Art History Breaks


Join us here in the pretty harbour town of Kirkcudbright, known nationally as “The Artists Town”.

The story of its artists’ colony is full of examples of artists arriving on a summer painting visit and staying on for the rest of their lives. The reasons why Kirkcudbright attracted so many painters and became an artists’ colony are not difficult to discern. It was, and remains, perhaps the most attractive small town in Scotland with impressive architecture. There is the High Street with its ancient Tollbooth and the 18th century town houses enlivened by their variously and sometimes eccentrically painted frontages, the myriad colours giving the street an exotic, almost continental, atmosphere. Between the houses are cobbled, crooked wynds, many of which contain artist’s and craftsmen’s studios. McLellan’s Castle an imposing sixteenth century ruin in the middle of the town, dominates the skyline. When E.A.Taylor asked Hornel why he thought Kirkcudbright was so popular with artists he said, “Well, it’s a fine old town and not too big, but big enough to keep you from vegetating.



Fri 3rd – Sun 5th  November 2017

The Selkirk art appreciation weekends are designed to increase your enjoyment of art in a relaxed and informal setting. There is time during the illustrated talks for questions and discussion. Your tutor Jeremy Carlisle BA (Hons) MA is a practising artist and art historian. SELKIRK ARTHOTEL       ART APPRECIATION WEEKENDS     2017





Rembrandt   self-portrait     etching Rembrandt 1603 – 1669 Rembrandt’s unique breadth of sympathy, his curiosity about the world around him and his interest in his fellow human beings makes him one of the most rewarding painters of the Western canon. Working during the Golden Age of Dutch painting in the 17C he enjoyed considerable success as a young man. Guided by a passionate impulse to reflect the truth he avoided to a greater degree than any other painter the pit-falls of idealisation, exaggeration and sentimentality. In portraiture, religious and landscape painting he looked into the heart of things with an unwavering gaze and reflected in some of the most profound paintings of all time the truth of what he saw there. In spite of being declared bankrupt in 1656, largely as a consequence of what amounted to a collecting mania, some of his greatest paintings and self-portraits were painted after this catastrophe

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Matisse paper cut-out from ‘Jazz’ Matisse 1869 – 1954 Matisse’s Fauvist paintings were like a series of fireworks being set off at the beginning of the 20C. Training to be a lawyer he was given a box of oil paints by his mother when he was convalescing from appendicitis as a young man. ‘It was like a window into paradise’ he later said. From that point on he knew the path his life would take. He recognised that the whole surface of a canvas was charged with the possibility of expression. He claimed that however far his work diverted from visual objectivity it was in order to more closely reflect reality. He always painted from life. It was absolutely necessary for him to have the anchor of reality there as a source for his joyful, lyrical, celebratory paintings. He was a colourist and draughtsman of genius so that although his paintings can appear disarmingly simple they are the result of a profound and deep knowledge. They radiate colour and light.



Picasso       ‘The Three Musicians’ Picasso 1881 – 1973 We will concentrate on Picasso’s early paintings and the development of Cubism with fellow painter Braque. Picasso’s ’Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ 1907 is brutal in its break with tradition and is in part a response to Matisse’s, post-Fauvist, essentially lyrical aesthetic. Arguably it wasn’t until the American Abstract Expressionists of the 1950’s that such violent forms, as employed by Picasso, were seen again in painting. Between 1910 and 1914 Picasso and Braque created in Cubism a new language that was to have a profound influence on the painting, sculpture, design and architecture ofthe 20C. We will trace how Cubism added to the possibilities of painting by effectively liberating art from its connection to a source outside itself and so pointing towards complete abstraction. Cubism is often discussed in terms of its formal properties but as we will see there is an austere and poetic beauty in early Cubist paintings and wit and playfulness in the later phase ofCubism.


Gillian Ayers         ‘Untitled 1993’ ‘Abstract Painting’ ‘Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not just in the eye. It is in the mind. It is our positive response to life.’ Agnes Martin, abstract painter 1912–2004. She also said: ’Anything can be painted without representation.’ Paintings are two things; they are of something and at the same time a something in their own right. It is in this latter characteristic of painting that abstraction finds its expression. Subject matter in the sense of creating a visual illusion, visual representation is left behind. By looking at a range of work by contemporary abstract painters we will test this theory and explore the considerable variety of mood, form and expression in abstract painting. We will also enjoy Rothko’s ‘Recipe of a Work of Art – Its Ingredients – How to Make it – the Formula’. A humorous but illuminating insight into Rothko’s thinking.

Format for the Weekend

Arrive in your own time on Friday afternoon Meet your hosts and lecturer Jeremy Carlisle for pre-dinner drinks and canapés at 6.30pm in the Burns Room. 7.00pm -7.45pm   illustrated introductory talk to the weekend 8.00pm                   3 course dinner


7.15am – 9.15am    Breakfast in your own time

9.30am                   illustrated talk

11.00am approx    coffee & shortbread in Bistro area

11.30am approx    illustrated talk

1.00pm                   soup and sandwich lunch Free time to explore Kirkcudbright’s galleries, shops etc.

6.30pm meet for pre-dinner drinks and canapés in the Burns Room

7.00pm                  illustrated talk

8.00pm                  3 course dinner


7.15am – 9.15am   Breakfast in your own time

9.30am                 illustrated talk

11.00am                coffee & shortbread in the Bistro

11.30am                illustrated talk

1.00pm                 soup and sandwich lunch Goodbyes and departures

£239.00 per person, includes Dinner Bed and Breakfast, welcome drink & canapés, coffee breaks, soup and sandwich lunches.

Booking: Telephone. Selkirk Arms Hotel 01557 330402