What do Ben Wilson, Paul Sandby and Van Gogh have in common?
At the Royal Academy. I saw for one , Paul Sandby’s work , who in 1806 was working as a military draughtsman and drawing master and a theatrical scene-painter as well as a printmaker and publisher.
Paul Sandby wrote in a letter to architect James Gandon observing of himself: “His Majesty was graciously pleased to say that I am never idle, but can turn my hand to anything; like a fox, I have many shifts, but none will make me independent.”
For all an artist’s industriousness, resourcefulness and talent , rewards were hard won in an overcrowded London art market. Landscape Painting in the ‘watercolour style was considered ‘low art ‘ and marginalised by the Academy’s Genre and media hierarchy, so he experimented with using ‘bodycolour’.
I ask the curator what ‘bodycolour’ is and she very kindly told me that it involved the mixing of colour pigment and opaque white with a binding agent of isinglass a glue made from fish. Paul Sandby enjoyed to fox the ‘experts’.
Van Gogh. Well, so much has been written about him , there is no need for me to add my 2 pence worth. But I did notice how this current show at the RA has provoked a kind of one up man ship amongst the visitors. I overheard people saying: ‘Oh, I have now seen it ‘5 times’ after someone else said, ‘I have seen it 3 times’, and ‘is it not wonderful!’ Interestingly too, a friend had researched into the fact, that during Van Gogh’s 3months stay in Ramsgate there exsists a drawing by Van Gogh who at this time, had drawn the area of a my friends relative’s house car park across the road from where Van Gogh had stayed at the time.
How intimate we have all become with Van Gogh !
And Ben Wilson? On my way out from the Royal Academy I saw the back of a figure by the gates of the entrance lying on the floor bent over some painting paraphernalia that caught my attention! My good friend , the chewing gum artist, busy painting away at a commission for the art handler who works at the RA and who had specified: Woman , Drink, and Art for a piece. Ben let me have a peep at his miniature shiny fresh work in progress. If you happen to be around the RA don’t miss it Ben’s work is to the right of the entrance!
Check my previous blog entry for info on Ben Wilson’s work.