I’ve been doing some pastels of late, but mainly seascapes. So, for a change, I thought I’d slip in a pastoral scene.
I saw these thistleheads whilst out walking in the grounds of Kenwood House, north London in September. I put out an acrylic painting a week or so ago, entitled Perfect Day. That painting showed a view of this hill from the other side of the lake. It indeed was a perfect day; the pleasure of the open air after negotiating three train rides which brought us from Liverpool to the capital.
In this pastel scene the parched ground acted as a foil for the clump of thistles and bank of trees. The light on the thistle seed heads made them almost glow. Then, just an arrangement of the thistle clump to run counter to the slope of the ground.
A couple of months ago we visited friends in London. On our arrival the weather was fine and their dog needed exercise so we went off to Kenwood house – which backs onto Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill – and walked through the grounds. Our route passed a series of lakes. One was the home of the Kenwood Ladies swimming club. Further down the hill was a lake for the men. Apparently they need to be kept apart – maybe they once had similar problems that I get with frogspawn filling my pond. Anyway…
This is another lake, with loungers in the evening’s heat. I particularly like the couple lying in the grass. I recalled that Lou Reed song: memorable for me as the record came out just as I started university. It was a juke box constant whilst I got my feet under the table in the union bar – in those heady, sunny, autumn days – days before the reality hit the fan.
I did a quick painting from a number of my photos, just to scope it out. I left out the guitarist who set up his amp nearby and regaled the whole lake with some practice pieces before the police arrived and curtailed his session; not even giving him time to pass the hat around – showbiz, eh?
We recently went on a walk along the Regent’s Canal in London, strolling in leafy peace from the west end into the east end whilst the city roared overhead and around. At Islington the canal disappeared into a tunnel and we braved the streets to find its resumption. I managed to get the family past the shops without too much money being lost.
This scene in the narrow lanes of Islington was predominantly black and white but I warmed it up on the sunlit pavement and with other splashes of colour and I loved the fellow sitting in part shade on the left.
We went to London to visit my daughter and had a look around Highgate Cemetery and then on to Parliament Hill to look over the city. By that time a late winter sun had come through, bathing everything in evening light. Making our way back I came across this fruit stall and the light picked out highlights on the wares and on passers by and vendors, I thought that it would make a challenging image to paint. I think I could improve the contrast on it which might give it a bit more power, but for now I thought I’d put it up and get on with another one.
Another view of Upper Street from the other Saturday. I struggled with this when setting up the background buildings. I wanted to get some details in such as windows and varying the tones of the stonework that can be seen in the centre section and then I washed in some shape on either side with different hues of blues and purples. When I got the foreground actors in I realised that the areas where I did the least work, ie the sides, came out the best and the middle is a little forced. Still I love the different architectural shapes and the busses really set the thing off.
Last week I went down to the London Art Fair. It is a good event to see work by contemporary artists which are a little less off the wall. I like to have a look around and seek out things which could give me inspiration. You can take photos of the work so I came back with lots of ideas. Now I need to review them and use them in work of my own. After around four hours I decided to go down to the Tate Modern and made my way to the Angel Underground station. It was a glorious winter’s afternoon and the light coming down the high street was magical on a busy Saturday. I took a number of photos. This painting was an amalgam of three of them. There are a few more left, so you never know…