Painting Blogs, how they came about!

When I joined the Middle Way Society in September 2013 Robert asked if I would like to contribute by writing a blog;  I decided to revive my interest in Art History, concentrating on the work of painters.

I choose an artist then I look at some of his or her work, wikipedia provides information and images to copy  or I turn to art books in my small collection. I enjoy discovering the symbols and metaphors painters use, more so since I have been writing these blogs,  artists find many ways to express meaning, art critics and the general public sometimes discover new meaning in a work, it may not coincide with the artists’ intention, new interpretations are found. Robert describes embodied meaning as ‘an understanding of meaning based on a recognition of how the physical body creates meaningfulness’ unconscious themes may surface  and become conscious as the artist works.

These blogs can be seen on the MWS site,  under the heading of ‘Practice.’ I’m happy to answer questions about a painting, I will do some research if necessary. Do ask me to discuss your favourite painting, I gain more knowledge in the process!

The first reaction when looking at a painting is important I think, even though you may change your opinion at a later date, knowing about the artist’s life or the symbols he is using can wait. An initial aesthetic response probably takes place within minutes of looking.

My passion for paintings began in my twenties, in the 1960s I took a foundation course in Art & Design at Farnham School of Art in Surrey, after a gap of ten years while living in London, I was in a position to undertake a degree course, a further year followed when I obtained a PGCE to teach art at secondary school level.
I did some teaching in schools in Devon where I lived for twelve years. When I retired I set up two adult art classes in Devon village halls on a voluntary basis, petrol money was donated, it’s a great way to make new friends!
For the past seventeen years I have lived in Sussex, by the sea with the Sussex Downs close by. I am a mother and grandmother of five. I still paint for my own pleasure.

I have found several  recurring facts while reading up on artists up until now, firstly a handful of painters have been excused from military service usually on health grounds when called up to fight,  secondly, mental illness in the family is occasionally present, often it is the  mother of the painter who is ill  and finally I have noticed that Freud has been mentioned as having an influence on many painters together with other new theories about how the mind functions, it leads me to wonder what motivates an artist to dedicate his/her working life to Art, they often possess a determination to overcome any difficulty that makes barriers, although the struggling artist working in a cold attic no longer has the same romantic ring although many young artists do find funding dificult to come by! The process of painting is therapeutic, not all artists paint for that reason of course, some want to express historical deeds, some religious belief, others intend to shake up society or shock. Benefactors play an important role, in the past popes and cardinals paid artists for work to be exhibited in churches, wealthy land owners requested portraits or landscapes or work is commissioned by art dealers particular now, high prices are paid for paintings by the great masters which may not be available for the public to view. Prints have become popular for the home.

Art needs an audience, not to be locked away in private vaults. Painters and paintings may not be as popular now as in the past, other forms of media such as video are taking the stage,  whatever method of expression is chosen, creativity is here for good and has been around for aeons!

4 thoughts on “Painting Blogs, how they came about!

  1. Thanks for this very informative commentary on your painting blog, Norma. I greatly enjoy your offerings and always find much to reflect on in the paintings. My unconscious or subconscious erupts like Krakatoa when I see some pictures. Your mention of Freud brought back the memory my first encounter with Lucian Freud’s “Interior at Paddington” which I came across at the Tate Gallery ( on Millbank) in 1956. It’s a very large oil painting and the subject, a young bespectacled man in a raincoat is pictured in a window, full of bright daylight. I was rooted to the spot by the image, it was like coming across a living person facing me, his presence was vivid, challenging and seemed full of emotional energy and almost fierce intensity. It was almost as if he was expecting me, and had prepared for a confrontation. I shall not forget the experience. Seeing the picture again still has the power to shock.

    1. Hi Peter,
      Your comment is very welcome, it is reactions to viewing paintings that really interests me, it may be the subject/image or the colour or any number of things things attract us or not to a work of art. I will look at the Interior at Paddington, I don’t know it. Lucien Freud’s intense work does create strong emotions.

  2. Hi Norma,

    Your painting blogs are a highlight of the site. I very much like the varied nature of the works that you cover, often people will either ignore ‘classical’ style painting over more modern pieces or vice versa. I also pleased that they offer a chance for you to learn too, rather than only repeat what you already know.

    This ‘behind the scenes’ style blog is a stroke of genius too.

    Rich.

    p.s. I have got a painting that I think includes two extremes and a possible middle way, which I would like you to cover – if you do requests. I’ll send it through later.

    1. Hi Rich,
      Your praise is rather overwhelming, but thank you. Yes, please, I would be pleased to have your painting to mull over and discuss on here soon.

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