Category Archives: Innovation

Bonjour 2020!


I thought I’d begin 2020 as I ended 2019 – writing in French!

Why? I have no idea.

Plus, it’s a tad late for New Year salutations.

I’ve wanted to write a post about Saul Leiter for many a moon.

Why? I have no idea.

Wait, I do. Because I love his work, that’s why. And I thought it only right and proper I shared the love.

I am intrigued by his voyeuristic style. Apart from Leiter being a pioneer of early colour photography, he managed to capture slices of the Big Apple’s social and cultural life in 1940s and 50s America. I think the compositions are very cinematic and each character could inspire a short story.

He said his early influences were the Impressionists Degas, Bonnard and Vuillard. But I’d venture to chuck Toulouse-Lautrec into the pot as well.

And he wasn’t just a dab hand at photography. He was pretty good at dabbing with a paint brush too. (Quite a few of his paintings are over-painted photographs.)

I’m not going to blather on giving you his life story, you can do that here. I just want to show you some pretty pictures. So, here you go…

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Adieu 2019.


Well, it’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot more visual arts this year, so I thought I’d do a month-by-month, blow-by-blow, pictorial representation of my year. (Lucky you.)

Actually, the reason behind it is to see if/how the images/moods have changed over the course of the year. And how that might correlate to my mental health.

As some of you know, I volunteer for an arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), which works with people with mental health issues. I am an ardent advocate of the arts as a medium to treat mental health, and wellbeing in general.

Many years ago, I visted the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you could see the gradual decline in his mental health through his work.

Whilst I’m no Van Gogh, I am trying to see if there are any similar patterns to my own work.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

And before I forget; Have a Happy New Year and an absolutely spectacular 2020.

JANUARY

Oh dear… that’s not a good start.

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FEBRUARY

That’s a bit more positive. Birthday trip to Haworth, West Yorkshire, (home of the Brontes’), with my daughters.

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MARCH

Pros: Part of an Arc exhibition. Cons: Became homeless.

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APRIL

Ee, it’s grim up north. Charcoal sketch of an L.S. Lowry.

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MAY

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Rehomed.

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JUNE

Think I can see a pattern emerging.

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JULY

Rehab.

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AUGUST

I guess a lot of things are obvious in hindsight.

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SEPTEMBER

The road to recovery.

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OCTOBER

Signs of improvement.

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NOVEMBER

Apart from my volunteer work at Arc, I started facilitating a Creative Writing Workshop at The Wellspring homeless charity in Stockport.

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There are always reminders.

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DECEMBER

A change of outlook.

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As you can see, it’s been a tumultuous year.

I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the last day of it. That would not have been possible were it not for the actions of my dear friend, Siobhan Costigan, over in Australia. Her, and my friends, family, NHS, Stepping Hill Hospital, Pathfinder, AA, The Wellspring and Arc have all played their part in saving my life and helping me to recover. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

As of 31/12/2019, I am 140 days abstinent. I feel completely blessed that I have been able to experience 140 days on Earth with my daughters, family and friends that I might not have been able to. I am truly a lucky man.

I wish you all a magnificent 2020; may the forthcoming decade bring you everything that you hope and dream for.

 

Addendum.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a difficult time, there are organisations out there who can help. Reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you have managed to hold on this far. And remember, if things get so bad, go to your nearest A&E dept., they will take care of you just like any other patient.

The Samaritans call 116 123

NHS call 111 or 999

Alcoholics Anonymous call 0800 917 7650

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London Grammar Calling: Or, What my children teach me.


They teach me a lot.

Don’t worry, this post won’t be an itemised list of all the joys of being a parent.

Just a band they’ve introduced me to called London Grammar.

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As usual, I’m a bit late to the party as they’ve been going quite a while. Hannah Reid, the lead singer, has a hauntingly beautiful voice and the music is eerily sparse and melancholic with Dan Rothman on guitar and Dominic ‘Dot’ Major on keyboards & percussion. (It’s called ‘Dream Pop’ apparently.) Who new? Oh, you all did.

They’re a trio who formed in Nottingham in… do I look like Wikipedia? If you’re interested, have a read about them here.

I’ve picked out a couple of songs that I have on repeat at the moment. But, the more I listen to them, the longer that list becomes. (Although, I doubt that an old codger like me is their prime target audience.) I guess, those who know a bit more about my story will understand the poignancy of ‘Strong’.

So thanks, you crazy kids, (I can hear them groan and see their eyes roll), for introducing me to London Grammar, Sia, First Aid Kit, Billie Eilish, 21 Pilots, Melanie Martinez and the rest. You’re pretty cool, despite your parentage.

Enjoy. And have a very happy Christmas if you celebrate that sort of thing. And have a very happy holiday season if you don’t.

 

I’ll just leave a little something for my kids to aspire to…

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Body of Work


I was going to title this post: Portraits of the Damned.

Then I started to include landscapes and still-lives to it. So, the title wouldn’t really make sense. But it will in a minute! Be afraid, be very afraid.

Some of you may, or may not, know that I volunteer for an Arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), in Reddish, Stockport.

I’ve done a lot of this work there, and some at home. But all the techniques I’ve picked up are from either attending or volunteering on their programmes.

Whether it be block-printing, collage, charcoal, watercolour, acrylics, inks, fabric, embroidery, clay or pastel. Not to mention the numerous techniques, yes brushes, but also charcoal tied to the end of a three feet long piece of bamboo! Bits of old Paymobil and Lego, edges of long out-of-date credit cards.

At Arc, it’s never about the technique and what end result you achieve, it’s about enjoying the process of doing it. Losing yourself, immersing yourself in art for a few hours – now that is medicine!

I appreciate that my work is more the stuff of nightmares rather than living room walls. But I like it!

Collage

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Pencil sketches

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Watercolour

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Self-portraits

Processed with Snapseed.

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Charcoal

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Pen and ink sketches

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Portraits of the Damned!

Mostly acrylic and chalk pastel on canvas or paper.

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And finally, the installation I made for the centenary commemoration of the end of the First World War at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery. R.I.P. Herbert Jackson of Didsbury Road, Heaton Mersey, Stockport. Railway man, musician, fiance – and soldier.

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Happy 70th Birthday NHS…


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Nye Bevan

…Thank you for bringing me into this world. And thank you for keeping me in it.

Thank you for resetting all of my broken bones. And thank you for sewing me back together.

Thank you for operating on me when I needed fixing. And thank you for sending an ambulance when I couldn’t make it there by myself.

You have saved my life and patched me up more times than I care to remember. Without you, I would surely not be here.

Most of all, thank you for bringing my two daughters into this world. Thank you for taking care of them when they were sick and for vaccinating them from deadly diseases.

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To all the nurses, doctors, GPs, clinicians, technicians, auxillary nurses, dentists, paramedics, ambulance technicians, call handlers, midwives, radiologists, cardiologists, pharmacists, oncologists, scientists, anaethetists, surgeons, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, physicians, administrators, managers, secretaries, receptionists, cooks, housekeepers, porters, Nye Bevan, the Labour Party and all the other staff of our National Health Service who I have forgotten to mention –

Happy 70th Birthday!

And, thank you.

(Have yourself a slice of cake. But not too much. Don’t want you getting diabetes.)

 

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The Boating Party with Michael Koropisz


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation.

Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome artist Michael Koropisz.

I love the way he paints in a classical way yet adds a modern twist that make you look twice.

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Michael Korpisz

What has been your greatest personal or career achievement?

Well, that is a tough one. I have three which were all great achievements at the time, but looking back some outrank others in my present stage of life.

My first great achievement was in 2012 when I was 16 years old. Whilst studying Art GCSE in secondary school, I painted a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and sent it to her as a gift. I thought that was the end of that until I received a reply of gratitude on her behalf from her Lady-in-waiting. I told my art teacher and he surprised me by alerting the headteacher and the local news papers. That day was filled with interviews and photo shoots. I found myself in the newspaper and for a week or so I was recognised in the streets on many occasions and congratulated on my achievements.

My second achievement was winning the prestigious Aon Art Award in which the company Aon (sponsor for Manchester United) leased two of my paintings for their client suite in the heart of London. My works were on display for a year before they were auctioned and sold for a generous sum.

My third is a personal achievement, and the most recent. I spent the year training to be a school teacher. I was doubted a lot by others and endured many hardships but after a year I successfully graduated.

What has been your greatest sacrifice?

My greatest sacrifice was the year I spent training as a teacher. It was something that I highly underestimated, as do many. The job is filled to the brim with paperwork, the hours are very long, and I was intimidated by the staff in my department. I was completely unpaid and struggled financially. Every day in school, I thought of what I could be achieving had I pursued my career as an artist. I am now a full time artist.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My parents. They have always supported every decision I made and have complete faith in me. I owe everything in my life to them.

Who, or what, inspires you?

History (18th-19th century) is my inspiration for everything; my clothing, my compositions/music, my artworks and interior design. I often believe that I had a past life, as I have had a real connection with historical clothing and furniture from a very early age, and in turn modern clothing and décor feels uncomfortable and wrong to me.

What makes you unhappy?

To see a lack of manners and disrespect to other people and animals.

What makes you happy?

Many things make me happy, but the main thing is music. I, as many, can listen to music for hours and discover new elements whilst being transported into the world of the composer. It is truly the most powerful art form, and we still have no explanation or definition as to why it is so meaningful.

What are you reading?

I do not read many books, but I do read online. I mainly read non-fiction on philosophy, religion, history, physics (time travel theories and astronomy) and the theory of music/composition as well as art.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

I listen mainly to classical music. From my early childhood I adored Baroque music, especially the works of G. F. Handel. However, as I grew older my taste moved to the more comical side of music in the way of operetta. My current favourite composer is Sir. Arthur Sullivan, known for his partnership with W.S Gilbert as Gilbert and Sullivan.

When I play on my piano or harpsichord, however, I cover a vast range of genres from the Renaissance, Classical, Ragtime, Jazz to Pop.

You’re going on a day trip. Where are you going and what is in your ‘day’ bag?

I would go on a day out in the English countryside and find a picturesque spot for a picnic. I would not take a bag, but a car filled with antique clutter. The aim would be to create a ‘show’ which inspires passers-by to hark to the past themselves. I would take a decorating table covered in a linen cloth, gold antique chairs, my gramophone, fine china, tea pots and a croquet set. I would wear my original Victorian clothing complete with my 1880s moleskin top hat and pocket watch.

What’s your favourite film?

Titanic, as the historical accuracy captured by James Cameron is incredible as well as the music by Horner.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Normally water, but on the occasional night out, white wine or champagne.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I have two places.

  1. Last week’s Euro lottery draw with the winning numbers written down.

  2. Victorian London. I would love to spend a week or two there. But not for too long due to the dirt and diseases.

What frightens you?

Ghosts and Death.

What do you do to relax?

I write music. Orchestral scores such as sonatas, operas, operettas and arias.

What do you do when you’re angry?

I go cycling. It really helps me calm down and perks me up for the rest of the day.

What can’t you live without?

Hot water. I shower three times a day.

What’s your motto?

“You cannot sit on a coal mine and wait for the coal to magically come to you. You must go in and dig for it”. This implies that an artist cannot spend his life waiting for inspiration, he must push himself to achieve greatness.

Where is your Utopia?

Upper/Middle-class Victorian England, with its social morals and respect, beautiful clothes, architecture, art and music. Not to mention the lack of car pollution. Though the north of England was probably worse with all that soot and smoke due to the industry.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Travel the vast land of North America.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

My college art teacher who claimed I was not an artist as my work was not relevant in today’s society. She was a modern artist and had me disqualified from art. I therefore have no A-level in the subject.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Prince William, so that I could convince him that I should be his court artist for the remainder of his life. Being young, his patronage could be really useful.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on local commissions and extravagant portraits.

What is your ambition?

To spend my life as a painter and change the outlook on the world in a way in which we do not forget the aesthetics and skills of the past but take the best parts from it.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would remove cars. I feel that local communities have broken down because of them, they clutter streets and people would be much healthier and happier without them. Though this would take some time to adjust to. Imagine a world in which everyone walks, travels on horseback, in carriages or cycles.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

  1. G. F Handel (Composer)

  2. Sir Arthur Sullivan (Composer)

  3. Queen Victoria

  4. Franz Winterhalter (Artist)

  5. A passenger from the Titanic- It would be interesting to hear about the night of the sinking in detail.

  6. My father – Being from a very working class background I would love to see his face as the snobbery unfolded.

Though, by the sounds of it, this boating party would consist of me and my father sat with a pile of corpses, as most of the guests are dead.

What would be on the menu?

I think that the guests would be very hungry after not eating for over a century. Therefore, I would serve a meal commonly eaten in the Victorian era, consisting of around 8 courses, as was done at the time.

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Do you paint on commission? The answer- Yes I do. Though, as I have already mentioned, I would be happy for anyone to contact me regarding personal commissions. I can paint from photographs, although I do prefer a sitting, though this is not always possible if someone is unavailable or far away.

Thank you Michael.

Scroll down to see some of Michael’s stunning work. There are also links to his Facebook and Instagram pages. Plus, two fabulous YouTube videos of classical music he has composed. And, if you like his work, drop him a line. I think he’s going to be a star of the future. Hopefully, not too distant.

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Artist’s biography.

I am a 22 year old artist living in Cheshire, England. Art has always played an important role in my life. I have been painting for as long as I can remember. My mother bought me oil paints and canvases in my very early youth as she clearly saw potential for some sort of talent.

I went on to graduate in 2017 with a degree in Fine Art and Art History from the Manchester School of Art. After that, I graduated again in 2018 with a degree in secondary school teaching.

The theory on which I base my practice is as follows:

We live in the shadows of the past. Some of us try to ignore them and others sentimentally hold onto them. I, however, live within them. Through my studio practice, I debate the ideas of beauty and aesthetical values, based upon the creations of artists, both past and present.

My studio practice falls within the domain of painting as an expanded field. Through my work, what I hope to achieve is a display of context wherein the viewer can critically look through the many layers of history, taking from it fragments that still resonate with today’s society, as opposed to those isolated from an informed or questioning eye.

My current studio practice consists of producing elaborate portraits in oil paints. I see great visual beauty in many realist works. And I question what beauty is? Is beauty mathematical? Is it natural? Why it is that Vermeer’s attention to detail is beautiful? His painting of floor is beautiful. His calculated lighting is beautiful. My work consists of both mathematical and natural beauty. I use many techniques such as the golden ratio and chiaroscuro, but I also follow my minds guidance to produce visually striking work.

My artistic practice is based on this idea of analysing art history and taking from it the most ‘successful’ outcomes to be used in my work.  I do this with my eyes wide open, and with full knowledge and appreciation for modern art, as taught on my current course.

Though, in my portraiture I strive for realism and beauty, I make it clear that I am not recreating new works in a past style, but simply appropriating the techniques of past painters to question class and status. As well as implementing modern ideas and characteristics into my work.

My work displays a combination of artistic skill, aesthetic beauty and a suggestion of humour towards the modern world. An example of this is can be found in my recently painted female nude. I was inspired to paint my model in the style of William Adolphe Bouguereau, a romantic painter specialising in the female nude and painting of angels. However at the sitting, I discovered that my model had some tattoos and piercings. I originally intended to paint them out, however after some thought I decided that is was the beauty of merging a romantic style with the modern day. Rather than to replicate an exact style, I was able to create something new based on the ideas of the past.

Baroque and Classical music interests me also, and through my studies I examine the links between both painting and music. Whilst studying baroque composition, I came across a heavy set of rules just as there are in art of the same period. Music and art seem to intertwine with one another and I am fascinated by how both art forms have the power to correspond with each other.

When I am not working on my artworks, I write orchestral music. I am currently writing a comic opera about a love potion for a full classical orchestra complete. The music is light but in some areas very moving. My dream would be to have it performed by a live orchestra and singers. I wrote both the music and the libretto myself.

Artist’s web links.

My Facebook art page – https://www.facebook.com/mr.koropisz/

My Instagram art page – https://www.instagram.com/m.koropisz.artist/

The overture from my comic opera (performed by a virtual orchestra) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyycbjVluOM

My baroque composition performed by my brother on the recorder and myself on the harpsichord- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGyyBA5J358

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Happy 200th birthday, Emily.


Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte.

Haworth, where the Brontes lived, holds a special place in my, (and my children’s), hearts.

We visit the place as often as we can.

Here’s a little haiku I penned after a walk on the Moors with my daughters a couple of years back.

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Knee deep in heather,

Bright red sock wavers aloft,

Boot stuck in peat bog.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Brontë Parsonage Museum

 

Brontë dining room

Brontë dining room

This is the room where, Emily, Anne and Charlotte did most of their writing. And that is the actual sofa in the background that Emily died on aged just 30. (I didn’t pass that information on to my children.)

Patrick Brontë's study

Patrick Brontë’s study

If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights yet, I urge you to do so. I promise you, it’s like nothing you have ever read before. It’s a complex and staggeringly passionate tale of unrequited love and dastardly deeds, set amidst the bleak and rugged Yorkshire Moors.

And, if you get the chance, watch the recent film adaptation by Andrea Arnold. It’s a pretty radical take on the book and one of the best interpretations I’ve seen to date. (See trailer below.)

wuthering-heightsIt’s not just the collective brilliance of the Brontë siblings that I find inspiring, but the whole beautifully barren backdrop of the moors. That, coupled with the picturesque cobbled streets of Haworth itself, makes perfect for a day out.

Haworth

Haworth

"Top Withins" Emily's inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

“Top Withens” Emily’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights. (Now a ruin.)

"Top Withens" as it would've looked back in Emily's day.

“Top Withens” as it would’ve looked back in Emily’s day.

P.S. It’d be positively churlish of me not to also include this classic by Kate Bush… whose 60th birthday it also is today. Bit of a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?

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