I have been struggling of late, painting. In the last couple of weeks I have abandoned three paintings. One I have restarted and the other two await the gods of inspiration to call – they appear to have a number of house calls.
In situations like this I like to take a break and mess around, hence the sketch above of the shady alleyways of Villefranche Sur Mer on the Mediterranean. I loved the yellow building, the shadows and the washing and painted it in an hour and a half – trying to focus on simplicity, as if I was on the spot. It was good therapy.
Another one was a painting I had posted before of the Strand near the waterfront in Liverpool. I found it in a pile of paintings and thought that it could do with some tweaking. So here it is duly tweaked.
I liked the unsubtle juxtaposing of the warm and cool colours and the buildings disappearing into the hazy sunlight and carbon monoxide.
The Saturday before last I got out on my bike and took some pictures in the bright morning light. This is of Sefton church which is in a hamlet at the north end of Liverpool. Sefton is also the name of an administrative area, within Liverpool, which stretches from Bootle to Southport, where I live.
I have painted this church before and submitted it to a local exhibition, which at that time was in Bootle town hall. The painting below sold and later, I got a phone call from the office of the Mayor of Sefton asking if I had another painting of the church. Though they apparently didnt like the other paintings I had, as they never bothered to get back to me.
I have resisted taking my paints with me on my recent trips, but as I was out on this day, I came across a painter at his easel. He clearly didnt want any interaction as he turned away from me as I approached. I didnt even get to see what he was painting. For me though, for a while, I will use my camera.
Maybe a sense of deja vu here, but this is a new painting. I did show an earlier version of this on a recent post but I decided to rework it on a long format sheet rather than force the bigger painting into a long format mount and lose people’s legs and dogs.
I thought that it was worth redoing as it is a popular location, with the start of Anthony Gormley’s Another Place on the beach on the right – I did include a couple of statues if you look hard enough. Anyway, it is popular enough for them to install parking payment machines in the car park you can see in the background.
Last Sunday was a fine day and we walked along the beach towards Crosby – the north end of Liverpool, where Gormley`s Another Place is sited. Coming up to the old Coast Guard Station you could see past Gormley’s statues on the beach and, over, across the Mersey, just spot the mist shrouded forms of Birkenhead. I took a few photos of the activity on the coastal path and decided to paint people enjoying a sunny January day.
I did a sketch and decided on a normal landscape format and started the painting on a half imperial sheet, which is my big size for watercolour. When I completed it I put a mat around it to see what it looked like framed. Then, on impulse, I tried a quarter imperial, long mount.
I realised my mistake. I should have done it as a long format painting.
The original is shown below.
What I have shown at the top is the truncated form of this lower painting. I have lost the dog and the front couple`s feet but also a lot of superfluous grass and sky.
I could do the long version again and push the people and dogs back, but at the moment I am deciding whether this is necessary.
This painting follows on from the one on my previous blog, which was of a cafe just at the end of this street, off to the left. The sun was out on our visit last week, giving great contrasts. This view is with my back to the Catholic Cathedral, facing the looming tower of the Anglican Cathedral ahead. Hope Street connects the two.
I like this scene and have painted it before, but from a higher angle, up on the steps of the catholic cathedral. This one is at street level, capturing the full weight of presence of the Anglican cathedral; glowering at us sinners – well it was just one drink, honest, governor.
Having got the exhibition up and running on Wednesday I tidied up my studio and got myself back together and decided on what to do next. This painting, below, had been hanging around and I felt it needed changing. I posted it in November and had misgivings about the left hand side.
I am certainly happier with it now and may exhibit it later.
As for the exhibition: I took 30 paintings for the show with 3 for reserves. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief after getting everything sorted out.
Then, yesterday, as I was quietly working on the painting above, I got a call to say one lady had just purchased 9 paintings. It made a bit of a hole in the exhibition as they are allowed to take them away with them. So I have been scrambling around finding more paintings and frames. I went around to my framer, but he’s got to order more wood. Anyway I was able to replace 6 paintings , so the hole isnt quite so large now. It’s a problem, but a good one to have.
Below are some snaps after I set it up, and before the shopping spree.
Before Christmas there was a call for paintings of Liverpool for a book entitled The Liverpool Art Book. The authors have done a number of other cities starting with the Cambridge Art Book. They use quirky media such as CAD, collage and screen print etc so I thought my images might be a little staid. I also thought that they would want images of major landmarks.
This week they got back to me and said that they wanted copies of two of my paintings. One was a watercolour that could be of anywhere. I called it Shopping Can Create a Thirst and it was from images taken in Liverpool One (the main shopping area in Liverpool). I was pleased with the painting – but I actually threw it in the entry by accident.
I suppose the second one was more what I thought that they might want – it was a pastel of the area close to the waterfront
It is called Crossing the Strand and shows the Liver Building in the Background.
I have posted both these paintings in the past, but I must admit their selection was a bit of a surprise. Still at least I got two in. The book is supposed to come out later in the year.
The repeat season continues with this offering. I posted a sketch of this before Christmas and now a more considered attempt. At least I got the buildings upright this time and achieved the smokiness you see in this contra-jour view. This is the waterfront at Liverpool and The Liver Building casts a shadow over the procedings.
The sun shone brightly when I emerged from a Saturday life session and I decided to have a look around and take a few photos before boarding the train home. In front of the Liver building the light came from the direction of the Mersey. I decided to do this sketch from a few of the photos, getting a view down The Strand with people crossing the road.
In hindsight I could put more detail and colour into the people in the road and have the person walking away, coming at the viewer, maybe with a companion instead. Then, if I manage to get the buildings upright and get rid of the orangutan scaling the ventilation shaft on the right, maybe we’re in business.