Thursday, 30 July 2009

Yosemite Valley View Pencil Drawing by Rob Miller

Posted by PicasaA series of pencil sketches as part of prep work for a triptych as a wedding gift for Paul and his wife Carly. Yosemite valley from Glacier point taken on their honey moon

Yosemite Valley Centre View Drawing Pencil

Posted by PicasaThis is the central view down the valley and it will form the centre of the triptych. The honeymoon photograph is I think taken from Glacier point, which apparently is reached at the end of a long tunnel as you drive out of the valley. It is truly inspirational and must rank as one of the mightiest of views and landscapes. I am beginning to enjoy it, having spent many years walking in the mountains its nice to paint one or two and these guys are the real thing.
I think that the formation on the far right must be Cathedral another place to go for an epic multi pitch climb.
In terms of the artwork I have not created a focal point as yet, I'd rather wait for things to start happening across the entire work but its got to be either the sheer vertical line of El Capitan or the waterfall which falls like a shining bead of light on the right side of the valley.

Yosemite Valley Left View Drawing Pencil

Posted by PicasaA preparatory sketch for a triptych that I am undertaking for my nephew Paul who honeymooned in the states with his wife Carly. Both were inspired by the national park and especially this view which they photographed down the valley. El Capitan is on the left of the valley in their photograph I have drawn it so that it may form in due course the left canvas of the triptych.

Yosemite Valley Right View Drawing pencil

Posted by PicasaThe right wall of the Yosemite valley and the right tryptich canvas. The waterfall which appears on the right in a fold in the rock strata will be more apparant and may form an important part of the composition.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Rob Miller at the Galeria Van Gestel Marbella

The Galeria Van Gestal is housed in one of the oldest houses in Marbella in the stunning plaza de los Naranjas. The intimate Plaza is surrounded by old spanish mansions. In the middle a garden of Orange trees and flora create a stunning visual shaded area full of busy cafe and restaurant tables were diners eat some of the best food in the Costa del Sol. The Galeria nestles in the corner its cool marble entrance hall and old marble columns and tiled floors give access to its 18 th Century cool courtyard and terraced studios. The Galerias rooms are full of vibrant contemporary art. The owner, the renown Dutch art dealer and collector Van Gestal has been selling art here for a number of decades. Eli Martin and gifted contemporary Spanish artist has her studio in the first floor rooms runs the gallery. She speaks excellent English and German she makes every visitor most welcome. Works on show by Rob are Rio Gedal 1,2, and 3 at 30 x 30 cm, Ronda 40 x 40 cm and Casares finca 40 x 40 cm all works in highest quality acrylics on canvas.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Alhambra, Sublime creation.Drawings, paintings and readings

A drawing of the Alhambra across from the Life pavilion. When drawing this and wondering around this amazing site I was first struck by the beauty of the place in its simplicity and richness. Secondly by its history and third because of its artistic merit that has been well documented and embellished over the centuries. Working here quickly at the start of a hot morning in July I was in awe and am still wondering whether my simple doodles and shards of colour can do it justice.

I attach a lenghy passage that I have taken from an essay by Shannon Melchior of Lynchburg College in the USA. that I came across in Google scholar. "Irving and Delacroix: The Use of Beauty to Transcend Time, Culture, and Reality". Americans make a great deal of fuss over the Alhambra, (because of Irvings writings it forms part of their own historical construct.)
I think that this passage is of interest to Europeans in terms of two literary forms being compared in a historical context. Shannon completes his essay by referring to the notion of sublime and how artists cover up the cruelty of reality by the use of the sublime through beauty, colour and form. I think however that he misrepresents the European notion of the sublime which to Shannon is used to hide fate. You only have to read Wordsworths account of climbing Snowden or see the paintings of William Turner to check this out.
The sublime for me denotes the cruel beauty of nature which always in the end dwarfs the small achievements of man. This brings me to my point, its the mix of planting, the simple beauty of life in the form of a rose, or tree set against ancient poetry carved and painted on stone in what was a fortress a machine of medieval war and sacrifice that for me is the essence of the Alhambra. It is the Alhambra itself which is sublime. If you have never been here... do make the trip.

Irving and Delacroix: The Use of Beauty to Transcend Time, Culture, and Reality
Shannon Melchior, Lynchburg College

Throughout history, the themes of art work and literature have closely reflected one another. Though pieces of artwork and literature created about one topic may be created in different eras and in different places, they are uniform in their creative expression of the subject at hand. The excerpt "The Court of Lions" from Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving is an 1832 short story of the history and legends of the Moors in Spain. Irving uses narration to paint a vivid description of the magical palace and past events that occurred within its walls. In 1828, artist Eugéne Delacroix used oil on canvas to depict his own cultural story of power, emotion, and chaos in the painting The Death of Sardanapalus. Though these two works depict different cultural events, they are connected in their emphasis on beauty and aesthetics, portrayal of events not personally witnessed by the artist, and imaginative distortion of reality.

In "The Court of Lions," Irving describes the Alhambra, a mystical symbol of the occupation of Spain by the Moors. The nineteenth century American author Washington Irving lived in the palace for several months and imagined his own version of events that happened in the fortress centuries before his time. The Alhambra was built by the Moors of Spain in the thirteenth century. In the years before 1492 when the Christian re-conquest of Spain was completed, the Alhambra was the Moors’ last foothold. The Court described in Irving’s excerpt had been the site of harems and murder, which became the subject of his speculation and imagination. Irving begins by explaining how the magical court of the palace helps him conjure up memories of events he never witnessed. He feels as though the Moorish influence still exists as vibrantly as it did in the past. Irving describes a "blood-stained fountain" at the center of the court and how it tells of violence and death (497). Amidst his description of the blood and pain, Melchior 2
he mentions a "lively swallow," buzzing bees, and butterflies flying around the court (Irving 497). It becomes obvious that Irving is cynical of the Christian monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, who recaptured Spain from the Moors. Irving continues to create fictional images of the Alhambra when he meets a Moor near the fountain. The man explains to him that the Moors placed great emphasis on the creative arts. The Moor comforts himself with the notion that his people will one day rule Spain again. Irving explains that many contemporary Moors of the Barbary Coast believe that they will once again rule Spain (500). The excerpt ends with a supernatural tale of a group of four wealthy Moors appearing in the Court of Lions. The Moors eventually tell a man where they have buried their treasure, and he becomes one of the richest men in the region (Irving 502). Throughout the excerpt, Irving weaves the tales he has heard with historical facts and his creative imagination.
The Death of Sardanapalus
Eugéne Delacroix, 1828
When Irving’s writing is compared to Delacroix’s painting, it becomes clear that the literature and the art of this period share similar characteristics. Eugéne Delacroix’s 1828 painting, The Death of Sardanapalus, depicts the death of an Assyrian king. Delacroix was a Romantic painter, who emphasized the dramatic and theatrical. In the painting, the artist depicts Sardanapalus, the last king of the second Assyrian dynasty, around the ninth century B.C. Rather than be conquered by an enemy army, Sardanapalus chose to kill himself and all of his servants, horses, and wives, along with his other belongings (Sayre 84). The use of line in the painting is not controlled but is fluid and emotional. In Delacroix’s preliminary drawing for the painting, it is evident that he used a flurry of intertwined, swirling lines to create the composition. The lack of control of line contributes to the work’s drama. The light in the painting also makes it more emotional and theatrical. The artist uses tenebrism, making the background very dark and using light to draw attention to the individuals in the foreground. The painting is oil on canvas, which allows the artist to create fine detail, such as the embellishments on the horses head and reins. Another benefit to the artist’s use of oil is that he could correct any mistakes and continue to rework the painting. The painting is relatively small, only 12 feet 1.5 inches by 16 feet 2 7/8 inches (Sayre 84). There is a lot happening on a small piece of canvas, making it more appealing to the eyes and imaginations of the viewers. The color is dark and rich, with saturated hues. The movements of the female forms are very fluid and dramatic. Their bodies are softly curved and strewn about the picture plane. Delacroix uses the primary color red to symbolize wealth and to make the king’s position stand out to the audience. It is not certain where the light source is coming from, but it is shining on the king’s legs at the bottom of the bed, where his wives surround him. The use of light and color make the piece a swirl of emotion and passion, which make it even more appealing to the audience. Melchior 4
Both Irving and Delacroix creatively embellish the tales they are depicting. Their focus is on beauty, passion, and the sublime. In "The Court of Lions," Irving goes beyond nature and explains that the palace is able to clothe "naked realities with the illusions of the memory and imagination" (497). At the opening of the excerpt, Irving is already creating a vivid image of the mysterious, beautiful palace. He also describes how everything in the fortress seems as though it is designed to "inspire kind and happy feelings" (497). Despite the violence that occurred at the Alhambra, Irving describes it as a beautiful, lighthearted place. He romanticizes it when he creates his own fictional accounts of what occurred in the palace. Even when he discusses blood and battle, he always goes back to the beauty and serenity of the location. This emphasis on beauty is characteristic of American Romantic authors, as well as artists. In The Death of Sardanapalus, Delacroix also focuses on drama, passion, and beauty. In the foreground, a woman is on her knees being killed; however, she does not appear to be screaming or even in pain. Her back is gracefully arched; she is a beautiful woman. Another woman, lying across the bed at the king’s feet, appears to be devoting herself willingly and elegantly to death at the king’s side. The scene is not bloody and does not even appear to be the site of much violence. The emphasis is not on violence or the accurate depiction of the event but on creating an aesthetically pleasing, beautiful work. Both the author and the artist use Romantic principles in their depictions of historical events.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cranham Church and Common Watercolour

Posted by Picasa Dancing buttercups, blue sky with vapour
trails, a Norman Church Tower squatting
amongst a row of trees. Ducks quacking
and a blackbird. Cranham England 2009.

Watercolour 33 x 17 cm approx

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Art Supplies on the Costa Del Sol

Art supplies are very difficult to come across in the Costa Del Sol, having said that if distance is no object you pick up materials from a variety of places which I have listed below.

Malaga has the most art materials suppliers and Gallery's for the professional artist. Its the best for public communality and artists galleries and studios.

Rob Miller Artist on the Costa del Sol

Marbella has two art supply shops. One in particular situated of the Calle La Seranata on the Calle Doha sells a good range of  professional materials, primers, oils. acrylics, pastels, good canvas, paper, boards and easels this is by far the best shop that I have found. The second is in the town centre near the Ave Miguel Cano.

San Pedro and Estepona, Pintura de Andalucia sell Windsor and Newton acrylics and oils along with canvas and other basic materials, the San Pedro shop has stretcher bars and a far bigger selection. Prices are reasonable but the selection is not vast.

El Corto Ingles Sell basic materials, mostly English, Windsor and newton, paper oils, watercolour etc that are okay for the hobby painter. Prices are high and the quality is mixed.

The easiest way is to get your supplies by mail order. I use English suppliers at the moment because of the euro exchange rate Ken Bromley in Bolton who have very good range of English, French, German and Italian quality materials, and who give good delivery rates. It takes about three or four days to arrive. Gerstacker aka Great Art will deliver to Spain direct from their German office pay in euros they have an excellent and wide variety of materials for the professional artist.

Ken Bromleys now do delivery to Spain and Portugal  for a basic fee here is their link. If you live or are staying on an Urbanization deliveries are best collected from your  local Correos or Business Centre.

Cranham Bathing Hut and Mill Pond. Watercolour

I was told that the Bathing hut was erected in the mid 18th Century when the Mill pond was a favourite place for the locals to bathe. The pond then fell into disuse but has been recently cleaned and the bathing hut restored. Its a very English and a very pleasent place to be. The early morning sun sent low shafts of glimmering silver light across the ponds surface and catching the fresh greens of plants and trees all around this shaded spot.On the pond swans and ducks went about their business.
Watercolour on Paper aprox 33 x 17 cm

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Working with Charcoal.

This is a totally renewable resource, and if you work directly with nature like I do than you should celebrate the moments of use. Charcoal is a great medium once you have overcome the initial control of the medium. For me its all about speed, impression and the pressure you apply when you use it. And you can draw with it on almost any type of paper, canvas, board, linen, meant for drawing or painting. Remember, though, that coal is also very messy. It comes off your skin very easily, but to avoid your self and everything around you becoming all black, you have to learn how to handle it.

Charcoal comes in various sizes and compressions the most compressed can be very black, Also charcoal can be used alongside any other medium and its velvet hue is just wow alongside oils, inks, acrylic or whatever.

Lots of people will advise you on the use of an eraser and charcoal but don't be taken in, the best thing about charcoal is its ability to be spontaneous and to help you capture in a stroke a movement of a body, the line of tree or the ripple of light in water. Get some cheap paper and practice practice. use it on its edge, on its side or however. Grind it down and use a cloth to spread it.


After working with charcoal, you will probably get your hands and face dirty (yes, face. It's weird how the stains get there, but it's very possible to get your face dirty). Don't worry, charcoal cleans up easily with plenty of soap. But the best thing to use are baby wipes or women's make wipes.

As soon as you start rubbing charcoal out to create highlights you loose its velvet gloss finish so ban erasers. If your drawing goes wrong, put it down to experience and start again.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cork Oak Stripping; Charcoal on Paper Drawing on location in Portugal.

Live thy Life, Young and old, Like yon oak, Bright in spring, Living gold;Summer-rich Then; and then Autumn-changed Soberer-hued Gold again. The Oak by Alfred Lord Tennyson

All the drawings here, and the others that I have not loaded up to this blog site were done on location in the forest at Montimor O Novo from about 8am until 12noon. Manuel de cas a Branca (who is not only a very good painter but also a brilliant guy with a fantastic family and friends) and I worked non stop for the two mornings. The guys stripping the trunks of cork were great fun and very very very quick at their job, balancing on narrow branches, swinging axes high above the ground . I was in awe watching them.

I've pasted some North American derived information below (cheers guys) about the excercise (only because my Portuguese is poor)

Cork consists of the thick outer bark of the cork oak (Quercus suber). Harvesting cork is the operation of removing bark from the tree during spring or summer. This is the time of year that the tree is engaged in rapid growth. The tender, newly generated cork cells break away from the cambium easily and without damage.
The process is temporarily debilitating but the outer bark quickly regenerates and the tree continues to flourish. Studies show that regular harvesting generally improves the trees health and vigor.Stripping cork is a delicate operation that is performed by hand with traditional tools and methods. Despite periodic attempts, there is no mechanized or automated process that can compare to traditional harvesting techniques.
Harvest difficulties occur if the process is not carried out when the tree is in full growth. As soon as it is evident that the cork is being stripped too early or too late in the season the stripping is brought to a halt, a year's delay in cork extraction is preferred to damage to the tree. The delicate operation of stripping cork has been performed in the same way for decades. Today, cork stripping with a special axe continues to be the quickest and cleanest method available.

Information provided by the Cork Quality Councila non-profit association of selected US wine cork suppliers; 11160 Terrace DrForestville, CA 95436707-887-0141

These guys worked quickly and it was all I could do in the time I had to jot visual notes, charcoal is great for that. It allowed me to work on A3 sheets of paper doing about 40 drawings in succession non stop. (Except when I got lost behind some wall of brambles and cactus and wandered aimlessly till I got my bearings again the forest)

These drawings were undertaken on location in Montemor O Novo. They are a short selection of drawings of a team of Portuguese Cork Oak Workers cutting in the forest.Their job was to strip the bark of the cork Oak without damaging the tree.The men, about 18 in number worked extremely quickly in twos with large axes first cutting into the tree and then stripping the cork outer skin. The number 9 was painted onto the new tree at the end of the process always in the same direction. The bark is only cut once every 10 years or more these trees had last been been cut in 1996. Manuel de Casa Branca a painter who has a great relationship with the Cork Oak had arranged the event and had invited me to work with him drawing and recording this historic and almost timeless sight which has been going on for over a 1000 years. We worked together on location for two mornings from about 8.15 to nearly 12 midday.
I chose charcoal and paper as my medium because like the cork oak they both come from wood resources and both are renewable. Not only that but as importantly the charcoal is lovely when used quickly.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Yewricks Cranham Watercolour

Looking down to Painswick from Sanatorium Road. The sanatorium was a hospital now long demolished George Orwell was a patient there after writing '1984' and maybe saw this view as he travelled down the Lane . Yewricks can also be seen under its green canopy on the ancient Mill Lane.
Yewricks Watercolour on paper Approx 34 x 19
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Exhibition at Ascot Studios July-August.

'Hebrides Home Coming' Acrylic on Canvas 90 x 60 cm. Other work by Rob Miller 'Ribble Valley Hill Track' 50 x 50 cm, and 'Hebrides Nearly Home' 90 x 60 cm
Appearing at Ascot Studios Ribchester July to August Exhibition .

Cork Oak Harvest Project

By Friday morning I will be working with Manuel de Casa Branca
drawing and taking images of the cork oak bark being
harvested near Evora. Manuel took this photograph
yesterday when he went to the farm to check the
Cork Oak group out.
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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Cranham Mill Watercolour

Cranham Mill on Mill Lane painted on a June morning. Low cast shadows from the sun just rising above the ancient woods and hitting the Mill Race making it shine. The Mill is a sprawling set of cream stone buildings. The painting was undertaken above the Mill and the Mill race. Noisy ducks and their 6 perfect ducklings which attached themselves to my boot laces helped me work. A wood pecker hammered close by whilst swans enjoyed the Mill pond. A tranquil English haven.

Watercolour and Graphite on paper 34 x 19 cm

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Cork Oak news

Next week looks exciting Manuel Casa Blanca the Portugese painter has been very helpfull and has been able to finalise details. We are meeting at a wonderful location next Friday at Montemor o Novo near Evora.
At dawn we are to meet up and draw the guys working the cork of the cork oak trees. Montemor o Novo near Evora is situated in the midst of Portugese Seirra an upland area dominated by historic towns and villages.*:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PBEA_en-GB&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Cranham near Buckholt Road Watercolour

This Cotswold Stone House stands in the morning shadows, early in June on Sanatorium Rd Cranham which follows the contours of a broad wooded ridge. Both houses and farm sit across the lane from a unique species of ancient beechwood which encircles the whole village. In the middle ages Cranham lay on the Gloucester - London Road. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are said to have hunted in the woods.
Watercolour approx 34 x 19 cm

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