Call me old fashioned, and as much as I like contemporary art, my real love is the Pre-Raphaelites. The Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt who were opposed to The Royal Academy's ideal as exemplified in the work of Raphael, a medieval Italian artist. I am lucky enough to live in a city that houses the most important collection of Pre-Raphaelite art anywhere in the world and that is held at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I have often wanted to recreate a Pre-Raph painting in some form, so that is what I have done this time for one of my Travelling Sketchbooks ( I now have two on the go which all gets very complicated when it gets to swopping time).
So how do you recreate a famous painting? The answer I think is just to get an essence of the original and not to follow it too slavishly. Here I have used dry felting so I have put my own interpretation on it by using a medium I love working with.
For the base I used a square from an old Whitney Woollen Blanket (remember those awful scratchy blankets from years ago before the advent of soft duvets). Using a dry felting tool I felted strands of merino wool tops and for the sheep I have used actual scraps of sheep fleece collected from several country walks.
And this is the original painting that inspired me - 'Our English Coasts' (also known as Stray Sheep) painted in 1852 by William Holman Hunt.
For anyone who would like to know more about the Pre-Raph Brotherhood I can highly recommend watching Desperate Romantics which aired on BBC in 2009 and is available on DVD. Having watched it when it was broadcast I am currently giving it a second watching as it stars the gorgeous Aiden Turner (aka Cap'n Ross Poldark another gorgeous hero) as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Watch and enjoy!