Parting the waves; French KOM storms it on Bastille Day

photo KOM spotted houseIt’s like a parting the waves as the leading group pedals hard up the stage climbs. The fans have been up early to cycle or hike to the roadside to grab a spot. The circus has been through. The gendarmes try to hold the crowd back, but they have re-grouped after letting the course car, spare neutral bikes and the first posse of gendarme and press motorbike riders through. Holding up their mobile phones, flags and posters, they ripple back as the riders, team cars and motorcycles go through.

Every once in a while a maverick will chase the riders up the climb. The more reckless (strangely often dressed in a mankini) will run in front of the motorbikes hoping to be caught on camera.

This painting is to celebrate Warren Barguil who became the first Frenchman to win a Tour de France stage on Bastille Day in twelve years. It was the shortest road stage with three climbs. It was lucky Stage 13 for the Team Sunweb rider as he held off Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa in the final straight. The first stage win of his Tour career.

A case of earning your spots rather than your stripes, Barguil had been wearing the distinctive jersey, Maillot a Pois or King of Mountains, since he first claimed it on Stage 9 and held on to it. By the time he won Stage 18 his nearest KOM rival could not make up the points lead he had opened up. He was tenth in the overall GC classification. His tenacity and push saw him also hold the Combativity Award for 2017.

Sadly he was dropped by Team Sunweb during the subsequent Vuelta over alleged differences on tactics.
Parting the Waves. Acrylic painting on linen canvas 80 x 60 cm.

The Essence of Movement

pencil sketch of a moving arabian dancer abstract style

It’s a grey day at the end of October and the sound of gunfire rings out. The teacups rattled on the tables in The Courtauld Gallery Café’s courtyard. A piece of modern art performance being captured on film whilst inside a series of life studies, maquettes and sculptures by Rodin captured the essence of movement

Rodin was a rarity amongst 19th century artists. He was recognized and well considered in his own life-time for the expressive works he produced. Many will know him for the bronzes and marbles that he produce in his last decade and a half created from life studies. These works were experimental and many not shown beyond his close circle of friends.

Life Studies

By drawing the new dance forms and wildly expressive ,strong>movements of the dancers that appeared he was using what was around him at the time. Using life models in his studios and also meeting the dancers at the theatres as well he developed a fluid shorthand for capturing the shapes.

Some of the works concentrated on line and others introduced washes which increased the feeling of movement both in creating the form and giving a livelier background. It was interesting to see the way the drawings changed over time and the terracotta or plaster forms were created.

Exaggerated Movement

Dues to the flexibility and strength of the dancers Rodin was able to capture poses that are not often seen in life drawing groups. The new ballets that were being created at the time also reflected a move away from the classic positions. It must have been difficult to decide on which of the many movements to capture and then how to make a free-standing sculpture.

The exhibition took place from 20 October 2016 to 22 January 2017 and was supported by Friends of The Courtauld International Music and Art Foundation, in memory of Melvin R Selden, The Daniel Katz Gallery (London), Stuart and Bianca Roden and the Henry Moore Foundation.

Impact

Seeing Rodin’s last major project and learning that he was still experimenting was very up-lifting. Continual study of the body and it’s movement and embracing the new forms of movement in his sixties gives me hope. It also encourages me to be playful and try new ways to be expressive when attending life groups which is a great way to get access to models who may be passive or active.

Some of the works that I create from life study each week get destroyed, some are put in the development drawer as a reminder of what can be achieved by happy accident or planned experiment, whilst finished works are offered for sale.

PS I don’t know what the movie being shot was, but it involved Michael Keaton in a Polish market.

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Movement drawings:

The drawing at the top of this blog is a sketch idea for a painting, by Kathryn Sassall, of a dancing drummer who was twirling at a show in the Dubai desert.

“Get Set” shows a life model in the traditional position for a race start. No blocks though.

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Sprinters – blink and you’ll miss them

sprint board drumming by fans photo tour de franceIt was to be a difficult day where it was hard to organise a chase. The sprinters were keen to increase their points. The Flame Rouge left behind, they hurtle towards the line. The crowds are cheering. Boards on the roadside being drummed by the fans who’ve stood in the wind and rain for hours. Sprinters about to have their moment of glory.

Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and André Greipel all wanting to make the line first after 189.5 km of hard cycling from Arras Communaute Urbaine to Amiens Metropole. Others dropping out as they supported their GC riders and tried to avoid the many crashes that occurred along the way.

In the rough weather the fans stayed by the roadside and waited for their favourites. The rain fell hard. The winds blew. The sprinters grouped and re-grouped. And then they were there and in the blink of an eye – gone – as they flew on to the finish of Stage 5 of Le Tour de France 2015.

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Painting:

“Blink’ was in exhibition during hArt 2016 at Greenstage Gallery and SOLD at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea in November 2016.  Created on 80 x 60 cm primed canvas on deep stretchers with professional Daler-Rowney acrylics.[/ezcol_1third]

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Team spirit despite cold play

photo NFTO Rider partrige tour de yorkshireSitting with the wheel spokes just millimetres from my face, with the smell of rubber, and the need to remember all of my motorcycle pillion passenger skills as the car shifted the point of balance at high speed, it’s probably the closest I’d get to being on a media bike during a pro-cycling race. Courtesy of Hereford team, NFTO, I was enjoying the experience of being in the team car as it flew behind the cycles from Otley to Doncaster on day 2 of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire.

There are simple rules when photographing in most sports that involve racing, don’t get run over and don’t get in the way of the teams doing what they do. In the back of the car it was also listen to the radio calls and keep an eye out for riders with mechanical/technical problems plus any errant fans getting a little over-zealous and standing in the road! It was fantastic to hear the dialogue between the race team director and the soigneurs and hear more about the preparations of the riders and the team.

Also the scenery racing by at a blur, and seeing for real that moment when riders go through yellow fields – here it was local oil crop rapeseed – France there is always one or two of those through the sunflower shots. Round and through they went. It was a day when we seemed to be constantly in sight of the cooling towers at Ferry Harbour. The time absolutely flew by, as there was always something happening, and getting the chance to experience the speed the riders take the hairpins, the climbs and the distance was very exciting. Finally we were streaming in to Doncaster where the heavens opened yet again. The riders made their way back to the team bus for the warm-down, food and liquids, before heading off for the next start town which was in Middlesborough next day.

It seemed the perfect image to capture; the pinkish grey skies of Yorkshire threatening to quench the thirst of the crops but soak the riders and the Ferry Harbour cooling towers in the background as the riders were strung out during the 136 km day two racing.

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Painting:

“Cold Play’ was exhibited at Greenstage Gallery  in September 2016 as part of hArt 2016 with the work of Ed Ball who is also influenced by noise. Created on a 100 x 50 cm primed canvas on stretchers using Winsor & Newton water-based oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.[/ezcol_2third]

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For when  you love the picture but have a smaller budget or wall space to fill.
Professionally printed on A2 (60 x 42 cm paper), image size 50 x 25 cm.

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From sprint to sands at Scarborough

photo KOM spotted houseBikes painted and hung in trees. Houses covered in spots. Bunting shaped like racers jerseys. Lamposts wrapped in knitting. The Tour de Yorkshire has it all as the fans and towns it passes through make the effort to show their support to T’Tour being there.

The third day was the chance to catch a sprint in the wonderful town of Thirsk, known also for it’s famous Yorkshire vets.

Of course it was raining, by the time the bikes went through, but no-one minds. Test runs and cheers had been completed as local children went by on their bikes, dreaming that it would be them in a few years time. A lady on a mobility scooter got the largest cheer of the morning.

The riders came by less in a sprint and more in team huddles as the weather was making it tough to stay warm and lead out. With the heights of Sutton Bank to scale in the damp and then another five climbs before the sea and sand finish at Scarborough it was a real day for pulling together.

That’s what bike racing is partly about. Sometimes sacrificing yourself for the sake of the team, supporting, pulling others along, but knowing you’ll not get the line glory. Working hard and keeping going as that endurance will give the team the results they need. It’s hard and those riders are often in the shadows of the greats.

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Painting:

“Drones’ was in exhibition with Greenstage Gallery  and SOLD at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea in November 2016. Created with primed canvas on stretchers, Winsor & Newton water-based oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.

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Wet kit and warmers at the Tour de Yorkshire

photo cycle tour de yorkshire The Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014, started something wheely big in Yorkshire. The opening stages – Le Grand Depart – had been in the UK before in 1998, but not so warmly adopted and embraced as it has been in the shires of Yorkshire. Each year since they’ve run their own Tour De Yorkshire and the riders and fans have gone as crazy for it as the French do.

In 2016, Welcome to Yorkshire continued to work towards it’s aim of making Yorkshire the cycling heartland of Europe, and upped the ante in the women’s race by offering the largest prize fund ever. Three days of racing are organised by A.S.O. delivering tough hills to climb and more twists and turns interspersed with sprints before the long run to the finishes – Le Tour de Yorkshire.

The only thing they can not organise is the weather. Having climbed up Greenhow Hill on Day One to capture the exertion in the faces and bodies of the riders, we all huddled like penguins behind the team feed station vans to try to stay warm and out of the snow flurries until the moment that the helicopters crested the ridge to let us know that the teams had arrived.

The Tour de Yorkshire riders had for the main part carried on. Working together to keep the speed, the motivation and the pace that’s required to stay warm. It’s a team game and the riders were swathed in wet gear from head to toe.   It was 186 km from the start at Beverley, Sir Bradley Wiggins had to pull out at 35km, but others continued to fight through the cold and wet conditions to take them to the final sprint at Giggleswick and the sprint to the line at Settle.

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Painting:

“Banking’ was exhibited at the Greenstage Gallery with works by Ed Ball who also reacts to noise in his work.

Created on a 100 x 50 cm primed canvas on stretchers with Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.

Exhibition:

Saturday 20th August to Sunday 25th September 2016

  • Closed Mondays except
  • Bank Holiday Monday 10 – 17:30 & h.Art Week Monday 12th 10 – 17.00
  • Tuesday to Saturday 10 – 17:30
  • Sundays 12 – 17:00 and longer on h.Art Week Sundays 11th & 18th 10 – 17:00

 

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Gonna rain on your triumphant parade – Arc de Triomphe

KathrynSassallDepartLimogesTourdeFrance2016

It’s an iconic moment to see the teams finally on the Champs Elysee. The Arc de Triomphe in their sights. Riders are given a chance to mingle and chat before the final race and sprint of Le Tour. Breaking out the champagne en route, the Tour de France winners line up for photocalls as they ride to the last start. It’s all part of the last day. The final highs for the yellow jersey and  the sprinters after the three weeks of intense energy and focus.

Generally the prize-winning jerseys have been decided in earlier stages and the team prizes won. So it is either a glory run for home for the maillot jeune – yellow jersey – or a final push to gain the last sprint win and moment of visibility on TV and beyond.

This stage of the Tour de France is good for fans as the cyclists go around the same route several times. Prior to which, for the last two years, the women’s race has also taken place.w This has brought extra excitement and a few spills and thrills. It does like to rain on this parade! After the muscles are warmed-down, the injuries iced and the tales of Le Tour given over to the media corp it’s at last time to party.

This is the first in a number of works to capture those moments of camaraderie, emotion and the end of all that team work. Bobbing heads and teams in waves come along the tri-coleur festooned avenue. The Arc de Triomphe providing a unique turning point. In the distant background, through the arch of the Arc is La Defense, in all its shiny splendour.

Painting:

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TdFArcIKathrynSassall50100
Painting “Arc I’ SOLD £890 50 x 100 cm
Created with primed canvas on stretchers, Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood by Apple Store Gallery Framing, Hereford.[/ezcol_2third] [ezcol_1third_end]

“Rain’ is a 59 x 59 cm acrylic painting on canvas in a white frame.A moment from the Tour de France 2013 Ready to hang.[/ezcol_1third_end]

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All the fun of the fair with the Joker

FairMayfairJoker Every year in May Hereford is visited by Danter’s Fun Fair for three days, a tradition that upholds the rights given by the City to it’s people over 900 years ago. For someone who loves colour, speed and movement the May Fair is three nights of smiles and whizzing ideas.

The Joker is a jump & smile ride which is mesmerising as it rotates, with arms bouncing up and down, speeding up until all you see is the swirl of lights. The operator controls the motion of the ride and can make it do a range of movements so it is not always the same each time. The lights are an array of colours, and the Joker stands still and solid in the middle over-seeing it all.

Back in the studio several of the images captured were printed at A3 size and pinned to the studio wall to inspire the painting; a build up of background layers of colour over a couple of days. Then it’s time to step back and paint at arms length to capture the flare of lights, the different types of motion in arcing strokes, and finally the colour sweeps. The painting is captured at four different stages. MayFairJokerinprogress

The expressive acrylic painting is an A4 size image and mounted. It was exhibited with Herefordshire Art and Craft Society throughout October 2015 (closed Sundays) at Cafe @ All Saints in Hereford.

Available to purchase from online gallery

 

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Painting to photograph to print

The cutest spirit level ever ...

What’s the difference between taking a quick on a wing and a prayer snap yourself on a smart phone or compact digital camera and a professional taking carefully set-up shots?

Evidently a pro DSLR camera, tripod, spirit-level, colour-scale card (sure there was a technical name for that) and of course a bit of garden string? Well those pesky canvases kept refusing to stay still on the easel for their shots!

I found out there is a great deal of difference. Hennie of Wellman Photography, who has extensive commercial shoot experience, was the only choice for taking some photographs of my works to enable me to retain the option to create print runs of works that are being sold in June as part of an Exhibition of Paintings – Colour in Motion. Looking at the camera back viewer, as Hennie was working, it was clear to see that my previous efforts had not picked up the texture and depth of the painting marks which would be essential for a print that I’d be happy to offer.

    Why Hennie?

Well I’d been blown away by his portfolio of commercial photographs. The imaginative use of light, creative framing and understanding of the subject made me comfortable that he’d capture the detail and match the colours carefully. And unbelievably he is located right on my Essex doorstep, although like many of us he does travel in the UK and beyond to get the right shots and to resolve creative briefings.

The results are stunning and I look forward to sharing them on the site from 15th June; it’s going to be a busy few weeks until my Exhibition of Paintings, Colour in Motion I am ready to create prints for 24 June 2012.

 

 

Courage and Respect – Bikers snake at Clearways Curve

Brands Hatch Clearways, BSB Acrylic 70 x 70 cm Box Canvas

One thing that you notice when looking down the barrel of a lens throughout a race is the line that each bike takes around a corner. Whilst they are racing flat out it is not always easy to spot the smaller differences; those that take the line differently being very obvious as they go out of shot!

This snake of bikers always occurs when the field closes up in this case due to a rider sliding off at Clarks Curve. As they come through the movement is mesmoric as they sway from one side to another. Even at this speed there are differences in the way the rider leans forward and sideways to take the curve.

No doubt whilst racing each rider is showing great courage, albeit they’ll shrug that off as just being something they are passionate about and the risk just being a small part of the thrill. The respect comes from each rider watching for and reacting to the marshals who efficiently flag and control at moments of crisis from the spillage of oil to bikers.

Sporting events taking place in London and other parts of the UK in July will showcase athletic talent that has been looking forward and training hard to try to achieve the medals that are awarded every four years. The Brentwood Art Trail has encouraged local resident artists to create work that interprets the Olympic themes of excellence, friendship, respect, courage, determination, inspiration or equality. This painting will be exhibited as part of the Art Trail at Skidmarques Ltd, from 18th to 30th June 2012. It is available to purchase for collection on 2nd July 2012.