Turner- A brilliant artist
Joseph William Mallord Turner was born in London in 1775 and was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1789. Turner is famed for his romantic landscape paintings and there is even a permanent collection of his works in the Tate after he left many of his works to the nation after his death.
Romantic landscape painting developed in Britain during the first half of the nineteenth century for a number of possible reasons. An increase in industrialisation meant that artists wanted to portray an idealised version of the countryside landscape, rather than show the effect that the ‘age of steam’ was having on rural Britain. Even politically Chartists and Radicals advocated “a return to the land” as it was mans natural workplace. Another trivial reason being that the new middle class, a creation of the rapid growth in urban areas, just wanted something pretty to hang on the walls of their London homes.
Turner was deeply influenced by another landscape artist, Claude Lorrain, who painted more than a century before him. Turner admired Lorrain so much so that he even requested in his will that Lorrain’s Seaport with Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba (1648) be displayed in the National Gallery next to Turner’s own Dido Building Carthage (1815).

The two landscapes are similar in their compositions using classical architecture to frame the space and you can easily see the influence that Lorrain has had on Turner. Especially in relation to the way the sunlight affects the atmosphere of the painting overall, and both deeply romanticise the landscape.

The romantic landscape of Turner, I believe, evolved much further than for example his contemporary John Constable. Constable remains true to the ideals of romanticism and almost always depicts his ‘true to nature’ scenes of Constable Country. In my opinion Turner began to reject romantic ideals in favour of portraying a much more factual depiction of nature in Britain. Turners works were admired by many and had a particular influence in France, and I think that these later works such as and Rain Steam and Speed (1844) had a direct influence on Impressionism that emerged out of France during the 1870’s and 1880’s

Turner’s Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps (1812) is a particular favourite landscape painting of mine. The figures depicted are very small, as in many of Turner’s landscapes, and almost do not need to be included in the painting as our attention is never actually centred on them and their story. When I look at this painting all I see is the epic landscape and the impressionistic treatment of the snowstorm.

Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ (1839) is another favourite and was even recently voted by the nation as its favourite painting. It shows the Temeraire being tugged to its last berth before being dismantled. Apart from being quite a beautiful painting there may have been underlying connotations that Turner was trying to portray. The small ugly tug boat is representative of the new industrial era of the Victorian age and the large majestic ship is representative of the old Georgian era. The sun is setting on this era but even the smoke from the small tug boat blackens the sunset and is almost like the victory of industrialisation over everything that once was. The use of light to create atmosphere and his style influence me in my work.


Mannerism- The proof that sometimes they got it wrong.

The term mannerism itself derives from the Italian word maniera. For Vasari (the most prolific art biographer at the time) this term meant ‘the method of copying frequently the most beautiful things, combining them to make from what was most beautiful the best figure possible, and putting it into use in every work for all the figures’. The period of time that we generally contribute mannerist works to is from around 1520 to 1600. Evidence to suggest this comes from many works of principally Italian origin.
The principal characteristic of mannerist works of art is the elongation and distortion of the human figure. The muscles are also often grossly over emphasised creating forced and unclear compositions often resulting in great discrepancies in scale between the figures. Much of mannerism is a conscious revolution against the calm classicism and serenity of artists such as Raphael during the High Renaissance. The very perfection of Raphael led only to emulation in his successors and therefore they turned to the exaggeration of facial expression, gesture and lighting in order to produce a work of their own. Here are a couple of examples of mannerist art.

Jacopo Pontormo, The Descent from the Cross (1525-1528). This scene has no depth to it at all the figures are too closely intertwined and the whole space looks overly crowded. The contrapposto pose of Christ adds to the elongation of his limbs and makes him look very unrealistic. The only saving grace for the mannerist aspects of this work is the facial expressions, which are very pronounced, but as this is a deposition scene the horrified looks are acceptable. There are many other paintings that I think are badly composed with unrealistic portrayals of figures and poses. I understand the aims of mannerism; I just don’t think that they were always successfully executed. Mannerist characteristics in sculpture however seem to be more successful as in Cellini’s salt cellar.

Benvenuto Cellini, Salt Cellar for Francis I (before 1545). Although this is not a painting but a sculpture I think it demonstrates the aims of mannerism stated by Vasari very well. Cellini was primarily trained as a goldsmith and the fine detail here is extraordinary, and may well be what makes this piece so brilliant. This salt cellar was used as storage for salt and pepper and it depicts the god of the sea Neptune and the goddess of the earth Ceres. The elongation of the limbs and the depiction of ideal beauty here is perfectly acceptable as it has not been done to an extent that renders the piece ugly and poorly designed as in Pontormo’s deposition painting.

Parmigianino, Madonna of the Long Neck (1535)

Rosso Fiorentino, Dead Christ with Angels (c.1526)

Whenever you ask someone what they think of when you say ‘Michelangelo’, they will often reply with “The Sistine Chapel” or “David”. Michelangelo is one of the best documented sculptors of the sixteenth century and yet people do not know that much about his life as a sculptor. Obviously the brilliance of the Sistine Chapel cannot be ignored entirely, but to Michelangelo painting was an inferior art to sculpture, and he only painted the Sistine Chapel to prove himself as a painter as well as a sculptor.
Michelangelo was inspired by classical antiquity and often sculpted naked male figures as in his colossal statue David (1501- 1504) This shows the figure of David contemplating the fight that is to come between him and Goliath.

The treatment of the musculature is outstanding and the statue has become well known for its beautiful study of the human form.
La Pietà (1499) is another of Michelangelo’s best known works. A young depiction of Mary is holding the body of Christ in her arms and the treatment of the marble has left an outstandingly smooth finish. Christ’s anatomy is detailed and accurate and again demonstrates Michelangelo’s brilliance in depicting the nude male. Mary’s facial features are in my opinion the most beautiful part of this work. Her features are delicate and naturalistic almost making her appear flesh like. The drapery of the whole sculpture is also amazing.

The image of victory is often depicted as a woman, as is traditional. However, Michelangelo in his Victory (1525-1530) has depicted a man. It is likely that the figure of victory here depicts the politics of a newly liberated Florence. The extreme twist of the young male is almost beyond the realms of possibility, but Michelangelo manages to convince me that that this pose is natural.

Where Michelangelo was brilliant at depicting the male form I do not think he spent much time studying the female nude. In particular his Night for the Medici chapel looks like the body of a man. The muscles are too large on the arms and thighs, the shoulders are too broad and worst of all the breasts look like they have been stuck on as an afterthought.


The games journalism fraternity seems abuzz with talk of the recent 'Onlive' announcement.

after some light reading i found Tim Buckly of CAD fame made an interesting point.

"I won't pretend to know the architecture of the intricate web of licensing and exclusivity deals that ensares the entire games industry, but I do suspect that some pretty strict arrangements would start popping up between developers and the console manufacturers. And I also know that a lot of development studios are owned by console manufacturers, or other publishers. I doubt Microsoft spent so much time and money acquiring a lion's share of the industry to turn around and let Bungie's new Halo game show up on a service that costs them console sales.

And Nintendo... Nintendo shits money and they've had an incredible case of explosive diarrhea for the last few years. What incentive do they have to license their titles to a start-up service that, once again, doesn't sell their hardware?"

more thoughts on this matter to come after iv read abit more.


Just though i'd share a song thats always on my 'walking to uni' playlist. its on there with alot of other death cab for cutie stuff, if you've not heard them you should look them up.

End of Year Review

Christ its time to review the year already! You guys weren't kidding when you said it'd fly by...

First off the things being planned for next year all sound very exciting. The getting out of Uni more sounds great to me, being in Leicester we're quite lucky that no where in the country is massively far away and we have great transport links. I understand frequent 'field trips' would be quite costly and health and safety is a constant nightmare. Also the increased focus on 'traditional art' seems interesting. Personally I'd quite like to see more collaboration between different departments and courses. We're part of highly regarded art and design university, yet we never seem to see much of it. When I was on the foundation course last year we were encouraged to go to different departments and interact with other students, share ideas ect. Now I understand that's not an easy thing for staff to organise and its something we could all do in our own time, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Iv surprisingly found the facebook system really useful not only as a way to receive feed back from tutors but also share work between classmate in all years. There's some really inspiring stuff on there at the moment that we might other wise not get to see.

In terms of my personal development thought the year. I find it very hard at the start of the year to get upto speed and struggled with the large class size. Im aware that's an unavoidable thing and that I should of tried harder, but at the time I guess I felt a little lost among the masses. In the second half of the year I think iv progress a little better but I have to say I don't think I yet to be work at my full potential. I have grand plans to really pull my finger out over the summer and get to grips with max. I've also been toying with the idea of signing up for some evening class's running at Leicester uni. In life art and sculpture, at the very least they should keep my brain ticking over. All in all I feel very positive about next year and think iv learnt a lot from the mistakes of this one.


What am I hoping to get out of university? Besides a nice piece of paper and a sense of accomplishment? First I think I'll have developed a greater sense of what im capable of and how i want to apply it. I will have hopefully made some decisions on where i'd like to take my career. On top of that and I suppose more importantly I'll have learnt some useful new skills especially In the 3d aspect of the course. At the start of the year that was the hardest part for me, I cant say that was a total shock but the learn curve for these programmes is quite steep and you have to be determined to get anything back. I think that going to be the deciding factor in how successful I am on the course – determination. I have also began to look at 3ds-max in another way, kind of a puzzle or a problem solving exercise. It reminds me of play with Lego as a kid, once you know how all the bits fit together the only real limit is your imagination. Admittedly I only know a few of the 'blocks' at the minute. A lot of what holds my back is physiological, I tend to get overwhelmed by complex things. Iv' found it helps if I break things down and make lists of what I need to do. Even these blogs go through that process and some are rewritten several times. Which is why I tend to leave them I guess.

show your creativity

'Creativity without craft is like fuel without an engine - it burns wildly but accomplishes little...

'Craft without creativity is like an engine without any fuel – going nowhere fast..'

Creativity is part of the human condition, with us our entire history. Its potential lies within all of us the trick is focusing it in a productive way. Creativity can manifest itself as a desire to solve problems. Some of these of these problems are unique to a person while other are more universal. Artistic creativity began with our ancestors need to record information about food location and such. It allowed people to communicate there experience to a wider audience and it has snow balled from there. Technological developments have allow us more ways to solve these age all problems. The end result of all 'creative industries' is essentially trying to communicate. Each person involved in the process adds a little to it, things they have gathered through there own unique experiences. So the result Is a collection of people own unique creative interpretations. Then that end piece is seen by other who add it to there collective experience and so on and so on. So for example when you play a game, your in a way playing every game the people who made the game ever played. Filtered edited warp manipulated and moulded into a new experience. Its true that nothing is created in a vacuum. So its important for a career in the 'creative industries' that you can organise all this information and use it in a way that solves the problem your face with. Weather it be to create a new interesting character or simply modelling a tree. In the case of the tree it might not be obvious where the creativity is applied since you cant really redesign a tree, but using creative thinking you can find way to model it fast or more efficiently. Both are vital in a cost driven industry. So you could say everyone has a creative obligation to approach everyday life in new ways , constantly improving and trying new things. Its how we got to where we are today.

Why spend three years teaching folk what we already know?'

Can education provide highly trained graduate artists and liberal creative artists? Does it need too? I understand the point of higher education there days is to secure higher paid graduate jobs. Sort of like a down payment of a future career. But do courses really need to panda to industries every whim and fickle change of heart? Surely the 3 years can be better spent acquiring a wide range of skills, experimenting and developing. What universities are great for are there shared learning experiences the colliding of ideas and the passing on of knowledge. Turn them into production lines begins to lose some of the appeal for me. Sure a great job would be nice but its not the be all and end all.

this job vacancy at EA has a long list of requirements and the very bottom of the preferred skills is a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree or related program. So employers are looking for graduates but not nessicerally specific 'game art' ones. I guess graduating any arts based course is assumed to provide a key set of skills. Maybe its up to the course to decided what other elements would be best to support those key skills. This Is a very complex area and Im beginning to lose my train of thought on the matter. Iv realised that a lot of people myself included start university not really knowing what they want out of it. Other than that elusive great job at the end of it all.

Never Mind the Bollocks

Games and Cinema share a lot in common, Well at least what I consider 'good' games do at least.. One of these shared components is a music, both effects and a musical score. Music effects are fairly simple. They help us understand the processes going on on screen. The revving of engines or the firing of bullets. They can create a more realistic and immersive experience. Sound effects are also useful in enhancing dramatic moments, the sound of a fist hitting a person can be vital for the suspension of disbelief. Game scores can play a similar roll in creating and immersive experience, although they do it on a more emotional level. They can heighten moments of suspense, make a simple car chase into a adrenalin filled event or even make us lament the loss of a games main character.
Whilst researching I came across a composer named Harry Gregson-Williams, he himself has work in both game and cinematic scores. His work on the Metal Gear Solid titles is what led me to him but I was surprised to find he was part of Ridley Scotts Kingdom of Heaven movie. Which as I remember had a pretty dramatic score. I had less luck finding who was responsible to the score to the original Resident Evil Games as that stands out for me as great early example of how sound can really enhance a gaming experience.
Bassist Bernard Edwards appears (from what iv gathered from wiki) to be a rather influential musician. For a bassist that's no small achievement either. His bass line in the Chic track 'Good times' has been sampled by many famous acts including Queen. That being said the title of 'most influential recording of the 20th century' seems a little grandiose. What about The Sex Pistols 'Never Mind the Bollocks'. Not in my opinion a great collection of music, but the influence it had was enormous.

Gaming Engine

A game engine is a software system designed for the creation and development of video games. The core functions provided by a game engine usually include; a rendering engine for both 2D and 3D and physics engine for collision detection response, sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence (A.I) and several others.

Due to their nature game engines are constantly evolving, adapting to new requirements and incorporating new technologies. ‘Havok’ is a Cross-platform engine based around physics and is found in many of today's games. However, a lot of the most recent big budget titles seem to favour their own engine. I find it quite interesting that the games ‘Farcry’ and is sequel ‘Farcry 2’ use completely different engines, the ‘CryEngine’ and the ‘Dunia Engine’ respectively. It must have come at a large cost to the developers so presumably they intend for it to be used in other games and sold on to third parties.

The Culture of Gaming

Game culture has always been a bit of an uneasy bedfellow for me. When socialising with groups of friends games are rarely topics of conversation. They are massively over shadowed by old favourites Music, Film and TV. They have not quite reached the platform of socially acceptable 'table talk'. For example, when meeting someone for the first time it is easy to ask their favourite musician, actor or film but a whole lot harder to ask their favourite video game. For all you know they may never have played a game their entire lives.

This situation is thankfully changing all the time, games culture is finding its way into the mainstream, even if people don't realise it. In recent years more casual and group orientated games have helped push games culture mainstream, Nintendo's Wii has been a big part of this. It’s these sort of games I find myself taking part in most. Our house has been the scene of many video game based drinking games before Friday night’s out. I have dabbled into the world of on-line gaming but found it a relatively unrewarding affair.

Pulling off a well timed head shot is far less fun in a room on your own than it is on a sofa next to a few friends. I even have (to my shame.) a WoW account, but even whilst playing that player interaction is more a ‘means to an end’ than it is the main attraction. I can see the potential in it, the ability to interact with people of all races and nationalities in a safe and friendly atmosphere. It’s just a shame most gamers have little of interest to say.

Hard Times

The Games industry like many others, has found itself on shaky ground of late. The Economic down turn has affected everyone in some way, and the games industry must adapt to these new conditions. This isn't to say games will not be made, it just means the purse strings have to be tightened. Lots of companies are doing this by outsourcing ever increasing amounts of work. They can get equally skilled employees at significantly lower costs in non-EU or US countries. The hardest hit are small independent companies operating on small profit margins, and with a tight group of employees. However no one is immune, in late December Sony reported that it would be cutting more than 8000 jobs, and that they will be decreasing its investments into its electronic research by 30% by March 2010. Also EA has recently cut 1,100 jobs in its worldwide operations. Some people have speculated that these cut backs have little to do with the global slowdown, and are just an example of streamline and cost effective management. EA's John Riccitiello summed up by saying developers were "too fat, too reliant on where things were.

All this being said the money is still out there. 2008 witnessed a new sales record with a raise in both video game hardware and software by 19% over 2007. What is certain is competition for audiences will increase, studios will put more pressure on developers to create sure fire hits and budgets will be stricter.

In terms of my future career, things are looking tough and competition for jobs high. Even if the economic problems are resolved developers will unlikely want to find themselves in the same position again.