A selection of videos reflecting a broad range of styles and techniques. These give a glimpse of the creative process and are designed as much for the art appreciator as the practitioner. It may be that you will not find all the end results appealing, but we trust that you will enjoy these rare glimpses of artists in action which can give you a fresh appreciation of their skill and dedication and possibly set you off on your own new journey of discovery. See videos by these artists (items in red available now):
- Andrew Denman – creating an acrylic and gesso painting in his California studio. (14 min)
- Soraia Hasan and Basima Mohamed – tapestry weavers at the Ramses Wissa Wassef Centre in Cairo, Egypt
- Gary Hodges – time lapse video showing the drawing of two young elephants in pencil. (3 min)
- Keith Jansz – painting on a beach in Cornwall. (1 min)
- Larry Norton – painting on location in southern Zimbabwe (11 minutes)
- John Pearce – painting out of doors in Normandy. (3 min)
- Bruce Pearson – sketching and painting out of doors in Norfolk. (3 min)
- Michael Porter – mixed media landscape painter working in both the field and in the studio. (21 min)
- Chris Rose – time lapse video showing the development of a painting moorhen in bullrushes (1 min)
- Stephen Walton – time lapse video showing the development of a charcoal drawing. (5 min)
ANDREW DENMAN has a painting ‘Late Spring Lyric II’ in the permanent collection of Nature in Art and had a joint exhibition with Guy Combes in 2015. An American, Andrew received his training in California where he still lives and works.
He primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. Whether painting an animal in its natural habitat or juxtaposing it against an abstract background, Denman goes to great lengths to faithfully portray his subjects, taking frequent field trips to observe his subjects and acquire reference material. Yet while accuracy is always of great importance, Denman says he is an artist before he is a naturalist.
This video with subtitles follows the creation of one of his ‘pattern series’ paintings. Called ‘The Sneak’, it was inspired by one of his many visits to England. He uses a fascinating variety of techniques, including, in this case, sanding his painting with an electric sander when more than half way through.
SORAIA HASAAN and BASIMA MOHAMED are weavers at the world renowned Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Cairo. Examples of their tapestries are held in the permanent collection of Nature in Art, one acquired with the generous assistance of The Art Fund and MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. Over the years we have hosted two special exhibitions of work by Wissa Wassef weavers. Other museums with Wissa Wassef tapestries in their permanent collections include the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the British Museum, Victoria and Albert, Royal Museum of Scotland and Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.
The Centre is the life work of its founder, Ramses Wissa Wassef (1911-1974), who was dedicated to releasing the innate creativity of young Egyptian villagers freed from the constraints of a formal education. Trained as an architect (partly in Europe), he had a great enthusiasm for indigenous Egyptian forms and spontaneous expression which he lived out designing award-winning buildings using traditional methods and vernacular forms. The Centre itself was designed by him.
Ramses advocated moving away from the routine mass production of the modern world and returning to a more natural and expressive way of working. To test his theories, he established an after-school club where he taught the craft of high warp weaving. As soon as students had mastered the basic technique, he left them free to decide what images to produce. He insisted on only three rules: no sketches, no external aesthetic influences, and no critical interference from adults. Encouraged by the success of this experiment, in 1952 Ramses and his wife established the Wissa Wassef Art Centre. They then invited, with the consent of parents, any child to come to learn to weave and to develop their skills and individuality at their own pace. It quickly became clear that ‘no child is devoid of the most surprising gifts.’ In the almost 70 years since weaving began it also has become clear that this innate creativity can grow with the child into adulthood. Nine of the original group of children, many of them now grandparents, are still weaving at the Centre.
VIDEO TO BE ADDED SHORTLY
GARY HODGES has a drawing in the permanent collection of Nature in Art – ‘Vanishing’ (Scimitar horned Oryx). He has taken part in a number of exhibitions (including one major retrospective and one other solo exhibition) and is a regular artist in residence. Gary is self-taught as an artist. He has his own instantly recognisable style and has been described as having ‘an intoxicating mix of sensitivity and alertness to the spirit of the subject and mastery of the medium’.
Gary Hodges is the UK’s best selling pencil artist. His many accolades include the ‘Oscars’ of the UK published art world, the ‘Best Selling Artist of the Year’ and ‘Best Selling Images by a Living Artist’ (two years in succession) from the Fine Art Trade Guild. Other winners of these awards include Jack Vettriano, Beryl Cook and David Shepherd. He also won the WWF Fine Art Award on two occasions. In 1990 he was awarded membership of the highly respected Society of Wildlife Artists. He served eight years on their council. Since 2008 he has also been a judge on the selection panel for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s ‘Wildlife Artist of the Year’ competition.
In 2010 Nature in Art hosted a major retrospective of his work. A limited edition book “Drawn to the Soul” was published to coincide with this landmark event (now sold out). In April 2016 his major central London charity show ‘Heart & Soul – the Exhibition’ raised £160,000 for elephants and other wildlife. Through his wildlife art over a million pounds has been given back to protect the wildlife he feels so passionate about. This passion has been boosted by his many expeditions across the world to witness wildlife in the wild, to collect reference and to take his own photographs for his work. It is little surprise then that his drawings are invariably infused with personal experiences of the subjects he is depicting.
This time lapse video follows the progress of a drawing called ‘Joy’, depicting two orphaned elephants ‘running free’, as Gary puts it, in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. (No commentary)
KEITH JANSZ has been both an artist in residence on several occasions and has exhibited at Nature in Art. He started painting for the first time since junior school after having run the London Marathon for Barnardo’s in 1995. Just two months later he suffered a broken neck in a tragic car accident, resulting in complete paralysis from the shoulders down.
After six months in the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Keith returned home to begin the painful process of adjusting to his new situation. Unable to do anything for himself he naturally experienced the depths of despair. But in December 1996 Keith read a collection of biographies of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists and was inspired by reading their triumphs and successes. One, Trevor Wells (who also was artist in residence on several occasions), persuaded Keith to try painting by holding a brush in his mouth. By 2000 Keith was promoted to a full Member Artist within the Association. He says ‘painting was my salvation, and now is my purpose in life’.
Since then Keith has exhibited in museums around the world including Lisbon, Madrid, Copenhagen, Shanghai and Atlanta. He enjoys exploring the sensations of light in his paintings, from the sparkling reflective sunlight at the beach to the unique atmospheric light in Venice, and the long shadows of winter light on snow. Nature is a driving inspiration for Keith who revels in the challenge of painting ‘en plein air‘ to capture the most authentic effect, later completing his paintings in the studio.
This brief video shows him painting on a beach in Cornwall. (No commentary)
LARRY NORTON has had an association with Nature in Art for 30 years. Born in 1963 in Zimbabwe, where he still lives, Larry is firmly established as one of Africa’s best known wildlife artists. He grew up on a farm in the north east of the country where he began drawing as a boy. He continued his passion for painting whilst studying for an agricultural degree in Australia and eventually began his career as a professional artist in 1988.
In 1989 he received the Catasus Medal (the Society of Animal Artists’ most prestigious award). Soon after he worked with artist Simon Combes (1940 – 2004) whose studio was close to Nature in Art. It was then that our association with Larry began. Since then he has been awarded many other accolades, has illustrated numerous publications on Africa and its wildlife and has exhibited worldwide, particularly the USA, UK and South Africa. His own gallery is at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
His adventures have included a year-long expedition with bush pilot Tom Claytor crossing eighteen countries in North, West and Central Africa and participating in a three-month expedition for National Geographic Television filming life on the Zambezi, from its source to the sea. All his work is based on extensive field trips, where, as is the case with this video, he can often be found painting large canvases in situ, in what he describes as his ‘studio’. As this film shows, some of the conditions can be a challenge, but the rewards are great, for him personally and for the integrity of the work.
Filmed by Bad Rabbit Studio, this video accompanies Larry to the far south of Zimbabwe, to its second largest National Park – Gonarezhou, which plays host to a globally significant population of African elephant, currently numbering close to 11,000 animals. He places his easel on a windswept bank opposite the spectacular Chilojo Cliffs towering 180 metres high and running for some 20 kilometres along the south bank of the Runde River and then starts work ….
JOHN PEARCE has a painting on long term loan to the collection entitled ‘Overgrown Rockery‘ (St Saviour’s Church, Muswell Hill in the background). It is typical of his work, depicting a favourite subject – untended or semi-wild urban gardens –which he describes as ‘small, fenced-off, owned areas of the planet, offering a unique sense of closeness to nature and at the same time, a remoteness from the world, affecting how we see ourselves and behave in relation to the Earth’. John has exhibited in France and the UK including at Tate Modern and Geffrye Museum.
Since leaving Hornsey Art College in the 1960’s, where his paintings and stained glass were often in a symbolist style, he has painted from direct observation. Though living in London, he was always drawn to natural settings – wild urban gardens, as well as countryside – and found the time he spent on each painting becoming increasingly prolonged. Many of his plein-air paintings have come to be called ‘plantscapes’ rather than ‘landscapes’, as they are close-ups of natural plant communities, usually in the margins of cultivation and wilderness. Contrary to what some people seem to think, his paintings aren’t photographic. They are observational drawings made directly in paint, usually dispensing with preliminary drawings in other media, and painted continuously over periods of several months – though, he says, always taking a break on Saturdays!
This video shows John at work in Normandy. As usual he is striving to paint a ‘community of wild plants’, starting with the most distant features and gradually working towards the foreground, painting overlaid lattices of vegetation. This, he says, ‘traces a journey through time as well as space, and often means that signs of seasonal change co-exist in the same picture’.
BRUCE PEARSON has an oil painting ‘Otters in Kelp’ in the permanent collection of Nature in Art. He describes himself as ‘an artist in the natural world’ and has participated in international art events and exhibitions in USA, France, Holland, Spain, Poland, Ecuador and Peru, as well as in the UK where he lives and works.
Early on he worked largely as a freelance illustrator on a wide range of natural history books, magazines and journals, as well as writing. Whilst painting and printmaking, early projects also involved filming including in Antarctica as a director-cameraman on a wildlife documentary film ‘The Private Life of the Fur Seal’, shown on BBC1 television, and being commissioned by Channel 4 Television to write and present the six part ‘Birdscape’ series.
Bruce’s studio is filled with a huge number of drawings, paintings, notebooks, and sketches reflecting visits over many years to the Arctic and Antarctica, Africa, many countries and regions of Europe, the Caribbean, and North and South America as well as favourite haunts closer to home. All Bruce’s studio work is based on his studies and experiences in the field. In recent years the obsessive urge to head off into the field at every opportunity has transferred itself into an equally strong desire to work in the studio, searching instead through the accumulated volumes of creative debris for fresh starting points.
This short time lapse video accompanies Bruce on a field trip sketching and painting in a windy North Norfolk. (No commentary)
MICHAEL PORTER has two large paintings, ‘Road to Issel’ and ‘Shining Cliffs and Falling Leaves’ in the permanent collection of Nature in Art, acquired with the generous assistance of The Art Fund and MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund. Nature in Art also hosted a one man exhibition by him in 2011.
Michael’s training included undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Chelsea School of Art finishing as Fellow in Fine Art at Gloucestershire College of Art in 1973. From 1974 he worked in the same studio in Hackney, East London until his move to Cornwall in 1997 during which he lectured in most major Art Schools in London and the provinces as well as several throughout Europe.
For the past 20 years he has worked exclusively from the landscape, always using locations that he has been familiar with over long periods of time as the paintings incorporate both time past and time present. Art writer and essayist Clive Phillpot says that Michael ‘respects the native tradition of landscape painting whilst reinventing it by means of his innovatory techniques and personal vision……his prolific technical experiments have been harnessed to a radical form of realism resulting in works that are equivalent to natural phenomena and which take the viewer into metaphysical realms.’
This video, ‘Coast and Country’, by Bob Scholes gives a truly fascinating glimpse of Michael at work, from gathering inspiration and reference in the field to bringing those experiences back to life in his studio.
CHRIS ROSE has been both a multiple-time artist in residence and an exhibitor at Nature in Art.
He is best known for his paintings of birds which have resulted in him collecting many accolades including Bird Illustrator of the Year and European Bird Artist of the Year. Although he delights in the subjects themselves, as his pictures show, he is ‘inspired by the light, colours, textures and patterns which are found in nature, even in the most ordinary and often overlooked corners of the landscape.’ Working mainly in oils and acrylics his depictions of wildlife are usually inspired by the colours and patterns found in natural landscapes and his realistic paintings are often underpinned by abstract shapes.
Born in Uganda in 1959, where he lived until the age of six, his life-long fascination in the natural world, coupled with a passion for drawing and painting from an early age, underpin his work to this day. Soon after graduating with a biology degree, Chris began his artist life. Since then his work has been enthusiastically collected and exhibited internationally. Elected as a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists in 1984, he has served on their Council and as a governor of the Federation of British Artists.
His journeys to paint and study his subjects and their environments have taken him to the Antarctic, Poland, Spain, Peru and Ecuador amongst other places, some as an invited artist with the Artists for Nature Foundation. He was even filmed for BBC TV’s Countryfile drawing underwater whilst scuba-diving. He also has contributed illustrations to many publications and illustrated several bird books. A book of his paintings, In a Natural Light (Langford Press 2005) was chosen as the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Natural History Book of the Year’.
This short time lapse video witnesses the creation of a painting of a moorhen amongst the bullrushes.
VIDEO TO BE UPLOADED SHORTLY
STEPHEN WALTON is a regular artist in residence at Nature in Art. He also runs courses. His pictures are in charcoal and charcoal pencil, not, as some might assume, graphite pencil. He is interested in different compositions. This is called ‘Dusty Dozen‘.
This is a time lapse video that follows the creation of one of his drawings, ‘King’, designed specifically for the cover of ‘Counting Lions’ by Katie Cotton with a foreword by Virginia McKenna. Stephen produced all the illustrations in the book. (Published in 2015 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (UK) and Candlewick Press (US and Canada)).
There is no commentary – just enjoy the subject come to life before your eyes.