I have been asked to do an illustration for a neighbour. It is of the building involved with a project that he has been running. The building is, in my eyes, boring, but the project means a lot to him. This is the second sketch I have done. The first involved combining the front with the back of the building in an effort to shake things up a bit. He didnt like that, so I went with a bog standard view – though on the right of the illustration above, I did a pen and wash whilst on the left it is a standard watercolour format. At the moment the jury is out and he will be getting back to me.
The project is about replacing the old council- run local library which the council sold off and is now a small housing estate. Locals got together and established a small library and community centre at the old station masters house that is owned by the Mersey Rail Company and loaned to the group. This house is attached to the local railway station and, up to this point, was empty. The community centre is now up and running and my neighbour wants a momento of the hard work put in by him and the rest of the team.
I find commissions quite challenging, as left to my devices I would be off in one direction, but as a commission I feel I must be meeting the tastes of my client – that’s where it can get difficult. Hopefully a compromise is in sight.
This painting started out in hope, but the layout got a bit confused as it developed. Despite this I saw it through to a conclusion and now regard it as preparatory work for the future. I have done a similar piece in the past, but wondered if this version might have possibilities.
So much in the city spins around around football, so this was the central theme, with aspects of the city spilling out of the bursting ball. The spillage just needs a bit of tidying up, one could say. I like the idea – this is the reason I’m posting it.
You may be seeing an updated version in the future with a few of the motifs shuffled about. In the meantime I’m back to watercolour, I’ll show this you next time.
On the subject of Liverpool – following on from my last blog of Sefton Park – here is my old painting of Hope Street and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. I have posted a view of this street before, but from a lower level. This particular view is from a more elevated vantage point, at the top of the steps of the Catholic Cathedral looking along the street, towards the Anglican Cathedral which lours over the city. The cathedral is set on a hill which looks down at the Mersey and can be seen from many parts of the city.
Hope Street connects the edifices of these two faiths. The Anglican Cathedral is big – the biggest in Britain – and was only completed in the 70s, despite its gothic appearance.The Catholic Cathedral was completed slightly earlier but is a modernist, circular building which the wags have nicknamed Paddy’s Wigwam. The Catholic Cathedral’s construction was delayed as the original design would have made it the second biggest in the world and perhaps was seen as too competitive for the Vatican. So the Anglicans won on size, leastways, in this city.
I have painted and posted a version of this scene before, in 2019. It is of our main street in town on a winter’s evening, just as the sun is going down. I was never completely happy with it and it never sold – always a sign -yet I did like the basic concept. Now there is less detail in the upper buildings, lights in the shops under the arcade and a whole new crew of pedestrians. I also tried to do it in single washes, mixing paint on the paper to prevent muddiness.
So even though there still are some minor issues – but what painting doesnt have them – I am much happier with the outcome and we will see if this version sails off to someone else’s wall.
When I first walked past this shop in Dublin I was intrigued by the title – it even passed my mind that it was an anagram of Yeats, their famous poet, as I couldnt work out why a business would be based on such a singular product. I also was taken by the warm and cool colours and the rundown nature of it all.
On a subsequent occasion, when I passed, the sun was out and the shadows cast by the projecting walls and decorative mouldings added to its intrigue, so out came my camera. Impulsively I decided to paint it, just for the challenge. Despite its apparent intricacy it was fairly straightforward and painting the linear forms of the piece proved quite therapeutic. I added a fellah just to balance out the cluster of bikes. I hope the worn down nature comes through. It was good to have a little play.
Sticking with our recent Dublin trip, I modified the painting I posted of St Stephen’s Green. I now have all the people all moving in the same direction. Previously I had a few slipping off to the right and upon reflection it seemed to unbalance the piece.
Readers of my ramblings may remember I was in Dublin last weekend. The weather was glorious. We walked around the city to visit many of the sights. In St Stephen’s Green we strolled down the tree cooled avenues of the park. In the shade, I was struck by the brightness I could see in the distance, in the open spaces all around.
I’m thinking of doing another version of this but in a more abstract form, exploring the starker contrasts of light and shade that seemed to engulf me at the time – but then again it might have just been the Guinness.
We decamped for a few days to London. The wife had come up trumps on the Wimbledon lottery and had some ticket options. Not that you win any tickets, no; just the right to purchase some centre court tickets. This, though, is a step improvement on getting up at 4am to stand in line to try and get entry to the outer courts on the day.
I decided to go down with her and mooch about SW London while my wife and daughter – who lives in London – sipped Pimms and downed a few punnets of strawberries whilst watching a match or two.
Here is what I did instead. The first one is a sketch of Putney Bridge. This bridge spans the Thames between Putney and Fulham. As I sat on the Putney side I was caught by the bright London busses crossing the bridge, adding a bit of colour to the scene.
The church in the background is All Saints in Fulham which is on the perimeter of the grounds of Fulham Palace, the seat of the Bishop of London. I didnt know it was there until I wandered across the bridge. Entrance to the grounds was free and I did another sketch in the palace gardens as the other punters sat on the terrace and took tea.
The light wasnt very good, but it was a pleasant way to pass the day and I visited places I hadnt been to before and then enjoyed some evening meals out with family.
Well, after the communication breakdown with my commission clients, contact was restored when I learnt that they had come back from holiday and were ready to proceed. The painting above was the second one they liked ( I posted their other preferred painting earlier). I feel that this one could be developed further, but I am not sure how far they want to venture into the descriptive. I have asked for a second meet to look at their preferred options and ways I can further develop them.
This second one was another sketch I submitted. I feel that there are aspects in all the sketches which could be brought into the final pieces, hopefully making them stronger. Anyway, they have promised a deposit today and I will move ahead and purchase the canvases, as they are bigger than my usual ones and they didnt want me to make them, which was a pity, as I have plenty of unstretched canvas and wood to make the stretchers.
Most mornings I cross Crescent Road and see this view. It is close to where I live and on a sunny morning the glow of the red bricks complementing the verdant hedges and other foliage as well as the patterns of light and shade always captures my attention. So I thought I would paint it and add it to my small collection of local paintings. And here it is for you, a small snapshot of where I live.
Another sketch for the proposed commission based on Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Though I have a foreboding as I havent heard from them for over a week. This was one they said they liked. Silence can be a sign that something is wrong. Though I did have a commission a few years ago, where there were great spells of silence. It was only when they came to pick up the finished painting, about a year after we started the commission, that they told me the painting was a present for a family member in Canada. The other siblings were clubbing together to buy it and agreement was needed at each stage. If only they had told me at the outset, It would have spared me some anxiety. Then, I find many people assume you know what is going on in their head.
Above is another sketch I produced based on Robie House in Chicago. This one was less enthusiastically received.
This issue, when it comes on the back of an exhibition where I didnt sell anything, just chips away at your confidence. Hard times are now with us with the economic situation and paintings are first to go. I suppose I should hunker down and just enjoy my painting, painting for myself and the fun of it. Having said that I did complete a commission for a friend, but I cant show that as it is from a picture he took off a newspaper.