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 repeat season continues with this offering. I posted a sketch of this before Christmas and now a more considered attempt. At least I got the buildings upright this time and achieved the smokiness you see in this contra-jour view. This is the waterfront at Liverpool and The Liver Building casts a shadow over the procedings.
The sun shone brightly when I emerged from a Saturday life session and I decided to have a look around and take a few photos before boarding the train home. In front of the Liver building the light came from the direction of the Mersey. I decided to do this sketch from a few of the photos, getting a view down The Strand with people crossing the road.
In hindsight I could put more detail and colour into the people in the road and have the person walking away, coming at the viewer, maybe with a companion instead. Then, if I manage to get the buildings upright and get rid of the orangutan scaling the ventilation shaft on the right, maybe we’re in business.
Returning to the station from a life painting session I was struck by the reflections on the pavement and took a few photos. The street has some interesting buildings, but the light never seems to be in the right position to bring out their beauty. So I guess this as near as I get to something I find satisfying.
I also had another go at the pastel I posted a week or ago, entitled ‘Crossing the Strand’ – another snapshot of Liverpool. I agreed with a reader’s criticism that the figures seemed to form a queue across the picture, so have bunched them up a bit and spread the rest out. I did it on a lighter paper which meant I had to fight to get the feel of the early evening gloom.
I go into Liverpool on a Thursday evening to participate in a life drawing session. As the nights have closed in I have been aware of the illuminated streets and the vibrancy of the scenes . I got down here at the Albert Dock at dusk and tried to capture the activity just before the night fell and removed the subtle shapes of the unilluminated buildings.
I was reminded of painting contra jour where the light wipes out the detail and leaves the shapes. It is the same here with the lack of light snatching the details and leaving you with the essence of place. I might try out a few more.
I started this in pastel but struggled with it. I moved to acrylic and made some progress. I think the many details made it too difficult in pastels, but it might be worth another shot.