Tag Archives: contemporary art

My triannual quarterly review…


… or something like that.

I had meant to do a quarterly review of what I’ve been up to on the art front so far this year, but being a tad lackadaisical, it’s now become triannual instead.

That said, there’s absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that I’ll do another one in four months time. So, this could be a biannual triannual quarterly review. Or, an annual biannual … you get the picture.

Speaking of pictures … here are just a few paintings, collages and drawings I’ve done thus far in 2021.

I usually post my stuff more frequently on Instagram if you’d like to keep up to date and follow me on there @milligancroft

Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of my work.

The joy of making art is in the process of doing it rather than the end result. You just get lost in the moment of creating.

I wholeheartedly recommend it. Particularly for those struggling with mental health issues. But obviously, you’d don’t need to be mad as a box of frogs. You can just enjoy it for its own sake.

Remember, kids, Art is Medicine.

(And can be quite addictive.)

P.S. Why is it ‘mad as a box of frogs’ and not ‘mad as a box of cats’, or something?

I can’t imagine frogs being that unhappy in a box. They’d probably quite like the darkness.

A box of cats though, put enough of them in there and all hell would break loose. There’d be claws and fur everywhere.

Does it even have to be a box?

Couldn’t it be, ‘mad as a bag of wombats’?

Food for thought.

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Sayonara 2020


Nope, there’s no reason why I wrote that in Japanese. Except that I ended 2019 in French, so I guess it’s tradition now.

I’m just going to fizzle out of 2020 with some more work that I’ve done since the Reflections on Lockdown series back in September.

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen most of it already. If you don’t, you won’t.

Collage

I’ve been experimenting with collage recently. Not a medium I have much experience in. For some reason, the numbers 2121 have been popping into my consciousness quite frequently.

Those of you who believe it’s some sort of divine message might be able to enlighten me. Those of you who just think I have some form of apophenia may want to call me an ambulance.

Anyway, I decided to express these occurrences via the medium of collage. There are four in total, but the last one isn’t finished.

Abstract

Next up is a series of abstract pieces which I have titled: From order comes chaos / from chaos comes order.

I won’t show them all, because I’ve done loads. The premise is – the universe can seem a bit of a chaotic place, what with stars exploding and imploding, nebulae forming solar systems, black holes Hoovering up everything in their vicinity, etc. And that’s before we get into meteors crashing into planets causing all sorts of tidying up to be done afterwards.

Yet, out of all of this seeming ‘chaos’ there is so much order, structure and geometry to the universe. Not to mention the structures that we humans impose on the world around us, whether for good, or ill. Ultimately, everything returns to the ‘disorder’ to be recycled again into something new.

Anywhoo, that’s what I think.

Drawing

I like to sketch quite a bit. Portraits and still life mainly. Just for practice. (And for my own insecurity to prove to people I can actually draw.) Kind of.

So, there you have it. (My) 2020 in colour.

All of my artwork is for sale should you wish to terrify anyone this Christmas. Just message me for details.

It just remains for me to wish you a very happy Christmas, if you celebrate that sort of thing. And/or very happy holidays if you don’t.

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Reflections on Lockdown #5!


I’m going to finish off this series with a look at some abstract paintings I’ve produced during lockdown. Remember, the point of this series is to show if art has had a positive or negative effect on both my mental health and the type of art I’ve been producing this year.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know that last year was quite a tumultuous one for me (and my loved ones) on the mental health front. And this was most definitely reflected in the type of art I was producing at the time. You can see it here: Adieu 2019.

In previous ‘reflections on lockdown‘ we’ve looked at portraits, landscapes and photography. Today, I’m going to look at abstract art. Lucky you.

I used to struggle with abstract art. I didn’t ‘get’ it.

It was only when I began volunteering at Arc that I saw how expressive a medium it is. Not to be bound by the constraints of realism or representation. To be able to express form through colour, shape and texture. The marks you leave behind can convey emotions and energy that are often difficult in representative art.

One of the reasons I love making abstract art is because I don’t feel like it’s ‘me’ that’s doing it. When I am doing a sketch of a face or a landscape, I have to concentrate very hard to capture a likeness of what I am trying to represent. When I do abstract art, I let go… I stop being so uptight. I let the colours merge and intermingle to become the painting they wanted to be. Sometimes, when I look at how the colours interfuse and coalesce, they remind me of distant nebula.

I am neither conscious nor concentrating. It is as though that ‘thing‘ we are all connected to – Mother Earth, the Universe, the unconscious, the Cosmos, God(dess), call it what you will, is flowing through me onto the page or canvas.

I don’t know what you’ll make of that last paragraph. I’m not sure I know what to make of it!

Except that, I can thoroughly recommend giving abstract expressionism a go. It’s very liberating. It’s also extremely calming and meditative.

Have a look at the works of Kandinsky, Miro, Mondrian, Rothko, Pollock and Krasner to see the vastly differing styles of abstract art. There might be something there to inspire you.

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If you, or someone you know, are experiencing mental health issues, call your GP or self refer to your local mental health team, (usually based at your local hospital).

If things are a bit more urgent than that you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123. Or call the NHS on 111, they will treat your illness as seriously as they do any other.

If you want to see more of my photos and artwork follow me on Instagram: @milligancroft

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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

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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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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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Things for which I am grateful #47/365


Candy Chang.

What is art? Is it a beautiful painting or sculpture? A photograph or a poem?

For me, art either holds a mirror up to society in a way that hasn’t been done before, or shows us the next stage of human development – our future selves. (Basically, people who are ahead of their time.)

Candy Chang does both. She is a Taiwanese-American artist based in New Orleans who creates interactive art.

I would also call it – Positive Action Art.

Because, not only does she get people involved and bring them together, it tends to point towards improving whatever is, or, was.

Here are a couple of beautiful examples. The first is when she painted a derelict building with chalkboard paint and invited locals to write what they would like to do before they die. Entitled, oddly enough, Before I die.

The second, is where she invited people to make confessions on wooden plaques, in private confessional booths, which were then displayed in a Shinto-esque shrine. Bizarrely enough, called Confessions.

Anyways, here are a few images from both exhibits. But you can see a whole lot more of her brilliant work if you click on any of the links.

Thank you, Ms. Chang. Your work is an inspiration. And thanks too, to Paul Wood for enlightening me to her.

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And it went global... in over 60 countries.

And it went global… in over 60 countries.

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