Masters of Detailed Drawing 2, Modern Artist, Eliot Hodgkin

Eliot Horgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing 1 from the 19th century or earlier and a modern artist. I already researched the 19th century artist Thomas Hartley Cromek in ‘Masters of Detailed Drawing 1, 19th Century, Thomas Hartley Cromek‘ and it was now time to find a Modern artist. Again I wanted to find an artist that I wasn’t familiar with so I started my search on Google looking for British artists of the 20th century. A list of names of British artists came up on Wkipedia so I went down the names looking at their work 1 artist at a time.

I came across the name Eliot Hodgkin, a name that I was very familiar with but I’m not sure from where so I took a look at his work to see if I recognised any of his paintings. I had never seen any of his paintings before but what I did see was truly inspiring and perfect for this part of the course. With the image below Large Leaf 2 particularly catching my eye as near my school there are some very similar large leafs that I would love to draw for this part of the course.

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card
Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Curwen Eliot Hodgkin was an English painter born into a Quaker family in Purley-on-Thames on 19 June 1905 and was the cousin of abstract painter Howard Hodgkin. Eliot Hodgkin was educated at Harrow School but his artistic life began at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools where he studied under Francis Ernest Jackson.

Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts
Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts

Hodgkin had already established himself as a still life and landscape painter by the mid-1930s and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1937 Hodgkin started working in egg tempera a recipe that was given to him by his close friend and former teacher Maxwell Armfield.

Hodgkin stated that he wasn’t attracted to tempera as a medium as it was used by Italian primitives and their work did not do anything for him, he simply used tempera as it was the only medium that allowed him to express the unique character of the objects that fascinated him.

Hodgkin said that his conscious purpose was to ‘show the beauty in natural objects’- that people would usually think unattractive such as ‘Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide.’

When i did a search for his paintings and saw his work the first thing that went through my mind was how beautiful his paintings were and yet his compositions are so very simple. I have heard of tempera before but as far as I know I have never seen anything painted in it until now and I knew at firs glance that they were painted in a medium other than oil or acrylic.

He depicts the texture of his objects wonderfully and his paintings are so crisp and life-like but still he manages to express them in a way that makes u aware of the beauty of these objects for the first time with wonderful contours and a brilliant balance of light and dark tone, whether it be a dead leaf or a toilet roll.

Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin
Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin

Like Eliot Hodkin Says ‘ People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.’

For me I agree with others that to see these objects in his paintings is to ‘see’ them for the first time with detail and beauty that you would never notice before. Hodgkin really makes you notice every part of the object, every leaf, every crease and every pattern on the objects surface.

Bibliography – Wikipedia


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