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.
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.
Well, it looks like I got my paintings ( the ones I posted on this blog a week or so ago) into the juried show at the town art gallery – leastways, they havent told me to come and pick them up, which is always a good sign.
So, with that under my belt, I can turn to next week when we set up another exhibition on the other side of Lord Street to the art Gallery, in an unused unit inside a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade. This will be for six weeks and I need to ready a few more paintings for that one. Even though I probably have more than enough, I thought I might do a quick painting of my local shops, around the corner from where I live. The sun shines on the facades in the morning and with the trees only just coming into leaf you can see most of the architecture, including the covered walkway, so it is a local scene which someone might take a shine to.
I read an article by the artist, Colin Brown, detailing his approach to cityscapes. I thought that it could help energise my own work. As with many such demonstrations, there were aspects that I didn’t like, but his starting point seemed interesting. I suppose I had unconsciously used a similar approach in my life painting, but Brown provided a coherent structure that I felt was worth investigating.
So here is my first attempt, applying some of his methodology. The subject is the Strand on the Liverpool waterfront. Here you need to cross this very busy road to get from the city centre to the old dock buildings which have now been converted to shops, restaurants, apartments, arenas, art galleries and museums.
I wanted to contrast the people waiting at the crossing to the heavy traffic and the business of the early evening activities going on around and of course reference part of the Liver Building.
I originally did a version in pastel and it got used in a book on Liverpool, published a few years ago.
But despite being published the painting never sold. So this time I changed the angle and featured the highrise, which is supposed to reflect an ocean liner, and also pushed more colour into the piece.
A view I’ve done before, but this time I thought I would make more of the sunset and it’s effects. I’ve used the woman crossing the road with her shopping bags in another painting, but she fits in well here.
I think I’ve mentioned before, in earlier blogs, how the sunset in winter months is quite spectacular on Lord Street, the main street in Southport, where I live. I also spotted the light reflecting off the surface of a puddle in the gutter and, if nothing else, that was reason enough for me to do a painting.
It’s not a subject I would choose, but the view means something to someone and so long as it has a resonance with a viewer, that’s all that matters.
I had previously painted someone’s cottage in Cartmel ( which is at the southern edge of England’s Lake District) as a small commission, and it was spotted on the web by a lady wanting a birthday present. She asked to do this view. It appears I have become the go-to artist for Cartmel.
I have only been to Cartmel once, in June of 2010. On that day a gunman was rampaging a few miles north of the town on a killing spree. Fortunately Cartmel was well out the way of his trajectory, but earlier in the day we were closer to the incident, which unfolded over a number of hours, before the gunman shot himself.
It was only when we got home, later that day, did we hear of the incident.
Anyway, the lady who commissioned it for her father seems happy with it and I hope it gives her father – whose birthday present it is – some fond memories.
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.
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.