Sunday, 7 December 2014

lendwithcare is an organisation that helps to finance small businesses, mainly individuals, throughout poorer parts of the world.  Click on the link to discover how simple it is to lend a small (or larger) amount that will transform somebody's life, and to read about the different projects.

PS   26th January

I recently made my first loan of £30 to a cooperative looking for around £1000, and have heard that they already have their full amount and that I will be paid back soon.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

SSA Annual Exhibition 2014

  Diana Hand   Tang Horse 2   Charcoal on paper

I am pleased to announce that my drawing "Tang Horse 2" has been selected for this important exhibition with the Society of Scottish Artists at the Royal Scottish Academy, National Galleries of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh, EG2 2EL.  The exhibition is open from 5th December to 20th December, 2014.
For more information please click here.

This drawing was inspired by by trip to China a year ago.  I visited the main art museum in the ancient city of Xian to look at the ceramic horses of the Tang dynasty.  The elaborate mane plaiting is still used today, as can be seen in this photograph.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

John Moat Poet

Reading this week about the death of John Moat, who with his wife Antoinette created the Arvon Foundation, I was struck by his attitude to his writing, well described in a private letter to his friend and obituarist, Adam Thorpe:

"A magic happens ... we give ourselves to the commonplaces of the reverie, and at the end look up and find ourselves duped into the light".

Thursday, 30 October 2014

HOW TO DRAW HORSES the process of writing and drawing

Rediscovery of drawing
How to use mind - the lowest level of awareness
How to use hand and body  pleasure of channelling
How to use feelings - the next highest level of awareness
Looking and recording
Understanding form and its importance
Moving from writing to drawing  
Writing clears the head 

Diana Hand  Pencil drawing  Arabian

  Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Eye study

 Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Eye study from front

 Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Eye study from front

Diana Hand  Pencil drawing  Understanding the hindquarters

Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Clydesdale foal
Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Clydesdale foal and mare
Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Skeletal study of hoof 

Diana Hand  Pencil drawing Percheron Stallion 

My book, How to Draw Horses in 15 Minutes, will be published by Ilex Press spring 2015

Victoria Beckham top entrepreneur of 2014

Congratulations, Victoria Beckham, on your award and your achievements as a fashion designer since you launched your business a few years ago.  I like what you say about "feeling famous as a pop star but successful as a businesswoman and designer". 

Will Gompertz and Maria Abramovic

This programme, part of the Zeitgeisters series on Radio 4, was broadcast on 17th July.

In it Abramovic, the Yugoslavian artist,  talks with Gompertz about her life, and how she came to reject conventional art media in favour of performance art, taking life itself, and the personal experiences that we all have itself as her medium.

I found it a fascinating account of her ideas, which have been very influential in contemporary art.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


Slow cooker book

I follow this blog and was delighted to see that Miss South has written a book about slow cooking.  Hurrah.  I am a huge fan of these gadgets which make delicious food the easy and economical way.

By a coincidence I am writing a book as well. I will put more information on a different post, but for now am so intrigued by Miss South's account of her experience.  At least I have not had to test recipes, not for the book anyway, but I have done 100s of drawings.  And improved a lot.  And learnt so much.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Dylan Thomas and Fitzrovia

article by Griff Rhys Jones   Guardian 16.10.14

I love this account of Dylan Thomas in Fitzrovia.  Jones himself lives in this part of London and celebrates it as the "creative centre of Britain.. not perhaps the airy-fairy spiritual creative centre, but certainly the Grub Street hack coterie, make-a-living-off-my-wits writers, artists and chancers' creative centre".

Personally I like to keep my feet well on the ground.  I like the challenge of being in contact with the public and testing myself against their reaction without the intermediary of galleries.  I need the everyday reaction which is embedded in daily life, not in a separate and special way of being. That way I can remain strong and independent.

But this might be a limitation.  Opening up to the support of other people's taste and giving yourself to them is a way of testing yourself as well.  It is all too easy to get closed in when you work on your own.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Timely poem by W.B. Yeats


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Perth racecourse

Parade ring
Parade ring
The exciting bit

After the race

Hosing down after the race
PS  Would you believe this seems to be HORSEHAIR mulching this ornamental pot?

I braved the Ryder Cup traffic today and drove up to the last race meeting of the season at Perth Racecourse.  My reason was to do some drawing, but it turned out to be the most relaxing experience I have had for quite some time.  Everyone seemed to be completely enjoying themselves and I joined in effortlessly.  The weather was perfect, and Perth is a small course, so you can get to see the parade ring and the unsaddling enclosure, right up close and personal.  There were so many scenes of people just happily hanging out that I felt the need to brush up my people-drawing skills!  It was so different to be there for real rather than watching on TV or reading about it in the paper.

The action moves along seamlessly, from parade ring to horses going down to the start,
following the race on screen, and then everyone surges back to paddock to watch the unsaddling ritual.   I was so impressed by the riders, very tough, very fit and very brave to do this (over jumps) day in day out - AND they vault onto the horse while it is walking along in the paddock, no need for a leg-up.  And the horses are magnificent athletes too, tuned to the minute.  

Great day, Perth.  I will be back.  I did do some drawing, but as sometimes happens just got too carried away by the action. Next time...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What you can make with plums...

A big prize for guessing what this is.  Victoria plums turned into a rolled-out form - look like thin sheets of smoked salmon.  No I had never heard of such a thing before either, but when the plums keep on coming you have to think up new ideas and this is what a friend came up with. Something to do with adding a little honey and baking overnight.

Sunday after the referendum

Cycling out in Scottish Central farmland on Sunday evening:)

Falkirk ladies

New tattoo parlour in Falkirk brightened my day!

Clydesdale mare and foal - quick sketches

Beautiful Clydesdale mare and foal posed for me yesterday

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Good omen for the exhibition

Last week I was in a local town to look at a possible exhibition space.  It was a cool dreich Saturday morning.  I found the venue and had a look at it.  On the way back this little still-life jumped out at me.  It is a damp patch on the pavement outside a local hall, and they were preparing for a wedding later that day.  A little piece of decoration or confetti had falled amongst the autumn leaves on the pavement.  I liked it.  I snapped it.  I suddenly thought "it's time to start my blog again".

And the exhibition is booked for April 2016.  More news about this nearer the time, but I am planning to do some architectural drawings. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

A Most Wanted Man

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "A Man Most Wanted"

This film started slowly and from the first crucial frame I thought "this is not going to be a visual film".  But it did turn out to be a great character study and spy thriller, based on the book by John Le Carre.  It was set in Hamburg, where the security forces are super-sensitive, and centred on a young asylum seeker from Chechnya whose every move was being charted with suspicion by spy networks, including the CIA and the group run by Hoffman's character. 

Hoffman played Gunther Bachmann as  the archetypical Le Carre spy -  a weary, stressed-out, chain smoking, hard drinking and unscrupulous man with a moral agenda.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically died earlier this year from a suspected drug overdose,  gave a wonderfully powerful, moving and subtle performance just like the master actor he was.  Thank you Hoffman for delving so deep into the character and giving such a truthful performance. 

Good too for Le Carre to write another book about issues in the contemporary world.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Winner of Drawing Prize at Society of Equestrian Artists exhibition

"Tang Horse"  Diana Hand  charcoal on paper 2014

Big thrill when the Secretary of the Society of Equestrian Artists e mailed me to say I had won the drawing prize at the Horse in Art exhibition in the Mall Gallery earlier this month.  I am especially pleased because I like this drawing.  The idea came from a ceramic horse (Tang era -  618-907 AD) I saw in a museum in Xian, China a year ago.  I really like the  power and vitality of the horse,  and its informality, with the rug slung casually over the saddle.


Constable: A Country Rebel


Alistair Sooke has been profiling the nineteenth-century English painter, John Constable in this recent programme.  Much of the info was biographical and included the story of how little Constable was accepted as an artist during his life and his personal struggles in  marrying his wife against her family's wishes, and losing her to illness at an early age.  Although he is associated with his famous paintings of the Stour valley in Suffolk, he lived in London and, unexpectedly, Brighton, later in his life.  

While in Brighton he met the famous scientist Faraday and became friendly with him.  Constable maintained that painting was a science, and he related more to scientists such as Faraday than he did to fellow artists.  His cloud studies were revolutionary in their close and realistic examination, and his clear vision of landscape predated the Impressionists half a century later.

Although he was scientific in his approach, he also famously said that "painting is another word for feeling" and I would say this is true of drawing and other kinds of art as well.  Later in his life he painted great numbers of canvases and his brushwork become simpler and more powerful.  Sooke suggests that he was increasingly painting his emotional truth and the "psychodrama in his head".  Many artists find this power and simplicity later in life.  I think of Titian and Matisse, just off the top of my head.

Sooke presented a very human portrait of Constable and also gave insight into his art.  During his lifetime he was celebrated in France, but never in England.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Marino Marini, horse artist

Marini  Rider 1953 tempera on paper 26.2 x 34.3 cm

Marini  Equestrian composition  1954 Oil on canvas 51 x 43 cm

Since completing the preparation for the Glasgow exhibition, I have been looking at the drawings, paintings and sculpture of Marino Marini (1901-1980), who was a tremendous horse artist, as well as portrait artist.  He worked in an expressionist  way, going far beyond the directly figurative Western tradition of equestrian art, and he was evidently inspired by the forms of the Chinese horse sculptors, as well as primitve artists from Etruscan period. 

Marini  Rider 1950 Oil on canvas  78.5 x 57 cm

Marini  Horse 1945 Bronze 45 x 51 cm

Marini  Horse 1946  Bronze  44 x 19.5 x 51.5

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

"The Horse in Mind" Glasgow Art Club exhibition May 2014

I have been working on an exhibition at the prestigious Glasgow Art Club, in the centre of Glasgow. This beautiful building has been the home of GAC since 1893, so it is full of atmosphere and  memories of past artists from this great city and beyond.  It is located a stone's throw from the equally prestigious Glasgow School of Art.

Tang 2  charcoal on paper   590 x 610

I was asked to make equestrian drawings for this event, and it has been a great opportunity to "binge"on horse drawing day after day in the studio. 

Fragment 2   charcoal on paper 600 x 400

Some of the drawings are studies from history.  I am fascinated by the knowledge and passion shown by equestrian artists of ancient civilizations.  There is something very evocative about the fragments seen in museums, simply because they ARE ghostly traces of once-powerful cultures.  But they are often wonderful works of art as well.  For example the Parthenon frieze, which celebrates the cavalry of the Athenians, is full of life and energy and human and equestrian expression, as well as being superb quality sculpture which shows an intimate knowledge and study of horses and men and drapery.

Parthenon pair   acrylic on ply  38 x 15

Beyond this, it is compelling to look at the ways in which horses have been portrayed.  The Greeks modelled the horse very realistically, emphasizing its sculptural anatomy and its exuberance.  The Chinese Tang ceramic sculptors greatly exaggerate the body of the horse, giving it a statuesque quality, but also a very strong and dynamic one.  I love to try and get inside the mind of these artists, and it excites me to feel their abstract and formal interpretation of the horse. I would like to work quite abstractly, and not always adhere to the more traditional Western way of painting and drawing horses.  That is a challenge which I have to take as it comes, in its own time.

Startled horse   Charcoal and acrylic paint on cotton  920 x 770

For the exhibition I have also been doing some more intimate and realistic portrayals, mostly working from imagination or translating some of my studies into more dynamic form.  Often a conscious study, as in the case of my charcoal "Tang" drawings will emerge in a different and unexpected form.  It has been a fascinating journey so far, and of course one that I shall continue long after this exhibition. 

The exhibition runs from 12th May to 5th June, 2014, 
Monday to Saturday   11 am to 5 pm  
The Glasgow Art Club, 
185, Bath Street
Glasgow G2 4HU
0141 248 5210 

Friday, 14 March 2014

Matisse "The audacity of simplicity"

"Do I believe in God?  Yes, when I work"  (Matisse)