On Saturday 16th July 2016 I had great fun participating in the Windsor En-Plein Art competition, held as part of Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday celebrations. The weather obliged by being sunny and didn't rain. Considering it was held at the height of the tourist season everything ran very smoothly. 1000's of castle visitors passed through and enjoyed the spectacle of 90 artists scattered around the grounds painting intently.
Up the Hill! was the result of 5 hours of non-stop painting and a 4pm dead-line. It was intense! Unfortunately I didn't manage to finish but was close enough. Having painted abstract and conceptual for a few years it was strange to be painting a structured building again.
I was on Tower Hill (red X on map) and positioned myself in shade for most of the day; many other artists boiled in the sun and there were a few of cases sunburn.
A pop-up exhibition followed and presentation of prizes by the Windsor Mayor. All the artists were treated to a delicious buffet and drinks. It was great fun and I look forward to next year!
A startling blue durable pigment called YInMn blue has been licensed for commercial use 7 years since its discovery and it has already found its way into the hands of some artists.
Chemist Mas Subramanian and his team discovered the pigment in 2009 at Oregon State University while they were conducting experiments connected to electronics. It is one of those 'happy accidents', an unexpected discovery like Bluetac! With a unique crystal structure the compound doesn't fade, even when exposed to oil or water, and it is environmentally friendly.
"Ever since the early Egyptians developed some of the first blue pigments, the pigment industry has been struggling to address problems with safety, toxicity and durability,” said Subramanian (existing blue pigments include ultramarine, made from ground lapis lazuli, and toxic alternatives such as cobalt blue and Prussian blue). "Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency,” Subramanian adds, referring to the colour’s ability to reflect light and potentially keep buildings cool. The Shepherd Color Company is involved in commercialising this exciting new pigment.
Can you see its vibrant blue hue? Recent evidence suggests that that, until modern times, humans didn't see the colour blue at all! In an interesting article in Business Insider, Kevin Loria breaks down the evidence behind the claim, which dates all the way back to the 1800s when scholar William Gladstone noticed that, in The Odyssey, Homer describes the ocean as 'wine-dark' but he never uses the word 'blue'.
Every language first had a word for black and for white, or dark and light. The next word for a colour to come into existence, in every language studied around the world, was red, the colour of blood. After red, yellow appears and then green. Finally blue appears in every language. The only ancient culture with a word for blue was the Egyptians, they were also the only people that had a way to produce a blue dye. So before blue became a common concept we may have seen it, but not known we were seeing it.
Blue is rare in nature. Even the sky or bodies of water (like a lake) aren't blue often. Philologist Lazarus Geiger’s research shows that even in scriptures describing 'the heavens' still don’t necessarily see the sky as 'blue'.
Jules Davidoff traveled to Namibia to investigate and conducted an experiment with the Himba tribe, who speak a language that has no word for blue or distinction between blue and green. He discovered they couldn't pick out blue from green, but could discern very subtle shades of green that were not visible to most of us. Another study by MIT scientists in 2007 showed that native Russian speakers have a word for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy), and can discriminate between light and dark shades of blue much faster than English speakers.
INDONESIA - Solo River banks in Java
Excavated in the 1890s, the site in Java revealed bones of what appeared to be an ancient human, surrounded by animal remains and shells dated between 1m - 700,000 years old. Similar fossils have since been found in Africa and elsewhere in Asia. Palm-sized shells found alongside the body's are very interesting as they are decorated with abstract geometric patterns. These are the earliest evidence of abstract art.
AFRICA - Blombos caves ochre
The Java art is very similar to the 70,000 year old ochre etchings found in the Blombos cave Africa. This astonishing cave is home to a veritable stash of art materials. Read more here.
These first examples of abstract art are similar to the triangular Grid of Life, and basis of what it is 'to be', a design that is found in the symbolic systems of every culture and also in nature. 3 creation, 6 fertility and 9 maturation - this is the trinity of numbers linked to the Grid of Life.
Some fun and fascinating examples of the circle and sphere occurring naturally in nature.