This weekend, I enjoyed my first post-lockdown gallery outing. I love Turner’s clouds, so was keen to peruse the current exhibition at the Tate Britain: Turner’s modern world.
Turner’s subjects are very different to my own – with the exception of the occasional steam engine painting. He paints wars, shipwrecks, disasters and drama – there’s always a sense of tension, if not destruction and doom. I prefer the paintings I create to be uplifting or meditative. My favourite subjects are graceful dancers, vibrant flowers, tranquil landscapes and seascapes. I might admire Turner’s Snow Storm – it’s a spectacular painting – but I wouldn’t want to hang it in my livingroom.
What does intrigue me about his art, is his use of light. Those glowing flames that emerge from the shadowy buildings or shipwrecks, the way his waves and clouds catch the light, the glowing clouds. So the appeal with this exhibition was to study his use of light and shade. (Lucky timing, as this week’s theme for the Find Your Joy painting course I’m currently doing with artist Louise Fletcher is all about exploring contrast.)
Turner was included in the art history curricula during both my school and university studies and I’ve seen his work in the permanent collections at both the Tate and the National Gallery. So, I knew what to expect: those lovely gestural skies and masterful compositions. What took me by surprise, was the level of detail in his work. Regardless of media, Turner’s work is incredibly detailed up close. Easy to miss this feature in book reproductions or if only looking at his work from afar. And I certainly don’t remember it being discussed in class.
Full of gratitude to be able to visit galleries again. Thanks for reading!