The Easel

"The News & Views of the Bromley Art Society" as it says on the front cover of the Society's magazine. The Easel is published four times a year. It is distributed free to BAS members. It was originally a printed magazine. Nowadays it is mainly distributed by email. Otherwise it is on sale in local art shops and available for £1 plus postage.

Recent issues have had a lively correspondence on the benefits or otherwise of framing. There are also reports of our own and other exhibitions written by members. Some offer instruction, or tips based on their experiences. Others have had the courage to tell us about their choice of medium or subject matter.

There is also a competition - the best picture submitted is printed on the front cover and commands a prize from our sponsors. Runners up appear in a gallery on the back. Some are reproduced online.

It doesn't write itself! Why not give our hard working editor a hand and submit an article? Text contributions can be submitted online using the contact form. Pictures and graphics will have to be submitted to the editor in the traditional form for the moment:

Editor, The Easel,
Bromley Art Society

Selected articles from previous editions appear below

Easel 9 - Autumn 2005

Selected Articles


What moves an artist? (or what makes an artist move?!)

Being London born and bred, with short sojurns in Tunbridge Wells and Birmingham as a boy, my education was in London and each time I changed course in my career it was in London, the centre of the world!

As time passes the ties to London start to drop away and travelling around Britain and abroad makes one realise that in another place will be a more stimulating and enjoyable home.

As the pressures of earning a living become reduced, commercial commitments diminish and family ties dwindle, Cath - (my wife) - and I are searching for that place.

With what I hope will be my last ‘career move’ the place will hopefully have some studio facility and be somewhere with potential for artistic inspiration and development which I would be happy to share (not all at once please!)

I am happy that Allan Davies has agreed to take over the editorship of the EASEL, and I am sure he will inject his own personality into its pages.

This time I have not quite been able to include all the letters and articles you have sent. I hope Allan will be able to consider them in the next issue. Please support him as well as, or even better than you have supported me.

Perhaps BAS can have ‘country members’? At reduced rate of course!

An evening with Charles Evans - nearly.

Arriving early and with extra seats put out an audience of 55 to 60 people eagerly awaited an evening with Charles Evans, only to be told a quarter of an hour before he was due to 
start that he was stuck on the M1 some 70 miles away and would get to us as soon as 
he could.

Into the breech stepped Allan Davies with some kindly “constructive criticism” on various pictures supplied of scenes near and afar. He expressed his opinions and observations and sought feedback from the floor, prompting us with such questions as “Where is the focal point?” “What about composition and technical ability?” The general consensus was lively and animated but seemed directed more at the frames and mounts rather than the pictures themselves. After discussing several paintings we stopped for tea!

Charles Evans arrived at 9.10 in a flurry, with blue streaked smock, tanned face and golden 
locks. He put down a rubber mat tripod easel, a lamp, board and bucket for water and 
brushes and had set up in 8 minutes flat. With a journey of 9 hours 25 mins from Teesdale 
behind him he began to paint...

He had his own particular narrative while painting, explaining as he went along why, where and what he was doing, punctuated by “Are there any questions?” He proceeded to produce with deft strokes a seascape of beach and headland with colours from his famous pallette, which rumour has it now qualifies as a Grade 2 listed building! He did clouds and cliffs, sand and waves, all in a matter of minutes in his flamboyant style and even added his P & Y people. Unfortunately time beat him and he promised, on his next visit, he would give us some extras. He rounded off by presenting his picture to Pat  Tucker, our chairlady.Is this man an artist or artiste? - or both?

All in all, with Allan and Charles, we had an extra special evening with our unexpected 

3 June 05 LS

Soraya French

In spite of having to cope with traffic delays, Soraya quickly got to work and showed how one could use any lidded, flat container for an acrylic pallette, with kitchen paper and a layer of greaseproof paper, although she used a proper Staywet pallette. Her support was unprepared mount board. In no time she had scrubbed on some mixed grey mid-tones and began to build up a basic geometric skeleton of the market stall subject in dark tone, using a big brush, at some point washing on a free-flowing blue acrylic ink. Keeping up a commentary she worked into this with lighter tones to expose the figures. She had previously done a pastel painting of the same subject, and was working from a small copy of that.

Being acrylic, the paint dried quickly and enabled her to keep going. She was careful to keep rinsing the brush - possibly only using one or two (as I was at the back I couldn’t see that well). She regretted the lack of time to build up the many layered, textured foreground which she had planned, but made a few marks with dry pastel, and later oil pastel, concentrated in one area on the stall and nearby, to give impact. Judging by the finish of the giclee prints which she had on display, for sale, she might not have done much more to the demonstration piece.For my taste it was excellent and left something to the imagination of the viewer.

1 July 05 PW

NSPCC Open Garden Scheme

A group of Members of the Bromley Art Society were invited again by Mrs
Janet Berlin to stage a small exhibition and sale of cards and pictures at her
Open Garden for raising funds for the NSPCC on the 3rd and 4th Sundays
in June.

The garden, built and developed on a steep slope, has been improved yet
again, and has a beautiful and very interesting display. There are many pots,
a number of connected pools, as well as a wooded area at the bottom of the
hill slope.

On the first Sunday which was one of the hottest days this year, attendance
was down compared with last year. However on the second Sunday the
attendance increased considerably with the slightly cooler weather.

The visitors could enjoy the attractions, which included live music, guided
tours and refreshments as well as our exhibition.

Although sales were a little lower this year, we were able to present a cheque
for £40, payable to the NSPCC, to Mrs Janet Berlin as commission on
our sales


Artist & Illustrators Exhibition

I haven’t attended this event for a few years and overall I was dissappointed as there isn’t much art exhibited any more or art related items. Previously there were usually three exhibitions of Art on display, SAA annual competion winners and runners up, The Third Age and Foot and Mouth artists. This year just the SAA.

Maybe it’s because I had not been recently that I hadn’t realised that so much was given over to card making, crafts and Manga-Japanese comic characters. I also was not aware that they now publish three magazines to cover art, card
making and scrapbooking! That speaks volumes. I checked out the workshops and of the nine painting workshops four were being given by the same artist, Elda Abramson, and to me that also says a lot.

I guess if you haven’t visited before or want to attend a workshop or pick up tips from demonstrators or exhibition special offers - some half price - learn about picture framing and printing on a computer, it might still be worth the trip. 
What I wanted wasn’t available so I will be making a trip to Brick Lane. I did pick a couple of Christmas presents for the grandchildren.


I went for the first time, I too was dissappointed - too much art and craft supplies,
not enough art or craft. Ed.

Hall Place Exhibition

This exhibition ran for a month in this prestigious venue. Excellent space, great variety of paintings plus ceramics and mosaics filling all the display cabinets. Was it worthwhile? In terms of the number of sales and high commission probably not. We sold six paintings and 13 pieces of pottery and mosaics, so below average. On the positive side it was good to display our paintings at a new venue and have wider exposure. We didn’t have to steward, which over such a long period must be a plus. What one always needs to sell paintings is a good footfall but those visiting Hall Place were not coming there especially to see our exhibition. So any sale was a bonus.

Will we do it again? Possibly, but only during the Summer months, and we would be raising certain items with Hall Place such as publicity, signage and the lack of lighting in the display cases. We need to attract more people to the preview evening from local and surrounding areas. We are looking for new and different ventures for 2006 and welcome 
suggestions and ideas from you. Overall we know there has been a decline in sales of original art at exhibitions like
ours for several years now, which is not the fault of our exhibitions, but a general trend. As far as I can see all we can do is look at alternative ways of promoting and selling our wares. There won’t be just one solution and may involve some lateral thinking. Everything is worth considering and exploring further.


The Nelson Touch

An exhibition by f@nmm (formerly the Canvas Club) on at the Queens House Greenwich until November 13.

The club competition was for the best picture depicting the Nelson Era, the catalogue of the NMM’s Nelson and Napolean exhibition was the prize. This was to be acheived without infringement of copyright, and we were encouraged to produce original work by research or at least by visiting HMS Victory at Portsmouth, which some of us did. Some seven works were deselected, and the remaining 18 hang alongside a print of Honorary Member Geoff Hunt’s oil painting ‘Blue at the Mizzen’ as used on the jacket of Patrick O’Brian’s book of the same title. Some of his initial 
sketches are in a showcase. His research goes into fine detail, including time of day and weather conditions for an event being portrayed.

More than half of our works depict HMS Victory, complete or in part, varying from fine detail to loose, mysterious abstrations and interiors. Archie Niven’s watercolour includes a quotation from a poem written by Nelson to Emma, Lady Hamilton. The prize went to Ingrid Riches for a large watercolour ‘Nelson’s Paradise - Nevis Island’. In addition to the prize, unexpectantly several Award of Merit certificates were presented. In the next room are the Summer Exhibition works, not part of the competition. Traditionally, marine painting has been representational, but the NMM curators responsible for selection are finding a way of breaking down barriers accepting more modern work. The RSMA is determined to maintain their standards of representational art, not accepting work of a more abstract nature. Perhaps this will encourage more adventourous marine artists to join f@nmm art.



Taking Issue

Having read Allan Davies’ article in the Spring ‘Easel’ - “To Print or not to Print”, I’d like to take issue with two statements he makes - in the first paragraph and the penultimate one. I really feel that the first paragraph is just nonsense! When an artist creates a work of art he does it firstly for himself and because something compels him to do it. He’s not thinking at that time of a “wider audience” that Allan is talking about. If it has any intrinsic value it will gradually become known
anyway, and no amount of boring reproductions will improve its chances - in fact they will decrease the value of the original.

Allan talks about “incredibly accurate reproductions”, and this is where I take issue with his other statement, where he states confidently that “a giclee print is superior to an engraving, etching etc” because the latter loses definition on a
long run of printing - and other things which can vary with hand printing. To start with, a professional etcher will only do a limited edition which he knows will not risk a loss of definition (and incidentally makes the prints more valuable to a collector). Secondly, as an etcher myself, I know the excitement of not knowing exactly how a print will turn out until you peel it off the press is the delight of etching, and every one will be a slightly different original!

I agree with Allan when he says that Artists are always finding new ways to express themselves, and I can see that
computers must be quite exciting used that way, though I am completely computer-ignorant myself. (Aha! I hear you say - that’s where she’s coming from!) However I am not ignorant enough to condemn them all together. But for me a true work of art has to be made by a ‘real’ person without the help of a computer.

Stella Harvey

Founding BAS

I read with interest in the last ‘Easel’ the history of the Bromley Art Society. You mentioned a Mr John Waterman, in fact his name was Waterer, and in the 70s I had the pleasure of knowing this gentleman. He was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry on account of his expertise in the design, manufacture and restoration of leather artifacts in the Royal Collection and national museums and archives.

Before writing to you I contacted his daughter, Joyce Meade, whom I have known for many years, to confirm that he was in fact a founder member of BAS along with the others mentioned. At that time the family lived in Keston, just a stone’s throw away. Maybe other members may remember him also.

Audrey Oliver

The Enlightenment - Some Reflections on Teaching Adults

In 1966, after 28 years teaching art in secondary schools in the borough, I decided to shake off the powder paint and seek new horizons. But how to fill the void thus created? I still had my enthusiasm for my subject and a desire to impart what I knew to others. I had also taught for the adult education service in the past. Now that is what I called teaching! Every student was with you because they wanted to be there and what’s more paid good money for the privilege! Evening class work had meant I was spared the teenage classroom comments, such as “I don’t want to do this. ”You don’t know what you’re talking about.“ ”Sir, I’m telling you there are two colours you can mix to get a primary red.”

Fate has a way of closing one door then opening another, and so it was that fetched up one day at the entrance of “Art for All”, premier art material shop in our fair town. The proprietor showed me the teaching atelier at the top of a winding staircase. Intimate would best describe its dimensions, but it suited me after years of capacious classrooms and the problems of voice projection. Small groups of participants were my first experience but gradually my numbers grew. I’m proud to say some of those early pioneers have persevered with me to this very day.

All of my students, more or less, come as beginners. Their lack of artistic activity might have been due to daily demands of life, or because economic pressures getting a job immediately took precedence over art college. However, with careers established or completed and family grown, new opportunities open up. Indeed, even some working folk find the challenge of creativity a soothing antidote to the pressures of business.

What all my students expect is individual attention and hands-on help. I regularly hear of past experiences with some teachers who have contributed little except a few hasty words of praise or criticism at the end of a session. The disheartened student soon gives up. Practical theory is vital, I believe; a solid base upon which I teach. However, theory, in my opinion, does not mean endless dabs of paint in neat rows and textural squiggles. I like to combine theory with practical application. I encourage the student to take on a pictorial challenge right from the start. Something they don’t think they can manage, but with mutual co-operation success can be acheived. Thus the student’s confidence grows.

The ultimate thrill for the student is seeing their work framed and displayed. This can mean so much. How often do you hear, ”I can’t show my work, I’m not a professional”? Joining the Bromley Art Society is a great boost and I actively encourage it.

I am now in my eighth year of teaching in a new spacious suite of rooms. Time has flown by. I can honestly say that the hours I spend in the company of my charges are the highlight of my week. Never boring, always a challenge, but what satisfaction.

My students, here’s to you!

Ken Murray
Teaching art at Art for All, Bromley

A Short History of Bromley Art Society - Part Two

During the design period for the new library and theatre Bromley councillors were repeatedly lobbied by the local art community for good exhibition places to be provided in both the theatre and library. Plans were shown and assurances given that there would be “plenty of space”. In the case of the theatre the actual provision was disappointing although one exhibition was granted in part of the foyer in early days. In the new library the provision for art was better. The main annual BAS exhibitions were held in the splendid public rooms on the fourth floor for many years during the 1980s. These shows being open but subject to selection, were of high quality and usually included works by students of the fine art department of the Ravensbourne College of Art. There was, however, one obvious downside to the venue. It relied on the public having to deliberately find the lift and take it to the fourth floor if it was to be seen. Only the determined attempted this. Whilst this was undoubtably the most pleasant and spacious room used for BAS exhibitions - before or since - this barrier to easy public access together with repeated rent increases, meant that its use could not be sustained for more than a few years. We are left with what is acknowledged to be the best remaining local exhibition venue which is the first floor space in the central library. This was used first in 1993 and and proved to be one of our most successful exhibitions with the sale of over sixty works.

The hunt for good affordable venues continues. In the 1980s attempts were made to hold exhibitions out of doors - on one occasion in the Library Gardens and another in the approach to the Mall shopping area - neither was a great success. Other small shows tried in Building Society and Bank premises were patchy. In 1987 a group of members showed work as part of the Mayor’s garden party held in the grounds of the Civic Centre. Also that year a successful exhibition was held at Ripley Arts Centre. In those days at least two local press reporters could be expected to attend previews with their photographers and sales were brisk; sadly this is no longer the case and, depending on the venue, previews are less usual. Ripley remains pleasant but is remote from the town centre and has restrictions on access - perhaps it has some improved future promise following recent refurbishment. St George’s Church, Beckenham and its church hall have provided space for a society exhibition for the last few years.

Meanwhile the monthly meetings at which talks by visiting artists or art historians would be given or practical demonstrations watched and discussed formed the backbone activity of the society. These were mainly held in the first rebuild of the United Reform Church in Widmore Road and later and up to the present time in the second rebuild which took place to enable the Glades Shopping Centre to be built. The society suffered a great loss in 1987 when the exhibition organiser, Jim Ratigan, died suddenly.

Only a year or two earlier he had been responsible for the design and construction of the economical first set of exhibition screens owned by BAS; Jim was given enormous support by Norman Verrells who was always on hand when later it came to their storage, transport and erection. These screens did good service for a number of years before being replaced by the current set.

It was also in 1987 when Meryl Stringell became chairman on the death of her predecessor Stanley Buckley.

After Jean Gow retired in 1985, Gerald Lewis had taken over as secretary and produced an interesting newsletter until he retired in 2001 when Brenda Jackson effectively filled the post and George Duthy became chairman until he retired in 2001. Previously George had been treasurer for many years. Brenda not only acted as secretary but also arranged visiting speakers and demonstrators. Penny Steyning was treasurer and organiser of sketching outings up to 2001 when she temporarily took over the chairmanship until the AGM of 2002. Roy Stringer was then elected chairman, a post he held until retiring at the AGM in 2005 .

No account of BAS would be complete without a mention of Roy Dean who served the society for many years as publicity officer. He was also pivotal in organising a memorable garden party in his garden in 1997 when members had the opportunity to meet and sketch on a sunny afternoon.

In recent years we have had an active committee organising at least two exhibitions a year - usually in St George Beckenham and Bromley Central Library - plus one or two “One Day Sales” in the United Reform Church or in the hall attached to St Peter & St Paul Church, Bromley. The traditional monthly meetings continue at the Verral Hall with a series of visiting speakers and artist demonstrators and in addition weekly workshops have been introduced at Ripley Arts Centre where a group of members have the opportunity to meet, paint and exhibit together.

There have been two other developments of recent years; firstly there is the very much improved newsletter - The EASEL - edited and produced by Michael Blackwell and secondly, the new display screens now owned by the society. Not only are these screens a boon to the society when exhibiting in venues away from the library, but also a source of income from other local groups and individuals who are happy to hire them. The society owes much to Peter Dinsmore for the enormous amount of extra work involved, not only for organising their purchase, but for continuing storage, moving and hiring out of these screens.



In the absence of any surviving records of the early years of the society and sparse ones of the middle period, the above has been prepared by Pat Tucker from her personal memories and those of other long-standing members. In particular she acknowledges the great help received from Keith Coleborn who was one of those responsible for its foundation. She has also had help from Peter Wait. Pat is aware that the society has survived due to dedicated work of many more past members.

From Your New Chairman

Now that I find myself following in Roy’s footsteps as your Chairman, I hope that the Bromley Art Society will build on the progress which has been made during his years at the helm and go on to even greater things. The survival of a group like ours in these times is not easy and not guaranteed. Just because the society has been in existence for 58 years does not mean that it will reach its centenary without a good deal of effort and loyalty from its members. Costs are rising, exhibition venues are fewer and so, it seems are enthusiastic buyers of art. We must not be downhearted however; we have a hard working committee with ideas. They were responsible for organising the weekly Workshops at Ripley last year and these are continuing although it would be good if more of you came along when you have a Wednesday afternoon free.

When researching and writing the History of the Society recently (the second part can be found in this issue) I began to think about my own art history which has covered almost exactly the same period of time. Although life in the late 1940s was generally dreary with rationing and other restrictions of the war continuing, it 
was also a period of exitement and high hopes for the future. For me, at art school, the art scene was forever revealing new experiences and influences. More mature artists were returning to their work and post-war art books with colour plates could be found - if you were lucky. Exhibitions by contemporary artists were beginning again. British artists like Sutherland, Nash and Piper came to the fore then and as the years went by, works by international artists came flooding in to London galleries. They were not to be missed. Picasso, Matisse, Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keefe and many more. They all had something to say and different ways of saying it. The shows still go on - of course we do not like everything we see and quite often have to ask if the exhibit can be called art. But I believe that every show has something that will  catch the imagination, will cause wonder or make you want to do better. The boundaries are always being tested - “isms” come and go - Pop-art, Op-art, Kineticart have given way to computer art and videos. Some of us may usually walk past these videos but if they are by Bill Viola I suggest you sit down and watch with care- if these are not art then little is.

The art I speak of is visual art - we join other societies for the pleasures of music, 
theatre and literature. Most of our membership consists of people who enjoy painting. As an art teacher most of my effort was given to teaching techniques so that students stood a chance of realising their objective - a good picture often resulted but it is always up to the painter to add that magic ingredient - and transform the picture into art. Many of you may not achieve this sublime goal, but I am sure you will enjoy your attempts.

Pat Tucker

Interview - Ann Holdway

I spoke with Ann Holdway asking the usual questions. Here are her answers

Ed: How long have you been involved with Bromley Art Society?

Ann: Since 2001, I was encouraged to join by Brenda Jackson. I sent Brenda and the committee endless ideas and thought it only fair to offer my services to the committee and within a matter of months found myself in the role of secretary as Brenda wanted to step down.

Ed: What has been the most satisfying of your artistic achievements?

Ann: Sending in paintings for the SAA exhibition and winning the beginners Still life and flowers when I had been painting for less than two years.

Ed:Outside of the art world what is your favourite pastime?

Ann: Gardening. I am not one of those gardeners who knows the latin names for plants and I take pot luck with how, when and where I plant things. Colour and what is pleasing to the eye interests me and I love flowers.

Ed: What first made you want to be an mosaicist?

Ann: I had absolutley no interest in mosaics. In the same year I decided I would try my hand at watercolour by going on a painting holiday I saw a summer school for mosaics and thought why not? Although it was not a properly tutored course, I enjoyed and was hooked. May be it stems from liking jig saw puzzles as a child, the cutting of pieces and fitting them together.

Ed: What is your favourite place and why?

Ann: I don’t have a favourite place. I like being at one with nature and space, endless sea with empty beaches, panoramic views of the countryside, driving on empty roads with huge rolling hills and vast jagged rocks.

Ed: Do you think ‘art’ is relevant to the majority of people today; or is it of an elitist minority interest?

Ann: Art in it’s widest sense is relevant to everyone. To have pieces of art in your home that give you pleasure and raise your spirit is an essential part of life.

Ed: Which books you’ve read exhibitions that you’ve visited would you recommend to others?

Ann: I would recommend any of the exhibitions organised by the British Association of Modern Mosaics (BAMM). You will be amazed, impressed and inspired by the diversity of the exhibits both in materials used and the styles

Ed: What would you say to someone who has recently found pleasure in art to encourage him or her?

Ann: Explore everything, books, exhibitions, join local groups and hands on workshops. Enjoy what your doing. Follow your heart. Find your own style and go with your instinct.

Thank you Ann for sharing your passion for what you do.



The Wednesday Afternoon Group at
Ripley Art Centre,
24 Sundridge Avenue
Kent BR1 2PX

We started meeting in March 2004 and are currently doing very well indeed. Virtually a full house every week. I hope many of you got to see it and in passing realise the potential that Ripley has as a showpiece Art Centre in Bromley. It richly deserves to be better known and visited - many amateur artists and Art Groups meet there. Ring Thelma Richardson, (020) 8464 5816, for a copy of Bromley Arts Council Diary. It tells you all, and not just about Ripley but all the artistic events in Bromley. web:

Parking is easy, if there is no room in the Ripley car park side roads always have room. Buses pass the door and lifts offered. To pay for our studio sessions we ask only £2.00 per artist to cover costs. Contact Peter Dinsmore for more information or to reserve your place.

Easel 14 - Winter 2006



Our Society is doing all right. Malcolm Tait reports that we are growing apace and I am excited because it means that there are more of you to write articles for The Easel. Let me have your contributions, especially those that are controversial.

What is art? I heard a chap on the radio say that it’s a boring question. Isn’t it the question that all of us ask every time we start a new work? Or do we ask the more difficult question, “Will this be a work of art or something else?” Get the argument going.

I want photographs of your work for the Members’ Gallery. If you have never previously contributed, don’t be shy - you may find yours on the front cover and win the coveted £20 voucher to use at Art For All.

There is some stirring stuff in these pages again; much to challenge us to create something beautiful, something to stir our passions, something that says, ‘without this I am incomplete’ - ‘without this the world is incomplete’. Be bold!

Membership and Subscriptions

The number of members of the Society has almost recovered to the level of five years ago, which has reflected the increasing diversity of the Society’s activities, such as the Wednesday art group organised by Peter Dinsmore, and the variation in our venues for exhibitions, particularly this year.

To maintain a prosperous and stable Society, the membership needs to be about 180 or more, which we have now achieved.

The Committee has been reviewing the Society’s finances, and as a result, the individual subscription for 2007 will be £15. The joint membership will remain at £20. This reflects the increased postal charges this year and the rise in fees for many of our speakers/demonstrators for the monthly meetings at the Verral Hall in Bromley.

The attendance at these meetings remains fairly constant and it is hoped that next year more members will be interested to come. The programme for these meetings will be published shortly.

Malcolm Tait

From Your Chairman

I hope that you all had a wonderful summer and that you managed to get outdoors to paint landscapes or, at least, to have collected new subjects from near and far that will inspire you to paint during the longer evenings to come. If you did venture out in the exceptional heat of July, you will have found, as I did, that watercolour dried too quickly for finished work to be completed successfully out of doors.

Unfortunately, I was away at the time of the “Big Draw” and related exhibition and had to miss the event at St. John’s Church. I understand that a happy time was had by those who could make it. Those of us who go along to the Wednesday Workshops at Ripley have a happy time every week! Why not join us? We plan to have another Christmas lunch there on 13th December this year - more details of that elsewhere in this issue.

I hope that you have enjoyed the Friday evening demonstrations and lectures. If you have any suggestions for future speakers I would be glad to add others to my list although the slots for 2007 have been arranged already.

Pat Tucker, September 2006

An Impression from when the Sea Decided to Paint

A few weeks ago, whilst walking along the sea front in Corsica on a calm and sunny day, iPod in my ears playing my favourite classical music, the sea decided to give me an impromptu exhibition of her artistic talent. Palette, colour tubes and brushes in hand she demonstrated her impression of the world.
What an artist she was! How she presented colour! I should have tried to capture the moment with a photo or a painting, but she was too quick for me and anyway it would not have given me the same pleasure of this wonderful moment of expressionism. What a show!
Joseph Grimaldi

Is it Art?

It has been observed (and even voiced) that artists no longer need to learn how to use the traditional skills of drawing, painting and sculpting. An unmade bed or even a till receipt can be bought at fantastic prices as long as they are presented as art. What persuades someone to buy a pile of elephant poo? What persuades a prestigous arts council to pay someone to produce a sculpture in salt and watch it dissolve as the tide rises?

The photo. shows the anonymous hand of the artist resting beside a finished work, which lived for a short time before it was disassembled to be reassembled at another location. The question was raised as the work was being created, “Is this art?” It is a shirt, washed but not ironed, partially buttoned in a very risqué manner, and suspended by its collar as if from the strong fist of an officer of the law.

At its next outing, will it be transformed? Perhaps it will lose its integrity by the previous use of an iron or by using different buttons... Will the artist hang it so that it modestly hides its initial full- frontal display or be completely buttoned up?

Is it art? Your opinions are invited for the next issue of The Easel. You may find an answer to the question “What is Art?” by refering to my work ‘Wasted Opportunity’ shown on the back cover of this issue!

Allan Davies

George Frederick Watts RA 1817 - 1904

G F WattsA few weeks ago we were in Guildford and decided to visit the nearby Watts Gallery in Down Road, Compton. The recent TV series “Restoration” featured the gallery as one of the buildings in need of funds to pay for much needed restoration and this had triggered my memory of its exist-ence. It had been designed by Christopher Turner in keeping with the local vernacular - very much an “Arts and Crafts” building it was sited in the grounds of Watts’ country house. We found that its inclusion in the TV series had been fully justified - it was a rainy day and almost every room had at least one bucket to catch the drips from the leaking roof. The building did need funding.

Most of the paintings were low in tone and in need of cleaning and restoration themselves. However there were a few exceptions: the large group of the Ionides family by Watts was in excellent condition as were a number of other portraits by him, by his wife, Mary and other Victorian artists including, John Singer Sergeant, Lord Leighton, and Burne Jones. His lofty sculpture studio was at a lower level and was dominated by two large plaster casts - one of a towering Lord Tennyson and the other an equestrian statue for a bronze in Hyde Park.

G. F. Watts was famous in his day as a painter and sculptor and gained the nick-name of “England’s Michelangelo”. His aim was to re-invent British painting in the grand manner He believed that art should be accessible to all, not just the rich; he gave many of his paintings to public galleries and helped to found the Tate Gallery in 1897.

Watts’ second wife, Mary was also an artist and ceramist. She designed a small chapel for the Compton Village Cemetery. It is an extraordinary building and worth a visit in its own right. It is circular on plan, to reflect the “Circle of Eternity” with the “Cross of Faith” running through it. Its underlying style is Italian Romanesque but it is rich with Celtic and Art Nouveau decoration both inside and out. Mary had set up her pottery in the village with the help and advice of William de Morgan. Local villagers were invited to decorate the chapel. Each member of her class had a separate task and 74 villagers of Compton took part in modelling and fixing the terra cotta tiles.

The interior is rich and jewel-like. The exterior with its rose red crisp brickwork sits well in the immaculately kept graveyard. It is the interior which has to be seen. Mary’s huge coloured angels in painted gesso emerge from a background of scrolls and swirling strapwork. Watts paid for it but died before it was completed although he did paint “The All Pervading” for the altar just before he died. It is a testament to Mary’s skill and persistence and we found it most impressive.

Illustration: George Frederic Watts, as depicted in a biography available from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is the Internet's oldest producer of FREE electronic books (eBooks or eTexts).

But this was not all that the formidable Mary achieved; she set up professional arts committees in Surrey and in Scotland training apprentices to produce terra cotta memorials and garden ornaments in her blend of Celtic and Art Nouveau forms. She designed a carpet to be sold by Liberty’s, which was chosen as an exhibit in Ireland’s pavilion at the 1924 World’s Fair. She was a designer of bindings for the Guild of Book Binders. Her Compton potters produced the miniature flower pots for Queen Mary’s famous dolls house.
It could be said that she has equalled, if not outshone her husband’s reputation.


Pat Tucker


Mary Seton (Fraser Tytler) Watts (1849 - 1938) was one of the women sculptors who exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Her small terra cotta figurines were painted with water-colour and waxed. Ed.

Folk v Elite v Mass Art

Folk Art grew from below. It was a spontaneous, autochthonous expression of the people, shaped by themselves, pretty much without the benefit of High Culture, to suit their own needs.

Mass Culture is imposed from above. It is fabricated by technicians hired by businessmen; its audiences are passive consumers, their participation limited to the choice between buying and not buying.

Folk Art was the people's own institution, their private little garden walled off from the great formal park of their masters' High Culture. But Mass Culture breaks down the wall, integrating the masses into a debased form of High Culture and thus becoming an instrument of political domination.


Dwight MacDonald (1906-1982) U.S. journalist, critic.

The Royal Society of Marine Artists

Celebrating the Sea 1946 - 2006

If you missed the show in October, you missed a treat. There was something
to excite everybody. When Iris and I arrived at 2.15 pm for the official opening,
there were already red dots on some of the paintings. However, there was far
too much to accommodate in my tiny mind in one short visit. Exhilarating!

Earlier in the year, we had learned that one of the members, Lorraine Abraham,
was a classmate from our Grammar School days. A letter and a response and,
after half a century, we met again.


Allan Davies

Interview - Caroline Palier


Ed: How long have you been involved with BAS?

C: Since July this year.

Ed: What first inspired you to paint?

C: When I was 12 and started Art tuition. I loved Miro and Kandisky; their style fascinated me, as it was different. For me, Abstract is what is found in the experience of what the picture provides and that demands prolonged contemplation. Their work inspires me to this date and that is why I paint my own version of Abstract.

Ed: What has been the most satisfying of your artistic achievements?

C: My satisfaction is when people recognise my work as a part of themselves and connect with the emotions coming out of the painting; their souls have been touched.

Ed: Outside of the Art world what is your favourite pastime?

C: Alternative and complementary medicine, reading spiritual and medical books, travelling and discovering other cultures, learning and teaching.

Ed: What is your favourite place and why?

C: Sedona in Arizona. It’s a magical and spiritual place surrounded by nature with beautiful landscapes of mountains, little forests and rivers going through - a very peaceful place.

Ed: Do you think Art is relevant to the majority of people today or is it an elitist minority interest?

C: I think that nowadays everybody can buy Art at affordable prices. The Affordable Art Fair is a good way to meet artists and their original work and get Art for under £3,000.

Ed: From the books you have read and the exhibitions you may have visited - what would you recommend to others?

C: I would say to express who you are and do what resonates with you instead of trying to copy Art. Be creative in your own right! Be aware of what is happening in the Art world.

Ed: How would you encourage someone who has recently found pleasure in doing Art?

C: Join a Society to mix with liked-minded people and share information -:try different types of medium and decide which one is better for your style or liking and simply enjoy what you are creating.

Television as an Art Form

I know that none of us really spend much time watching TV, since we are all busy with our projects, but are video clips yet another obscure way of producing art? Instead of providing space for more familiar works, the Tate Modern has darkened rooms in which visitors can watch pointless images and listen to discordant sounds that cycle around in endless loops. Surely television has not replaced painting and sculpting? If it is the case, then perhaps we should now start to view television news in a similar light?

Given the gimmickry that now permeates such programmes, we may be doomed to watch ever increasing shed loads of rubbish. Is there some kind of clone army, beavering away behind the scenes and manufacturing these flashing kaleidoscopes of colour and contradictory texts? Strobe effects are often so irritating that one reels with their impact. Constantly changing background images, reminiscent of OP art, often result in vertigo. Similar information is repeated as if we had the attention spans of orang otangs. Whatever has happened to real news? Some newsreaders have became famous through ballroom dancing, falling off horses and ice dancing, others now read out e-mails on mindless trivia.

Multi-screens look like those used for watching share prices. Streams of texts travel across the bottom, while huge overhead flashing banners proclaim "breaking news"- as if to reveal something other than just the news. Male and female duos alternate in speaking sequential sentences and commentators walk endlessly nowhere while talking. I make no excuse for talking about television news in an art magazine, since the news should form part of our cultural lives and I see a link with the video clips in art galleries. Surely there must be some media people out there who are just as frustrated as the rest of us and yearn for something real?

In the meantime, I am thankful that my TV has increased my motivation to paint. It now remains switched off!

(Name and address supplied)

Art for when there's Nothing on TV

The previous article prompted this sample from an article by Andrea Petersen of The Wall Street Journal. Read the rest on-line at
‘Those sleek flat screens popping up on people's walls may just look like fancy televisions. A new generation of artists and gallery owners wants you to think of them as something else: an empty picture frame.’
Mark Napier; produces internet-based pieces – often abstract - in which owners can direct and change what is seen on the screen. "Waiting Room" is being sold in 50 "shares," priced at $1,000 apiece. Jim Campbell;; produces elaborate installations which play with memory and the experience of time. Brightly-colored pieces using LED displays. One of two editions of the piece "Motion and Rest GBP 6" recently sold for $40,000.

Open Exhibition October 2006 at St John's Church

Sold: Twenty ceramics and five paintings (Yes, five!) Ceramics rule O.K.?

The exhibition was sparsely attended, in part due to a weekend retreat by over one
hundred parishioners. There is no disguising the fact that St. John’s is a splendid
arena for showing art but a very poor sales location.

In future where do we go for our annual open exhibition? The only proven local
sites are the Bromley Library (we get two weeks per year for club exhibitions) and
our traditional site at St. George’s, Beckenham (where they now ask for a rental
which would only mean a large financial loss for B.A.S,).

Exhibitions at Denbies Wine Estate at Dorking have good sales records. Archie
Niven of the Croydon Society has just booked a slot for 2013 (a seven year waiting

A plea for help: Does anyone know of a venue which would be available for a week
with good transport and parking access and, most importantly, well attended by Jo
Public (well-off art lovers)? The rent would have to be under £400 per week or we
lose money.

We could book venues outside Bromley but the logistics of moving and stewarding
such an exhibition are difficult. We have looked at many of the obvious halls,
churches and libraries, etc. in Bromley but nowhere looks very promising.

There are options as I see it. We can accept the fact that an open exhibition will lose
money or we could run a series of small-scale open exhibitions at lesser sites
(e.g. houses) or we could abandon open exhibitions, which would be unthinkable for
a proud, talented art society. We are too! However, I am rather pessimistic at the
time of writing. So ideas, help and suggestions A.S.A.P.

Peter Dinsmore (Exhibition Secretary)

The Big Draw

Those who participated enjoyed themselves immensely, but there were very few
who turned up to draw and paint on the huge sheets of paper supplied by The
Kent Messenger Group. The girls who used paint supplied by Great Art enjoyed the
rare thrill of cleaning the loo after they had cleaned their brushes! Blue was the
prime colour! One of our members worked up a cartoon in acrylic for a work to be
completed in oil later.

However, The Big Draw drew very few! There were many reasons, I’m sure: the
weather didn’t help; it was the day when many secondary schools were open to
prospective pupils for next September. The closing date for registration for The
Big Draw 2006 was in mid- August and only one other Bromley event was
registered by that date. By the end of September a large number of events had
been registered all over the borough. Many were held before the main day.

Materials and prizes provided by the SAA will be used at our December meeting.

Allan Davies

Just a Brief Note on Copyright.

The talk (6 October) focussed on some of the features of the UK Copyright Act that could apply to works of art and artists.

The author (e.g. the artist) is the first owner of the copyright, unless he or she was employed to create the work. The copyright can exist separately from the work (e.g. a painting), so it can pass from the artist to another person or company. This can be done by an assignment. Copyright is often employed when making and selling commercial items depicting the work.

Certain categories of work are specified in the Act and this has invoked some controversy over certain types of modern art that are not immediately recognisable as graphic works, or sculptures. This has nothing to do with the judgement of the artistic quality, since the Act does not require this, apart from works of artistic craftsmanship (such as a well-crafted piece of furniture). However, artistic works should be

The author (artist) needs to be identified, since copyright stems from its creator. Identity can be established by including the author's name on a work, but it is also usual to include the copyright symbol © and the date. To enforce Copyright, legal action would need to be taken, but this can be very expensive. Copyright should not be infringed by (acknowledged) non-commercial research, nor by private study,but this will not extend to excuse commercial activities. It can be question of "fair use" or "fair dealing", but this needs to be considered carefully to ensure that the activity concerned does not exceed certain limits. These can vary with the nature of the user and the action involved. For example, some special conditions apply to teachers, librarians and those with impaired vision. Museums and art galleries often ask visitors to sign a form of acknowledgement before allowing photography or sketching. With very old works, the copyright may have expired. The current term is 70 years from the death of the author, but different periods can also apply, for example, to unpublished works, or to special cases, like "Peter Pan", or to Crown Copyright.

The Act covers "Moral Rights" that enable the artist (a) to be identified; or (b) not to have a work falsely attributed; or (c) not to have the work subjected to derogatory treatment. It also now includes the "Artist's Resale Rights" that provide a small percentage of the value of a work when it is resold. This could deal with a situation where an artist may receive only a small initial payment for a work which later increases steeply in value, but there is a minimum threshold before this right becomes active.

Besides copyright, there are also the Registered Design and Design Copyright Acts. These apply to industrial deigns, as such, but can also relate to the industrial application of an artistic work. These design rights could be infringed by copying something in the industrial field in order to create something in the field of art.

The talk was not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to Copyright, but I hope it was informative and it has encouraged you to look carefully at how copyright could affect your own activities. Bookshops having legal sections or specialising in law are worth visiting and the UK Patent Office has an interesting web site. As Copyright is a special branch of law, you may require advice to deal with any particular problem.


Brian Ingram © 7.10.06

Summer Madness!

No! This not a recipe for going mad in the summer, but the title of a new exhibition venture at the Mall Gallery, the home of the Federation of British Artists. I am sure that you are all aware of the annual exhibitions held at the Mall Gallery by the various societies such as NEAC, The Pastel Society, Royal Society of Marine Artists, etc. However, this year they put on an exhibition at which any member of the nine attached societies could enter works to be sold at affordable prices the proceeds to go towards the FBA's charitable work.
Over 500 works were on display. with prices going from £50 up to £2000 with the majority being priced under £500. Good prices for works by some of the UK’s best artists, such as Tom Coates, Nick Tinam, David Sawyer, Moira Huntley and many other well known names.
I would guess that some of the works were from earlier in their careers, or sketches for larger works, but the standard nonetheless was very high. One of the things which I found very interesting, was seeing works in other media or styles than the one that the artist normally worked in. For instance, landscapes by Geoff Hunt, famous for his maritime paintings, life watercolours from Trevor Chamberlain and portrait painter David Graham’s landscapes.
I found a series of 10 life drawings by Julie Jackson (NEAC ) really exciting and at £95 each real bargains.
Overall, I found it one of the most interesting exhibitions I have been to this year, and, if it were repeated next year, I would recommend that you do not miss it. But go early. I went on the first day morning, and, as you are allowed to take purchases away with you, there were all ready many gaps and paintings were selling fast.
Did I buy anything? No, I was under strict instructions not to!
Bernard Victor

Nothing to Declare

I can’t recall writing about nothing before but on a recent visit to the Shirn Gallery in Frankfurt, I saw an exhibition entitled “Nichts” (”nothing” in German). In all fairness, it did exactly what it said on the tin. Even in the catalogue there was no pretence that there would be anything to see - the catalogue being a blank piece of paper bearing a few words of explanation viz. “Stillness, emptiness, silence - the pause, the gap, the omission is increasingly important in today’s society of images... Post minimalists and Neoconceptualists are now transforming the experience of emptiness in poetic installations...”.

Oh yeah?

My friend and I were handed headsets to help us to appreciate the eagerly awaited masterpieces. We entered a large room entirely painted white with nothing on the walls bar little labels bearing a number and the name of the “artist”. When we pressed the relevant key on the handset we were treated to an explanation of the blank wall before us. We heard, “a snowflake fell on my white canvas and it melted...” or, and this was my special favourite, “Put sock on right foot. Put sock on left foot. Take off left sock and turn inside out. Put on right foot...” and so on, ad nauseam.

It seemed “artists” were invited from all over the world to contribute “nothing”.The real no-brainer was the statement that “many of the works are on loan from museums and renowned private collections in Europe and the U.S.” The transportation costs must have been immense and the insurance risk could easily have sent Lloyd’s of London into total meltdown.

In my opinion the most memorable “nothing” was the customary blank space in front of which a ghetto blaster emitted very rude noises which, for me, summed up the show. They were blowing raspberries at the punters who had laid out good Euros to see nothing. The words “The Emperor’s New Clothes” kept coming to mind. The only comfort I could draw from the experience was the fact that, having just had my hall painted white, I am now the proud owner of several masterpieces! Or maybe I’m missing something? I’d like fellow BAS members to enlighten me.


Jill Reardon

Exhibition Rules

I was viewing pictures at a recent BAS exhibition, when I came across a painting that looked rather familiar. Upon checking, I found that the painting was a copy of a painting in a “how to paint” book. This incident prompted me to ponder the rules that should be applied to exhibiting and should be a condition of entry.

The following suggestions are purely a personal choice, which I put forward for consideration.

  1. All work should be the artist’s own and original. Copies of other artists’ paintings are not acceptable, with or without attribution.
  2. Prints of original work should be clearly identified as such and limited to a stated number.
  3. All work should be for sale.
  4. Minimum price for exhibited works to be £50. ( £20 for browser items)
  5. All work to be framed.( Except works for browser rack)
  6. Work should not have been previously exhibited at a BAS show within the last two years. There may be exceptions but they can be publicised with entry forms.

Members may have other suggestions but I don’t think we should over-regulate and certainly there should be no control over subject or medium, nor any censorship.

A recent lecture given to BAS was on the subject of copyright and the speaker highlighted the principal points of the legislation. Copying another person’s work may well breach the Copyright Act but, that aside, our exhibition visitors and customers (if we are lucky enough to sell work) expect to see original works and not copies of the work of another.

We artists also hold the copyright of our work. It is not necessary to take any positive steps, such as registration, to benefit from copyright legislation but the speaker did suggest that work is marked with the international copyright symbol © and signed and dated.

John Taphouse

It's Messy Time!

Come and join the fun!

Mini Makers is a new art class for children aged 18 months to 4 years at the Methodist Church Hall, Prince Imperial Road, Chislehurst.

Classes are held on Thursday and Friday mornings and Friday afternoons and cost £5 per session - and your first session is free.

For more information or to book, please contact: Morven on 0795 6810541 or Marie on 07761 219708 or visit our website at

Op Art

There is a reference to Op Art in this issue and, as this may be unknown to some of our members, an explanation from The Tate seems appropriate:

A major development in the 1960s of painting that created optical effects for the spectator. These effects ranged from the subtle to the disturbing and disorienting. Op painting used a framework of purely geometric forms as the basis for its effects and also drew on colour theory and the physiology and psychology of perception. Leading figures were Bridget Riley, Jesus Raphael Soto, and Victor Vasarely. Vasarely was one of the originators of Op art. Soto's work often involves mobile elements and points up the close connection between Kinetic and Op art.

If you have access to the internet, my old friend Prof. Dr. Charles Zuill’s work is worth a visit at where you can also find his essays. Give time to reading Surface Reality.



Easel 15 - Spring 2007

A selection of articles


This issue addresses with great passion the question posed in the previous edition - “What is Art?” Don’t miss a word! Additionally, poetry and the script for a short play showing the influence of Samuel Becket, is indicative of the vast range of creative talent in our art society.Humour, too, is not in short supply. We are sad to announce the deaths of Val Jackson-Huet and Raymond Wright, who joined the Society about a year ago, Raymond died on Christmas Eve, Val at the end of November.

From The Exhibition Secretary

In 2006 exhibitions resulted in poor sales overall with the exception of many solo exhibitions which did well. I feel 2007 will be similar. However, our increased membership with more members exhibiting is resulting in more interesting shows. There is a sense of excitement in all this. We are a well established, well regarded society thanks to the efforts of many members not afraid to experiment, inovate and move on. Sales are not the be all and end all of an exhibition – agree?

In an effort to entertain the public we are actively looking for new venues and new ideas. From mid-January to March the Wednesday group exhibited in Orpington Hospital – just 34 paintings from 17 artists. The hospital feels that this show is a morale booster for patients and visitors. We hope to repeat this exercise elsewhere. Small scale exhibitions, perhaps over a weekend only, will hopefully be in addition to our regular exhibitions of a week or more. New ideas and venues are needed – you can help here. Why not lay on your own exhibition in your own home, perhaps with one or two other artists? The society will help with promotion and advice.

I could go on in this vein but the underlying message is this – more participation from more members is needed – this means YOU.
Good luck, more fun and excitement to us all in 2007.


Peter M Dinsmore

From Your Chairman

Happy New Year to everyone and may you have as lovely and interesting year of talks, demonstrations and exhibitions as in 2006. We had a very enjoyable social evening at the beginning of December. There were good refreshments and a stall of attractive items arranged by Ann; a splendid book- stall and auction by Peter (which involved a great deal of fetching and carrying and lifting); Chris. organised a raffle for one of Charles Evans’ paintings; Allan displayed the prints of members’ palettes and I arranged a quiz. So a very good time was had by everyone. On December 13th we had a very convivial lunch in the dining room of the Ripley Art Centre. Thanks go to Joe Grimaldi for arranging the food and Peter for the drinks. We are continuing our Wednesday afternoon workshops at Ripley this year, 1.30 p.m. to 4.30 pm.
Pat Tucker

Own Art with an Interest Free Loan

(Available at selected contemporary art and craft venues across England.)
Following up on my article in the Easel in 2006 you can now pick up a leaflet at your local library with full details of this scheme and participating galleries in the South East of England. Interestingly enough, the front cover of the leaflet depicts a shirt with a map of England on it so maybe the ‘shirt’ featured in the copyright talk and Easel wasn’t so far fetched. Our nearest participating gallery is Frances Iles Gallery in Rochester Kent, so this may be worth investigating further. I did once exhibit there. It must have been an open and I cannot remember how I got to hear about it so it¹s worth checking this out and their web site at To apply you must be over 18, hold a bank account that can handle direct debit payment and you need two proofs of identity. there is no administration charge or handling fee. Own Art also offers the possibility of commissioning a custom made item from the artist. You can borrow up to £2,000 or as little as £100 and pay back the loan in ten monthly instalments - interest free.
Ann Holdway

Exhibition Rules

I hope many of you will be sharing your thoughts on this subject. Here are mine.

  1. I sometimes get inspiration from someone else’s painting but I don’t consider what I produce to be a copy because it¹s my interpretation, my style, my colours, so where do you draw the line?
  2. As far as I am aware all prints we receive are identified and numbered.
  3. All work needs to be for sale, no problem with this one either way and some people may just like to have their work on show.
  4. Do not agree with a minimum price the artist needs to feel comfortable with the price they are charging.
  5. Some canvases do not need framing, so this cannot apply.
  6. Could apply to our main exhibitions but not our one day sales, etc.

Over to you. I’m looking forward to reading some witty and entertaining replies.

Ann Holdway

What is Art?

In Easel 14, Allan posed the question "What is Art?"

Allan's own notes are below, followed by three contributions from others in various forms .... 

If you have children or grandchildren at school, the ‘Student Hanbook for Art & Design’ by Richard Hickman at £3.95 from Pearson Publishing, 2002, ISBN 1 85749 637 X is a book that provides support, advice and up-to-date information about art and design at Key Stages 3 and 4, and GCSE. The National Curriculum for Art and Design places emphasis upon three connected areas - understanding art, knowing about art, and making or creating art. This handbook is based on these three areas.

“Traditionally, there are three main ideas about what art should be, with related ideas about how it should be judged:

  • Art should be based on imitation. It should look like something or represent some- thing; the more realistic it is, the better the art.”
  • Art should be concerned with feeling and expression; the more it conveys feeling the better it is.”
  • Art should be concerned with the interesting arrangement of visual elements. The most successful art is that which has the most ‘significant form’, ie the most interesting arrangement of shape, colour, etc.”

(Note: I recommend this little handbook with equal weight to both novices and those who consider themselves to be experts. Wonderful stuff! Ed.)

What is Art? - John Evans

Dear Allan,

Replying to your thought provoking Easel-hung shirt I would say that
too seriously discuss whether it is or is not Art would take a long
time and bore your readers to death. Suffice to say that by the
examples you mention and the definition in my dictionary the answer is
yes but should be no!

I much prefer your “wasted opportunity” on the back cover.

Rather than prompting discussion however, the Easel stimulated me to
action. The result is the enclosed and when it was finished I decided
an appropriate title would indeed be “Stimulation”.

Now I am not so sure for I discern a somewhat unfortunate juxtaposition
of the hand at the bottom of the picture. If this had been intentional
it might have been rather clever but it wasn’t!


John Evans

(STIMULATION is on the front cover. Ed.)

What is Art? - Dianne Gilmour

Two to three nano-seconds after our first meeting Allan Davies asked me
if I would write an article for this edition of ‘The Easel’.

“O.K.,” said I, “What about?” “What is Art?”

“Oh, that old chestnut. Eezy Peezy lemon squeezy - I know THAT!” So
here it is - the definitive, complete and utter answer to the question
What is Art?.

Art is:-

Looking at a portrait in the current Holbein exhibition and realising that you’ve just seen that person on the tube.

Sitting in the Rothko room at Tate Modern and feeling totally awestruck without knowing why.

Anything by Rembrandt.

“My Mum and a Carrot” by Jade, aged 5. (Collection of the artist).

John Singer Sargent’s watercolours.

A Thierry Henry goal. (This was my teenage son’s suggestion and is included under the umbrella term of Performance Art.)

The Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Finding something to like among the 2006 Turner Prize contenders. Honest! Check out Tomma Abts.

Rolf Harris. Anyone who can get seven million plus people to watch a programme on Rodin has to be a bit special.

That moment when you’re painting/drawing/sculpting or whatever it is
you do when something just HAPPENS. Just for one fleeting moment you
have an insight into how every artist in history has felt. MAGIC.

So there it is. Art. Sorted.

Now - the Meaning of Life....

Dianne Gilmour (New BAS member)

Note: This was submitted well before the winner of the Turner Prize was announced. Ed.

What is Art? - Keith Burtonshaw

There once was an artist unknown
whose painting resembled a stone.
“It’s abstract,” he said,
“it’s a young lady’s head
with nothing to see but the bone.
But why are the features left out
and a few scribbly lines strewn about?
“They show an idea in my mind
that imagines an image of kind.
But if onlookers cannot see this,
how can they know what it is?
“It’s the title that tells us,” he said,
as he woke from his dream in his bed.
“But without a title I’m sunk,”
he thought as he sat on his bunk.

Keith Burtonshaw

Interview - Bernard Victor

How long have you been involved in BAS ?

Since 2004 when I heard about it from my then tutor, Chris Nash, who I believe had some connection with the society.

What has been the most satisfying of your artistic achievements ?

I expect selling my first painting, and realizing that someone else liked my work outside of my immediate family and friends.

What other passtimes do you have outside painting?

I like listening to jazz and classical music, and have been a jazz fan since I was 12. Messing around on my computer. I used to sail dinghies and have always been a railway enthusiast. Before I retired in 2000 I ran a specialist model railway shop, which really combined hobby and business. I read a lot anything from crime to biography, and like going to the theatre.

What made you want to be an artist?

At school I was keen on art, and got a GSCE, but my parents would never have considered me going to art school. I've always loved going to galleries and some of my wife’s family were involved in the art world, so when the prospect of retirement loomed I made up my mind that I would have another go at painting. I took a ‘get started’ course at the Thomas Calton centre, and then was introduced to Dulwich Painters, where we have an unstructured tutored group. I have taken various courses, and also regularly attend the Strand Studio Club, an untutored life group.

What is your favourite place?

Dulwich where we live. It is an oasis in the heart of London.

What is your definition of Art?

In the broadest sense, something creative produced by a person or persons which gives pleasure to other people, whether it is painting, music, writing, cooking etc., etc. Great art is where that creation is timeless, like a Mozart concerto, a Rembrandt painting or a novel by Tolstoy, and not something ephemeral like so much modern painting, sculpture and music. Will Tracey Emin or Take That be known in 100 years time?

Who are your favorite painters, and who do you feel have influenced you?

The list would be too long, but as well as the usual favourites , like Rembrandt, Monet etc., there are some perhaps lesser painters whom I like and have been of some influence, Boudin, Pissaro, Mondrian, Barnett Newman, the Scottish Colourists, Euan Uglow. The greatest influences though are Cezanne and Matisse.

What would you say to someone who has recently found pleasure in art to encourage them?

Have a go ! Go to a good beginners class to learn the basics. Do your own thing and try not to just copy other people’s work because you think they are good. Get straight into oils, gouache or acrylics, and not touch watercolour until you are reasonable proficient, it is so frustrating not being able to correct your mistakes. I think so many beginners get fed up and give up because watercolour is such a hard medium to work in. Draw, draw and draw. Even if you want to paint abstracts being able to draw is still essential. Go to galleries - not just the block- busters but shows like the ones at the Mall Gallery and watch other artists at work.

Interview - Brenda Sayburn

How long have you been painting?
I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember. As a child I loved ‘colouring in’ with my treasured box of Lakeland Derwent pencils and Reeves Students’ paintbox.
Who or what was your main inspiration to paint?
I had an excellent art teacher in secondary school. She introduced us to all of the media, opaque and transparent, pen and wash, landscape (in nearby Crystal Palace Park) and then on to life drawing at Bromley Art School which, at that time, was at the corner of Widmore Road and Tweedy Road. The same teacher was great on the history of art and on art appreciation and her lessons were supplemented with visits to the Royal Academy, National Gallery and the Tate.
Which medium do you prefer?
I did a lot of crafts when my children were young but then I went to watercolour classes in Kemsing which started me off painting again. More recently I’ve enjoyed pastels and now acrylics, having been to a few short courses. I like the opaque quality of acrylic and feel more relaxed being able to cover mistakes or changes of heart.
What inspires you to start a picture?
Either sentiment for a scene or a place that I know very well and which means a lot to me, or because I fall in love with the atmosphere of a place and for which a photograph is not enough. An example of the latter is the Callanish stones in the Outer Hebrides with the magical shapes and atmosphere. Examples of the former are Whitley Bay island lighthouse for its holiday memories and Cambridge because I learnt to love it whilst living there for several years.
What advice would you give to a new painter?
As well as membership of the B.A.S, I would suggest a class for mixed media painting and, ideally, another for life drawing. Then I would suggest he or she attend as many galleries and exhibitions as possible in order to get a wide overview of styles of picture-making.
Which galleries?
Well, I love the Mall Gallery. Its series of exhibitions is many and varied. It is small and friendly with low or no admission prices. During the next few weeks one can see exhibitions by The Wapping Group, The Pastel Society, the Royal Institution for Painters in Watercolour and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
At the national exhibitions in London we have recently been treated to Rodin, Velas- quez, Holbein and Hockney and will soon be able to see Hogarth (Tate Britain) and Canaletto (Dulwich) and many others.
What does B.A.S. membership mean to you?
I particularly enjoy the variety of subjects that are covered in the lectures and demonstrations. I attend whenever I can, whatever the topic, and am frequently entertained and informed about new aspects of the wider art subjects. In addition, I find members are very nice and friendly and enjoy the social side of the meetings. I do not really want to exhibit to sell at the BAS shows as, if I paint a picture that is worth framing, then I generally want to keep it.

That Wow! Factor

On a recent weekend I visited two art exhibitions, one put on by my local art club and the other by a group of professional artists. On thinking about them afterwards I realised that whilst the amateur show had many 'nice' paintings, and showed a high level of painting ability, the professional show had many more paintings that had that 'wow' factor that made more impact. They claimed your attention, even though you might not actually like them. I have tried to work out why the pro's paintings had that impact.
The first thing that struck me was the medium used. Most of the amateur paintings were in watercolour whilst the pro paintings were mostly oils or acrylics. Why do most amateurs paint in watercolour? When I started painting, after I retired, I was told by two retired art school tutors not to attempt watercolour but to start with oils, as that way I would learn to paint properly, and only when I was reasonably competent should I attempt watercolours. I am sure that this advice has paid off. It is much easier to correct mistakes and not get frustrated.
Another factor was size. The majority of the pro paintings were larger and not always on standard canvases, whilst the amateurs generally kept to small standard sizes, which had less impact. This also affected presentation. The club painters were mostly mounted and framed, often the frames or mounts were poor and not much thought had been put into their suitability for the painting. Quite a few of the pro paintings were on deep edge canvases allowing them to be hung without frames or even when not on deep canvases were painted on canvases tacked from behind so they could still be framed or hung without frames. Where they were framed much more care had been taken in the choice of frame to suit the type of painting, even to the extent of painting the frame to match the painting. One has only to look in an estate agent’s window to see that a lot of home owners like unframed or deep modern framed paintings instead of the traditional gilded framing.
The choice of subjects was similar, except there were very few club painters who attempted abstracts. It seems very few amateur painters are drawn to abstraction and when they do they tend to be very stiff. The pro's paintings were generally brighter giving them more impact. Looking at many instruction books this seems to be some- thing that is not stressed and again is possibly caused by the use of watercolours.
Another cause of this lack of excitement in a painting is the use of photographs being used as the subject. It is often stressed in painting articles that a photograph should only be used as reference, and a painting based on sketches will have more impact. One has only to go to any club painting session or even a painting class to see that many people are trying to copy from photographs, often without even making preliminary sketches based on the photo. Even some pro's do this and it nearly always results, even when done with a great amount of painting skill, in a dull and lifeless painting. Possibly the club painters sold just as many paintings, but I do feel that tutors should stress the importance of impact on the viewer as well as just how to paint in a competent manner.
Bernard Victor

Watching Paint Dry

“D’you think it’s dry yet?”


“It took three hours yesterday.”

“Still, it was a warmer day. The day before, I mean.”

“Yeah, but not as warm as last week.”
“Yeah, it was warmer last week. D’you like the colour?”


“I wanted blue but they would have this orange-red.”

“It’s more reddish orange.”

“Yeah. Whatever.”

“I like green.”

“Green’s more serviceable, I suppose.”


“Kandinsky said ‘green is like a fat, very healthy cow lying still and unmoving, only capable of chewing the cud, regarding the world with stupid dull eyes.’”

“A bit like your old woman.”


“I rather lean towards Paul Klee’s jactitation ‘Colour possesses me. Here is the meaning of the happy moment: colour and I are one. I am a painter.’”
“We’re both painters, mate. That’s what it said on the job description. They insisted in orange-red. It said sunset on the tin.”

“I ain’t never seen a sunset that colour. Well, not in Peckham.”

“D’you think it’s dry yet?”

“Might be.”

“Want a fag?”


“‘Ow long has it been now? I mean, since we done it?”

“Dunno. You talk too much.”

“Sorry. I mean, sorry if I talk too much.”

“There you go again. Shut up!”

“All right. D’you think it’s dry at the bottom?”

“I doubt it. We started at the top.”

“‘Ow long do we have to stay here?”

“Until it dries.”

“When will that be?”

“’Ow do I know?”

“D’you think it’s dry yet?”


Jill Reardon

Joe Goes to Paris

What could have been easier than catching the Eurostar to Paris? After a comfortable three hour journey we arrived at our destination and using a 'Paris Visite' travel pass we enjoyed unlimited travel on bus and metro to see the sights. The highlight of our stay was the Musee L'Orangerie, home to Claude Monet's outstanding Water Lilies Sequence. After 6 years of renovations the Orangerie reopened its doors to display Monet's giant panels in two oval rooms forming an infinite elipse. Daylight bathed the water lilies in natural light as was originally intended and ninetyone metres of canvas recreated the three dimensional effect of reflections and light on water. Altogether thoroughly inspiring.
Joseph Grimaldi

True Colours

Dear Artist,

There are colourists and there are colourists. There are those among us whose colours are clunky and crude--and there are those whose colours are deadly, tasty, and "right on." There are even some, like Paul Gauguin, who believe colour ought to be arbitrary--that is, it's a good idea if the sky is green and the grass is red.

While we're at it, there are those who think tone values are more important than hue--which is similar to saying colour is arbitrary. But even newly baptized novices know that if you manage to get the right colour your painting can look "true." God may work in light, but we mortals work in pigment. Getting the colour of the light through haze in front of a distant range of hills is, for many, the Holy Grail. It's not in the magic of some new pigment, it's a matter of looking, seeing, mixing, testing and adjusting.

Looking is opening your mind to your impressions. Seeing is replacing what you know with what you see. Mixing is the knowledgeable confluence of pigments. Testing is comparing your preparations with the truth. Adjusting is the will to fix your flagrant wrongs.

Guidelines for mixing: I know it's basic, but where you mix your colours (your palette) won't show how a chosen hue will react with others on the work itself. You must apply and consider. Also, many successful mixtures contain a mother colour, plus white and black. Don't be afraid of black. Having said that, garishness, when it occurs, is best neutralized with its opposite on the colour wheel. Get a colour wheel. And when you come to mixing, testing and adjusting, it's nice to know that practically everybody must silently and diligently struggle to get it right. There's no easy way. In the words of Chromophobia author David Batchelor, "Colour reveals the limits of language and evades our best attempts to impose a rational order on it. To work with colour is to become aware of the insufficiency of language and theory - which is both disturbing and pleasurable."

For those who paint outdoors, colour work can seem devilishly programmed to perplex and confuse. On the other hand, film photography, with its errant chem- icals, can also get things wrong. Digital reference material, because of its eternal tweakyness, has been sent by the Great Goddess to help us look more virtuous than we are.

Best regards,


This is an example of the twice-weekly e-mail letter from Canadian artist Robert Genn - published here with his permission.The letters are free to anyone who subscribes and subscription is free, too. The web page is worth visiting regularly at Thank Bernard Victor for the contact. Ed.

We Never Knew Who We Were Going to Meet



From the mid 1960's right through to the 1980's for each Saturday throughout those summers, I went to the Kings Road to exhibit in the Chelsea Open Air Art Exhibition. The family came too. It was the period which came to be known as “The Swinging Sixties” and the Kings Road was at its centre. One never knew who we would meet, or just see passing by, next. It was a fun place to be and provided a welcome contrast to our normal suburban lifestyle. There were celebrities to recognise amongst the flower people and later amongst the punks, but this colourful, vibrant mix was never threatening.

I want to tell you of one particular experience which happened on one of those Saturdays in 1983. After looking at my exhibits a young American man asked me if I would be willing to paint a picture of the house of a friend. Of course I said yes - it is what I did. In those days most of my commissions were for painting houses in the Chelsea area and I assumed this to be just another of these. He then introduced me to his “friend” - it was soon apparent that the friend was actually his employer and he was Sheik Salim’s PA and minder. The Sheik was dark haired, even more handsome than the first man, he wore an emerald green silk shirt and tight white trousers and had been educated at Eton.

It was then that I was told that the house was near Luton and could I come to look at it that afternoon. There was a problem; our daughter Louise was with me but had gone for a walk with a boy friend and would not be back before 6pm when the show closed. They said they could wait as they also had to wait for their girl friends to emerge from their hairdressers.

Husband Leslie was rung and told that we would be late home, the two glamorous girl friends appeared and so did Louise. We set off squeezed into a white open- topped sports car. Just short of our destination Salim stopped the car and insisted one of the girls took over for the rest of the way. She was petrified but apparently could not refuse. To add to her nerves he sat on the bonnet and pointed the way.

We all arrived safely. The house was large with a beautiful garden and distant views over the surrounding countryside. Internally the furnishings were immaculate. I was taken round the outside of the house and two external viewpoints were agreed. He also wanted an interior of the main living room. On arrival a cook and maid were waiting to serve us with cocktails and sweetmeats, but there had been no sign of any cooking.
After a short time they offered to return us to the Kings Road where my car was parked - it was no trouble as they intended to go back to London for a meal in any case!

Louise and I reached home by about 10pm. We went back to the Luton house to take photographs in due course and the three watercolours were painted and delivered to an office in London and paid for. I never met Salim again.

Quite recently I was looking through my old order books and found my entry for the Luton house; the name of my client had been Bin Laden! One never knew who one would meet in the Kings Road.


Pat Tucker

Easel 18 - Winter 2007


Another year passes and our AGM will soon be upon us. So, are you getting ready for the Spring Exhibition? I have been pleased with the response to my plea for items for The Easel. Please, keep them coming. I am not so happy with the lack of response to my publicity requests in local papers. Christine Richards has volunteered to be our Publicity Officer. My gratitude is boundless! I hope that you will find this issue interesting as well as challenging.

Allan Davies

Encaustic Painting Demo

Forgive me if I wax lyrical about the October demonstration given by Barry Moulton. Barry was an articulate demonstrator and, although he denied vehemently that he was an artist, his finished articles gave lie to this claim. He was skilled and imaginative.

He started by listing the basic equipment required viz, beeswax colours, a small travel-type iron, and the special glossy card (although he had also used a block canvas, watercolour paper and canvas board). 

Here comes the history bit, so look away now! The art of painting with coloured beeswax was known more than 2000 years ago by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. One can only wonder at their skill at a time when there was no electricity only fire. 

We were stunned by the results he achieved and he made it look simple. He showed us how to apply wax to the plate of the iron and spread it lightly and randomly on the sheet. It dried surprisingly quickly and then, by applying the iron again, very lightly, he achieved amazing foliage effects. Applying the iron more heavily moved the drying wax around producing rather abstract impressions. Barry also dotted wax in various colours on the foot of the iron and, applying gently, accomplished the effect of flowers and birds. He showed us how to use the edges of the plate to drag vertically forming stalks and trunks. Producing reflections in water looked like child’s play but probably wasn’t. Images could also be transferred from card to cloth — a useful aid for the embroiderers among us. 

After tea break, he showed us other tools of the trade, the main one being what looked remarkably like a Hostess trolley hotplate. (A word of warning: Gentlemen, don’t try this at home without the owner’s permission). By laying paper on the hotplate and letting it warm up, wax could be applied direct to the card and fascinating effects appeared using everyday objects such as a small paint roller. 

At one point Barry looked concerned. We had all gone quiet and he thought we were bored. He asked if anything was the matter and one member replied, succinctly,“We’re gobsmacked!”  Those members who were unable to attend missed a truly ‘gobsmacking’ evening.

Jill Reardon

The Open Exhibition 2007

October, St. George’s Church, Beckenham

A lovely but expensive venue. We sold 16 paintings and 9 ceramics - not a lot but rather expected nowadays. The standard of work was very high - congratulations to all you exhibitors.  

There were no real problems although having a preview at the same time as the France vs. England Rugby match was rather unfortunate - Friday evening was not available. Let us hope for better times. 

Please, all of you, keep an eye out for local popular venues where we could exhibit for a week at a time. I now don’t think that such a venue exists in Bromley but miracles happen!


Letters - To Frame or Not to Frame

Currently the trend for unframed canvases seems to be led by places such as B&Q, Homebase and so on where you will see pictures/images or even sometimes just reproduction of their wallpaper, ready to hang on your newly decorated walls at low prices.  Definitely not works of art more just a decoration, which because of it’s low cost, can be disposed of when the  purchaser tires of the image or redecorates.  So unframed canvases are the in thing.  

Another new trend is framing and mounting fossils, ammonites and the like, which I saw on two stalls at a recent Craft Fair at Penshurst Place. For us artists it means just more competition for wall space in people’s homes.  

Michael asked about water-colours and I am sure it is possible to produce watercolour paintings on canvases as there are fixative sprays to help prevent colours fading  so perhaps we need to just give it a go and report back on the results.  

For me the mounting and framing give the finishing touches to my watercolour and ink painting whilst greatly enhancing the overall presentation and I won¹t be without them.I have even started framing some of my mosaics, which I feel sets them off splendidly and adds to their appeal.  No mounts; I use the mosaic tiles to produce a border.  This process is not suitable for all my mosaics but I think it works well, as those who visited our Open Exhibition in October will have seen, so I plan to continue. Vive la framing. 

Ann Holdway

The decision on whether to frame your paintings for exhibition I feel depends partly on firstly the type of painting and secondly who you hope to sell to. Pastels obviously have to be framed behind glass, so no question. Watercolours and other paintings on paper or card need at least to be mounted, but I would have thought they could then be attached to a thicker backing so they could be hung, and the backing removed afterwards so the buyer can choose their own frame. With oils and acrylics on canvas the decision is much harder. This is where who you hope to sell to applies.  

If you look in any gallery or professional art show, or look at typical rooms in estate agents’ windows, you will see that most paintings are unframed or in very basic wood or metal frames. This is the look that most younger people have in their homes and these are the people who are going to buy more modern paintings. So if this is the way you paint, frameless or basic frames is the way to go.  

If you need to mount the painting make sure the mount is to a standard frame size and you can buy an off the peg frame at a reasonable price. Neilson make some excellent frames. If you paint in a more traditional manner, then I expect you need to frame, but you need to take great care when framing. A decent painting in an old, obviously second-hand, frame will detract from the painting and make it much harder to sell. I've seen some good paintings in terrible frames which really makes them almost un-sellable. Though it seems that some of our members do not like modern paintings at all, at the recent Horniman exhibition  it was the modern paintings that were  the best and quickest sellers. The first two paintings sold were both unframed abstracts. Even with the postcards it was the modern works which seemed to be selling.

Bernard Victor

Coming of Age of American Art, 1850s - 1950s

14 March - 8 June 2008
Marine paintings by Winslow Homer, portraits by Thomas Eakins, genre paintings by Eastman Johnson, landscapes by John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler, and abstract art by Jackson Pollock will be among the famous works in this exhibition about  American art. Over the course of the one hundred years from the 1850s to the 1950s, American art and culture came of age, evolving from the provincial to the international.

The Mona Lisa's Eyebrows

Is there no limit to what science can reveal to us? In yet another leap forward, this week a French inventor, Pascal Cotte, established after numerous tests that the Mona Lisa originally did have eyelashes and eyebrows. Dan ‘Da Vinci Code’ Brown must be kicking himself for missing that secret!
Detail - Eyes of Mona Lisa

In 2003, Professor Margaret Livingstone of Harvard University suggested after extensive study that ‘the elusive quality of the Mona Lisa’s smile can be explained by the fact that her smile is almost entirely in low spatial frequencies, and so is seen best by your peripheral vision.’ In 2005, another scientific study deciphered that smile using emotion-recognition software and concluded that the Mona Lisa was ‘mainly
happy’. Last year, a forensic scientist called Matsumi Suzuki was even able to use voice-simulation programmes to ‘reproduce’ la Gioconda’s voice.

What is it that drives scientists back to re-examine a work of art with more and more elaborate techniques? While most of us just want to stand and appreciate a painting, scientists, it seems, would rather ‘discover’ something about it – prove that what we see is not what was originally created, or scrutinise, dissect and explain our reaction to it.

People of a scientific bent have a different way of encountering the world. Recently, I visited Tate Modern in the company of an economist. Not a fan of the art on display, he took the opportunity instead to time how long people spent looking at each painting (3.5 seconds on average) and reading the accompanying notes (likewise, 3.5 secs.). A total of seven seconds to take in a piece of great art, its composition, development and importance, before moving on. Would it ever have occurred to you to conduct such an experiment?

Perhaps, like me, you hadn’t noticed that the Mona Lisa today has no facial hair. Nevertheless, an important part of our Christian discipleship lies in developing a playful inquisitiveness that encourages us to look closer at the world and ask the question, ‘What is missing from this picture that may be revealed?’ So that, as G K Chesterton suggested, we can ‘contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it’.

Easel 19 - Spring 2008

Sketch of editor Allan Davies by DerekEditorial

Here is another useful issue of The Easel, I hope. There is a great deal for all of us to do again as we complete the works we expect to show during the Spring and Autumn. Then, again, there is the article you are going to write for the Summer issue of this newsletter and the pics of the work you want displayed on the cover. One may find a home on the front and earn you a voucher to be used at Art for All in Bromley. This time, Dennis wins the voucher.Jill makes a wicked suggestion (interpret ‘wicked’ as you will), and Ann’s AGM Report makes worthwhile reading, if you missed the AGM. There is so much going on and Bernard Victor gives wonderful advice. Whatever you do, do not miss the French and Russian Master Paintings from Moscow and St Petersburg on show at the Royal Academy until 18 April. Tickets are available at the door from 10 am. Adults £11, Concessions £9 (seniors, disabled, NADFAS etc), Students £7.50 Corporate Guests £7.50, Income support, unwaged £4, Children 12-18 years old £4, Children 8-11, £3, Under 7 years old free

From Your Chairman

A Happy New Year to you all.  I hope that you have had a wonderful time with your families over Christmas. We are so lucky having the London galleries so near — especially as most of us have to pay nothing to travel to see them. How about making a New Year resolution to see at least one exhibition a month during 2008?  If the crowded blockbuster shows in London do not appeal you could hardly do better than making for the Mall Gallery to keep abreast of what the best of our contemporaries are doing. Closer to hand is the 200 world-class paintings at the Queen’s House, Greenwich. It is part of the Maritime Museum’s permanent collection and will be on show continuously for the foreseeable future. Entrance is free and it is well worth a visit. It is not all “maritime”. So much for my general hopes for the future; I will now review our activities of the recent past.

November 2nd – The “4 Corners” Evening: Perhaps members did not quite understand what “Four Corners” meant when they saw it in the programme as we had no more than two dozen people attending. During the evening there was one person in each corner of the room demonstrating or talking about a particular subject:

Ann Holdway was demonstrating her approach to mosaic and at least one member tried her hand at it. 

Gilly Hewstone showed her skill at drawing portraits using pencil shading and brought many examples of her work.

Allan Davies gave advice on and showed very clear drawings explaining the principles of perspective.

I was drawing a pastel portrait and brought a number of unframed portraits and photographs of previous commissions.It proved to be an enjoyable evening — members sat for a while at one demonstration before moving round to the next — it was informative and pleasantly social. We must do it again and next time give you more advanced details on who will be doing what. 

Private View at St George’s Church, Beckenham: I was very disappointed about the very small number of people attending the Private View. Not only were there very few members but there was little evidence that many had invited friends, neighbours and family to come. Ann sends out invitations to previous buyers but we expect members to invite visitors, too. Without them few pictures will be sold. Remember that the committee works hard to put on these shows and a Private View adds significant costs for the Society.  

The Art Auction November 3rd: This event was not well attended either but proved quite enjoyable and those who were there picked up some real bargains. It was held in the Scout hut in Tiepigs lane. Many thanks to Ann and Peter for organising the event and to the committee for their energetic support — including Christine and her friend for the splendid refreshments. A repeat is expected — you will be informed of details when known. Here’s hoping that 2008 will bring continued success to the Bromley Art Society.

Bromley Art Society's Website

The BAS website was launched in time for the New Year. The aims of the website are to provide better information to existing members and to attract new members to the society. The website and meetings are supported by a newsletter to give you up-to-date information in a brief email. This is not intended to replace The Easel in all its glossy glory.

We want to build something of a community around the website, to support the society's activities. It takes time and effort to build this - Please join us in doing so. Feel free to tell us what features you would like to see on the website, in the email newsletter, in The Easel  or in the society's meetings.  

Perhaps you would like to submit an article, either for The Easel or for the website? Tell us which exhibitions you have visited and what you liked or disliked, or write a review of an art book you have read recently. We hope to have a gallery for members' work soon. 

Tou can email me using the contact form on the site. You can also email this magazine.  You can add comments in the forums too and I look forward to seeing them.

Adrian Fowle
Webmaster, Bromley Art Socoiety

I Sold A Painting!

I don’t believe it.  Not me. Are you sure?  Really?  (Grin appears)  Which one?  Really?   Me?  You must be mixing up me with someone else. No?  Which one?  (Grin widens) That one!  Gosh!  (Strange sensation moves up through body into my head)  (Smiling  faces looking up at me.  Yes, you!  Yes!)  (Grin now permanent)  (Speechless). 

I have sold a picture at an exhibition.  For the first time.  All those exhibitions - and  nothing! Other people sold pictures, but not me.  Never.  Nobody wanted one of my  pictures on their wall.  Other painters sold strange impressionist swirls of garish paint  that I couldn’t understand.  But nobody wanted my pictures.  Real pictures of boats,  scenes, happy people at cafés, at the seaside.  Now I was a real painter! 

Actually, I had “sold” a picture before.  About three years ago, in my art class, I had  just finished a watercolour of a boat drawn up on a sun baked beach, white buildings  in the background, people playing on the sand in the distance.  I rarely do watercolour.   I just do them when I get the urge to dash off something quick.  A lady’s voice said  “I’d like to buy that picture.  I’d like it for my house.”  “How much do you want for it?”    Confusion.  Speechless.  “I – I don’t know.” “I’ve no idea.” “You can have it.”  “No, I  must give you something.” Stuttered conversation followed.  “I’ll give you a bottle of  wine for it then,” she said.  “Done!” I said. 

The next week I received two bottles of good red wine.  The glow I felt was  unbelievable.  Somebody wanted my painting!  The embers of that glow remain  within me to this day.   I think it will stay with me for ever. 

Don’t give up, if you have not sold a painting yet.  Keep exhibiting, and at as many  different places as you can find.  Don’t forget that hospitals and the smaller libraries  often display amateur work.  Look outside your immediate area.  Sooner or later you  could be lucky!

Ken Brazier

Sergei Bongart 1918 - 1985

20th Century Russian painter Sergei Bongart was born in Kiev in the Ukraine. He studied art in Kiev, Prague, Vienna and Munich, before emigrating to the USA in 1948. From Memphis, Tennessee. He moved to Los Angeles in 1954 where he founded an art school and taught a number of aspiring young painters who later became well-known, nationally collected American artists.Bongart established an art school in Idaho in 1969. He lived half the year in Santa Monica, California and the other half in Idaho. Much of his art reflects the rustic settings which reminded him of his homeland. 

Bongart is admired for his richly colored and emotionally expressive landscapes, still lifes and portraits. He was best known as a colorist, working in exaggerated color, using dynamic but carefully controlled color relationships and extolling the virtues of approaching painting as “color first, subject last"  Source: Wikipedia

“There are no bad subjects, only lousy artists. 
Everything can be forgiven in art, but boring art.”
Sergei Bongart 

Painting the Grotesque

I recently embarked on a portrait of Peter Tobin, multi-murder suspect, which raised a few comments in the Wednesday afternoon group viz ‘I couldn’t paint a face like that.’ ‘I would feel uncomfortable living with his eyes following me around.’ ‘Whatever made you want to paint such a subject?’ To which I replied,‘How often do we get the chance to paint evil? (allegedly)’.* 

I’m not averse to  painting pussy cats and fluffy bunnies but what a dull life it would be if we lived on chocolate cake and honey. Wouldn’t we crave a misshapen jacket potato or a juicy steak? 

Tobin presented a challenging subject with his wild eyes, unkempt hair, his contorted features and look of utter defiance. I realised that it would make the portrait even more indigestible if I made him gaze directly at the viewer. I hope I have achieved my aim of capturing (alleged) wickedness. That this grotesque face should be the last thing (allegedly) that those poor girls saw is truly chilling. 

So why not depict ugliness or the extraordinary? Leonardo da Vinci did. I understand that he wandered the streets sketching such unfortunates. If it’s good enough for da Vinci, it’s good enough for us! So, members of BAS, why don’t we get out our mirrors and start a self-portrait? How grotesque is that?

* To ensure that I don’t find myself in the next cell to our friend Mr. Tobin I have included a liberal sprinkling of ‘allegedlies’.

Jill Reardon

P.S. On the same subject, the following little gem was found in a Christmas cracker:-
Q.   What are measles?
A.   What artists paint self-portraits on.

The Strand Studio Club: Life Painting and Drawing

All are welcome to join this friendly and informal life painting group held every Wednesday during term times between 1 and 3 pm. These untutored sessions are angled toward life painting with a single pose running over 
2 to 4 weeks. 

£40.00 per term (including model fee), £5.00 per session, 10 sessions per term starting on the 9th January 2008. Time: 1 to 3 pm.

The location: Room 18 (Art Room), Second Floor, The Thomas Calton Centre, Alpha Street off Choumert Road, Peckham SE15 4NX

For further information contact Cliff on 07860 796595 or Reg on 020 8670 8016

A Brief Biography of Peter Dinsmore

I do not have an artistic background. As an evacuee, ending up in Cheshire. When my mother remarried, I was brought up on a farm in Gawsworth. I eventually became a chemist in R & D, working in I.C.I. on water/detergent analysis, briefly with Penicillin manufacture and finally in Dyestuff research. I came back to London, worked in paint research and spent many years in developing building additives and acting as a trouble shooter in the Civil Engineering and building industries. This latter involved a lot of travel away from home.

Eventually, tiring of all this, I changed direction and became a teacher until I retired in 1995.

My hobbies were archeology (where I first met my wife Dallas) and gardening (I ended up as secretary of the Croydon and District Allotments and Garden Societies - 4,600 allotments).

In Bromley the scout movement, C.N.D. and the Green Party took up much time and together with Technical Administration I became overworked and headed towards a breakdown.

My doctor advised me to cut down and take up an interest away from work. He suggested Art as an interest. Being a Jack of all trades I gave it a go, joined the W.W.A.A. and loved it, even realising I was a pretty awful artist.

To raise funds for the Green Party I ran a Craft Market. In an effort to fill stalls I put some of my daubs on one and actually sold 4 pictures - unbelievable!. So I ran craft markets for some years, mainly in my school. Each time I booked a stall for myself and did fairly well.

Since I retired I’ve continued to volunteer - a fault in my life I think - but I can’t seem to help it. I work with OXFAM and other charities, one Scout group and two art societies, one of them the B.A.S.

Some years ago I started making my own frames and somehow this has expanded into making and renovating frames for others as well.

I try to balance my lifestyle with my ill health. Full time interests keep me going and I can hopefully postpone most of the ill health for a while yet. However, the admin. of hiring screens and help with exhibitions for the B.A.S. needs to be taken over by a younger, fitter interested party well before I finally retire. I could then maybe just paint and try and match some of the quality of many of my fellow members of B.A.S.

Peter Dinsmore

One of Our members is Missing!

Picture of Melanie
Another year comes to a close and, despite my best efforts, painting and teaching commitments have kept
me away from many monthly meetings at Bromley. Having taken the final step to become a full-time professional artist some 18 months ago now, art has completely taken over my life.

This year saw me take on the role of Hon Secretary at the Maritime Art Group (a group of mainly professional artists, all Lay Members of the RSMA). Meeting twice each month to paint on location has helped everyone develop their outdoor painting skills – especially how to keep out of the rain and be first at the pub! Results can be seen this year at one of two exhibitions, at Cranleigh Art Centre and the Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester.

Back in September, eight artists joined me for a week-long painting break to Sorrento and the wonderfully scenic Amalfi Coast. Whilst the main town of Sorrento is a sophisticated Italian resort, our base was the Hotel Admiral on the waterfront of the “Marina Grande” an artist’s delight with traditional boats moored
along the waterfront and fishermen mending nets in the evening light. During the week there was plenty of time to sketch and paint around the Harbour as well as enjoy trips along the Amalfi Coast to Positano and Ravello plus a full day sketching on the beautiful (if popular) Isle of Capri. With such a small group,
everyone enjoyed as much group and one-to-one tuition as they wished. One intrepid student even joined me at 6.00am one morning to paint the sunrise over the Bay of Naples! Having enjoyed hosting my first painting tour to Italy, next year’s trip will be to Tuscany and Umbria, to explore Siena and the surrounding countryside and vineyards.

Picture by Melanie

Given all these distractions, it is perhaps not surprising I have not been seen around Bromley during the past year. With the possible change of meeting day, and the
launch of an email newsletter, I am hoping to catch up with friends old and new during 2008.

Full details of all Melanie’s activities can be found on her website.

Douzens revisited

Some of you may remember that I wrote about my time spent in the South of France and having been invited to exhibit in the local Art Exhibition. Well, I can report that once again I exhibited in early June.

Because my pieces are all local, the villagers, although not rushing to buy, are clearly delighted to see that I am recording their area. In the artist’s eyes worn and shabby can be seen as beautiful and I am aware that things are changing, being renovated and refurbished. I am recording things as they have been but change can be seen.

Buildings used for the wine trade are gradually being taken over as their use changes.The Butcher’s shop was due to close in early summer. I painted it with its 1960s shop window implanted on a very ancient building. Surprisingly this painting sold and also many of my cards, which some people are beginning to collect.

Two of my paintings were bought by Canadians who are renovating what was known as ’La maison de Termites’. Termites can be a serious problem in this area. Later in September some friends called on the way to Carcasson. There the new proprietor in the ‘Marche Brittanique’, a shop aimed at tourists and Brits. who live in the area, told them that she would be interested to meet me and see my work. I went to see her amidst a cloud burst, the first rain for two months, and a very crowded town with claxons sounding out, etc. - the taxi drivers and pompiers were on strike. I parked by the Canal du Midi and in a few minutes was in the shop. There, Ann the proprietor, immediately bought all the cards I had with me and a few days later came to see my paintings in Douzens. She was very enthusiastic and took nine paintings to have as a display for the Christmas period.

After she left I felt quite bereft and my high white walls were very bare. So, what now? I’m realistic. When I return this year it would be reassuring to have sold at least one but at least they are there for the public to enjoy, I must now work hard scanning and printing my art work for more cards. I forgot to say that a local gite also sells my cards. Perhaps you are interested to know if I work plein air. Yes, I prefer to go on my bike, also I use my digital camera, which is such a boon. As I paint, people open their windows and greet me. This Autumn the streets had the rich smell of fruity wine because it was the the season of the vendage (grape harvest). The countryside yielded tasty snacks of grapes missed by the machines, almonds and walnuts, although the figs were finished. I made my fig jam in early August.

The textured buildings with red shutters often huddled together continue to inspire me. Walking, cycling, motoring, all is a joy in this unspoilt area. I’m only sorry I missed the glorious colours of the vines as they turn to all colours including deep crimson. Each vineyard and vine has a different colour. The area that I refer to is Aude, South of Carcasson.

Another piece of cultural news, I’ve joined the choir!

Christine Mallion

Paper for Watercolour - Part 2

Don’t waste your money buying cheap paper of poor quality, spend it on the very best.  Three of the very best are Bockingford, Saunders Waterford and, my personal favourite, Arches Aquarelle. Here is the SECOND of three items on these papers to encourage members to consider their use. I believe that they are the more economical in the long run. (Ed.) 


Saunders Waterford is surely not only one of the highest-grade water colour papers available but also one of the most versatile, being suitable for all techniques. The Saunders Waterford series is made on cylinder mould machines. This production process gives the paper stability for good flatness; the wool felt fibres and the fine surface markings round off the product to giveit its unique character and beautiful look. Saunders Waterford is made from 100% long-fibre cotton (rag) and is not only acid free but also additionally buffered with calcium carbonate. These characteristics ensure that the best archival permanence is attained and give long-term protection against environ-mental effects. The product is gelatine tub sized and also internally sized to give greater strength, in accordance with long-established tradition.  The

Saunders Waterford series offers the best characteristics of a ‘strong’ paper: it is resistant to fibre lift when removing masking materials; lines will not feather when pen and ink are used, and even erasure leaves almost no trace. The paper can withstand multiple erasures when using pencil or char-coal. The special sizing process creates a particularly receptive surface for multiple watercolour washes as colour can be taken off with water and a new wash applied quite evenly. The sheets have four deckled edges. The lower left corner bears a quality stamp mark and the lower right corner bears the watermark ‘Saunders Waterford’. Saunders Waterford carries the Royal Water Colour Society seal of approval. 

The above is from the on-line catalogue of greatArt (edited)

Secretary's Report 2007

Exhibitions: We had an excellent response from members for our Spring exhibition 
with sales holding their own.  The preview for The Open at St. George’s Church was 
poorly attended; sales were moderate and our conclusion was that it was too late in 
the year for this venue so hopefully this year’s venue will be in September.  Poor 
weather hit all our open air exhibitions so they were really a wash out in 2007 - it is
something we just have to take a chance with. The Preview at Ripley Art Centre was 
attended by mainly the artist themselves and continues to be a venue that just does
not attract enough of the public. 

For 2008 we are looking at other venues some of which are more suitable for a 
small number of members to show at rather than the whole of the society. Details 
will be printed in the Easel, if you are interested but don’t know where to start,
please contact me. 

The Easel continues to inform and delight us through the efforts of our editor Allan.   

We lost Joseph to the sunny shores of Corsica earlier in the year and are about 
to lose Malcolm Tait, our stalwart membership secretary, who also plans to be 
travelling more in the future.   

Christine has agreed to take on responsibility for Press and Publicity. 

John Taphouse has been taking care of the exhibition finances. 

Brenda Sayburn has been nominated as our next membership secretary. 

Jill Reardon, although not a member of the actual committee, is now responsible
for monthly meeetings at Verrall Halls. 

Derrick continues to design and produce our posters 

Peter is still looking for an exhibition assistant and we have a vacancy for the Vice

Don manages our finances and keeps us all in check.  He managed to obtain a 
small grant from the Bromley Arts Council which is earmarked for new velcro hooks. 

We do owe Malcolm a great depth of gratitude not only for his work as membership 
secretary but also for all the support and effort he puts in at exhibitions, not only 
with installing the display boards, serving the wine, but also for covering unpopular 
stewarding time plus extra slots when needed. Fortunately for us he is happy to 
still, for now, help out with refreshments at the monthly meetings.  His presence as 
part of the committee will be greatly missed.

Ann Holdway

Viewing Fine Art

Most of you probably visit the major London Galleries for their blockbuster exhibitions and some of you are probably  regular visitors to the Mall Gallery for its excellent exhibitions of work from its associated bodies, but did you know that there are ways of seeing major works of art that are not normally on view . 

The first way is to visit the three major auction houses in London, all of whom have regular art auctions. The works which are to be sold are normally on view for the week before the auction and you do not have to be a potential bidder to go and view them. Christie’s in South Kensington, seem to have a virtually continuous program of art auctions. They are generally themed so you will have maritime art or animal art, paintings from a particular period or poster art. Probably works not by the most famous artist but all of a very high standard. Bonhams in New Bond Street have similar auctions but not so often and generally of higher  quality, but the pinnacle of art auctions are held at Sotheby’s in New Bond Street. In early February they had an Impressionist and Modern sale which included works by most of the major impressionist and modern artists such as Renoir , as well as works by other impressionists and modern painters who might be called second string like Cailebotte and Boudin. These are paintings that you will probably never get a chance to see again, as they will end up in the collections of very wealthy patrons or institutions. There are no restrictions just walk in and look around. Catalogues are there to be seen and used. You might be tempted to buy one. They are expensive but good value. Christie’s have similar high end sales at their gallery in St. James’. 

The other way is to visit the many dealers’ galleries. They look rather formidable but in my experience they do not mind non customers looking round. You might have to ring a door bell to get entry , but once inside they will not worry you after asking if they can be of help. Bond Street is again a good area to visit. Richard Green opposite Sotheby’s always has a good selection of  British art  and usually some Impressionist gems. Next door the Fine Art Centre  also specialises in British art of  the 19th and 20th century. Cork Street just around the corner is full of galleries. The Waddington Gallery specialises in more Modern British art. They had a super exhibition of Patrick Caulfield late last year. Opposite is Browse & Darby who include Euan Uglow and Elisabeth Blackadder amongst their artists. 
Other galleries cater for all tastes from traditional to Britart. If works on paper are your thing, I’d recommend a visit to Chris Beetles in Ryder Street, St.James. The works of most of the best of  British illustrators are on view there and some are even quite reasonably priced.  

Finally a non-dealer gallery, which does not seem so well known. The Fleming Collection in Grosvenor Street only shows works by Scottish painters, but I have seen some stunning paintings there and have got familiar with the works of  some great painters like McTaggart, Redpath and the Scottish Colourists. Entry
is free and welcoming. There are many other galleries all around London, with Hoxton being full of them, but I must admit I am not familiar with them so cannot make recommendations. Next time you have some spare time visit some of these places and I think you will be amazed at the variety of art available to see for nothing.

Bernard Victor

Budds in Kent

Last year I had the privilege and pleasure of spending a weekend with Oliver Budd, renowned, mosaic artist, along with some fellow mosaicists.  It is something really  special to have the artist himself explain the thoughts behind each work of art and  Oliver was extremely generous with his time and with sharing his expertise and  techniques and answering the many questions put to him.  We also spent time in his  studio where he has rolls of designs dating back to the 60’s, which are of his father’s  work,whose foot-steps he has followed. 

There are many modern mosaics, both public and private, which the majority of the  population will not be aware of.  Unfortunately, we don’t appear to place the same  value on them as ancient ones because some of Kenneth Budds (Oliver's father)  have already been destroy to make way for new buildings or buried. 

Well, on your one of your days out, you might like to take a small detour to take a look at one of Oliver’s mosaics and it will be well worth it.  Most of Oliver's mosaics depict  social history and, apart from the initial story that is spelled out, you need to keep  looking  and you will spot a butterfly here or an owl in a tree there. Just keep looking.   The mosaics are full of colour and life. 

detail of Oliver's workOtford, Kent, where Oliver was commission to produce a mosaic for the millennium,   eight panels on the village hall show Otford and the surrounding district from prehis- toric times to the year 2000 AD.  Facing onto the road it is easy to find right next door  to the public car park right. Laid on mental panels, which makes it easy  to remove if  necessary and for restoration, an invention of Kenneth's. Note how Oliver cleverly  links the scenes by continuing the picture into the next panel or a leg crossing over  so the eye reads the scene as a whole rather than a set of panels. 

The panels are framed with black-leaded castings which continue the history and  comment on the images depicted.  One favourite are the nightingales above and  below Thomas a Becket.  They are singing above him.  Apparently, however, their  song disturbed him so he had them killed which is why they lie on their backs below  him.  If you look closely in the surround of the last panel you will see DNA, a mobile  phone and the hand print of the eldest and the youngest person in the village in the  year 2000 AD. The Romano- British villa at nearby Lullingstone, which has some  interesting mosaics, is also shown.  

At the nearby roundabout look out for the sign to the village showing the church and  the Bishop’s Palace. It was made by one of Oliver’s pupils, Angela Derby.  

Ann Holdway

The figure shows detail from Olvier's work.

Easel 20 - Summer 2008

Sketch of editor Allan Davies by DerekEditorial

Pots & SeedsI hope that all of us continue to learn whatever our age. Even the most aged of our membership has space to grow in knowledge and skill because not one of us has yet attained perfection in anything. This issue has much to teach us - from fat and lean oil paint to framing, photography and yet  another “stir” that deserves a response. 

Art / Craft - what is the difference? asks Sue Howes. This must be something to raise the hackles of those who argue that Craft cannot be Artistic. I look forward to your responses.

Please, let me have your items for the next issue by mid-July 2008 or sooner, if possible, as THE EASEL must be presented to the printer in early  August to ensure distribution by the first week in September. Remember, I want your best work for the cover of The Easel. Good, clean black or grey drawings may find their way onto inner pages.

Painting and Photography - Comparing Notes

Andrew Herbert’s talk (on 4th April) was fascinating and heavy in content and there- fore I have endeavoured only to summarise this intriguing evening.  
He posed the question “How does a judge judge?” and proceeded to outline the  many elements of photography and to explain what a judge looks for. He listed those  elements which pretty much coincided with the ‘rules’ of painting albeit under different  names. Content, technicals – exposure, focals and aesthetics. He said that portraiture  would come under technicals and landscape under aesthetics. However, if a photograph depicted an emotional subject (war, street children etc.) it might be deemed a  good photograph even though technique might he lacking. 

On the subject of colour he said that the photographic palette eomprised red, blue,  green, yellow, magenta and cyan and, of course, black and white whereas more hues  were available to painters. However he considered that composition was the greatest  similarity between the two media. 

Andrew then involved us by inviting us to list painting ‘rules’ and we specified the  golden section, triangles and circles, perspective (lead-in lines), foal point, tonal  values. recession, framing. light and shade, and symmetry. He then touched on one  striking disparity between the two media and that was ‘differential focus’ which occurs in photography but which he hadn’t seen in painting. This involves subjects appearing to he in and out of focus. For example blurring the foreground to concentrate on a  more distant object and vice versa. He also highlighted another difference – that of  viewpoint which, in photography is usually about five feet above the ground. He then  showed some of his own photos and we discussed their strengths and weaknesses. 

At this point the dingbats among us were grateful for tea break as our brains were  throbbing. 

After tea Andrew dealt with the history of photography from Daguerreotypes which started about 1839 when the negatives were on paper, then the process moved on  to copper plates, through glass plates and then onto cellulose with which we are all  familiar. He explained that early photography was the preserve of scientific types  (chemists) and when glass plates came in, artists and chemists collaborated. 

He then showed us some slides of famous ‘old masters’ and discussed why, as a  photographer. he considered their perspective and composition etc. to he good or  bad. At this point my brain had stopped throbbing and had settled back into its  normal state of torpitude. 

Should this report seem long and boring I would stress it is purely the fault of the  writer and no reflection on Andrew’s talk. At the end of’ the evening we felt that we  had learned a lot about the relationship between art and photography and, as  promised, it was certainly something different.

Jill Reardon

A Matter of Fact - Stewarding at Exhibitions

  1. Filling all the slots for stewarding is always problematic.
  2. The most popular time of day is 12.30 - 3pm
  3. Most difficult times to fill are late evenings and weekends.
  4. Some members always cover more than one session.
  5. Committee members always cover two sessions and often more.
  6. The guidelines are there to help you and need to be read and acted on.
  7. Stewards need to be vigilant. 

What would be helpful? 

  1. More flexibility
  2. More people covering at least 2 sessions. 
  3. More care taken when entering sales in the log book and receipts.

Ann Holdway


As the person responsible for collecting exhibition takings and preparing the sales summary, I have a grouse and a plea to all of you out there who undertake stewarding duties. 

After every exhibition, I end up with a headache, backache and generally feeling low. Why? Because some of you appear to be incapable of undertaking the seemingly simple task of recording the sales and monies paid. You’d think it was simple wouldn’t you but there are many stewards who clearly struggle. 

This year I marked on the daily money envelopes the totals taken and then I compared those figures with the daily receipts, expecting the figures to tally. Stupid me! Of the 13 odd envelopes only one contained a sum matching the figures in the receipt book. As for the other envelopes, the largest difference 
was £140 and the smallest was £2. How can you get it so wrong? 

There were sales entered in the sales log but not in the receipt book and other sales listed in the sales record but not in the sales log or receipt book. 

After hours of trying to reconcile the various records I am still left with a shortfall of £60. That money will come out of BAS funds and eventually out of your pocket. 

My plea to you all is, will you please take your duties seriously. Follow instructions and complete all the records neatly, legibly and accurately. It really isn’t difficult. 

My thanks in anticipation. 

John Taphouse 

PS I’m not usually a GOM (Grumpy old man)

Painting as a Pastime

In 1932 a collection of essays and newspaper articles by  Winston Churchill was published under the title “Thoughts  and Adventures”. Thought provoking, amusing and  prescient, they are worth dipping into but the last two  essays in the book, “Hobbies” and “Painting as a Pastime”,  are miniature classics and after World War II they appeared in their own right as a separate book under the latter title. 

Twenty-one years later in 1953, newly married and soon to  leave with my wife to work in South Africa, I wandered one  lunchtime into a Manchester book shop with a £50 kit allowance in my pocket,  thoughtfully provided by my employers. Attracted by both the title and the author’s  name (Mr Churchill was Prime Minister at the time), I picked up the slender volume,  containing 18 colour reproductions of his paintings, and read through its 32 pages  on the spot. Instantly fired by his own enthusiasm for the subject I walked out of the  shop and spent a sizable part of my kit allowance on a box of Reeves oil paints. 

Photo of ChurchillSuch was my introduction to the Muse of Painting. I would guess that anyone  susceptible to he charms could not fail to be tempted to make tentative steps in the  same direction after reading this brilliant essay. 

I cannot claim to be especially gifted but achieving a familiarity with the technique of  making coloured marks on a piece of canvas or painted board, though often ending  in disasters, does ultimately and with increasing frequency, produce results pleasing  to the eye. It is a wholly absorbing and satisfying way of spending leisure hours. Just  to paint is great fun. In time it pays a growing dividend of pleasure. 

There are books galore to teach you about the how, when and where but if you have  a latent spark within you to try to record some if the beauty that surrounds us, you  can make no better start than to read Churchill’s words on the subject of painting to ignite it; preferably before you are 40!

John Evans
First published as a church newsletter article

From Your Chairman

I do hope that you saw the Royal Institute of Watercolour Painters exhibition at  the Mall Galleries.  It was really splendid, such a wide selection of subjects and  so well carried out. 

My favourite was a very large, freely executed painting of trees by Bob Rudd.   Paul Banning showed a superb interior and Pauline Frazakerly used her extra- ordinary technique with a view of Leadenhall Market.  Roger Dellar’s figurative  studies and Robert King’s  Venice Blues  were very fine.   

Local artists Ken Head and Archie Niven showed works of their usual high  standard.  Archie is a BAS member.  Shirley Travena’s flower studies and Moira  Huntley’s  St. David’s  were a delight. 

I shall be going to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the  coming of age of  American Art 1850’s to 1950’s - on until 8th June.  Our oil painters would have  enjoyed paintings by the Camden Group,  Modern Painters  at Tate Britain -  figurative and landscape work, which ended in early May. 

I shall also hope to get to see the paintings of Lucas Cranach at the Royal  Academy, Saachi Gallery which will be there until the 8th June.  Nearby, across  the road from the RA and down Duke Street and right into Ryder Street, is Chris  Beetles Gallery - one of my favourites. 

I will be having an exhibition of my own paintings at the Ripley Art Centre,  24, Sundridge Avenue and would like to invite you to the preview at 7.00pm on  Tuesday 3rd June. The exhibition continues until Saturday the 28th June.  If you  can’t make the preview ring 8464 5816 to check when the rooms are accessible.                                   

Pat Tucker

Making Frames at Home

There are available videos and books on all aspects of framing pictures.  Telephone 01502 724935 or email for videos.  Your library has several books on framing. 

Your Equipment

(a)    Basic Tools: hammer, craft knife (preferably a Stanley knife with spare medium  blades), a clear plastic ruler – at least 50 cm in length, a straight edge (unless ruler  on mount cutter is detachable) A 1 m steel rule is just right – can be expensive but  worth it.

(b)    Essential Tools:  mitre saw – varies considerably in price – buy the best you can afford (ca £80 - £95).  Don’t use an old mitre block. Replaceable blades and a measuring arm attached to  your saw are nice. Clamp – I find a single corner mitre clamp is best – one corner at a time. Some  framers prefer a 4 corner clamp with a strap tightener and locking device. A hot glue gun (cost ca £20) used in conjunction with the mitre clamp makes  “instant” strong joints thus allowing frames to be completed in a few minutes. Finally, pinning the corners – a small wood vice holds a frame firmly to do this. Mount cutter – there are many types available (cost between £10 and £400). One  costing about £20 is satisfactory.

Steel rule supported by nails[I use a steel metre rule,  Stanley knife, plank and  two nails. Angled knife blade cuts, held firmly  against rule. You need to practice this.  Easy to demonstrate, hard to explain. ‘Phone me for demo.]

Before cutting mount I use a pair of compasses to mark  corners of cut. Position picture on mountboard in frame.   Position compasses thus.
Using compass to mark parallel lines
Compass makes a parallel pencil line.  Repeat x 2 on all 4 corners.

Board marked upResult: Pencil marks on mount board.   Cut to intersections of pencil crosses.  Once you have the knack of it, practice  makes perfect – you can cut perfect  mounts quickly and easily.

( c) Luxury Tools: Buying 2mm glass cut to size is expensive. A good glass cutter with oil filled  handle (cost £25 - £30) cuts glass easily – the cutter will last for years.  Bulk buying glass sheets in many different sizes (packs of 10 or 20 sheets)  is very much cheaper.

A Pointgun using framer’s points (cost, including 3000 points, is about £50).  It makes picture assembly easy and quick. You can buy a cheap “push”  version for about £10. 


Always brace frame – especially if you use a hammer/nails to fix.

Bracing frame when hammering

Finally, buy your moulding, mount and backing board, glass, etc. from a  reputable wholesaler, e.g. Wessex Pictures, Beddington Lane, Croydon  (020 8683 005). They have an excellent catalogue (cost £10 – refundable  on placing orders). Their showroom and staff are very informative – parking  on site easy. 

If you are interested in making your own frames and require help and demos,  contact me. I will be pleased to advise and help for free. Making more than  4 or 5 frames a month quite quickly pays for itself on a do-it-yourself basis.  Long term it is a very attractive way to go.  

I hope shortly to write further on dealing with different mediums of art work,  3D items, tapestries, etc.   

Peter Dinsmore

A Dream Come True

Arriving in Paris I was met at the airport by a French lady holding up a board with bold  writing “ARTSTUDY”. It was a one and a half hour’s drive by taxi to our destination  together with two more people who had just arrived from the USA.  We were going to  attend an oil painting course in Giverny by a well known American tutor.  On entering  the village, we drove along the one-mile long rue Claude Monet passing stoned cott- ages and terraced gardens arriving at a beautiful French country lodge in the middle  of the village where we were going to stay for the next ten days.  We were introduced  to the rest of the group and then were served a delicious lunch out on the patio over- looking the village.  

On that same afternoon, we walked down the rue Claude Monet only three minutes  away from our lodgings was Monet’s house and gardens.  Oh what a sight confronted  our eyes… it was breathtaking!  It was the beginning of June and the flowers in bloom  were prolific…. all the colour and so many different varieties of plants, the lily pads on the ponds covered with water lilies…the irises….the roses….the scent – it was stunning.  

We would be painting for ten days in Monet’s gardens en plein eir every day for two  hours in the afternoon after all the tourists departed.  Every Monday the gardens are  closed to visitors so that the gardeners can work there, BUT artists are allowed to go in  with special permission.  How fortunate we were to spend two full Mondays in the  gardens painting, with no people around to peep over our shoulder.  What a unique  opportunity this was, what better place to observe colour directly from nature. 

There were several field trips organised for us during the day which combined seeing  many places in the south of Normandy together with painting and our tutor was excell- ent.  We were pampered with the traditional French Cuisine together with wine.  We  also had the opportunity to paint in the famous Musee Baudy Hotel and gardens where  the impressionists, Cezanne, Pissaro and other great artists stayed and worked  - the  Studio is still there. The evenings were spent with lectures, demos and group critiques  and discussions. 

It was always my desire to visit Monet’s Gardens and it had proved to be an exper- ience of a lifetime…….and for me a dream which came true.  I came away with ten  oil paintings on linen canvas (one for each day) and of course…. full of inspiration.

Dessie Michael

Paper for Watercolour - Part 3

Don’t waste your money buying cheap paper of poor quality, spend it on the very best.  Three of the very best are Bockingford, Saunders Waterford and, my personal favourite, Arches Aquarelle. Here is the last of three items on these papers to encourage members to consider their use. I believe that they are the more economical in the long run. (Ed.) 

CANSON ARCHES WATER COLOUR PAPER: This paper maintains its flatness well after wetting. The striking grain lends strength to water colour and both strengthens and reflects the luminosity of the colours.

Top quality water colour paper available in 640g/m² and 850g/m² weights in two surface finishes - Medium Grain (Not) and Extra Rough (Torchon)  Format 56cm x 76cm, dry stamp ‘Arches France’. Price per sheet. £6.90 and £9.09 Minimum order quantity 3 sheets. 

The above is from the on-line catalogue of greatArt (edited)  

From Russia

Memories of the ‘From Russia’ exhibition at the Royal Academy will linger for many  months to come. It goes without saying that the quite extraordinary array of French  Impressionist art, mainly from the collections of two wealthy aristocrats – Sergei  Ivanovich Shchukin and Mikhail Morozov – was an outstanding exhibition in itself.  However, for me, the collection of Russian art from 1870 onwards was equally out- standing and a complete revelation. Here were great painters, many of whom I had  never before encountered, whose influences ranged from realism through to  impressionism, folk art, symbolism, religion, colour and abstraction.  

Of particular interest was the number of women artists who emerged in the early  years of the 20th century. Below I have listed of some of the less well-known  painters for whom I shall certainly be on the lookout in the future. 

Isaac Levitan - a landscape artist whose paintings capture the atmosphere of the  Russian countryside, particularly the weather. 

Konstantin Korovin - who loved Paris and whose painting of this title clearly demon- strates French impressionist influence. 

Philipp Malyavin  - who came from a peasant background and sought, like Russian  composers of that period, to define the national character through his art. ‘Peasant  Woman Dancing’ is a symphony in red. 

Mikhail Vrubel – a theatrical designer and sculptor as well as symbolist painter.  ‘Six-winged Seraph’ was magic. Can’t wait to see more of his work. 

Natalia Goncharova studied with Korovin but developed a style all her own  combining naivety with cubism. 

Kusma Petrov-Vodkin also worked in the theatre and as a graphic artist. His  ‘Virgin of Tender Mercy’, painted during World War 1, is one of the most moving  religious paintings I have encountered. 

Nathan Altman.- Such magnificent portraits! such magnificent colour! 

Liubov Popova, Alexandra Exter, Nadezhda Udaltsova and Olga Rozanova.  Women who embraced cubism in their futurist styles and who all demonstrated  the Russian passion for colour. 

My love of Russian music now extends to a love of Russian art! 


Christine Richards

Art / Craft - What is the Difference? Is there any Difference?

Chambers Pocket Dictionary 2001:

Art -The creation of works of beauty, especially visual ones; Such creations  thought of creatively; Human skill and work as opposed to nature; A skill,  especially one gained through practice. 

Craft - A skill, trade or occupation, especially one requiring use of hands; Skilled ability.  

Clue  The Guardian quick crossword :  `creative sewing`- answer `embroidery`!!! 

Creativity is not mentioned in connection with craft.  Are craft items always  useful? I recently went to two exhibitions:  `Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular  Craft` at the V & A 13.11.07 - 17.02.08 and Designer Crafts at the Mall 2008.  Very few useful items, but a lot of fine art! 

As an embroiderer I feel I use fabric, thread and stitch as an artist would pencil,  paint and paper. Fabric can be painted, dyed, drawn on, cut, burnt, applied to  another surface; threads can be dyed, mixed, stitched adjacent to, over/ under  each other, together to mix them. This is not as flexible as paint or pastel.   Textural qualities are easier to achieve with fabric and thread.  Work can be  representative, figurative or abstract and certainly conceptual.  The needle can be loaded with colour and applied to a background which has been coloured,  dyed, screen printed and had fabric and thread adhered to it.  Paper, tissue,  plastic and any number/variety of fabrics, photographs, threads, yarns, string,  ribbon can be used.  Fabrics can be made by using dissolvable fabric, weaving,  crocheting, knitting, stitching and felting.  Texture can be created by fabric weave,  fraying, use of stitch, plastic, specialist fabrics, gels, paints, knitting, crochet,  felting, etc. 

Ceramicists, woodworkers, metalworkers would all be able to say the same for  their own medium. 

It’s what you do with it Art?
Does craft have to be useful?
Can craft be conceptual?
Is craft creative? 

Contemporary embroidery is more like conceptual art - any article in `Embroidery`  published by the Embroiderers’ Guild has examples of artist and their art. Janet Naylor, a leading embroiderer, says her needle is her paintbrush and her  threads are her colour palette. 

What do you think?


Sue Howes

Easel 21 - Autumn 2008

French VillageThere is a lot of text in this issue, all of it worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the RA Summer Exhibition observations as they were submitted long before I was able to make my own visit with our youngest member, Madeleine Moore. Visiting exhibitions with a companion, I find, encourages one to spot things easily missed when alone. I agree with much of what has been stated in these pages.

Adrian’s talk at our July meeting, The Science of Colour, was an eye opener. He has provided his own report (see page 4).

Wednesdays at Ripley Arts Centre on Sundridge Avenue are mentioned on page 14. Please, don’t skip the reading of this item as it invites us to meet during the morning as well as the afternoon. There is plenty of room to work especially during the morning session.

A request for information: members who have their own exhibitions can let us know when and where in or with this newsletter, if I get early information.

There is a lot on in the most easily reached London galleries this Autumn, see page 11. Take time to enjoy! Take time to send me photos of your work for the cover of the next issue as well...

Allan Davies

The Science of Colour

I presented the society's illustrated lecture in July. The general consensus seemed to be that, if I chose something so complicated, I should provide the write up andillustrations too!

We looked at the nature of light and the spectrum seen in a rainbow or prism.  Newton's description of seven colours was a religious rather than a scientific statement. Most people see a continuously changing colour that ranges from red to blue with a hint of violet beyond blue, and do not feel the need to include indigo. Purple is not the same as violet and is not a colour in the spectrum. We see it only when there is a mixture of red and blue light. If we regard purple as a colour, we should logically also include white, grey and black as colours - after all you can buy them in pencils and paints. A colleague lent me some slides that illustrate types of colour blindness. A member of the audience amplified this with his own experiences of red-green colour blindness. You cannot beat a real witness account and I am grateful for his courage. He draws rather than paints.

Colour needs to be described in terms of hue, saturation and value. There are many ways of doing this. They allow some understanding of why mixing paints is difficult, and the concept of primary colours is not quite right. Similar models show how the range of colours that can be handled by cameras, computer screens, printers and the human eye vary. This is one reason why pictures of painting sometimes disappoint, and also makes it difficult to give a talk on colour using a computer display.

I ended with some demonstrations of optical effects that artists employ, which seemed to be what people enjoyed most. Some are reproduced on the back cover. The three grids of squares illustrate the Bezold effect. The reds and blues are the same in each case, but the introduction of a thin black border makes
the red and blue look darker, whereas a white border makes them appear brighter. The white, green and blue illustration was an idea of my own. These three rectangles have grey shading added with a very simple computer program. Everyone saw this as a white cylinder however, even though there are no ellipses at the top and bottom. This shows how our perception of colour is altered to create a sense of
form. The white is then known as the local colour of the object.

Researching this topic led me to some interesting books. The most practical for an artist is “Colour: How to Use Colour in Art and Design” by Edith Anderson Feisner. 2nd Edition pub Laurence King Publishing Ltd 2006. ISBN 1 85669 441 0. I also enjoyed “Colour:Art & Science” eds Trevor Lamb and Janine Bourriau pub
CUP 1995. ISBN 0 521 49645 4 hardback 0 521 49963 1 paperback. This is from a wide ranging series of lectures at Darwin College in Cambridge University with contributions from Bridget Riley and John Gage amongst others.

Anyone with internet access should visit which contains one of the world's best references on all aspects of water colour painting including colour theory. The section on Shakespeare's sonnets is also good. Practical recipes for mixing colour, for inexperienced artists like me, are shown in the “Pocket Palette” series from Search Press. I own “The Oil Painters” version (Rosalind Cuthbert 2000, ISBN 0 85532 941 6) and “The Acrylic” version (Ian Siddaway 2002, ISBN 0 85532 997 1). There are several others.

Finally, I could not have given this talk without a modern projector and I am grateful to the society for purchasing one for this and future talks. I am particularly grateful to John Taphouse who put in much hard work on this and in solving the inevitable teething troubles.

Adrian Fowle

RA Summer Exhibition

Not one to be inspired to visit the mainstream exhibitions I paid my first visit to the RA Summer Exhibition in July. Overall impression was that you needed to do something weird and whacky to attract the selectors eye. This impression has been endorsed further by looking at Not the Summer Exhibition which indeed has more of what you would expect to see at an art exhibition. You can view this one on-line.

Yes there were some that were very clever, others that made your eyes jump, but none that would have enticed me to buy but then the friend I was with did purchase an etching. Copies of etchings, etc., were selling well.What caught my eye: Blutbld etching by Farah Syed, A Child is Born by Mary Cossey, this one had universal appeal and, much to my surprise, I was to see more of her work at Horniman’s just a couple of weeks later. Beans from Tanzania - oil on anel, by Margaret Foreman, Winter Hedge, thread, by Ann Ward, 2 by Leonard Rosoman RA, Storm from the Kitchen Window, pen,ink and crayon, Rams by Thicket, chalk and pastel by Diana Armfield RA, A View, oil on MDF, by Hannah Birkett, Leaf by Anne Kyyro Quinn, wool felt, Lost in Translation by Chuya Ikeda, mixed media, and the postcard colleges by David Mach RA, which were really
stunning and very clever.

Would I go again? Maybe.

Ann Holdway

The Madness of Art

We work in the dark
We do what we can
We give what we have
The rest is the madness of art.

These words (with my italics), formed in copper wire and displayed on the wall of  Room II at the RA Summer Exhibition, turned out to be significant in two ways. Firstly,  they were crafted into a lovely piece of artwork (Tom Phillips RA) forming shadows on  the wall behind and this was one of only a very few exhibits of which I could say,  “I really like that!” Secondly, they perhaps summarise this whole exhibition. 

We work in the dark
Yes, I can believe that a huge percentage of the artists represented here do just that!
We do what we can
Well, that’s just not enough!
We give what we have
The rest is the madness of art
Speaks for itself!

 To quote the friend I was with, ‘I’m shocked that everything is so shocking’’- and she  wasn’t just talking about the Tracey Emin room (shocking in lack of artistry as well  as content) - the whole exhibition felt like madness. Ok, there was, of course, some  lovely work if you looked hard for it. We all loved the blue egg and there were some other worthy pieces scattered around, but most of the sculpture was lumpy and  unbeautiful, the architecture room disappointed and the vast majority of the paintings  I considered indescribably awful both in execution and content. 

(What a relief it was to visit the Hammershoi exhibition immediately afterwards at the  same venue - calm, subdued, meditative and beautifully painted.) 

Then, on that same evening, there was the preview of an exhibition of students’ work  at the ‘Art for All’ studios. It was varied, imaginative, well painted and pleasing to the  eye. Thank goodness for the tutors there who develop our skills and draw out our  ideas (mad or not!) and thank goodness for art in Bromley – in this case better by far  than the summer exhibition!

Christine Richards

The RA Summer Exhibition 2008

Broadly speaking I found this year’s Summer Show at the RA to be disappointing but then, so have those of the last few years.  In my opinion there are too few works which demonstrate the artistic skills which are expected at such an  important national academic institution.  These are often easier to find in regular  exhibitions in the Mall Gallery.  Historically the RA was pilloried because it would  not accept “avant guarde” work, now it accepts too much!

Having said that, hidden amongst the big brash canvases shouting “look at me!”  there were quite a few works of quieter skill, some of which I would like to mention in case you missed them or have yet to pay a visit there. 

The Small Weston Room always contains a number of treasures - if you spend  enough time craning your neck to find them.   I ticked my catalogue against no.  310 - “Two Yellow Plums” by Ann Brains, 313 - “Birdbath with Foxgloves” by  John Boulden, 315 - “Driftwood Girl” in egg tempera by Benjamin Senior, 317 -  “Digging for Rainbows” another tempera painting by Peter Messer, and 333 -  “Brass Blow Torches” by Liam Thomson.  I went on to give approving ticks to nearly forty further paintings in this one room; these included “The Studio  Mantlepiece” by Peter Brown which I particularly liked.  My approbations were  more sparse as I passed through the rest of the show - but there were some  larger works which impressed me.  In the large gallery (III) I liked the very long  eye-catching “The Herbaceous Ground, Kew” by Adrian Berg.  In this large room  there were a few other works which caused me to linger not least the “Sketch for  a Large Painting in Four Parts” by Stephen Farthing - it would be good to see the  finished work.  It was also nice to see Mary Feddon, David Curtis, Stephen Gore  and Diana Armfield still exhibiting. 

With very few exceptions the sculpture did not excite.  For me the highlights were  Jeff Koon’s superb “Cracked Egg”, “Suburban Totem” by Ivor Abrahams, “Pour”  by Phillip King and James Butler’s small girl. How I missed the “Ping Pong Table”  by Ron Arad I do not know but I am told that its shape and mirror finished stainless steel would have wowed me had I not been looking so intently at the walls! I am not sure that the RA’s did it deliberately, but they left the best ‘til last. Room X redeemed my flagging opinion of the show.  Ken Howard, William Bowyer, and  Olwyn Bowey with their large oils saved the day - but there was one more treat -  hung in a position that would ensure that most visitors would pass it by - in the  exit lobby - were the two best watercolours in the exhibition - “Bonefacio” by  Carey Clarke and “Kirkdale” by Simon Palmer. 

To sum up - I wish there had been more work to excite me but it was still worth  the journey, I shall hope for more of the better things next year.


Pat Tucker

A Gem of a Gallery

All you have to do is to cross the Channel, either to Calais, or Dunkerque and then drive just across the Belgium border to Veurne where you turn left towards the sea  and in particular towards Koksijde.  There, down a narrow residential road - helpfully  called Delvaux Avenue, can be found a most unusual and rewarding gallery devoted  to the works of Paul Delvaux. 

Paul was a Belgian Surrealist, not so well-known in this country as his countryman  Magritte or Salvador Dali.  He did not distort his images like Dali neither did he go out  of his way to invent obvious inconsistences like Magritte; his scenes were invariably  of dreams set in accurately drawn, well composed settings resulting in paintings of  great serenity.  Most of his dreams seemed to include nude young women standing, unconcerned about their nakedness, in a building or landscape with equally unconcerned clothed men in attendance.  The other recurrent theme was, usually in the  background, a steam train.  It appears that his love of trains dated from his childhood  when he dreamt of being a station master when he grew up. 

As one approaches the gallery up the garden path the impression is that this is a  small house similar to all the others in the road.  Once inside everything is very  different - the galleries continue, one after another, mostly below the ground!   It is  the house where he lived and worked although he had another studio in Brussels.   He was acclaimed in Belgium during his long lifetime (he died at the age of 93), and was still alive and involved in the design of this gallery when it was opened in  the 1980's.   

It was a wonderful discovery and well worth the short diversion to this hidden treasure.        

Pat Tucker