Today I dropped into my favourite little local gallery the Lemond Gallery, right here in Bearsden. I always love popping in to see new exhibitions as Ken and Susan are great hosts and the stunning family home sets a perfectly relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Through my visits to the Lemond Gallery over the last year, I’ve been introduced to the work of a number of up and coming and existing Scottish artists, including Alison McWhirter, Jack Morrocco, Garry Brander, Gerard Burns and Ron Lawson.
The last show I attended was a solo show and ‘meet the artist’ session with Alison McWhirter. As an aspiring artist, this type of event is great to be able to ask the artist questions on their ideas, subject matter and technique. I remember Alison’s paintings were beautifully displayed in the gallery, where you are free to wander at your leisure throughout the fresh, bright and open space, with a lovely cup of coffee and biscuit in hand.
Today went one step further, offering a dedicated talk by Scottish figurative artist Drysdale Scott on his current work. This was Drysdale’s first major show, and formed part of a week-long solo exhibition displaying around 35 paintings, focused around the theme ‘Into the Golden Age of the 1950’s’.
Drysdale selected four of five paintings and talked us through, in great detail, the process he went through and the idea behind each composition. We were able to ask questions freely and the responses offered real insight into the journey taken to complete this body of work. I took in so much information from the talk that I could go on and on, but in summary here are my takeaways:
- The ‘Zorn’ palette. This is Drysdale’s preferred palette for skin tones, and it’s name is derived from Swedish artist Anders Leonard Zorn, whose palette was limited to four colours – Yellow Ochre, Vermillion Red Medium, Ivory Black and Titanium White. I can absolutely understand why – the faces and hands on the figures were almost luminous.
- MDF board. I am now tempted to try painting on this surface having learned more about its benefits. MDF board allows a smoother finish and is a stable surface to work on (as well as being more resilient than canvas in transit!).
- Nod to the Masters. Drysdale talked about his love of the old Masters, in particular Velazquez and Carravaggio. He has a particular interest in composing a painting of figures all seeming to be ‘together’ in a scene, but as you look more closely, you notice that they are all looking in slightly different directions. It really creates an intrigue and allure, as you start to make up a story of what’s actually happening in the scene. This one best sums it up.
- Tone, and the use of black and white. The contrast of vibrant, bold colours against dark, muted colours is striking. When asked about the technique used to darken or lighten areas, Drysdale was passionate about his love of tone, and explained just how important black and white are in his work, even using black in softer skin tones.
- Quote of the day: “I work on a full range of paintings and rotate them. It’s when each painting gets to 95% complete that the real hard work starts”. This is music to my ears, as I have four paintings all at 95% and it’s all the finer detail that takes the time and focus, so I’m pleased to hear I’m not the only one who feels like this.
- The ‘Mother of all bombshells’. Drysdale committed to this body of work 10 months ago and has completed around 35 large, detailed paintings ‘whilst working full time as an Art Teacher’. Yes. This earned a few gasps.
The programme for this exhibition states that ‘this brilliant body of work represents a pivotal start of his emergence’ and I can see why. This was my favourite from today.
Like I said, I could go on. However I will wrap this up by saying that I practically skipped out of the Lemond Gallery today, buzzing, having just spent two very informative, enjoyable, creatively inspiring hours with some very nice people.
I look forward to another educational session as it was a very successful format. I would also love to see an artist ‘demonstration’ where we get to see them work. I would very much recommend a visit to the Gallery and you can find out more via the website.