Saturday, 14 February 2009

Llantony Abbey (1942) - John Craxton

This painting caught my eye because of its unusual composition and sketchy, textured detail. Although I’m not really a big fan of landscape paintings, I really like this one because it has an almost cartoon-like quality, like the sort of illustrations you would see in the Cartoon Museum.

The painting is of Llanthony Abbey, an Augustinian house in Wales. The artist was part of the Neo-Romantic movement, inspired by artists like William Blake. The Neo-Romantic art movement depicted Britain in a romantic vision during World War 2. To me this image feels poetic, like it is trying to tell a story about the building which is something the artist often tried to create through his paintings. The composition is interesting, as although the painting is entitled “Llanthony Abbey” the tree almost seems to be the central focus of the image. I think this is a poetic approach to depicting the building rather than showing only the building on its own, it is attempting to describe to us the beautiful natural life that surrounds it as well.

In this painting the artist has used ink and watercolour on board. The use of black and white rather than colour is interesting, as it gives a nostalgic and mythical feeling, almost like an old black and white photograph; I think the absence of colour adds to the image rather than detracts from it. I also like how the artist has used cross hatching and different lines to create tone and shading as well as different tones of watercolour, as this adds texture to the image. The contrast between the tree and the background detail creates an instant depth in the image; it really creates the feeling of the tree being much closer to us.

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