….but we are all fabulous.

A World of Private Mystery: John Craxton

I had the good fortune to visit the John Craxton exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge on Friday. My mother had been previously and showed me the book of his work she had bought which made me want to see it for myself. It was worth the journey! His paintings and drawings are so evocative and bewitching and they encourage the viewer to lose themselves in each one. The exhibition was a relatively small one – one room of his works but that was perfect – it gave me the mental time and energy to savour each piece in a way that larger exhibitions do not encourage – with 10 or more rooms ahead at a blockbuster show, one can easily miss gems and fail to absorb and retain the detail of favourite works.

800x442_JohnCraxtonImage11(1536P) Landscape with derelict windmill 1958

John Craxton – Landscape with Derelict Windmill, 1958

This experience was heightened for me by the fact I have recently started an art class with a local artist Dave Brammeld ( I am an absolute beginner – most of the class are already accomplished and are improving or developing their work. In rather stark contrast, I had never lifted a pencil for artistic purposes before. I was motivated to start the class by my cousin’s 4 year old daughter Molly, with whom I whiled away a very happy morning painting. It was so completely absorbing and enjoyable that I wanted more! Dave is a great teacher and I am learning a lot. The most striking impact so far is the way it changes how I look at the world around me – seeing shadows and textures and outlines in a completely different way. It has also changed how I look at other people’s paintings – seeing how a brush stroke here or there can evoke space or light or a complex figure. it makes me want to go back in time and look again at all the paintings I have ever loved.


John Craxton – Llanthony Abbey, 1942

As a new art student, John Craxton’s work is ideal to study. His work looks simple close up but is incredibly effective, he uses colour enough to have gladdened Molly’s heart and his lines are pleasing and make me itch to try and copy them. Two of my favourite drawings from the show are not featured anywhere on line, but there is a similar painting of one and a linocut of the other:


John Craxton – Bouzouki Player, 1954


John Craxton – Lion Drinking

I have treated myself to the exhibition booklet and look forward to studying his work more closely.




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This entry was posted on April 6, 2014 by in Art and tagged , , , .
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