A view of Liverpool city towards the Mersey with the tall commercial buildings blocking out the bright sunlight until the sun’s persistence starts to break through and tear open the gloom. On the right, towering above the street, is the Liver Building with its clock tower and the Liver Birds balanced on the cupolas above.
I think I had just come out of a life drawing session and crossed the road to spot this. The life drawing group had been forced to move here from a decrepit but lovely light building to one on the right, There wasnt much natural light on the model down at the bottom of this valley and added to that the room was smaller.
This is part of the Albert Dock complex on the Liverpool waterfront with the Anglican Cathedral – a subject of an earlier blog – glowering in the background. The pumphouse is now a pub but was built to power the hydraulic cranes used for loading and unloading the ships. It may also have powered the refrigerated facilities at the dock.
The question was whether to include the chimney or not. Including it constrains the painting and reduces the detail. As it has a rather quirky shape I decided to include it all and pay the price. The images I used were into the sun and I tried to vary the colours, mixing on the paper, but as I built up the perspective tonally, the mixes homogenised.
The tower of the Anglican Cathedral glowers over large parts of the city. Here on the edges of Toxteth it thoroughly dominates the surrounding buildings even though it is set back within its wooded grounds. It is most striking when a sandstone face glows in the sunlight whilst its shadow-side displays a thunderous purple- maybe some ecclesiastical message there for us, the great unwashed. Anyway, because of the dominance of the tower, I pushed the other architecture back. I also placed a taxi, blocking the pavement, at an angle to break the verticals. Perhaps it could do with a few figures?
Sitting outside the pub, I was taken by this view of Tarleton – a village to the north of Southport, where I live. We were enjoying some refreshment on a walk along the River Douglas and sat in the afternoon sunshine. It was soon after we spotted the errant geese I painted for the previous blog. Probably one of the last days of summer and now only a distant memory.
I had taken a few photos, so was able to cobble together a wide format painting with the lead-in of the red brick houses, cut with shadows, and the view past the trees to the local church. Pity about the car park on the right, but it was a challenge.
Another view I have attempted in the past and have been slightly dissatisfied with the outcome, but recently walking down the street at just the right hour of the day I saw how the light strafed the architecture, picking out walls, towers, roofs and cupolas of the Victorian buildings whilst plunging the rest into shade.
This rhythm of light and shade seemed to energise the scene. When I started painting I was tempted to hit the right hand side in one frantic wash to capture the energy, but refrained, and built up washes slowly – mixing colours on the paper. Gradually I built up the tonal differences in specific areas to allow subtle hints of architecture to come through and create realism without getting too pedantic.
Hopefully it has worked. I was very pleased with the way the offset windows on the red Prudential Assurance building got picked out and the loose rendering of the left hand side buildings have the appearance of being hit by bright light.
A couple of paintings of buildings from around Sucre in Bolivia. Sucre was once the capital of Bolivia and is the now the constitutional capital of the country – whatever that means. However, it is a lovely old colonial styled city featuring whitewashed walled buildings with tiled roofs in an absolutely amazing country.
I did some sketches of the rooftops of Sucre whilst I was there and someone spotted them and wanted a few pictures of their own. Above is the roof and towers of the Convent de San Feilipe Neri which we visited in the centre of the city.
The one below is a building I never went to, Castillo de la Glorieta just outside the city.
I do find architectural drawings very demanding and if I am working for myself I try to simplify them by working into the light for instance. However, it sharpens up your observational and drawing skills to give the customer what they want.
Having done this pair it will be good to get back to doing something in a looser style.
A village on the north of Liverpool, Lunt seems to be just a small ribbon of modernish houses on the main road, but if you detour and slip up Lunt lane you come upon what is presumably part of the old main road with a scattering of old houses, now being gentrified, and a view of the nearby Sefton Church in the background. The lane doesnt go far, if you follow it, and deposits you further up the main road giving you but a taste of what it was like.
Lots of splattering and flicking of painbrushes, along with a few dabs of masking fluid on this 52x35cm painting.
I have shown versions of this before and here is the latest manifestation following more changes. This time I thought that the figure on the left needed improvement and I made it in the likeness of Duncan Ferguson a key player for Everton which is represented by the blue. This counters the right side with the Liverpool hero Steven – so establishing some symmetry and evening up the accolades for this football obsessed city.
I admit that not a great deal has changed since the last time but with my daughter up from London for a few days I didnt get much painting done and this was all I could fit in – so take a slice of Liverpool.
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 main square in San Pedro de Atacama and in the afternoon heat everyone heads for the shade. We had come down from the Bolivian Altiplano descending thousands of feet onto the desert plateau and still this place is nearly 2500 metres above sea level.
The other thing I couldnt get my head around was the small river that runs through the town – in the driest place on earth. I thought it was some man-made confection designed to impress the visitors. We walked a few miles out of town, along the river valley and on the sides of a steep hill, by the river, were the remains of an Inca settlement. So it seems that it was entirely natural.