The quietly composed Landscapes, Flowers and Still Life by Joan Renton, RSW, on show at the Grilli Gallery, Edinburgh
Joan Renton was born in 1935 and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art where she was taught by three exemplary Scottish artists, William Gillies, John Maxwell and Robin Philipson. After a travelling scholarship to Spain in 1959, she was a teacher before becoming a full time artist. The recipient of several Awards, Joan was elected to the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1974.
This charming exhibition of landscapes, botanical studies and Still Life paintings illustrates the diverse range of subjects and artistic styles which inspire Ms Renton.
Travelling to the wild and wonderful Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland has always been her stomping ground, sketch pad in hand, no doubt. With a photographic eye combined with impressionistic creativity, “Towards Mull” is a majestic panoramic scene. The viewer feels they are standing on the sandy beach looking out across the bay to the shimmer of shapely hills beyond.
While this clearly evokes a realistic ambience, the blending of soft shades, and curving contours of land and sea, creates a misty mood.
‘Although my paintings have their origins in nature, the influences of light and atmosphere are more important to me than realistic representation.’ Joan Renton
This semi-abstract technique is also shown in “Traigh-Mhor, Tiree,” which is most atmospheric: the curving trail in the sand leads the eye between the rocks to the lapping waves, a fleck of white horses and the distant islets. The pinky grey sky of scudding clouds evoke a tangible feeling of a chilly, salt sea breeze in the air on this blustery day.
A most enchanting winter scene is conjured up in “Little Tree,” in which the black, bare, skeletal branches spread across the canvas like a spider’s web.
The bold, imaginative pattern in the foreground reveals a tapestry of the snow-covered fields and rolling heather hills behind. This striking viewpoint would be a magical illustration for a Christmas Card.
The world of nature is captured both outdoors and at home. Here are several botanical paintings such as “Jug of Flowers,” a finely crafted, colourful display with such detail in the leaves, stamens, buds and petals.
And with a more expressionistic style, a swimming swirl of translucent green, blue and amber tones in the watercolour, “Sunlit Summer.”
Edouard Manet described Still Life as “the touchstone of painting,” which tests the skill of an artist to paint household objects, fruit, flowers, jugs, glassware and textiles. “Grey Still Life,” is a quiet, cool composition to illustrate the contrasting texture of a seaside shell, garden pears and flowers on the olive-green cloth.
The renowned artist Anne Redpath, OBE (1895–1965), devised her own iconic style of two dimensional Still Life scenes and domestic interiors. Following in her brushstrokes, Joan Renton is also a master of the genre with such a delicate, elegant and decorative design.
“The moment I stop learning and exploring new avenues, I shall give up and spend all my time in the garden.” Joan Renton
Now in her 85th year, this celebratory exhibition proves that Joan Renton is still very much in her prime and unlikely to exchange her paint brush for a trowel anytime soon.
THE GRILLI GALLERY, 20A Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ
Joan Renton – A solo exhibition of paintings
31st October to 29th November, 2020
Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 11.00am to 4.00pm,
Viewing by appointment: Tel. 0131 261 4264; mobile 07876 013 013
Browse the gallery of images on line: http://www.art-grilli.co.uk/exhibition.html
GRILLI GALLERY, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
A solo exhibition of paintings by Judith I. Bridgland
26th September to 22nd October, 2020
Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri 11am to 4pm; Saturday 10.00am to 1.00pm Closed Sunday & Wednesday
Tel: 0131 261 4264 – http://www.art-grilli.co.uk/
Born in Australia, Judith I. Bridgland came to Scotland as a young child and later studied at University of Glasgow, graduating with a MA, (Honours) in History of Fine Art and English Literature. She specialises in seascapes around the British Isles.
This exhibition takes tour around the coastline of Scotland, from East Lothian to Aberdeenshire, Sutherland to the Outer Hebrides. The iconic pudding shape of the Bass Rock, North Berwick, takes centre stage in “Sun on the Sand,” a stunning composition of sweeping stripes and layers to denote the wide sandy beach, seaweed, rockpools leading the eye to the distant bird colony island.
“Two Figures on the Beach at Sunset,” features a tiny dot of a couple who can just be seen at the edge of the breaking waves, under a coral-tinted sky. The flourish of thick brush strokes creates a wildly impressionistic perspective with vibrant colour and atmospheric energy.
The Isle of Harris must be a favourite place for Bridgland, who has painted several different scenic views to capture its white sand beaches and wild natural environment. This reminds me of an amazing story.
About ten years ago, to save the time and expense to send a media photographer to Kai Bae, Thailand Tourism simply googled images on line and ‘borrowed’ one of West Beach, Berneray instead. But the enticing promotional image was soon identified as taken in the Outer Hebrides.!
The natural “tropical” beauty around Harris is certainly an artist’s paradise.
Here is the lush, languid beauty of Luskentyre with its long, curving bay, undulating dunes etched with machair grasses, framed by the mountain peaks beyond.
In “Clouds over Luskentyre” and “Grasses on the Beach”, you really feel that you are standing on the seashore with a whiff of salty sea air in a warm breeze.
It is fascinating to learn more about how Judith Bridgland starts the slow creative process for her landscapes:
“I start off by going to visit a location, taking a large set of photographs with two different cameras. I take hundreds and hundreds of photographs getting to understand the landscape, and seeing it in various lights and preferably at different times of the day. I will take shots of the same scene from multiple different angles, and also take samples of earth and sands to remind myself of colours.
I will return to the same place again and again, not to repeat scenes, to copy or replicate – this is an exercise in releasing yourself from merely recording the rhythm of the landscape, and experiment with texture, light and colour. It is a way of building on your understanding of a place, adding depth and pushing yourself in terms of technique.”
Observing the same seashores across the seasons and from dawn to dusk, must be inspirational and, at times, challenging to perfect the painting. For a prime example of experimenting with texture, light and colour, the burst of a golden glow in “Sunrise in October” is a majestic seascape. A tangible sense of movement in the lapping waves, flurry of clouds here …. and take a close look to the far eft hand side to spot what appears to be the glint of a lighthouse perched on a rock.
There is a mix of full scale paintings, oil on linen or board, as well as smaller studies in acrylic. These will surely entice you to plan a Staycation trip around the Scottish seashore – perhaps an island hopping cruise around the Hebrides – for the great escape. Around the gallery too are botanical studies, lovely vases of lilies and roses to brighten your home this winter.
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA, a solo show at the Grilli Gallery: Sunny French landscapes and decorative Still Life studies
During the Edinburgh Festival season each year, the well-established Grilli gallery on Dundas Street has always presented a special exhibition to attract both city residents and international visitors. This year it’s a most inspiring solo showcase by Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA.
Jack Morocco was born in 1953 into a renowned family of artists, including his mother Rozelle, uncle Alberto and cousin Leon. He studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, a broad-based degree course including graphic design, illustration, textiles, life drawing, painting, portraiture, still life and photography.
The prominent genre here are landscapes, especially around the South of France – the daily life around Uzes, Arles and Aix-en-Provence – as well as Spain and Venice. Here are most evocative scenes of outdoor cafes with locals and holiday visitors, enjoying a coffee or a leisurely lunch in the warm sunshine.
The figures in Morning Coffee, Plaza de la Paja, Madrid may appear to be rough sketches, but there’s fine detail in the colours and style of clothes, such as the girl in a jaunty panama hat, her long legs stretched out under the table. Faces are mainly just blank smudges, but you still get the impression of age and character, gesture and body language.
Here, and also in Dejeuner, Lourmarin, Provence, the masterly use of dappled light, softly shimmering through the leaves of the trees, creating the contrasting gradations of shade and shadow.
This technique is particularly well handled in Place aux Herbes, Uzes, Provence, featuring small vignettes of families and children, elegant couples and a dog. Again, with just a simple splosh of colour, there is such accuracy to illustrate this disparate group of people in an array of shorts and hats on this summer day.
Take a stroll through tree lined squares, from Place and Plaza to enticing fruit and vegetable markets. These have a remarkable sense of movement as the shoppers stroll around the stalls.
Venice is also another favourite place where Morocco loves to capture the water and the tranquility, where its iconic ambience, he says, haven’t changed for two hundred years.
Ponte del Cavaletto shows an old hump-backed stone bridge with iron railings, where a girl in an orange T shirt has stopped to stand in the centre, looking down to observe a grey haired gentlemen, sitting on the walkway beside the canal. He looks like an artist at his easel – perhaps Jack Morocco himself ?
So much to see here – the balcony brimming with flowers, the ochre and pink stone houses, the glimpse of a blue boat, reflected on the calm surface of the water.
In the back room of the gallery, there are several Still Life paintings, to show the diverse range of expertise, subject and genre of the artist in this exhibition. Lilies, Lilacs and Silver Coffee Pot is a stunning composition, where the texture and material of each individual object – flower petals, shiny apple, the fold of a cloth, glint of wine glass and polished silver pot – is depicted with such clarity, care and precision.
There are also decorative, abstract studies of musical instruments, fruit, ceramics and mini portraits, in Picasso-esque style, as in the delightful Dried Flowers and Wally Dugs.
The fine art of “Nature Morte” dates back to the Egyptians, Roman and Greek frescoes and mosaics, later developed by the Dutch masters and then popular with the Impressionists, notably, Van Gogh and Cezanne. As an evolving painterly tradition, ancient and modern through the centuries, it is essential that Still Life continues to be taught in art colleges in the 21st century.
If August 2020 has been spent in staycation mode, feel the heat of the Mediterranean summer, soft golden sand and sea breeze in a few beach scenes: La Plage en Famille and the atmospheric, Boats and Bathers, with suntanned holiday makers relaxing under a parade of parasols, shaded from the glare of the midday sun.
Jack Morocco, DA, FRSA
25 July to 29 August, 2020
The Grilli Gallery, 20a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
tel. 0131 261 4264
Gallery opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, 11am-4pm. Sat. 10am-1pm.