Monday, October 4, 2021

Fire and Ice - Emma Stibbon RA

Not even a head cold could spoil my absolute excitement over getting this book! I've admired Emma Stibbon's prints for a few years now, but even her prints are currently well out of my price range, and they're not quite D's thing so even if I could afford one there's the question of if we're going to live together how much I should be taking his taste into account? In fairness, it needs to be more than I've done in the past (not at all), or half my most treasured possessions will end up jostling for space with the half of his I don't much care for in whatever dark corners we can find to hide them in.  

Anyway, I can stop trying to save or convince when it comes to Emma Stibbons thanks to this Royal Academy produced facsimile sketchbook. It's even better than the Norman Ackroyd books I have from the same series (we both love Norman Ackroyd's work, there won't be any need to negotiate there).

Stibbons is fascinated by landscapes and environments in flux. These sketches cover volcanos and trips to the Arctic and Antarctic. Each sketch comes with a thumbnail and some notes at the back which give useful details about the media used, and the landscapes represented. It answered some of my questions about how she does what she does in her sketches (the answer was gouache along with watercolour) but mostly I'm still slack-jawed with awe (and because of the cold) by how she captures the moments and moods she does. In one sketch it's possible to see where ice crystals formed in the paint as the watercolours froze whilst she was working. 

These books are really worth looking out for and grabbing if they cover an artist you admire. It's not quite like owning an original, but it's a lot closer than I expected to get and does feel a lot like having my own private exhibition of sketches to enjoy. I'm also attracted to the old fashioned idea of having an album of sketches to flip through - in the same way, that one of Jane Austen's characters might have done, or Anthony Trollope's young people would have flirted over. On a night when Instagram is down the charm of a book of images cannot be overstated. 

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