In the 18th/19th century, the Romanticism and Rococo movement influenced artists such as J.M.W Turner to use meteorology as a way of depicting weather, clouds and skies much more accurately than before.
In one of my CPS lessons, meteorology was mentioned and how that may have affected how weather was depicted at the time. One of my friends said how she could possibly get me in contact with the BBC Weather presenter and prominent artist Tomasz Schafernaker. Known for his incredible talent of not only realism portraiture, but landscapes, still life, digital art and much more! He made an appearance on Celebrity Portrait Artist of the year back in 2019 and I have known his art for a long time and have admired the work he does for a long time so to have the possibility of asking him some questions was incredible. He has an art website on which he uploads and sells some of his work, called ‘Schafernaker Art’ it’s a great way to see how versatile his style is.
I emailed him on the 28th March 2021 and received an email back from him on the 6th of April. Attached below is my email to Tomasz –
I wanted to express what my project was about whilst also considering what questions I would ask him (that’s if he even replied!). I was amazed when I received his reply – I have attached a screenshot of this email below and have typed about his answer for each question separately too-
- Has meteorology played a part in how you portray the weather/nature in your paintings?
- To be honest, my art has been more about learning the techniques since I got back into painting and drawing (only) 3 years ago. If you think about it, I did not do an Art degree, so I’m almost starting from scratch having only done A-Level. However, I’ve been working on digital art (via iPad) for a lot longer, perhaps 10 years! Since I’m a creative person “artistic things” come naturally to me anyway. Art can be all about expression. So, whether you express abstract feelings, an idea or real science it’s still a form of expression. In digital work, meteorology has been a huge influence in my art, but I’ve definitely played around with more abstract ideas using regular paints. Understanding meteorology definitely helps with creating “weather paintings” accurately. I’ve seen other artists produce amazing art, but when I examine the structure of their clouds (e.g. the levels at which they float) I can sometimes spot errors and realise they haven’t quite captured the subtle formations correctly. But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the painting looks amazing does it? So, yes, meteorology plays a part but not always.
- Are there any artists that have influenced or inspired you?
- Obviously, there are many artists I really like (like Monet or Van Gogh and plenty of others), but it was Instagram that really inspired me. So many talented people out there showcasing their work. From wildlife artists to abstract painters…many of them completely unknown but awesome. I really like @erinhansonartist – she’s expensive!!
- I especially love the abstract pieces based on earth and nature, where did the ideas for these come from?
- The Abstract pieces have turned out to be one of my most popular. I never expected them to as it was all purely by chance. I remember I wanted to paint an abstract “satellite image” of a cyclone about 3 yrs ago. It started experimenting with textures on canvases to try and achieve cloud formations…thick, gloopy gesso, all sorts. After a while, I developed a very simple technique to create interesting “blotchy” textures. Later, I started to apply layers of acrylic paint in different ways and learnt how they behave with the texture. Then I played around with how light might interact with the painting using different brushstrokes. It’s actually quite scientific…optical…almost meteorological.
- Have you ever considered using the weather as a medium for creating your work?
- That is a great idea. I have thought about painting outside in a storm, but not using “weather”. I don’t think there is much you can use, but the right kind of painting done using rainwater or during rain (and using acrylics) might be a great way to “market a product” – there’d be a story behind it. Thanks for the tip!
- What is your preferred style? – Portraiture, landscape, nature…
- Because I understand that I haven’t yet developed an accomplished style, I don’t really have a favourite. I hope that will come in time. The style at the moment is to try as many as I can – to learn. But, obviously, I will be painting a lot of weather as it makes sense for me.
6. Do certain mediums represent the concept you have better than others? E.g. oils better for landscapes, pencils for portraits etc.
6. Depends on the final look. I’ve created hyper-realism both with oil and colour pencil and they both turned out well. Acrylics are much harder for hyper-realism and are best reserved for more expressive, unpredictable work. Oils, you can do absolutely anything…limitless.
Overall, to have this type of quality answer for each question from Tomasz was so useful for my project. To speak to someone about not just Meteorology but also how art has had such an impact on his life was incredibly helpful in developing my project. How he developed his abstract work when trying to depict a satellite image of a cyclone was particularly interesting to me, using lots of different mediums to achieve the final look rather than relying on one. It reminds me that experimenting is the best way to achieve a final piece, even if it is in the end a ‘simple’ technique. To have a reply from him was the best way to continue developing my project and I will take on board all of his advice!
Images from : https://www.schafernakerart.com/contemporary-1