Monday, 19 October 2015

Pip Seymour Paints

Pip Seymour

Last weekend (17th October, 2015) I went to a presentation by Pip Seymour and his partner, Rebecca. It was organised by Art Store in Glasgow where the products are stocked.

Pip and Rebecca have created a small company which makes paints of all kinds to the highest specification.  This does not mean their things are very costly, simply that the ingredients are pure, the pigments strong and the oil paint binder, cold pressed linseed oil, guaranteed to give the best results.

They have a thorough and deep experience of working with these materials at every level.  They are both artists and they are also craftspeople who are truly passionate about what they do. They experiment with different sources of pigments, including slate from a Cumbrian mine, Scottish granite, earth from French and Italian quarries, and they also use synthetic pigments. It was fascinating to see how the texture and weight of the paint varies according to the pigment used.

Every step of the painting process has been thought through,  from the right kind of support (linen cloth, not cotton or the commerically produced canvases) and ground (they make their own size, primer and gesso) to the best binding agents and mediums.  I tried preparing a piece of MDF (probably not ideal) today with their products and found that the oil paint sits clear and bright on it.

I hope they will be returning to Scotland soon to share their knowledge and inspiration.  Anyone interested should contact the Art Store in Glasgow. Pip Seymour paints and other products are only available via retailers, not normally from the company themselves.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

HENNING MANKELL Creator of Wallander

Henning Mankell
Here is the obituary of someone who lived a fascinating and, in my view, an admirable life.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Dr Rita Carter The Mind's Eye

 Talk at Edinburgh Printmakers 24th September, 2015

The Mind's Eye
How is visual imagery encoded in the brain?   Dr Rita Carter explains the unlikely processes which result in conscious perception of the world around us, and shows how our view is distorted by expectation, edited on a need-to-know basis and valued as beautiful or ugly according to the physical state of our bodies.  

Rita is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster who specializes in showing how brain science can help explain our experience of living in the world. Her books include the world-wide best-seller, Mapping the Mind, and the ultimate illustrated guide to neuroscience: The Brain Book.

What follows is a brief and sketchy account of Rita's talk.two weeks ago.  Anyone wishes to find out more could read her books.  

All our knowledge has a physiological basis in the brain, and seeing is an active and unconscious construction.   Language evolved to replace the intuitive process, but the subject/object relationship conceals an underlying homogeneity.  Every individual perceives differently (contrary to what we might assume), and language is too crude to describe this complex experience. There is also a variation between species.

Rita Carter explained that there are pathways and zones in the brain which interpret visual data in different ways - "where"(zonal) , "what"(verbal) and "who (friend or foe)" (emotive).  The paths travel to different parts of the brain and then meet again at the front and come into consciousness.

"Bottom up" activity involves the hand and mind and the emotions, whereas "top down" activity is concerned with learned behaviour and expectations.  Learning actually affects the way you perceive.  There is a relationship between these two modes of activity.

The "aha" moment of discovery and realisation has been shown to have a physical basis.  So, when I feel that a drawing or painting is complete, it may be because I have found a balance between the two kinds of activity - and moved into a new way of seeing, just a little.  The "aha" reflex can be learned and developed as well, according to Carter.

She also mentioned an autistic child who drew exquisitely from life from an early age precisely because her conceptual development was different, maybe underdeveloped.