Coming up

Coming Up:
*** Thu 4th Oct: Noel Ford & Roger Penwill on Cartooning ***


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Spotlight : Who is Lucky?

Who is Lucky?
  Plenty of us are talented, clever, and we make some amazing things. Sometimes we get lucky, and people notice our stuff, and we do well out of it, and reach a big audience.
'The Other Art Fair', London, Brick Lane
Success needs luck, we think, as well as talent and hard work and brains, and often charm too.
  Imagine your own lucky thing happening, where someone in a gallery or a book company notices what you do, and gives you a chance, and then a magazine does an article on you, and you end up really popular and selling loads of paintings or book illustrations.
  All because of that lucky moment when someone noticed that what you do is worth being given an opportunity.

Helen A Pritchard wins £10k Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize
Haha! That is one way of looking at the notion of luck and success. It is the typical way.
  We so often think the story is about us. We feel from our own perspective. 
  The story above might instead be about the gallery owner, whose gallery becomes successful.  It may be about how they were lucky enough to see your work and give you a chance, and then have an article written about it all in a big magazine. Since that lucky day their gallery is doing great.
Hahahaa... Perspectives…. We always think it is about people, and how they feel.
  Supposing we are not the important thing.
    Supposing what matters is the Idea.
There are thousand of ideas, millions, all whizzing about, and hardly any of them get realised. Those ideas are all zipping about, worrying and wondering whether they will ever get noticed.
'Kora', 2018, by Riley Aubrienne Polek-Davis
One day, one of the people who carries a version of one particular idea (about how to paint light on roses, using bold coloured curves based on a way they painted some hair on a life figure), talks to another person, who has an idea about a show. The idea about doing a show about bold bright curves was in someone else's head. Now those two ideas have met.
  And then another idea meets them both. This idea is bouncing around in the head of a magazine writer. It is an idea about how ideas themselves can travel, through music, or through paintings, to join more ideas (which are in lots of other heads - the audience). To us this is an idea for a magazine article about how people understand painted light in a gallery context – but to the other ideas, it is not an abstract concept. It is as real as paintings, and galleries, and people and skin, and just as alive.
  Later, the magazine idea looks back to how lucky it was to have met that nice idea about a gallery show. And the gallery idea thinks “You know, I’m lucky to have met that idea about how to paint roses. Between us we made the roses accessible to a whole lot of thoughts who came along and met the roses idea.” They met the roses idea through that image of roses in light, which was painted by another one of those fleshy-bony things that ideas often have - called 'humans'. And the ideas could each think "You know, maybe I was even lucky to have landed in that particular human's brain in the first place."
  Maybe what is important is the ideas, not who has them, or who gets known for them.
     Maybe we don't have ideas. Ideas have us.

'Family reading', by Alex Grey
I think it's both ways.
  We are all Lucky.

Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance), 1917. 
Torn-and-pasted paper and coloured paper on coloured paper, 
19 1/8 x 13 5/8" (48.5 x 34.6 cm)

Friday, 7 September 2018

We've grown to 100 members!

Ludlow Art Society is delighted that membership has now reached 100. This is a significant increase which strengthens the society as we build a sustainable future. We will continue to press towards a wider variety of artistic styles and formats, and be totally inclusive of all who want to regard themselves as artists. We still have much work to do on attracting the younger generation. Nonetheless, we have reached a milestone which we should all be proud to celebrate! Cheers to Ludlow Art Society!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Summer Exhibition 2018 Results

This was by far our most successful exhibition for a long time. Clearly the talent of our artists, including many newly joined members, is appreciated by the art loving public. At least one artist was picked up by a regional gallery! Prizes were awarded as follows, and the results of the visitors' favourite exhibit poll are beneath.

President's Prize:
Light on our Industrial Heritage - Catherine Downes

Twenty Twenty Gallery Prize:
Fisherman's Walk - Sandra Graham 
Mayor's Choice:
Reclining Nude - Alastair Huddart

Castle Bookshop Prize:
Windmill Hill, Much Wenlock - Carl Niblett

Ludlow Brewery Prize:
Street Scene - Lily Wang

The 15 most popular exhibits are as follows. Please bear in mind that some works were removed early and their counts might otherwise have been higher. Thanks hugely to Alice and Peter Burden for counting the voting slips.
1 Carl Niblett Camusdarach Beach, Scotland 66
2 Sandra Graham The Water Into Ripples Breaks 41
3 Lily Wang Generations Apart 39
4 Rob Leckey End of Platform 4, Shrewsbury Station 33
5 Val Littlehales Golden Days 18
6= Margaret Rowson Trees in Winter 16
6= Val Littlehales Shropshire Lane 16
8 Rob Leckey The Harbourmaster Aberaeron 15
9 Samuel Bebb Wigmore Castle 2 14
10 Alexandra Adams Clun in Autumn 13
11= George Loades At the Waters Edge Whitby 12
11= Sandra Graham Coastal Path Pwllgwaelod 12
13 Lily Wang Ludlow Castle 11
14 Sandra Graham Fisherman's Walk 11
15 Mary Phillips Shashi Resting 10

A complete analysis of votes can be found below (click to enlarge).

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Spotlight : From the streets of Bristol

Here are some observations from the street art festival, Upfest, that I raised in last month's blog.

A couple of us admired this stencil and spraycan piece by @petersheridanartist for a while on the Monday. It took a while. Six eyes helped take it in. The verdict was "so... it's got everything". Nature, history, fauvism, perspective, caricature, deep shadow, journey, contrast, palette, use of tools, relatability, civilisation, economics, composition, heroism, dignity, and a branch turning into a pencil.
Zipf's law would tell us that some factors will always dominate in a book, a room, or in a painting. A street art piece could focus mainly on "shadows, with a dose of heroism", or be "about nature, with a side salad of economics". It's odd to have an even spread of attributes.
On that Monday we stared at this painting long, and said it is epic. Now I'm confused.  What attracts us?
Maybe when all around is calm, equilibrium is comfortable - and when we are in a spin of activity we associate with art which makes specifically bold visions.
Or... Maybe we go for focusedly edgy art when we are a bit bored, and we like the evenly calming images when the day or night has been far from tranquil. When do you want loud art? When do you relate best to clear bold statement art, and when do you prefer balanced art that speaks to all parts of your psyche? 
This painting of a wise lumberjack, both using and caring for nature, with calm expression, went down very well at the end of Upfest.  It had been a busy time, but also relaxing.  I liked the pencil.

Glitchy future...
This is @deedstencils work at the Upfest Stadium. This horse's streaky bars, of what looks like a technical glitch vision from faulty photo software, have liberated my mind about what precision and freedom can mean. We can paint what we want, how we want. It is fun and enlightening how such a precise work can represent the growing prevalence of glitchy imperfections in our vision of nature.  This is also my favourite palette combination: Red, turquoise, black and white. 
Horses on walls... Cave art horses from about 40,000 years ago are usually facing to the right (I mean the real cave paintings, not modern renditions of horses done in cave art style). It is as if, from pre-history, the horses from the past mostly run Eastwards.  Which is why I noticed that this horse is galloping left.  If you have looked at a lot of cave art horse paintings, there is a barely conscious sensation that this horse if galloping to meet them, back in our long journey through space and time. It is precipitating - moving too fast to be comprehended - with streaks missing, and unaware of its background.  It says a lot about the careless speed of today's obsession with progress, an incomplete picture, and what is black and white.  Yet it is beautiful.  If I were a horse from the past, meeting the future, this is a horse I would be happy to meet. We'd have a lot to share.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Birmingham Watercolour Society exhibitions

Full information here.  Look out for work by our own members Valerie Alexander and George Loades. There should be some good pictures, like this one by Nigel Priddey. Maybe we could organise a group visit? Also there is the annual BWS exhibition which will be held at Hanbury Hall, Droitwich WR9 7EA from 15th August  until 30th Sept.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Spotlight: Going public?

Artist: Leon Keer. 3-D street piece
The end of July sees Europe’s largest street art festival, about 80 miles away from Ludlow, spread across much of Bristol. As a shameless plug, Sam Manley, LAS’ previous Chairman, and I will be producing art and exhibiting there for a couple of days. In public. As it is a street art festival every artist will be out there, painting and making in full view of the public eye. About 70,000 people visit the festival on a sunny weekend. So, why would anyone want do such a thing?
Artist: SHOK-1

Firstly, it tests the quality of your art. There are very talented artists there, as at any major exposure event. It makes you play a strong game.
Artist boards

Secondly, there is an opportunity for networking, including gaining interest of arts promoters and galleries. There is potential to attract professional representation.
Artist: MyDogSighs (one of the founders of Upfest)

Thirdly, one can learn from other artists: techniques and confidence.

Artist: Goin. Photo credit: Plaster copy

Fourth, it is friendly, mostly. Street art is both collaborative and competitive in ways. Some of its scale and techniques necessitate working in groups. The grabbing of public space, and the viewership that it gets, means that there can be competition between individuals and groups who wish to get a message across to the populace.
A view of part of an Upfest zone

The risks are wasted time and humiliation. But you have to try. Yes is stronger than no.
Our Art Society offers similar opportunities.
I hope you enjoy your membership.

Artist: Manu Invisible

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Arborealists at Twenty Twenty

The Arborealists

Sat 14 July to Sat 28 July

Friday, 6 July 2018

LAS member Miranda Goudge and friends exhibiting at Canwood

In the Middle of Somewhere
Canwood Gallery, 
Checkley, Woolhope, HR1 4NF
August 4th-31st, Tuesday-Sunday 11-4

In the Middle of Somewhere is a collaboration between two ‘cartographers’ from the Royal college of Art with eight Herefordshire artists, most of whom met at Hereford College of Art over 10 years ago. The exhibition channels, celebrates and discusses the momentous importance of art as a fundamental life tool - a vital means of expressing one’s individual political voice, and of working through personal everyday obstacles, whilst making sense of some of the universal realities of the age in which we live. 
In the Middle of Somewhere:
A small disparate group find themselves lost ‘In the middle of somewhere’.
Making the best of it, they create things to help themselves not think too much about missing home.
One day they happen upon a passing cartographer, who they ask to draft a map to help them find their way back.

Xe agrees, explaining that there are many ways back and that they must all work together - as it’s only possible to map out the various spaces they perceive between themselves and each of the group members, via the objects they’ve created (since there’s nothing else to go on). 
All are cartographers in the end. 
Xe says, mapmaking also helps a cartographer to pass time, since Xe too is lost. Yet a cartographer’s work can be useful to other lost folk. 
Being also lost, 
Xe can’t help them to not be lost, but rather Xe guides them towards mapping their own somewhere’s - where they are, if only for them to just see that they are, at least… Somewhere (X)
You are invited to join the artists for a picnic in the beautiful grounds at Canwood, on Thursday 23rd August, between 5-8pm.
Artists: Anita Louise Davies, Julia Gardiner, Miranda Goudge, Wendy Healey, Caroline Holt-Wilson, Liz Morison, Dani Sangway, Lexi Strauss 
Cartographers: Tom Nash, Lexi Strauss

Friday, 22 June 2018

A Talk for Sunday

Emma Summers, Sandra Salter and Dulcie Fulton share their secrets this Sunday.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Oriel Davies Open 2018

Includes work by Nick Holmes who gave our April talk/demonstration.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Spotlight: Don’t throw it away!

Seeking inspiration? Does your imagination go in fruitless spirals while your palette dries? Then crumple that unsatisfying piece of paper and…. don’t throw it away. Instead, draw it’s shadow. See where it takes you.
Guy Larsen draws faces based on shadows from crumpled paper. This is a fairly standard artistic exercise, and a helpfully fun one. By using shapes dictated by the paper, in which there is an element of random, the artist is free from the demands of trying to reproduce an ideal image from within their mind.
  Randomness can be a very constructive liberating force in art. You can draw the curve that is there, rather trying to draw the curve you think is needed. You can make something appear more real, if your style is rather more systematic or rigid than life. Art is not the real thing, but an impression of it, so it makes some sense to draw shadows. In times of inspirational need, The Lord or Karma provides. Pretty soon you will be practised at making forms based on anything you find inspiring.
And it is a form of recycling. Throwing things away, and making a performance of it, can be very useful. Gordon Ramsay swears by it.
  Why do faces so readily appear in the drawings people make based on crumpled paper? Why not trees or houses?
Lascaux, France
In prehistoric caves, most paintings, and sculpted pieces of bone and tusk and clay, depict animals. They are of horses, reindeer, rhinos, mammoths… They are on walls, and in carved pieces of animals, and in wall reliefs. Human figures are less frequent.
Venus of Galgenberg
However, outside of cave settings, most prehistoric sculptures are based on humans rather than animals. Why is that? The answer is simple: it is not true. Archaeologists simply find more human-based figurines, because a stone-like thing, when shaped a bit like part of a person, catches our attention. Whereas a stone-like thing shaped a bit like part of an elk will just look like a stone to us.
 'Elk' - Sally Matthews
Elks would probably find more elks.
 It depends on what you notice. Most meteorites that are found by observing them fall, as flares of light that hit the ground and are found smoking on scorched grass, are “stony” meteorites – the type which have low iron content. Few of them turn out to be the iron-rich “stony iron” meteorite variety. 
Similarly in the desert, most meteorites found are “stony”. However, among the cold meteorites found in prairies, most are “stony irons”, which suggested that meteorites fall differently in deserts. It took a while for astronomers to realise why, outside of deserts, most meteorite finds are “stony irons”. “Stony” meteorites look like stones.
A chap (Robert Ward) who has found a stony iron.  In America.
So it is with crumpled paper: we favour the familiarly noticeable, which is typically a human face.
And if you don’t like what you’ve drawn, you know what to do.

'Chance and Order IV' - Kenneth Martin, 1971-2

Sources include:
Drawing with shadows’ - Guy Larsen:

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Ludlow Art Trail 16th June to 1st July

Pick up a free map from any participating location, or click here for more details.

Ludlow Fringe Artists Market

Saturday 16th June, Castle Square, Ludlow. This might be of interest either to individual artists or perhaps small groups of artists. There's more information here. Click on the info sheet and booking form below for more details. I understand there are no gazebos left, so you will need to bring your own.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

James Hurdwell at Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Ludlow Art Society congratulates member James Hurdwell for having had one of his paintings accepted for the Royal Academy's 250th Summer Exhibition.

We wish him every success with the new avenues that are opened up by being involved in such a high-profile exhibition. You can find details of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition here with a short video about the show:

Friday, 11 May 2018

Spotlight: “I needed colour”

  Image from the documentary 'I needed color'   

Jim Carrey, the actor and comedian, came out with a surprising documentary last year. Running for just 6 minutes, it shows him in his painting studio, with canvas and brushes. It introduces a side of Jim Carrey that we had not seen before, unless we had looked carefully: the person expressing their visions through their art, and growing with it. The short video has come to be known as “I needed color.
  The title is based on a line Jim says in it, as to why he took to paint, during “a really bleak winter in New York”. Notice what he does not say, but could have craved. He did not say “I needed escape”, “I needed music”, “I needed time”, “I needed friends”, “...destruction”, “...meaning”, “money”, “love”, “hope”.

‘Electric Jesus’ (detail) – Jim Carrey

In his case, “bleak winter” was somewhat metaphoric. The drab darkness and seclusion of that winter was also his soul and spirit, at a time of personal loss, anguish, uncertainty, and a search for meaning. The bleakness was inside as well as out.

‘Eva’ - Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey has become known, since, for many public displays and interviews in which he describes peace, purpose, connectivity of all things, and the liberation that he feels through the grand absence of any significant meaning to most aspects of humanity’s endeavours and distractions. Nothing matters.
  So why did he need “colour” specifically?

‘Hooray We Are All Broken’ - Jim Carrey

His paintings depict his concepts quite overtly.
  Of ‘Hooray We Are All Broken’ he says "So-called reality is energy and color creating forms that rise out of nothing. Broken figures dancing for each other filled with pain and polkadots, sharing one frequency, yet believing they are separate." With such a description we can wonder whether it was the image or the words which came first. It feels as if the verbal concept birthed the painting, as an illustration of the worded thought. Words feature in many of Jim Carrey’s works. His paintings are very literal.

‘Prison of Becoming’ – Jim Carrey

The concepts Jim illustrates, such as spiritual connectedness, can also be expressed through watercolours of nature, or a minimalist abstract, however in such cases any message is typically down to personal interpretation.

When considering a watercolour of a flower, one could easily say “It represents new life” or “solitude” or “That’s pretty”, which all relate to connectedness. However with Jim’s huge bright paintings, like billboards, it is clear there is an intended message. Jim’s painting, for all its introspective origins, is evangelistic. The paintings are rather like stained glass windows. [Please leave a comment below if you have read this far. Just commenting “read” will do. Thanks.]
  We could see this as a performance-like way of approaching the audience, derived from his acting career and stand-up comedy beginnings. However there are many non-thespian painters who take a similarly blatant approach to their subject matter.

The Disasters of War (one of 80 Etchings) - Francisco Goya

Goya’s expressions of wartime are deliberately explicit, like shocking news headlines, and Banksy was always much more of a recluse than an actor.

Banksy, 2013

With Jim Carrey’s paintings we see how encompassing these notions are to him: the absence of personal immateriality, within a cosmic force of love, is everything in his art, as it is in his speech. Subtlety can only exist when there is a broader context in which to couch an issue. When one’s theme is everything, the message fills the canvas. It shouts. With every brush stroke, there is nothing else to paint.

‘She’s The Bomb’ - Jim Carrey

  Carrey’s expressed desire for colour can remind us of similar times when people wanted to express peace and spirituality. “Hippy” movements from the 1960s used colour to bring brightness and love into an austere world, and to lighten those whose souls manifested fear and violence. The visual art of peace movements often included flowers, as invocations of the sharing equilibrium found in nature, in which there is a space for everything, including finding beauty in caring for the delicate.


  That perspective has changed, and been somewhat lost, with social and scientific emphases increasingly on competitive aspects of nature. Current interest in nature - in education particularly - is often on Darwinian natural selection and its dependency on strength and adaptation, which thereby endorses a state of perpetual conflict. One can wonder whether this is healthy. It feels time to reclaim the harmony aspects of nature.
  Since the 1960s there are evidently more complex and global issues presented to us through multiple means of communication, and the target has shifted - then it was war, organised and mostly overt. Now the dangers, in peace time, are less obvious. Threats to us as individuals and a species are more subtle. They include boredom and loss of identity through automation. Flowers still convey peace and love, but when we look at Carrey’s art, and that of many modern artists, the dialogue is more complex than “war is bad”.

‘More More More’ - Jim Carrey, from the Sunshower exhibition

  So besides the doom and gloom, what do Carrey’s paintings celebrate? I think it is that we do not exist in isolation, and barely exist at all. Which is worth celebrating, as it empowers us to act as individuals for a shared good. Jim’s evangelical, messianic message is essentially the same as much religious advocacy: without the cosmic one-ness we are nothing, and there is redemption for us through acceding to that greater collective existence. 
  We hear the same evangelistic advocacy when we are told that schools must capture the hearts and minds of 8-year-olds to want to do engineering, if the future workforce is to be suitable for a more automated industry. When governance and science express such targets of “education”, heads nod obediently, yet mainstream media ridicules and alienates the advocacy of freedom expressed by those such as Jim Carrey whose aims seem far more liberating and honourable to the individual and to the collective.
  Or you can paint, as Jim also does, because it makes you happy.

If you write all this down, as I have, it is far less interesting and enjoyable than looking at paintings, and feeling how they convey these concepts through vibrant colour and beauty. And it is far less joyful than creating such paintings.
  When writing this, or thinking about it, one quickly concludes... “We need colour”.
Photo from Jim Carrey’s website,

I write these Spotlights on topics that strike me as interesting. The point is to interest you. If there is a topic you would like explored from this kind of perspective, contact me via and your topic could be another Spotlight.
    Cheers y’all.
           Love, life, and LAS.

Further info and sources:
   ‘I needed color’ documentary :