Anna Belleforte

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Why buy art? Here's my take

Posted by Anna Belleforte on September 14, 2017 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I would say foremost is the sense of well-being it gives. When you come home from a long day, you take a few moments to decompress and looking at art you like can help. You can lose yourself in looking, and if the artwork has lots of details you always find something new. The kind of day you experienced also allows you to see or interpret new things. Or maybe it’s soothing colours that works for you, or the art is a trigger to a happy memory, or you just connect with it in some way (that may not even need words).

Secondly, I think people buy art because they believe that quality matters. I don’t mean in a show-off kind of way, but in a way that gives us a sense of solidity and footing. In an era when everything is replaceable and nothing is made to last, we have lost a sense of what lasting quality is. Advertising for expensive goods is full of words like quality, luxury, authentic – so much so that we may have forgotten what they really mean and how they are achieved. It’s good branding, but it takes time to make quality, to craft something, to evolve an authentic idea. And it takes time for the maker to grow and achieve excellence. Personally I know that I’m not at the excellence stage of my creativity yet, which is part of the reason I don’t price my work high. But I feel I’m good and that I’m growing and constantly working towards excellence.

These are my thoughts today - but I'd like to know: what might motivate YOU to buy art?

drawings in encaustic

Posted by Anna Belleforte on September 7, 2017 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It was a wonderful opening for the Sense of Place exhibition – including 3 works going to new owners! Always interesting to see/hear people’s response to my work, and to the exhibition concept which included artists Justyna Pennards-Sycz, Hanneke Barendregt, Nannita van Veen and Jenny Ritzenhoff. Since lots of people asked, I will explain the process behind my encaustic works in the Elsewhere series. I draw directly onto plywood with graphite or colour pencil (even though it looks photographic – it’s not), then apply hot wax and pigments, send transfer another drawing by rubbing the ink onto warm wax and wetting the paper to disintegrate it. Then another wax layer and playing about with the resulting images. Together it creates a depth and moody/cloudy atmosphere.


tight or loose?

Posted by Anna Belleforte on August 31, 2017 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Ok, summer’s come to an end. Back to work! The exhibition A Sense of Place was hung today at De Ploegh (for the month of September). My Irrealities and Elsewhere series are showing. I often get comments on my tight grouping of pictures. I appreciate there’s much to be said for calmness, giving an artwork space, plenty of white wall left, but I quite like the salon style of hanging art – all that loveliness crowded together and going on a treasure hunt for the best bits for you personally. The mixed media Irrealities has lots of dense imagery and shared colouring, and in grouping them together I feel it pulls the eye in to observe the details, the small lines, and you can jump to the next and the next.

Orange is the new art form

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 18, 2017 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Some nice news to come home to: I have won the Bronze prize in Art Ascent magazine‘s Orange issue, along with a featured article: https://artascent.com/anna-belleforte/ (comments on their page welcome). Zuleika Murat wrote a nice piece on the work, which was from the recent Irrealities series.

I get a lot of feedback in person on my mixed media work. People are often surprised about what they see – they can’t figure out what they’re looking at, they tell me. Especially because looking from afar at my work is so different from close-up looking. I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of mixed media work: it allows you work with different layers and each layer may have its own story which you can let shine through (or not). The base is a collage of architectural fragments, over which I’ve painted and drawn. But the photographic aspect of the base pictures peeks through in parts, creating quite an interesting effect. I think people do like being challenged visually. The question is whether it’s a good idea to tell them about the technique or not. When you look at an artwork do you really want to know or would you (unconsciously) prefer to keep things mysterious?

at home, Amersfoort

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 17, 2017 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (1)

The key is being alert to visual stimuli. The trip was confirmation that I am a studio artist above all else, but I do need observation of the outside world as a starting point, a place to come upon surprising things, to photograph ideas and garner real-world shapes, light, lines and contrasts. I feel more than ever that these need to be tools in building compositions that do not exist in reality. I’m drawn to how nature interacts with architecture, or how nature becomes a kind of architecture. So, weeds pushing up through cracks and concrete, but also pruned hedges, natural archways formed by erosion or even the ‘structuring’ of campgrounds. Why am I drawn to this? I guess maybe I’m looking for where the balance falls between natural and man-made endeavours, because it creates an interesting tipping point. I’m not sure yet where these insights will take my art, but I know I would like to work on gaining more painting skills. In any case, I have an upcoming show at De Ploegh here in Amersfoort, A Sense of Place, so will get to work on preparations.

Fouquet's Chateau

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 15, 2017 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (2)

A final tourist stop at Vaux-le-Vicomte, the precursor to Versailles, built by Louis XIV’s finance minister. I’m of two minds. The ridiculous opulence of it all. It’s what happens when someone has too much money, or rather, access to too much money since it was embezzled from taxpayers (for which he was fortunately jailed). But then, how amazing that creativity was funded and given free reign; architect, artist and landscaper working from scratch to create a kind of perfection in their time. Inside I was most drawn to the furniture and its total outmodedness: daybeds, skinny-legged writing desks, cabinets with a hundred tiny drawers. One such cabinet had splices of polished rock, framed as special features, which had the look of tonal landscapes. It’s interesting that in the 17th century, an age of realistic painting and portraiture, they recognized a sort of abstract art in these.


It is the tangible aspects of making art that appeal to me most: lines (clean or broken), creating tonal contrasts, making marks, mixing colours and seeing what happens… while I struggle most with the intangible: deriving purpose out of these actions and injecting or uncovering ‘meaning’ in the art, which seems to be what the art world deems necessary. (Though I do believe the meaning is often attached by others in that art world after the making.) But these 17th century designers weren’t at all concerned with this. They just put the materials they worked with out there, in the best possible light. Purely for the visual pleasure of it. If there is such a thing as universal beauty, then I believe it is what results from human hands crafting materials from their surroundings, which can take any number of forms but will never fail to be visually appealing to the human eye.

 

Bourges and the Loire

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 14, 2017 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

France has a number of dead straight roads between, I would guess, once important trading cities. It’s thrilling to come to the top of a road like this and suddenly see before you something of perfect symmetry: the road stretching for miles over several hills, greens fading into blues and then the dip in the forest at the end which is the road slicing through. (Painting idea logged.)

Bourges was a surprise, in that its name is non-descript and recalls nothing of note (in my art history brain), and yet what an impressive cathedral. Very sculptural with flying buttresses and an intricate, story-full tympanum which, judging by the clean stonework has been restored – even to the extent that Christ’s arms and hands (usually lopped off during the Iconoclasm) have reappeared in an oddly veiny, muscular way (perhaps it was just the marbling). Next to the cathedral was this worthy French phenomenon found in many cities: the Musee des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France – a museum for showcasing superb local craftsmanship, from metalworking and carpentry to pastry-making and Plexiglas art. Fantastic to see the skill needed to clad all the curves in typically French roofs and dormers, and see it up close.

And yet, some villages in France are a drab mass of cracked concrete rendering. I find seeing the stones that make up the building so much more pleasing. Smooth rendering can be beautiful too, but it loses its appeal quickly when it’s no longer crisp and clean. Passing into the Loiret region I noticed there were suddenly a lot more brick buildings. Makes sense, since bricks are made from river clays and I was approaching the Loire. I’m now camped right on the Loire. It’s another superhot day and, maddeningly, the swimming pool doesn’t open until July (!!). That’s a kind of torture for me. I can’t see myself going for a dip in the Loire since there are fish bigger than me in it.

Medieval villages

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 13, 2017 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (1)

I’m back on N-roads and finding an excess of charm. First stop was Brantome, north of Perigueux, an abbey town with structures built into the cliff and, opposite the river, cute smiling pigs illustrated to advertise pork delicacies. This always rankles me a bit when, of course, their destiny here is anything but happy. The town attracts plenty of tourists. Many British, though perhaps they live here, as evidenced by the ‘So British’ fete next weekend. (I can’t imagine the French organising a celebration of Britishness of their own volition, and in a quintessentially French town at that, but I may be wrong.) One British woman was admiring it all but pointing and commenting to her husband: ‘all so pretty, but look, it’s such as shame they can’t be bothered to pull out the weeds.’ Yet they were very pretty, colourful weeds and so I photographed them! One woman’s weeds are another’s flowers.

A little further towards Limoges there’s St.Jean-de-Cole. A very relaxed-looking place, due to unpaved streets and a loose sort of (Medieval) planning of buildings, and yet the buildings were significant: a robust Romanesque church, a chateau, a mairie, ancient residences of 2-4 stories... The ensemble was the very definition of quaint, though oddly scaled making it quite playful (like toy buildings). I immediately had fantasies of setting up shop here in the summer, a ground-floor gallery in my little village house with lavender shutters and red geraniums hanging in the windows. My second immediate thought was the reality check: French Chamber of Commerce, taxes, the need to learn better French…

Dordogne and Perigord

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 12, 2017 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (3)

Southwest France is full of extremely beautiful villages on rivers with huge stone churches and colourful shutters in disrepair. Today in St Astier there was a nice market - foods and antiques. I love perusing for old building tools, but for the most part it was lots of old junk from grandma’s attic I can’t imagine anyone wanting (and I love old things). But who’s to say? You can’t help but notice there are a lot of economically depressed French about. (Or is it a lifestyle I’m misinterpreting?) Evidently the town is doing its part in sprucing up with road repairs, rejuvenated public spaces and even public benches painted pink.

The trouble is it’s almost too damn picturesque. Bridges sweeping into compositions, erratic honey-coloured masonry, reflective waters and potted flowers will always make a great image. One that everyone will have photographed or painted at some point. It’s hard not to just be taken in by the beauty of it. How do I contribute a unique perspective? I try to focus sometimes on the details rather than the big picture. Or patterns that appeal to me, or potential abstractions that emphasize lines. Morsels I’ll have to fatten when I get back.

Basque country

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 11, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (1)

I’ve seen many cyclists travelling with a teddy bear strapped onto their bikes and onto their tents when they've set up camp. Too many to be a coincidence. Anyone know what the significance is of this? I haven’t yet mustered the courage to ask these people, why are you travelling with a stuffed animal?

I had planned to spend more time in Spain, but after Portugal, Spain seems to have a different flavour. In Portugal I encountered friendly and efficient (a quality I appreciate) people, in Spain they seem lacklustre and tired of tourists already, and their season has only begun June 1st. Probably my encounters were just the exceptions rather than the rule. The added frustration of supermarkets being closed in the afternoon until 5pm didn’t help…In any case, I moved on to France. And here campground receptions are closed from 12-3 (!!), another source of frustration when I was desperate for a cool-down in a pool.

Bidart, just under Biarritz, is a prosperous little town magnificently situated above the Atlantic, with a landscaped trail from town down to the beach where there are lots of surfers and beautiful rock formations: strata that are coming apart. This is still Basque country and it doesn’t quite feel French. The houses have deep overhanging roofs and Tudor-style (I’m sure they have a Basque word for this) facades of white plaster and wood beams. And many have a decorative row of triangular pigeon holes, or painted triangles, on their fronts, probably not for said birds, but for what? Attic ventilation? The typical Basque font is also everywhere: ethnic-looking letters with wide feet and the A with a line balancing on its tip. 


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