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My regular reader may remember my anecdote about the Chinese artist in Nottingham Contemporary, filling a decommissioned American spyplane with stuffed bats. I had popped into the gallery only to be informed that they were shut while the new exhibition was installed. I could see someone crouched by the side of an enormous aeroplane in the big gallery space, taking small brown things out of a box. The receptionist told me, with a special little smirk, what was going on.

I have seen this smirk many times. It means ‘isn’t that extraordinary?’ and it is there because the expected reaction is ‘what on earth would anyone want to do that for?’ And quite right; the question does occur. To be honest, I find it a little offensive, because there is the implication that the smirker knows why the thing is happening and you don’t. It’s a proprietorial smirk, the smirk of someone who has special knowledge. ‘What on earth would anyone want to do that for?’ Well, there was a complex web of reasons for that piece, but the one thing that they will never say is that it’s pointless, empty, ritualised behaviour, and that once you have thought the image (in this case the plane, the bats) you really don’t need to experience it. It’s a surreal conjunction of images. Like a poem. You don’t need a film of a skylark to understand the Hopkins poem.

But the artist ‘has’ to do it, because otherwise, how are you going to have a private view, a catalogue printed, employ receptionists, explainers, curators or whatever you want to call them? How do you justify the Arts Council grant? The artist ‘has’ to do it because he or she is amazing, and he or she is incredible. These are the two key terms in art appreciation today. Antony Gormley is amazing and incredible. As is Banksy. As is Tracey Emin. As is anyone who is exhibiting in the nearest starchitect-designed art gallery to you.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our November issue. This month Hermen Pekel shares his strategies for creating depth and Lucy Willis explains how to achieve perspective, both working in watercolour, while Aine Divine demonstrates how she painted a watercolour portrait of our editor. James Hobbs urges you to share your sketchbook on social media this month using the #inktober tag and Robert E Wells explains how he uses his sketchbooks as a creative tool. Kathy Barker begins a new series on portraiture with a look at eyes, Paul Brown reveals how you can learn from your mistakes, Paul Riley demonstrates how to paint mountains in acrylic and Becky Thorley-Fox sketches and paints wildlife from life, in oil. And of course our regular contributors Geoff Hunt, Jenny Aitken, Paul Talbot-Greaves, Charles Williams and Soraya French share their knowledge of painting. There’s plenty to inspire you in your November copy of The Artist!

Other Articles in this Issue

The Artist
from the editor
An exclusive opportunity to paint the lavender fields, private gardens, rolling hills, mellow-stone hilltop villages and the charming water town of L’Isle sur la Sorgue in the beautiful Luberon region. Travel is by train from London to Avignon so you can take all the painting equipment you wish to
Successful watercolours have a sense of depth that carries the eye of the viewer into the painting. Herman Pekel shares his strategies for creating depth and distance in your watercolour paintings
Lucy Willis explains how to achieve perspective in your watercolour compositions in subjects including architecture, figures, shadows and aerial perspective
Avid sketcher James Hobbs urges you to participate in Inktober on social media. All you need to do is draw with ink and share the results, as he explains here
Jenny Aitken shares her strategies for capturing the scale and atmosphere of mountains
Kathy Barker begins a new four-part series on portraiture by taking an in-depth look at eyes, showing you how to capture expressions and emotions
Soraya French continues her new series on painting floral compositons in mixed media by demonstrating a colourful border of dahlias
Paul Talbot-Greaves shows you how to paint trees loosely and spontaneously in acrylic to achieve shape and movement
Becky Thorley-Fox shares the secrets of capturing wildlife from life, drawing and painting on the spot
Geoff Hunt heads off to Cambridge, where he tries out his new paintbox
Robert E Wells reveals how his sketchbooks are used as a creative tool for studio paintings
Aine Divine describes how she approached a watercolour portrait of our editor Sally Bulgin, with a step-by-step demonstration
Paul Brown shares his experience of analysing his own work in order to improve his chances of success
Paul Riley advises on the tools, materials and techniques for painting mountain scenes using acrylics
Ahead of an exhibition of Pure Watercolour Society members, Josephine Neil discusses the ongoing popularity of the medium, and its relevance in today’s world
Got an art question you need answered? Need help or
Capture the romantic Tuscan countryside with its rolling hills and medieval fortified hilltop villages, Benedictine monasteries nestling amongst elegant cypress trees and the fabulous Renaissance towns of Pienza and Siena
Enjoy receiving The Artist with 80 pages of ideas and
Kagan McLeod
Meet this month’s editor’s choice winner from our PaintersOnline gallery, who receives a £50 Jackson’s Art Supplies gift voucher
Reflections and refraction add visual interest to our paintings and can be found in many types of subject matter. Peter Burgess explains how to make the most of these natural phenomena in your work
Amazing, incredible…