Sunday 24 February 2019

Taking a Walk...

I was taking a walk to the pub on Friday night to meet friends and as I live in town I had deliberately taken a route to avoid all street life that I might be accosted by as otherwise I often find myself relieved of money and cigarettes prior to reaching my destination.  I was nearly there when a very intense man appeared in front of and asked my if I knew if Jesus had died to save me...

I was rather late for my appointment as he insisted on speaking to me about hell and how sinful my life was and if I had been to hell I also would be there preaching too - in the end he gave me a leaflet and a bible as even though I said I had read it I don't think he believed me and insisted I take it - here it is below - The English Standard Version

I wouldn't normally tell this story here however I had to arrive at a pub carrying a bible and leaflets about Jesus and apologize to my friends for being late as usual...I thought perhaps though it is interesting that this man feels a profound need to preach the word of God and I wondered if he had perhaps glimpsed hell and that was why he was standing there.  I know this is a digression but I it did make me think further about my Mary Magdalene project - in my next posts I will show you the development and sketches I have made in preparations for my photographs...

Process: Using Polymer Clear Casting Resin

I have been experimenting with Clear casting resin to cast my final photographs in so that they are encased essentially in a clear glasslike box. 

The resin is very toxic and in my flat has is actually quite overpowering - so this is issue number one! However I will come to further issues later.  Here is the process I used to test the resin.

To begin I laid out all the equipment which includes the casting resin, the hardening agent, measuring jug and mixer, syringe, moulds, gloves and newspaper as this stuff is very sticky and powerful. I did this under the extractor fan in my kitchen as the fumes are very powerful and windows all wide open!

Polyester casting resin 

Hardner and measuring jug

Two ashtrays I was using as moulds as I intended to create little paperweights using round photographs.  I vaselined the inside of these so that I could demould the resin once it had hardened 

I added 250ml of the casting resin then 5ml of hardener using the syringe I then mixed this thoroughly to to add to the mould. 

I added some of the resin to the mould until it was about one third full and then added the image on top. 

I then added the rest of the mixture on top of the photograph

I then waited 24 hours while the resin set.

the good part of this is that the vaseline worked and the demoulding was very easy.  The resin set well and the mixture was the correct measurements. The toxic fumes however were quite strong and next time I would not do this in my house!  The finished result looked like this: 

These are okay - if a little rough around the edges - I would say though that doing this with larger images would be problematic.  They need sanding down and they are not as crystal clear as I would like. Plastic moulds may also have worked better and been smoother. With this in mind I will continue with my images however I think that they would need to be mounted on panel boards as final pieces as this would work much better at this stage. 

Sunday 17 February 2019

Sketchpad 5.1: A Chill Wind Blows...

Please enjoy my final work - I thought it wasn't too bad as a first effort...

A Chill Wind Zoe Van-de-Velde

As you can see it encompasses both the Japanese Poem Painting and the Caspar David friedrich landscape/figure.  The poem is my own and expresses pain for lost things.  The brushwork can certainly be improved - difficult to control with the mouse but can be done - and I am going to continue to try out this method and see if I can improve on this image and make further images on this theme.  A most relaxing and enjoyable experience...

Software Testing & Creation: Sketchpad 5.1

I have been trying out Sketchpad 5.1 for online testing - this is a drawing/painting sketchpad you can use to create digital artwork. Sketchpad 5.1 - click here to go to site.

As drawing and painting are not my best skill I wanted to see how I would get on digitally and I chose this software as it has layers - many pen/pencil/paintbrush options and has differing brush sizes and you can upload images and work with them.  The interface looks like this when you go onto the 'drawing board'

I had an idea that I would like to make something like a Japanese Poem Painting - a bit like this:

So I began by just playing with the brushes and making marks to see what happened: 

As you can see i made right mess!  But a fun and interesting mess that led me to understand how the tools worked and how I could try something of my own _ I went with the idea of a poem painting and an image came to mind from Casper David Friedrich

Friedrichs images often show the backs of figures in the landscape and there are quite a few that use mountains, see and trees and these images always move me whenever I see them.  I often think of mountains when I want to release tension and anxiety - I imagine the cold and so fresh air and just looking at these monuments in the landscape so beautiful. In my next post you will see me creation...

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Target Market for Altarpieces

As with all Art/Photography there is no point making it if no one can see it!  So, who is this work aimed at and how would I approach marketing a work like this.  Altarpieces originally were commissioned by a wealthy patron for the church - here is an example:

 Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (closed), completed 1432, oil on wood, 11’ 5” x 7’ 6” (Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium)

The ghent altarpiece has a rich history and it is amazing it has survived as it was; 'Removed from its place in the Cathedral of Ghent by Napoleon (well, the main panels, anyway) and then by German occupying forces during World War I, the panels were returned and reassembled, only to be taken again by the Nazis in 1942 and stored carelessly in a salt mine for the duration of the Second World War. The altarpiece was rescued by Allied art experts in 1945 (below) who reassembled, cleaned and restored the panels, which had lost much of their varnish and suffered some surface abrasion.' (Hickson S. Khan Academy: 2019).  The piece itself was commissioned by a wealth patron by the name of Jodocus Vijd.

The patrons, Jodocus Vijd and his wife, Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece, completed 1432, oil on wood, 11’ 5” x 7’ 6” (Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium) (Just Judges panel on the lower left is a modern copy) (photo: Closer to Van Eyck)

He commissioned it; 'Like most Renaissance patrons, Jodocus Vijd was a wealthy merchant who sought to expiate the sin of being too fond of money by spending some of it on creating a monument to God. An influential citizen of Ghent, Vijd commissioned the altarpiece for the Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist (now the Cathedral of St. Bavo) in his home city as a means of saving his soul while simultaneously celebrating his wealth.'(Hickson S. Khan Academy: 2019)

It is interesting that he thought that by creating this he would somehow get rid of his sin.  Can spending money on something such as a sacred painting really absolve the sinner?  However I will not start a debate here on sin but consider this is how these pieces were created and still today people commision works of art, some for their home, some for investment or for the community.

One piece of art that is very famous is The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst (above). This was actually commissioned by Charles Saatchi the famous advertising magnate and art collector - he gave Hirst $50,000 to “do whatever he wanted” (Comish Team: 13th April 2017).  To bring this up to date - 'In 2006, the piece was sold for reportedly $8 million to investor Steven A. Cohen. However, since the piece was slowly decomposing due to improper preservation and according to Hirst, "no longer looked scary", the artist replaced the shark before Cohen took ownership of the piece.'(Comish Team: 13th April 2017).

So if it is commissioned obviously specifications for the piece usually come from the patron and the target market is the patron obviously as unhappy patron will not pay!  However in the case of my own pieces I do not have a patron and the best way of getting this to an audience would be now to sell this online in an online gallery such as Saatchi Art and promote this on social media,many more people are buying art online and this is probably where the buyers are today.  This article from Forbes Art Market Cooling, But Online Sales Booming supports this and states that 'The art market is changing, and social media has become the primary way consumers discover art, according to a study commissioned by Invaluable. The survey found that nearly a quarter (22.7%) of art buyers find new works of art via social media, which edged out museums (20%) and galleries (15.9%) as buyers’ primary source of discovery.' (Weinswig D. Forbes 13/05/16) Further to this the article stated that millennials are leading this market through art discovery on social media.

Therefore in real world terms I need to set up an online site to put this in the world - perhaps it will help me with my own sin....!


The Comish Team (17th April 2017) 7 of The Worlds Most Interesting Art Commissions [Online] Avaiable: (Accessed 12/02/19)

Dr Hickson S. (2019) Khan Academy, Van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece [Online] Available: (Accessed 12/02/19)

Weinswig D. (13/05/16) Forbes, Art Market Cooling but Online Sales Booming [Online] Availble: (Accessed 12/02/19)

Thursday 7 February 2019

Creating the First Altar Piece: Test Shots 2

To continue here are some of the shots that I thought I could develop ...

This shot I thought worked quite well on the meditative however I do feel it is not very dynamic and definitely could be improved.

I tried various mirror shots however I do not think that the mirror works particularly well and I think I need to find a different pose for the second shot here

I liked this one more as It has got something to it and as a shot it works much better than the previous one. 

I think I prefer the one above to this one but I kind of like the girl looking out from the mirror to the viewer directly perhaps there is more connection with the viewer.

This one is okay however I feel it is slightly too mundane and overdone as an image - there is nothing that makes it stand out. 

This one I thought had something it was quite dynamic the lines in the image work well and the pose gives a feeling that something is happening, changing...

I think that i want to reshoot all of these as I haven't quite found what I am looking for in these and I need to work on these composition more - The studio is quite small and the problem of standing up in the images is that you cannot get far enough back and include the backdrop in the image - I am considering that perhaps I might like to do these images outside as this would give me the distance and perhaps a more interesting backdrop.

Creating the First Altar Piece: Test Shots 1

To create the first altar piece I have created test shots using my Olympus E3 in the photographic studio with the ISO 400/500, F5 and a slow expose of between 1/20 and 1/30 as I was using a tripod.  I also underexposed by 2 stops to ensure that the black background was pure black.  The focal length was 28mm.  Here are the first test shot contact sheets - I shot in Black and White in RAW and jpg.

As can be seen from these shots I tried various poses as Mary Magdalene and used the idea of the skull and the books to depict memento mori and meditation and reflection on the her transformation. 

Sunday 3 February 2019

Developing the Images: Focus On Mary Magdalene

After much consideration about which Bible Stories and people I wanted to use in my altar pieces I have chosen to start with Mary Magdalene.  I will focus on the stories she first appears in Luke 8:1 'The Twelve were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out...' Mary appears in the Bible as shown here in quite a useful cheat sheet!

Mary Magdalene Cheat Sheet

This was from the blog 'Drawing on the Word' which also discusses the film about Mary Magdalene - the trailer can be seen here:

Mary Magdalene: The Untold Story

This story the director Garth Davis explains is about Mary Magdalene as she is one of the most “misunderstood spiritual figures in history.” (Drawing on the Word: 15th March 2018).

I would like to begin with the demons being drawn out and would like to study some artwork that refers to this incident however where it states demons;  'Scholars also suggest that the casting out of demons may have been illness or negative emotions.' (Biography online 2018) 

Here are a couple of examples: 

There are many images that use this pose looking up to heaven - a hand either on the heart or raised towards God.  The face is full of pure love and rapture. In some earlier versions f this image Mary bares her flesh however in this later image flesh is replaced with a skull as a memento mori, an open book and a vase. The memento mori is a reflection or meditation on the vanity of life on earth and mortality.  Mary stands out from what looks like a setting sun in the background, her white robes and flesh resplendent against the darker sky.  

'Caravaggio has managed to capture the image of a woman who has come to the end of the road, too tired to look into her future. This is the moment, he suggests, when she is ready to respond to Jesus' message of redemption. Mary Magdalene is sumptuously dressed, but the discarded jewellery and her slumped figure tell the viewer that she has reached a turning point in her life. Caravaggio portrays her as a rich courtesan, not a common prostitute. In fact, the real Mary Magdalene was neither. She was not the sinner described in Luke 7:36-50, and when Luke does describe an actual prostitute in 15:30, he uses a different word, not 'sinner'.' Bible Painting: Mary Magdalene (2012)

I will consider each of these images and which elements I would like to show in my own images and how I will portray this moment of change, not just change but utter transformation....

Sang R. (15/03/18) Drawing Out the Word. Was Mary Magdalene a Prostitute? [Online] Available from: (Accessed 03/02/19)

Biography Online (2018) Mary Magdalene [Online] Available from: (Accessed 03/02/19)

Fletcher E (2012) Bible Paintings: Mary Magadele [Online] Available from: (Accessed 03/02/19)