Monday, June 06, 2011

Paintings of London I (The making of "Rain, Rain, Rain, London Streets"

My group exhibition with Chris Daynes, Michael Richardson and Karl Terry starts on 8 June, 2011, Wednesday this week at Enid Lawson Gallery, 11 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 9UD. it runs until 22 June, 2011. Don't miss it! This exhibition will show the work of four friends who frequently paint London Cityscape's and it's great to see how each of us capture London at it's best. The brief given to us was simply "Paint the London that Londoners know and love". So, all through this week I'll be posting some of the works that will feature in this exhibition and how I went about them. It's a great thing to paint but even a better thing to share the way I paint. Some of us never have the opportunity to look over the back of an artist to see how they go about their creative business, so I'm ceasing this opportunity to share my techniques. Hope you enjoy! This is not exactly a step by step demonstration but I have decided to take some picture at strategic points while it was in the making. It also helps to know what was going through my mind while at each stage. I took over 25 pictures of each stage but I decided to knock it down to 5 for clarity of purpose.

Rain, Rain, Rain, London Streets 48" x 30", oil on canvas, 2011 SOLD

"The Making of Rain, Rain, Rain, London Street"

1 STEP 1

Here the canvas size is 48" x 30"- I have decided to remove the white gesso with a wash of brick orange(The mixture is white, burnt sienna and yellow ochre-acrylic colours) I do this just to get comfortable and messy with the surface, sometimes doing this to a white surface can be daunting. I then sketch in the main features in black coloured pencil, I started with charcoal but it got too messy. The sketch is important, all mistakes need to be dealt with here. I keep on rubbing and changing things here to avoid correcting painting strokes, which can be discouraging.
When satisfied with the sketch, I fix the sketch and get ready for colour application.

2 STEP 2-

It is funny here but I attack the sky and foreground first because I feel they are the main places that depict the mood of the whole picture. I also give the trees a bit of first coat because I want it to have a wet on wet feel with thew sky and not have harsh edges with the sky under-painting. All strokes are laid in a step by step shape colour application technique. These applications come on top of an initial monochrome wash I did on top of the pencil sketch. The monochrome was was done with raw umber and raw sienna wash.

3 STEP 3

After the sky and foreground, I decide to give the Architecture, middle ground trees and traffic lights a bit of attention. A I paint I keep in mind the mood I expect to achieve, it's all about rain, and it's the greys that make a rainy day beautiful. So every colour is laid with that thought in mind, even the trees are greyed down to incorporate this factor.

4 STEP 4

Here I move to the roads, cars and figures. I love treating the figures most sometimes I can't wait to get them going. The same rule applies here. Most of what people wear on rainy days in London are dark colours. I really didn't want them all to be so dark, but I noticed that they worked well as silhouettes against the lighter background, which I found interesting. I try to paint the figures with a light touch, knowing fully that if I don't do this, they may end up looking stiff and in other words lack the vitality of movement that I love so much in urbanscapes.

5 STEP 5

It's all about more figures and umbrellas here. I remember making one of the umbrellas the colour of the union jack and Richard Burn and Alex Fowler who I share my studio with, felt that the Umbrella colour stood out like a sore thumb, I struggled for a while before I made up my mind. All along I kept the overall impact I wanted the picture to have in mind.


I finally made up my mind and at this final stage I changed the colour to a brown shade. I then completed the other figures and tied up the whole composition, keeping the grey moody feel to prevail and not allowing any colour to really over rule or dominate the painting. When tying up the painting together, it's better to add dark accents than lighter ones-I discovered this and it works. Working on the reflections and making them have a good relationship to the features they are reflecting is also important. Ken Howard said," dark things appear lighter and light things appear darker in reflections" I have have observed this in real life and it is true!

The full catalogue of paintings on show can be seen HERE

"I would not paint at all unless I felt strongly about the things I paint: the people and the places that I feel a need to describe, commemorate, and fix into some form"-Bernard Dunstan in his book "Paintings in Progress"


Sadami said...

Hi, Adebanji,
Thank you for sharing the process and the wonderful work! I learn lots!
Very happy to know your blog comes back to normal.
Kind regards,Sadami

adebanji said...

Thanks Sadami! The blog is not sorted yet, I'm still in need to a solution to resolve it.

Stephanie Berry said...

Hi Adebanji! Nice to see how you approached a complicated scene. Very nice. I like how you handle the wet, rainy London scenes. Hope your exhibition is successful! Blessings!

adebanji said...

Thanks Stephanie!

V. Deshmukh said...

Thank you for the lovely demonstration Adebanji. Its most educative. You give out your secrets so freely to others who want to learn from you.
I am very sorry for the hackerproblem you are facing. I hope it gets resolved soon.
Best wishes,

Anna Schoolderman said...

I figured you must have been attacked by a hacker as the posts did not sound like you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts as you paint. I love your painting and hope the exhibition is a success (I'm sure it will be).
Blessings, Anna

Unknown said...

Hi Adebanji. I'm a big fan of all your townscapes - this is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your step-by-step methods and thoughts!

vivien said...

absolutely superb!

and fascinating to see the stages - good luck with the exhibition

adebanji said...

Thanks Vinayak! Also congratulations on your making a mark prize.

Thanks Anna-it's been so embarrassing-I just hope someone comes up with a solution!

adebanji said...

Thanks Michael-we are all here to learn from each other!

Thanks Vivien!

Unknown said...

Very very nice!

adebanji said...

Thanks Tim!

Art, Love and Life said...

Thanks for sharing your approach to painting... I found it fascinating and I loved the tip you passed on about reflections. I hope you deal with the hacker.

Valérie Pirlot said...

Thanks for sharing your precious painting secrets:-) This is a properly impressive piece of work. I had a look at the show catalogue and you've been really busy it seems - great work. Love the "Lunchtime St Martin" because there is such a mystery around the girl with the red skirt - what is she thinking? Where does she work? Really like "evening lights, the rising sun" too. Good luck with the show!

adebanji said...

Thanks Ray!

Thanks Valerie! I am happy you had a good look at, "Lunch Time St Martins Place"-because there is a mystery behind it and you have really done well to raise those questions!

Tom Dow said...

Hi Adebanji,
I hope the gallery opening was a great success. I was glad to have had a chance to meet you and express my appreciation for your excellent blog and inspiring paintings. So great to see the originals, particularly "Early Morning Light, Hyde Park Corner". I spent a lot of time in front of that one.

adebanji said...

Tom I was so happy to see you, because you follow this blog and actually came over! That made my day!
Yes, selling Rain, Rain, Rain, .... to a wonderful couple was the height of the night!
That Hyde Park Corner painting, though small, took me a bit longer to finish! I really struggle with paintings without figures, but on this one I tried to make the painting speak without cars or figures, quite difficult for an urban scene.