Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sketch Crawl # 5 : Ouseburn

Natalie Bell - Untitled (acrylic on board, 12 x 12 cm)

RAIN (and indoor entertainment) STOPPED PLAY

It was always going to be a questionable plan to arrange a Sketch Crawl to coincide with the Ouseburn Open Studios. The Ouseburn area is fascinating and in the right circumstances it would be great to draw the flying viaducts, old industrial buildings and even the urban farm animals. But on Saturday the weather wouldn't play ball. 

I think one or  two sketches were done and Liz managed to get a print in her sketchbook of a pig's snout, but mostly we all took advantage of looking round the artists' studios in The Biscuit Factory, 36 Lime Street and Jim Edwards's Studio Gallery.

In the end we all agreed it had been a very enjoyable afternoon, despite the lack of sketching, but decided that we should not try a Sketch Crawl in December. We'll arrange another in January in the no doubt foolish expectation that the weather will have improved by then.

And the painting illustrated? I couldn't resist buying this sweet little painting of a cup from Natalie Bell (no relation) at her open studio in 36 Lime Street.

Friday, 6 November 2015


Alfons Bytautas

I went to the opening of Alfons Bytautas's solo show at Newcastle Arts Centre last night and thoroughly enjoyed the work. I'm always interested to see paintings by Scottish artists and was intrigued to learn how he'd arrived in Newcastle. Turns out he's technician at Northumbria University, something I should have guessed by the majority of attendees standing in the middle of the room, backs turned to the paintings, chatting earnestly. Typical university liggers!

Bytautas is primarily an abstract painter and many are clearly based on grids. For the most part I liked them, although I found it difficult at times to shake off the idea that some of the newer work reminded me of hooky and proggy mats. Nowt wrong with proggy mats, of course.

The paintings I preferred were probably the earlier ones (why is that so often the case?): freer forms, more organic. And those where the colour was either partially contained by line or where the line tended to float free from the colour areas. They certainly gave me something to think about.