'Llanthony Abbey' by John Craxton

For my A levels i am using this as one of my artist studies that guide to me create my final piece. My school makes us write essays on each of the artist, heres mine.

It will help any of you using the artist to understand what the work is about and the ideas and effects of composition, colour and materials.

Comment back on the it! Thank you :)

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The painting is of `Llanthony Abbey', which is of a house in Wales. John Craxton was a part of the
Neo-Romantic movement which depicted Britain in a romantic vision during World War II.
Neo-Romantic is an art movement based on recovery of Romanticism in art. Other examples of
Neo-Romantics are Samuel Palmer, Alan Reynolds and Graham Ovenden. Neo ­Romantics add feeling
and observation into their work and get their inspiration from artists from the age of high Romantism,
they share the themes of being interested in figurative painting and beauty, being fond of intuition,
wary of ideological & theoretical ways of comprehending art, and being in love with the past and the
idealised , spiritual or haunted landscapes.
The ink drawing is structured using scale change and overlapping of old natural objects which
spread themselves over a majority of the drawing. The contrast between the tree and the
background detail creates an instant depth in the image; it creates the feeling of the tree being much
to be closer to us and making it the focus of the image. The tree is distorted, as its branches are
drawn pointed as if it were a pitch fork. The other branches which are curled seem to have a crueller,
mysterious and protective look to them as the branches are mostly covering the wrecked church in
the background. The overlapping of the church in front of the mountains and the tree in front of the
church creates depth and distance. The drawing is drawn from a low view point as if the person
who is looking at this drawing is crouched and is hiding which could connect to the war at the time as
during war soldiers use bases to hid and protect themselves from the enemy. The drawing is full of
line as Craxton used ink to add detail to the mixture of curved and straight lines to show depth.
There is also a lot of contrast between the scale and size of the objects as the mountains and church
are much smaller than the tree causing a scale change.
Craxton used no colour in this drawing although he relied on tonal differences to create dramatic
contrasts of light and shade as there is no palette. The use of black and white rather than colour is
interesting, as it gives a reflective and mythical mood, almost like a black and white photograph; i
think the absence of colour adds to the image rather than detracts from it. The effect of time gives it
a more spiritual and haunted affect in a frozen time zone.
John Craxton used ink and water colour on board to create `Llanthony Abbey'. There are visible
mark makings and to me they are expressive as the shapes here have altered to Craxtons
imagination of the scene. Craxton uses cross hatching and different lines to create tone and shading
as well as different tones of watercolour, as this adds texture to the image.
John Piper who was also a neo-romantic did drawings, paintings and prints during the wartime. A
view of Snowdonia during the war time is a combination of interests in the dramatic `sublime' aspects
of the Romanticism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with a sometimes disturbing modern
psychological awareness. In Piper's `Glaciated Rocks, Nant Ffrancon' he uses pen, ink and wash
on paper to create a gloomy atmospheric setting. Piper's rocks are the center of attention; he had
sketched these from nature however these now seem to have transformed into writhing, primitive
figures. This is similar to the tree in Craxtons `Llanthony Abbey' as the tree is distorted into a shape of
a pitch fork; similarly Piper distorts the rocks into primitive figures. Piper also uses dramatic tonal
differences to show light and shadow suggesting the dark and destructive nature of the war during
the time. Both artists demonstration their spiritual feelings expressively alongside their
imagination to create a landscape full of compressed memories of the past.


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