with the idea of interpreting Whistler's painting. Whistler also allowed the unpainted canvas to breathe through, which i have referenced with areas of the canvas left with just the initial wash showing through.' -Rosalie Watkins
'After Whistler,' Rosalie Watkins, Oil on Canvas, 2015 © Rosalie Watkins
Later in his career, Whistler dropped all narrative from his paintings and gave only musical subtitles to his work, reinforcing his belief in the importance of harmony over subject matter.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

BP Portrait Award 2016

We are delighted that Fine Art Commissions has the following artists exhibiting as part of the BP Portrait Award 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. 

The exhibition runs until 4th September and admission is free. 

Dad Sculpting Me by Jamie Coreth, winner of the BP Young Artist Award


Haydn as Henry

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Fine Art Commissions offers an incredibly unique service that is greatly valued by our artists

‘All creative people need a Fine Art Commissions. Not just for marketing and sourcing work, but for valuable second opinions when needed.’ - Nicky Philipps

I like the fact that Fine Art Commissions is a one stop shop. I also like the competition with other artists and to be able to secure the opinion of Sara Stewart who has seen so many works of art.’ - Nick Bashall

‘If it was not for Fine Art Commissions, I’d probably be in the gutter painting portraits for my attic.’ -  Jamie Coreth  

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Self-portraits through the ages

We take a look at some self-portraits by much-loved artists working in Britain through the ages, including William Hogarth and Vanessa Bell:

Self-portraiture is a richly diverse, enigmatic genre that has particular poignancy in the history of art, documenting the rare moment when the artist enjoys a unique sense of freedom as both subject and creator.

Artists have recreated their own image since the Middle Ages; a time when self scrutiny and personal salvation were of great importance. During the Renaissance, the humanist emphasis on the individual coincided with the elevated status of the artist. The discovery of oil painting allowed artists to develop techniques that revolutionised painting. As an intimate form of self-expression, personal legacy and public self-advertisement, the self-portrait raises complex issues of identity, politics, social status and artistic skill. 

'Self-portrait', Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1685 © The National Gallery, London
Born in Germany and trained as an artist in Amerstam and Italy, Sir Godfrey Kneller later established himself as a leading portrait artist in England. After settling here in 1676, he was introducted to Court circles by the Duke of Monmouth and later appointed as principle painter to the Crown by Charles II. This powerful self-portrait gives us an idea of why his portraits were considered amongst the best produced in Europe at the time. 

'Self-portrait', Allan Ramsay, c.1737-39 © The National Gallery, London
 'He (Allan Ramsay) and Mr Reynolds...our favourite painters, and two of the very best we ever had' - Horace Walpole.

Born in Edinburgh, Allan Ramsay later studied in London, Rome and Naples and was appointed as painter to George III. It is believed that this early self-portrait was produced in Italy where Ramsay completed his artistic training and shows the influence of the Italian baroque. 

Ramsay depicts himself wearing a white neck-band and shirt ruffle made from rich velvet drapery. It is believed that a copy of the portrait was framed as a pendant, painted at the time of Ramsay's marriage to his first wife in 1739. 

'Self-portrait', William Hogarth c. 1757 © The National Gallery, London
In this self-portrait, William Hogarth depicts himself painting Thalia, the Muse of Comedy. Ramsay sits in a large mahogany armchair, wearing an open white shirt, green velvet coat, stockings and brown breeches. He holds a palette knife and brushes and contemplates the white outline of Thalia, who holds a book under her right arm and mask in her left hand. 

'Self-portrait', Vanessa Bell c. 1958. The Charleston Trust © BBC Your Paintings
Vanessa Bell was a central figure in the Bloomsbury Group, alongside her husband Clive Bell and sister Virginia Woolf. Bell's early work conformed to the conventional traditions of the New English Art Club, but was later influenced by the first Post-Impressionism exhibition that took place in 1910 and the progressive ideas of Roger Fry, which surfaced in a stripped back, simplified style of painting defined by bold outlines and non-descriptive colour. 

The first Post-Impressionist exhibition included works by Cezanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Matisee and Picasso, which gave Bell a 'sudden liberation and encouragement to feel for oneself, which were absolutely overwhelming.'

After the First World War, Bell, similarly to other artists of her generation, returned to a more naturalistic style. Bell maintained a lifelong passion for simplified decorative patterns and colour that originated in the creative collaboration of the Omega Workships. This was later reflected in the interiors of Charleston, the Sussex farmhouse that she shared with her husband, as well as her distinctive book-jacket designs for the Hogarth Press. 

This self-portrait was painted when Bell was nearly 80 and hangs in the garden room at Charleston. Bell's portraits have often been subject to biographical readings that connect them to the death of her sister Virginia and eldest son Julian Bell. However, if we re-contextualise works such as this self-portrait, we see a lively and forceful artist who paints as a challenging act of self-expression.