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?
There has been much uncertainty and quite a few false starts of late with my painting. I have been wanting to produce some stylised landscapes in acrylic alongside developing the ink and wash paintings I have shown recently. Not much progress has been made.
With the landscape, I couldnt settle on a subject. Then I recalled a wonderful morning I had spent on Cleives’ Hills this summer, with my watercolours, painting some cottages on the edge of the hill. I put the painting I did that day on the blog some time ago and I enclose it below.
I thought I might try this scene both in watercolour and acrylics. So here is the first one, in acrylics, with the cottages and the view of Liverpool in the morning haze in the distance. Fresh off the easel. There may be some more changes to be made, though I think I ‘ve got the punchiness I was after.
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 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.
It’s a while since I last had the pastels out and I wanted to do some paintings of the Sefton Beach, so I thought that they might be just right for the marram grasses.
This is the view where the River Alt empties into the Mersey Estuary and in the distance the Wirral, across the estuary. On a good day you can see the Welsh hills. Just around the near headland is Gormley’s, Another Place, which has the figures looking out into the blue of the distance.
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.