Michelangelo & Sebastiano at The National Gallery

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Last week we visited the National Gallery to see The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano. We’ve written a short review of selected works from the exhibition and what we learnt about Mike and Seb’s friendship and careers.

The artists

Mike and Seb first met in Rome around 1511. Mike was 36 years old, Seb some 10 years Mike’s junior. Their professional reputations at this stage in their careers paralleled the differing years of their experience.

Mike, already known and respected, embraced punctilious preparation, method, and accuracy through observation and study (not unlike Leonardo); creating monumental works in the way of the Florentine and Roman schools that mark out his stylistic development.  Mike was clearly a driven individual who wanted to be number one in his field – not second or third. During his career as a painter, Mike was in fierce competition with Raphael. Raphael was eight years younger, clearly talented and innovative within the renaissance movement.  Historical accounts give a sense of difference between Mike and Raphael – that Mike was obstinate, moody, quarrelsome and unforgiving, where Raphael was humble, sincere and very likeable – which opened doors for him with ease when Mike had to force his way through. The threat to Mike from the young upstart Raphael seems to have been very real.

In his art, Seb was a freer spirit than Mike, intent upon creating atmosphere and emotion over the strictures of precision, in accordance with his training and development in the altogether more liberal Venice school – accentuating the use of colour and improvisation.  This was not dissimilar to Raphael’s sytle and when Mike became aware of Seb and his talent, Mike realised that rather than allow another unwanted competitor on to the Roman art scene, a collaboration might be in his better interest.  Something about keeping your enemies close, perhaps.

The Exhibition starts with pieces by each of Mike and Seb to illustrate their differing styles.

Individual work

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Left: The virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels (‘The Manchester Madonna’), 1497 – Michelangelo

This panel painting in the opening exhibition room shows Mike’s mastery of the sculptural form.   The vividness of detail and colour in the infant Jesus and his cousin St John the Baptist contrasts with the heavy and precise outlines to the left where the panel remains unfinished. These later outlines are likely transferred to the panel from preparatory drawings, hence their deliberateness at this stage in their introduction to the scene. There appears to be no doubt as to what the painting is intended to portray, and how it is to be produced.

Right: The judgement of Solomon – Sebastiano Del Piombo, 1505

Here, Seb does what he does best.  Many figures, all animated in a way that makes them seem alive and in motion, supporting the story that the scene tells.  Again the piece is not complete – the baby that Solomon is issuing judgement over does not appear.  When looking between this and the previous work of Mike, Compare the skin tone and detail on the nude courtier (who is without the sword that he will need to cut the baby in two) with the skin on the infants in Mike’s work.  Also note how Seb’s work is developing as his thoughts and designs develop.  Not much planning in evidence here.  There are sections around the porticos at the side that look like a montage of several different images such is the prominence of prior architectural layouts he has explored over the one currently adopted.

It is quite possible that Seb became infatuated with Mike.  They quickly struck a friendship and artistic partnership which involved doing sketches for each other and actually both painting on the same canvas.  There is a letter in the exhibition (one of several that illuminate the relationship between the two) in which Seb assumes Mike’s hatred of Raphael.  Whether this is founded on genuine artistic difference, or again evidence of the indoctrination that Seb went through under Mike’s control is not clear.

Whilst Mike may have wanted to get close to Seb to control the risk of more competition, he was professional enough to see the opportunity for creating collaborative art of a new type that could continue to develop the renaissance.

Collaborative work

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Left: Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Pietà) – Sebastiano Del Piombo, after partial designs by Michelangelo, 1512-16

In this collaborative piece the possibilities of their combined talents are explored.   The grieving Mary is painted by Seb in a flowing style with intense colours to her clothes.  The moonlit background is full of atmosphere and suggestion.  Here anatomic form, however, is something of a contradiction. A muscular neck, broad shoulders and chest are almost certainly the influence of Mike.  The body of Jesus is painted in a starkly contrasting style by Mike – precise body form and arrangement and highly detailed skin tone.  You can almost see how the body of Jesus could be taken out to be a sculpture, whilst the balance of the painting could only ever be a painting.   It is likely that this piece proved to be on the evolutionary path to Mike’s Pieto.

Experiments in oil on plaster for the Sistine Chapel frescos may have been the subject of Mike and Seb’s early collaboration.  Ironical, as this is the very topic that was to be their undoing as friends.

Right: Study of a male upper torso with hands clasped and six studies of hands – Michelangelo

These studies, of which there are many in the exhibition, show the intensity of Mike’s pursuance of accuracy and truth in his art.  He is not leaving anything to chance when it comes to the final production.  How much his studies allowed him to vary his intentions is unsure.  Did he always start with a master plan for each piece, or were his studies and preliminary designs permitted to cause a change in the plan?

Mike spent many years back in Florence working for the Midici house whilst Seb stayed in Rome.  By the time of Mike’s return, Raphael had died a young man removing the threat to Mike’s ascendency to the top of his profession.

Late pieces

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Left: The Visitation, 1518-1519 – Sebastiano Del Piombo

Towards the middle of Seb’s career, during the collaboration period, his style of  painting seemed to take on characteristics of the defined and delicate work that Mike is known for. Here within The Visitation, one of his later works, he has gone beyond the figurative visualisation of Mike towards a subtly grand, abstracted and soulful style. He does, however, still maintain the expressive sky in the background of the work, something that for me allowed an instant recognition that the piece was the work of Seb.

Right: Section of the The last judgement, 1536-1541 – Michelangelo

With the sculptured and detailed bodies within The Last Judgement compared to The Visitation you can further see the differential stylings of the two artists. With Seb searching for less commissions and slowing down his painting career Mike was at the top of his game and with this he produced one of the most significant and renowned fresco paintings in the world. He had been fighting his whole career for the art work that would cause a stir and get his name  firmly secured within the art history bible with the Sistine chapel commission he had finally proven his worth. Although some people did believe that Raphael had painted the chapel, most definitely to Mike’s annoyance.

Mike and Seb’s friendship was put under strain when Seb ordered that the yet to be painted parts of the Sistine Chapel ceiling be prepared with an oil-paint base coat before Mike returned to Rome to complete the task.  Mike did not like working in oils and so ordered those areas painted in oil to be stripped and repaired in order that he could complete the work in his establish fresco style with water and egg-based paints on daily plaster applications.

Whilst Mike was away in Florence, working intensely and relentlessly as usual, Seb had taken up favour with the Pope’s court, where he became a salaried advisor.  Whether this role was so demanding that Seb reduced his painting output, or he became lazy with a fat guaranteed salary is not known.  When Mike returned to Rome he quickly formed the later opinion, which coupled with the Chapel ceiling incident was the undoing of their friendship.

Seb died some 18 years before Mike.  Seb had not produced much of note, and very little that was completed in the final 15 or so years of his life.  Mike went from strength to strength in painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry and letters up to his death in 1564 at the age of 83.  After Seb’s passing and before his own, Mike did not acknowledge any good to have come from his collaboration with Seb.  Indeed, Mike publicly scathed Seb, his work and of what he had become in his later life. Whether this attitude reveals evidence that Mike had only ever used Seb to further Mike’s own career is open for debate.

This exhibition, on at the National Gallery until June 25th, 2017 seeks to explore the coming together of Mike and Seb, their collaborative output, and the breakdown of their friendship.  Overall, the curators have achieved their aim, although Mike’s work out ways Seb’s.  We found one or two of the rooms to have odd exhibit numbering with no clear start point if following the very well put together exhibition guide in strict numeric order.  Also, the lighting was a little off on some pieces creating glare or reflection that was difficult to overcome by vantage point selection.

Thank you for reading!

Bethvictoria.com

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A few Little Greene Company colours & accessories

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We’ve chosen some Little Greene Company paint colours and matched them with fabrics, furniture and a few accessories. Hope you enjoy!

Hicks’ Blue and Gauze Mid

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Little Greene Paint, Hicks’ Blue (208)  & Gauze Mid (164) – Villa Nova Fabric, Norrland Indigo – Crumble Snuggler by Loaf at John Lewis, Brushed Cotton Flint – Ebbe Gehl for John Lewis Mira Sideboard – John Lewis Cavendish Cushion, Sulphur – John Lewis Boucle Cushion, Steel – Buster + Punch Hooked 3.0 Mix Cluster Ceiling Light, Copper/Stone

Ashes of Roses and China Clay 

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Little Greene Paint, Ashes of Roses (6) & China Clay (1) – Harlequin Fabric, MORAMO LINENS 132309 – Made, Frame Armchair, Blush Cotton Velvet – west elm Terrace Console Table – John Lewis Lockhart Floor Lamp, Dark Copper – John Lewis Hotel Morocco Rug, Cream – John Lewis Croft Collection Weave Cushion, Natural

Yellow Pink & French Grey 

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Little Greene Paint, Yellow-Pink (46) & French Grey Pale (161) – Fabric, Zoffany ILIAD 322619 – House by John Lewis Bow Upholstered Headboard Bed Frame – Fonteyn Bedside table, oak, Made.com – John Lewis Penelope Task Lamp, Quince – Design Project by John Lewis No.111 Rug, Blue – John Lewis Croft Collection Poppyheads Bedding – George Nelson Bubble Crisscross Saucer Ceiling Light, Medium – Roar + Rabbit for west elm Geo Inlay 6 Drawer Chest

Matthew Williamson Wallpaper & Pearl Colour Pale

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Wallpaper, Matthew Williamson at Osbourne & Little, Tropicana W6801/01 – Little Greene Paint, Pearl Colour Pale (167) – Fabric, Villa Nova, Vardo Petrol – west elm Mid-Century Extending Dining Table – Vitra Eames DAR 43cm Armchair, Cream/Chrome – Design Project by John Lewis No.004 Sideboard, Oak – Kartell FLY Ceiling Light, White – west elm Ombre Crackle dining collection – John Lewis Flamingo, Cactus and Melon Tumbler With Gold Rim – John Lewis Scandi Nova Table Runner, Mineral – John Lewis Pineapple Placemats, Set of 2, Green/Cream

Knightsbridge & Shallows

WILLIAMLittle Greene Paint, Knightsbridge (215) & Shallows (223)  – Fabric, William Morris & CO, Pure Ceiling Embroidery Paper White – John Lewis Hemingway Bookcase With Drawer – John Lewis Annabelle Armchair, Harlequin Vitto Sediment Fabric, Price Band G, Dark Legs – John Lewis Hemingway Round Lamp Table  – David Hunt Hare Table Lamp, Bronze

Thank you for reading!

Bethvictoria.com

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“A noticeable lack of feet…”

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We visited Tate Britain for the extensive exhibition of David Hockney’s 60 years of work from the instantly recognisable to the unseen workings.

There were so many pieces in this exhibition it was hard to choose a direction for this review. So we’ve just chosen a couple of pieces that we liked and looked into how they were made.

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The first piece is called ‘The Road to Thwing’ which Hockney painted in 2006. When displayed this is six smaller canvases hung close together to create one larger piece. When looking at the exhibition we were trying to work out how this would be painted would he do each canvas individually or all as one?

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When looking into it we found this image showing Hockney painting the scene with the six canvases arranged as they are on display. Whether he mapped out the edges of the canvas/basics of the small image and then worked back into each individually or did just do it all at once is not obvious from this image. We think its great that he has actually set this up within the field that he’s painting as with the technique seen within the ‘Australian impressionists’ exhibition we wrote about a few weeks back and not just done it from a photograph.

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David Hockney "The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods (Spring 2011, Summer 2010, Autumn 2010, Winter 2010)" 2010-2011 36 digital videos synchronized and presented on 36 monitors to comprise a single artwork Duration: 4:21 An Edition of 10 with 2 A.P.s � David Hockney
“The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods (Spring 2011, Summer 2010, Autumn 2010, Winter 2010)” 2010-2011

This is a collection of 36 digital videos synchronized and presented on 36 monitors to comprise a single artwork. They each last around 4 mins 21 seconds. Each screen consists of nine videos that play at the same time. The videos within the screen are simply the views from different perspectives of a car going down a road. Again we wondered how it was done.

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The above two images show the device and Hockney at work capturing the videos. We were trying to think of what kind of high tech piece of kit he could of used to create this piece. The rig set up on the bonnet of the car is definitely a lot less complicated than we were expecting and just what we were thinking he would have done. It is interesting that he sits in the back of the car watching every moment of the videos being recorded, even though the cameras will be capturing the work he doesn’t let anything turn out not as imagined or expected.

And the title of this blog comes from the observation of Hockney not really drawing/painting feet. They are always covered with shoes, furniture or missed off completely.

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For example the large socks or bucket in the painting above.

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We also really liked this photomontage of Hockney’s mother. There is a lot of skill used to perfectly capture and then realign the images to get her face clear and not distorted.

The exhibition is open until the 29th May – so get down and check it out for yourself.

Bethvictoria.com

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Spring colours

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Pantone have released their spring 2017 colours and they’re a pretty bright and beautiful range. So we’ve collected some images of the colours in action to show you what you can do with them within your home.

Primrose Yellow

Pale dogwood

Hazelnut

island paradise

Greenery

Flame

Pink Yarrow

Niagara

Kale

Lapis Blue

Hope you have enjoyed this spring colour inspiration!

Bethvictoria.com

All images found on Pinterest

 

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We’ve learnt some stuff and we’re growing

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Having completed MA Interior and Spatial Design (see the work in this blog post) and some work experience with big design firms we feel like we’ve learnt some stuff.

Bethvictoria.com are now taking on some interior design projects as well as the wallpaper and wall coverings. We’ve got a couple on the go but are always happy to talk to anyone about any projects from tiny to huge that we may be able to help with!

Heres a little recap of what we offer:

Wallpaper

Two variations available in two different colours, part of  the 2014 originals collection.

Find them on our Etsy page: Outline and Full bird

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Murals

A hand painted service currently available in the Berkshire and London area. Contact info@bethvictoria.com for any enquiries of this service.

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Prints and art

Photographic prints. As well as Interior and Spatial design we also studied Photography and have a small collection of our images available as prints on our website and Etsy.

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We also have a small limited edition amount of crayon art. Available in three different sizes and can be found on our Etsy site too.

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Interior and Spatial Design

We’re at the very early stages of the two interiors projects we have on at the moment. So heres a sample of our Masters work and a design for a seating area done as part of work experience.

Hopefully this space will get filled up with a variety of spatial, residential and hospitality interior design in the not too distant future! Again contact info@bethvictoria.com for any more information.

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Watch out for blog posts on the projects progress in the not too distant future!

Bethvictoria.com

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The velvet trend

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We’ve read from the people that know that one big trend during 2017 will be velvet! Whilst collecting images of various velvet containing rooms we saw a definite pattern in big blue comfy sofas and chairs. Blue is predicted to be within a lot of interiors this year and it would seem this relates back to the velvet trend.

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Inspired by this velvet comfiness we have found a few options that you can get in your home. From chunky sofas to sophisticated cocktail chairs and lush throws – we’ve got all the velvet bases covered.

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Here are a collection of velvety goodness that you can get into your own home. Go for these varied colours or stick with the predicted blue theme for the year (most items available in multiple colours).

Find them here: 1) Velvet love tub 2) Velvet Throw  3) Fitz  4) Lula  5) Frame 6) Tub 7) Scott               8) Margot  9) Margot Single  10) Chesterfield 

Bethvictoria.com

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Chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois – Le Corbusier

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This is simply about our love of mid century modern arm chairs. Just look at them. They shouldn’t, and in some of these cases aren’t, be considered a piece that goes only within a mid-century modern themed room. Gentle coloured upholstering goes with a light Scandinavian feel and darker greys work well with a more industrial style.

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They’re beautiful. So we’ve found some that can be purchased. We want them all.

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Available here: 1) Danish oak  2) z-chairs 3) Wooden Green 4) Danish armchair 5) Bailey 6) Karla

 Hope you like these chairs as much as we do!

Bethvictoria.com

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Copper for the home

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Metallics in the home look perfect. The current trend is to swap out the cold, plain metals for warm and reflective coppers and rose golds. They can be used all around the house from a simple light in a bedroom to copper pans and storage in a kitchen.

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The selection of images we’ve found above are all about the warm metal accessories. Taking ideas and reference from this collection we’ve found some beautiful items, in a range of prices, for your home.

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Find them here: 1) Moon Wall Hook  2) Kitchen Hook Rack  3) Averly Circle Mirror    4) Concrete and Copper Pendant Light  5) Drip Plate  6) Audny Jars  7) SLATTBO  8) HASSLAROD  9) VINDKARE               10) Wire Basket Side Table  11) Wall Planter  12) Desk Lamp  13) Tripod Table

Thanks for reading! Bethvictoria.com

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Arthur Streeton – A master impressionist

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Earlier this month, we attended a wonderful exhibition at The National Gallery titled ‘Australia’s Impressionists’ which runs to 26th March 2017. This is a relatively small exhibition, but expertly curated and features work by four Australian artists – Tom Roberts, Charles Conder, John Russell and Arthur Streeton. Between them, these four created a new artistic movement in Australia based on what they had seen in France and produced a huge combined body of work that represents the very best of impressionist painting from the prodigious talents that Roberts, Conder and Russell are, it was the work of Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) that captured our attention.

This from The National Gallery’s web page summarises his life.

“Streeton’s artistic training began aged 15, with night classes in design at Melbourne’s National Gallery School, while he worked as an office clerk and, later, as an apprentice lithographer. He read amateur art manuals imported from Europe and America that encouraged painting en plein air.

 While painting at Mentone Beach, south of Melbourne, Streeton met Tom Roberts (1856–1931), who invited him to join artists’ camps that he had helped found in the bush near Box Hill, to the west of the city. Together with Roberts and Charles Conder (1868–1909), Streeton helped stage the ‘9 by 5 Impression Exhibition‘ in Melbourne in 1889, which served as something of a manifesto for this new generation of Australian painters who were embracing the looser, more open techniques of Impressionism.

Streeton moved to Sydney in 1890, after the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased a large canvas of his, ‘Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide’ (1890). He was the first Australian-born artist to have a work exhibited at London’s Royal Academy – ‘Golden Summer, Eaglemont’ (1889) – but when he moved to London in 1897 he struggled to gain recognition. Nonetheless, he stayed in England for around thirty years, sending work back to Australia.

During the First World War, Streeton served as a hospital orderly in London, and then as an official war artist with the Australian army. He was awarded a knighthood in 1937 for services to art.”

Streeton produced a tremendous body of work during his lifetime, everyone of which merits individual study. But for now we have selected five paintings from the exhibition for specific comment and appreciation. As you study them, take in the balance in the composition, the great sense of location and climate, and the wonderful colour palettes he uses, all of which can inform ebullient design solutions today.

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‘Golden Summer, Eaglemont’ 1889. Oil on canvas.

This painting is many things, but we specifically love the colour palette Streeton uses. Vivid blues and golds which he describes as the ‘nature’s scheme of colour in Australia’. The depth of detail, the tranquil setting and the mastery of light and shade all stand out.

Artist : Ena Joyce (Australia, b.1925) Title : Date : (circa 1949) Medium Description: oil on plywood Dimensions : Credit Line : Purchased 1949 Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 832

‘Fire’s on’ Lapstone Tunnel 1891 oil on canvas.

Again that wonderful colour palette stands out. Up close, his use of a 1″ brush in 1-2″ strokes to build up the tonal range of the blue sky is masterful. The vantage point produces a high horizon allowing an exquisite interpretation of sunlight and shade, as seen in Golden Summer. You almost want to reach out and touch the rocks on the left!

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‘Ariadne’ 1895 oil on wood panel.

Blue and pink dominate the colours here. Ariadne appears to almost float on the sand. With her head lowered into her hands, her sorrow easily felt. Again the sense of sunshine and warm climate is projected so well.

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‘Blue Pacific’ 1890 oil on canvas.

This image doesn’t do justice to the tonal range and brush work that Streeton achieved. The light and dark golds used to pull out the centrepiece sandstone cliff face are superbly constructed. Again the colour palette is excellent and exuberant.

Artist : Arthur Streeton (Australia, b.1867, d.1943) Title : Date : 1893 Medium Description: oil on canvas Dimensions : Credit Line : Gift of Lady Denison 1942 Image Credit Line : Accession Number : 7209

‘The railway station, Redfern’ 1893 oil on canvas.

Finally, we bring this one into the selection because of its juxtaposition in climatic terms to the prior four. Here, grey skies, wind and rain predominate instead of warm sunshine. The composition, with all the detail clustered in the top half of the painting, and just the surface treatment and a lone be-coated person and their shadow occupying the lower half, represent such an eye for the scene. It is reported that he painted this in around three hours…

Celebrate the work of Arthur Streeton. He has many lessons to teach modern designers.

Written by Paul Smith for Bethvictoria.com

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2017 Homely home tips

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For this set of tips we’re starting at the front door.

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1) Christmas, New Year and winter time normally means clutter, winter dirt and leaves. Keeping the front door area and hall clear will make arriving home easy and something to look forward to and give guests a great first impression. Plants in the hallway are a great way to add colour and freshness to space.

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2) Eye lines. Statement pieces or vibrantly painted walls can work as a great way to lead you through a house. This idea guides people into a certain room or space using their eyes and makes them want to stay and explore a little longer.

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3) Plants, plants and more plants. We’ve definitely said this before. Plants are a great way to get colour, textures and shapes into your home. They also keep the spaces fresh and airy.

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4) Good smells. Keep the house smelling fresh and cozy. Whilst its still (sort of) the season light any festive candles that you’ve got or been given or get baking.

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5) Make it yours with small unique decorations and deign details. For example, put your own artwork on the walls or items that remind you of a good time or childhood memory.

Making something homely takes all of your senses. Not just snuggling under a warm blanket. So with these tips hopefully you can hit all five and feel homely from the time you see your front door.

Bethvictoria.com

All pictures found on Pinterest.
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