As my dad used to say every morning (much to my teenage chagrin) “Wakey, wakey!” We’re starting this week off with an adventure to the Portraitsphere! And this time you should probably pack a raincoat, because we’re heading to jolly old England to visit the truly jaw-dropping work of artist Ian Mason. And forget the big cities. We’re heading out to the countryside, through the villages and shires and something-upon-somethings, to the beautiful seaside destination of Cornwall. So get yourself a packet of Wine Gums or Allsorts, or perhaps a nice cup of tea for the journey. When we get there, you won’t actually believe your eyes.
Ink, paint, charcoal, paper, canvas. Every piece is so expressive. His technique is the kind that you just don’t find very often with lines that are so deliberate and confident, yet nothing is lost in translating the subject’s personality and a moment in time. You know these dogs, or at least you certainly feel like you do.
The nonchalant raised eyebrow on the black Labrador, the Churchill-esque blasé expression of the French bulldog, the thoughtful eyes of the greyhound. How do you decide which ones to feature in a post? It was impossible, so I kept going:
I have to say that I’m really smitten with Ian Mason’s portraits to an unhealthy state. Let me put it this way: if I was invited to Windsor Castle and wanted to bring a gift for Prince William and Kate, I would phone Mr. Mason for a portrait of their little dog…but I’m pretty sure that I’d end up keeping it for myself. Nope, wouldn’t give it up. Not even for all the Wine Gums in the world.
If you would like to see more of Ian Mason’s work, visit his website here.
Not long ago I was visiting a letterpress friend at his shop, which included a separate building where he keeps his cabinets full of metal type. This building also includes workspace for different artists, with all kinds of interesting things going on like glassblowing, painting, hammering, melting stuff, weaving things, you name it. For me, it was sort of a trip back to my dad’s workshop and my days at California College of the Arts (which used to be called California College of Arts and Crafts back then, and I wish it still was). While my major was design, there was a lot of crossover in course curriculum and campus layout so you were always exposed to all sorts of other work (and the fine artists always seemed to be having much more fun than design students).
While I was visiting this studio building, the work of sculptor Jonathan Bowling was on display. Now I’ll be honest: in the past I haven’t really loved this kind of welded-together-found-object art because I usually found it to be kind of spooky and creepy. And normally when I would see a sculpture, I would first see the “parts” and then have to figure out the “whole”. When I look at Jonathan’s work however, I first see the “whole” and then I have fun looking closer to see just what “parts” that he used to arrive there. As the Monkees say, “now I’m a believer.” Another thing is that his life-size or larger than life-size finished pieces seem to really capture the spirit and personality of the animal, like his Hound 2012 shown above. It seems playful to me, almost animated. Sigh, I want it.
In addition to the sculpture shown here, there were lots of other pieces on display like beautiful horses, bulls, and a big spider (shown hanging in the top photo). You can see more of Jonathan’s amazing work on his website. Well worth the visit.
Update: After viewing the post and checking out my blog, Jonathan kindly sent me this great shot of his sweet dog Maci in her birthday hat!