It might be cold outside but there has been a simmering of wild colours and stormy brushstrokes within. More late birthday gifts arrived in the form of two new catalogues of Christopher Lehmpfuhl’s bold and dazzling work and a small but sumptuous book filled with Emil Nolde watercolour landscapes. Both German painters, but separated by time.
The Nolde book is very inspiring and propelled me towards my watercolour tubes and pans, resulting in some enthusiastic and richly-hued daubs. I still can’t work out how Nolde achieved such dense, strong colour. Maybe it was the particular shades he chose to work with and maybe he created numerous layers. The more ‘stainy’ colours I used held up relatively well but the others did what watercolours often do – looked vivid while wet but faded to a whitish glow on drying.
I have done some more work on the Crosdale large painting and, while I’m pleased with the colours, it’s still not quite there yet.
At the opposite end of the brightness scale, my odd dark painting is still progressing towards its rather spooky finished state.
One of my Christopher Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of intimate still lifes: views through windows and portraits of tables loaded with glasses, crockery and other small items. It gave me an idea to have a go at capturing a ‘family’ of glassware grouped on a table top.
As the evenings have been getting longer I also managed to paint a very quick view out of the kitchen window as the light was beginning to fade. It was a real rush to get it done, especially as a stray dog appeared wandering through the gardens below while I painted, leading me to break off and check that it had not been abandoned, but it could lead to further paintings as I enjoy the odd shapes of the hills and the trees and their associated shadows.
The larger of the two Lehmpfuhl catalogues is full of thrilling, swirling, huge plein air paintings from an exhibition called ‘Die Neue Mitte’. The series of paintings was created to document the controversial, politically-motivated demolition of an East German landmark building in Berlin, the Palast der Republik, which was open to the public as well as being the home of the DDR parliament and the people’s chamber, or Volkskammer.
It was a place where cultural events took place, with a theatre and art galleries as well as a disco, restaurants and even a post office. As the Palast was gradually torn down Lehmpfuhl kept finding new angles to paint it from and the whole extraordinary process was documented in a film which can be found halfway down this page, entitled ‘Die Neue Mitte’.
I saw the Palast der Republik on my first visit to Berlin in 2001 and it had a real 70s look to it, with its bronze mirrored exterior reminding me of glittery disco interiors and dark smoked coffee tables made of glass. Another short film, about the opening of the Palast in 1976, can be found here.