AGM, Rembrandt & member paintings

Annual General Meeting 6th March 2018

The committee reported on a successful year artistically and financially, with increased membership, successful exhibitions, demonstrations and outdoor sketching. The programme of meetings and sketching for 2018 was circulated. The start to 2018 was disrupted by the weather but alternative dates were arranged.

Film about Rembrandt

Gordon showed a film on the life and paintings of Rembrandt, particularly his late period. He painted many portraits and religious scenes as well as many self portraits.

Quarterly subject – Doorways by club members


Festive evening

The December meeting was a social evening for members and partners.
The shared food went down well.

Gordon and Dayna had devised a tough test of members’s knowledge of which artist painted well known works and in which country artists were born. John Belderson knew the most with Penny a close second.

Lynn Cook was presented with a trophy for the public choice of favourite picture at the August exhibition.

The quarterly subject for members’ paintings and drawings was Rocks. This attracted a diverse response in a variety of media and styles.
The most admired work was of Brimham Rocks by David Harrison.

Other works


Sketching in Hebden

The final outdoor sketching day saw a good turnout of artists in search of a  cuppa, soup, sandwiches, a chat, interesting location and a bit of sketching.

Audrey again arranged some good weather, several degrees above zero and little wind. Everyone was prepared with warm clothing but cold is insidious. One member kept on moving and made it to Burnsall and back. The dedicated sketching artists who sat it out, came back to the tearoom for hot soup to thaw out.

Scenes around Hebden


Members’ sketches in progress




“Artists & critics – Artists as critics” – Alex Purves

Alex Purves made a return visit to give an illustrated talk about artists and critics.

He started with a mention of Vasari, the 16th century artist, architect and who wrote biographies of fellow renaissance artists with a bias  in favour of fellow Florentine artists.

The 18th century art market developed in the salons and  at exhibitions. Art markets are very competitive, so most artists rely on critics to enhance their reputation. He mentioned that artists were  also often involved in art criticism themselves, sometimes to gain an advantage over their rivals.


He mentioned that membership of the Royal Academy depended on votes by members who were also artists. They could keep out new artists, especially those with new ideas in a conservative environment. The denial of entry into Paris Salons of the impressionists achieved similar outcomes for a time.

Mr Purves illustrated  many artworks that were the the subject of fierce critiques. Ingres, who painted with a classic precision, was challenged by the loose, colourful style of Delacroix.


These types of clashes were illustrated by a cartoon showing jousting between the brush and the pen.

He also illustrated and talked about critiques of artists: Degas, Toulouse Lautrec,  David and Gericault.

Mr Purves also illustrated controversial work by English painters.
A critic suggested that Constable should use less green and more brown like the old masters, even though he was painting the English countryside.
Turner faced  widespread criticism for his later vortex paintings. Even his champion, Ruskin, commenting about his mental state.



A cartoon depicting Turner painting with a mop, summed up contemporary attitudes of established classical artists to his loose style.

Mr Purves also illustrated pre Raphaelite paintings by Millais, Rosetti  and Holman Hunt.


One of the most famous artist and critic disputes followed Ruskin commenting on Whistler’s “Nocturne in Black & Gold, falling rocket”, illustrated.
He wrote: ‘I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.’
Whistler decided to sue Ruskin for libel but was only awarded a farthing damages, resulting heavy costs against Whistler. Poor consequences for both.
Critics also commented adversely on Whistler’s “Symphony in White …”, paintings and etchings in Venice and his stark painting of his mother.
His pictures form a dangerous precedent


A portrait of Madam X  by John Singer Sargent offended critics in Paris. The loose strap was changed in some versions.






Monet’s  sketch “Impression of sunrise”, painted in London, was deemed unfinished and heavily criticised.
This painting gave a name to the impressionist movement.



Mr Purves showed post war images. This period was influenced by followers of the Bauhaus painters, including Victor Pasmore, who changed art school teaching away from its traditional approach.

The photograph is of the “kitchen sink artists”, included John Bratby, showing a kitchen sink painting.

A painting by John Bratby


One severe critic was Winston Churchill who was reputed to have destroyed Sutherland’s portrait of himself.

Lady Churchill is reputed to have destroyed a portrait sketch of him by Walter Sickert.


All new movements attract critics, not least artworks made by poured paint.

A notable comment on modern art appreciation in a New Yorker cartoon lampooned critical commentary:

“His spatter is masterful, but his dribble lacks conviction” 



And a final word by an art professional on the subject of art appreciation.
“I don’t know much about art but I know where the gents are”

It was an interesting, illuminating, broad ranging, well illustrated talk by Alec Purves.


Sketching at Ripley Castle

Eleven artists enjoyed a wonderful, sunny autumn day in the grounds of Ripley Castle. Many had not been before and, after the usual cuppa, we all set off to find that ‘special spot’.

Ripley Castle

Some of the trees were showing their Autumn colours.

In the kitchen garden, we saw colourful dahlias and chrysanthemums. The windfalls were being packed into boxes to sell. The gardener told me that the oldest cultivar was called “Cat’s Head” because of its shape. Someone thought it looked more like another part of the cats anatomy!

We had lunch in the courtyard cafe with John, a prospective new member, who joined in the general banter, with everyone on best behaviour.

Kathy and Barbara took photographs of some of the sketches.

When we left for the journey home, John was still perched against a wall with a lovely view of the lake and Barbara was on the far side of the lake sketching the whole of the castle! Dedication!

Narrative by Audrey Culling

Nel Whatmore Demonstration

Nel Whatmore is a North Yorkshire painter and designer. She came to Pateley Bridge Art Club to talk about her background and showed some of her flower paintings, landscape paintings and her designs for manufactured products.

Nel talked about her interest in art from an early age, showing us competent paintings at age 6 and 11.

She remained keen on art and chose an option at A level and then went to Art college.
One project was a portrait of a gorilla in oil pastel. He would not stay around or pose until he was at ease with her presence.


She explained that a traditional art college did not prepare students for the business aspects of a working artist. For that she sought help from the Princes Trust to start her art career. She thanked Prince Charles personally when he visited her art display at the  Chelsea Flower Show.

Design work

Her art school training did not prepare her for the technical needs of manufacturers who wanted to use her paintings on products. She needed to learn rapidly how to configure images into continuous form for print runs onto fabric and other products. To these are added demands for the same design in other coordinated colours, all within limitations of 18 available colours per design.
This is illustrated in this adapted painting, showing the colours used.


She eventually followed advice from her daughter to use digital means, instead of physical cut and paste, to adapt her designs  to meet production needs.

She created this stylish quilt cover by mimicking kaleidoscope techniques.



Pastel paintings

Nel’s main interest is painting landscapes and flowers in chalk pastel. She has exhibited her large flower paintings regularly at Chelsea Flower Show.
This year she has become artist in residence at Harlow Carr Gardens and also paints at Burton Agnes Hall.

Nel mainly uses Unison pastels; using Sennellier pastels when vibrant colours are needed.

As well as painting on pastel boards, she has to prepare her own boards for her large paintings. She prepares these mainly with Art Spectrum Colourfix primers, which have an acrylic base with fine grit to provide a fine tooth to hold the pastel.

Coloured primers can be used to reduce the the amount of pastel needed. These background colours can be varied across the painting, either using the coloured primers or acrylic paints covered by a clear primer. The primers can also be watered down if the pastels are not to be thickly applied. They can also be applied thickly with directional brushstrokes to enhance the effect of the pastels.

Nel paints landscapes which can often be seen in the Chantry Gallery in Ripley.

Nel also uses Pan Pastels applied with a soft flexible applicator. She demonstrated how swirling highlights can be added to clouds.



Nel also showed how she painted landscape studies in changing light in a series of three

Nel Whatmore Website

There is more detail and better quality images on her website >


Sketching Ripon Walled Garden

Expecting heavy rain showers the six members who came were rewarded with sunshine and warmth. The Ripon Walled Garden is celebrating 25 years of working with young, disadvantaged adults, through horticulture and cooking.

Originally it was the vegetable garden for the historic Bishop’s Palace. Now it has poly tunnels, a shop selling plants, bottles of their own pressed apple juice and things for the garden. And a cafe for the obligatory cuppa and chat before sketching can start.


Beyond the walled garden there is a large orchard of rare varieties of apple tree, the oldest being a Nancy Jackson. All the names are fascinating.  The owner, who specialises in fruit trees, talked with members about them. He told Audrey that the main branches of the apple tree should be pruned to allow a pigeon to fly through.

Sitting in the sun,surrounded by trees and flowers and plenty of butterflies , sketching and having lunch prepared for us , what is not to like?

Most members’ sketches were of the wonderfully shaped trees, full of apples.




Paintings of the the Nancy Jackson apple trees

Apple Day
On October 14th from 10am to-4pm the Ripon Walled Garden is having an Apple Day when apples will be on show with their names, and pressing will take place. There will also be craft stalls. (This is also the same day as the Art Bus trip to Hull!)
Website >

Trip arranged by Audrey. Photographs by Audrey, Barbara and Lynn. Descriptions by Audrey.

Richard Squire – Drawing workshop

Richard Squire made a return visit to Pateley Bridge Art Club to demonstrate how he draws a life model. It was a refresher lesson for some with the chance to do better than last year and something new for others.
The lighting of the subject is crucial to produce a lively drawing. For example lighting from above to one side and slightly behind, produces shadows on one side of the face and body.
He quickly showed how to lightly draw the outline to ensure that all the subject will fit on the sheet. He recommends using the head height, starting with a simple oval shape, as the basic unit of measurement to apply to other elements. For example, the overall person length may be 4 or 5 times the head height. Lengths can be based on a pencil held at arms length. Angles can also be reproduced by holding a pencil aligned with limbs or body. It is important to angle the paper at the subject, on a board held nearly vertical to avoid perspective errors stretching the drawing. The closer limbs are often longer than expected, if drawn correctly.
Once the subject has been lightly sketched, the angles and measurement should be checked. It is also useful to check vertical alignments of different parts of the drawing and a final check that the drawing looks right by walking away and coming back to the work with a mind clear of any incorrect imprint. The grays and darks can then be shaded to bring out the third dimension and detail added.

After a quick drink of tea, members then produced quick sketches, with advice from Richard. The model was very good at choosing an interesting pose and holding it, the varied drawings arising from the members’ seating positions.

Richard also brought some sample drawings.