I joined in a group exhibition in Southport where I live, and have been manning the gallery for a couple of days this week, as I am going on holiday the week after next. The shop is in a beautiful Victorian arcade, but unfortunately most of the shops are empty and footfall is low. To occupy my time between visitors, I painted this scene which is about 200 yards from the exhibition intending to put it in the exhibition. I have done quite a few of this street, called Lord Street, in the past and they have sold. The exhibition is on for six weeks and I have done quite well at this venue previously, though this time I am not holding my breath. I may try and get this painting in next week as there is still a bit of wall space available.
I put up a couple of Liverpool Street scenes, shown on the right, and the Southport street scene may fit in amongst them.
I posted a sunlit painting of a snicket along the railway track a few days ago. If you continue down that snicket, it comes out on the right, in what they call Birkdale Village – part of Southport, where I live. Here you are actually standing on the rail track with part of the station, the building on the far right.
I think it was the old phone box, lit by the early morning sun that caught my eye and the fact that the sixties carbuncle, on the left – the Spar supermarket – is mellowed and put in the shade by the light coming in over it. Colours are subdued with hints of spring leaves in the background.
A quiet scene of morning stirrings in the suburbs.
Those who read my last blog will be aware that I am painting a couple of commission pieces. Here is the second – part of the front of the house. Some of the house is presently under scaffolding and boarded up, so I had to use some old photos to complete this painting. Anyway, I’ve just finished it and I need a while to look at it and see if there are any adjustments to be made. Putting it out on my blog will help, as I will see it every time I go in.
I posted the buyer a copy of the first painting and he seemed happy. Hopefully I’ll get a similar reaction when I send him the final copy.
Then, as I was painting this, I got another enquiry for a painting which had been sold, so I’ve been asked to do a copy of that. Its like the old story – you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at once – well four in this case. So I’d better crack on and start it…
I mentioned in my previous blog a number of commissions I have been asked to do. This is one of a local fee paying school. It shows the rear of the hall, a later addition, around 1900, I think. In this view it has the air of an Oxbridge college. The style of the house is mock Gothic and includes a tower which was designed by Augustus Pugin as a dry run for the one he built for the houses of parliament. At the time of my visit it was clad in scaffolding – but it bears a striking resemblance.
Inside the house are some incredible wood carvings. I was told some came out of Buckingham Palace – and the quality certainly bears that out. I am working on a second view at present and will show that on this blog later.
Hopefully the owners will be happy with the views.
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.