Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Paintings of London IV (The making of "Evening Light, Leadenhall Market II" )

This is another painting that featured in my just concluded group exhibition of Paintings of London at Enid Lawson Gallery. The painting is another after work series on Leadenhall Market, my first one can be seen HERE.

Evening Light, Leadenhall Market II, 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, 2011 SOLD

The Leadenhall Market is a beautiful spot in the City of London and I'll love to do more on this series.

Below are some steps I went about to complete this piece. This is not a step by step demo, most of what I have here are just photos of different stages of the work. It is very hard to have a proper outlined demo of complicated paintings like this but at least it gives a clearer view of how I go about these busy paintings. I never have a set way I do them, and most of the time I only decide after starting, on how I am going to go about the whole process.


I have gone straight with paint from the start here, no charcoal or coloured pencil sketching, just an initial sketch done in burnt sienna on my pre-coloured ground-I have used a warm orange-brown scheme for this. I work very quickly in broad strokes to quickly capture the essence of the scene. the architecture means a lot to me, it's what makes me love the place. So, apart from the figures, I spend a lot of time planning the colours and perspective of the whole structure. As you can see broad strokes of colour are laid in, I do this to quickly have a clear view of how the whole scene is going to look.


I work more on the architecture here, I love architecture! It's as simple as that, so when a building has a bit of beauty to offer-I get to grips with it and make sure I enjoy all the mouldings and pillars. I don't like the whole thing to look overworked and all technical but I just try and enjoy the process and deal with each phase in terms of light and shade, warm and cool. It's a game and if played well always results in reality. Look at the difference between the front of the structure and the part that is underneath, the part underneath is the same colour but it has been cooled down to indicate the lack of light reaching that area. I leave all the figures out at this stage but you can see indications in sketch form, of where they are going to be.


The first few figures emerge from this stage and I work on them from left to right, working in a shape by shape manner and making sure each figure is finished before moving to the next one. This helps to clarify my thoughts on how and where the next figure is going to be. I also work on their surroundings at the same time, making sure they don't end up looking like cut-outs on the scene but fully part of the scene. The figures in urban scenery must belong to the scene-if they don't belong to the scene the painting will end up looking a bit weird. In order to avoid this, I work on the figures and their surroundings for this piece at the same time. The process is slow but rewarding in the end.


Even more figures emerge here, and more detailing to the architecture that surrounds them. It's always a delight to work on these areas and watch the figures emerging from ghost-like sketches. It is this sense of, "not knowing what to expect" that keeps me focused while working on scenes like this, with this method.


Finally I add all the figures and refine all parts of the scene, working backwards and forwards to make sure the whole scene vibrates as one. I tune the colours to keep them all within the right range to avoid a sudden leap of tone or temperature. Then, to give it a sense of spark-I add spots of light in random places to create a bit of buzz in the areas where the figures converge in the background.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Paintings of London III ( 3 Plein Air Paintings)

I have been all busy this month but I'm back on track to post more paintings from my current group exhibition at Enid Lawson Gallery.
Here I am focusing on 3 plein air paintings, I have got in the show.

Evening Light, Earls Court

Evening Light, Earl's Court, 10" x 8", oil on board, 2011 SOLD

Here I was geared up to capture a very busy road in London, it took a bit of boldness to pitch my easel right in the main stream of things. The advantage of working in such busy areas is that you are forced to make an accurate painting because so many people can see what you are painting and if it's good, you'll get so many words of encouragement! I made a very detailed sketch before putting any paint, while working on this one, because it's such a complicated scene and I didn't want to get off track in the middle of painting. I was pleased with the result

Morning Light Albert Bridge II

Morning Light, Albert Bridge, 8" x 6", oil on board, 2010 SOLD

Here it was early in the morning and I had to find a high spot to capture a beautiful morning light coming up around Albert Bridge. Here, I also did a sketch but it was very loose and just helped me to locate where things are. I mainly concentrated on getting the mood and atmosphere right, especially in the sky area.

Summerlight Cadogan Arms, Kings Road

Summerlight, Cadogan Arms, Kings Road, 8" x 6", oil on board, 2011 SOLD

This was another busy spot! Right on King's Road in summer! You get so many onlookers but it's great, I feel I was made for the outdoors and I try my best to concentrate even though I take much time to chat with commuters. It's great to hear the history of some of these places while painting. I did a detailed sketch before starting this one because, it did seem tricky at first, even though it's simple looking on the eye. I think any scene involving roads can easily go wrong, if the drawing is off. I don't always like standing while painting but I had to while doing this on because it was the only way I could see the scene properly.

To see the full catalogue of the exhibition, click HERE

"Look for the kind of nature that suits your temperament. The motif should be observed more for shape and colour than drawing...precise drawing is dry and hampers the impression of the whole, it destroys all sensations. Do not define too closely the outlines; it is the brushstroke of the right value and colour which should produce the drawing...Paint the essential character of things: try to convey it by means whatever without bothering about technique....."-Pissaro's advice to young painter, Le Ball, 1881.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paintings of London II (The Private View and 2 Plein-air Paintings)

Prof Ken Howard and Enid Lawson...Ken added to his prestigious Private Collection, he put a red dot on one of Karl Terry's paintings!

This the second post on my current group exhibition. I'll be posting throughout the exhibition on some of my paintings, sharing my experiences and methods. In this particular post, I'll be highlighting a few shots from the Private View and two plein air paintings.

"That Red Dot Feeling"-"Rain, Rain, Rain.....", gets a red dot- One lovely Couple instantly fell in love with it!

Private View.
All was set on the 8th of June for the opening and it was great! After the artist has done all the hard work it is always a delight to behold the paintings on the walls of a gallery with collectors, dealers, clients, visitors, friends and well wishers all making their way down to share the creative exploits of four painter friends, who took it upon themselves to interpret London the way they see it! The exhibition continues at Enid Lawson Gallery till the 22nd of June. If you are in London, just make it over there, these posts are for those that can't make it. Better see it live!
Michael Richardson, Karl Terry, Chris Daynes alongside me have over 100 paintings on show. We are mainly Plein-air painters, I have done a mixture of studio and plein air work and it's great to see how each artist brings to life the places Londoners love!
Below are some more snap shots from the exhibition. Hope you enjoy them!

Enid with clients

Cross Section 1

Cross Section 2

Cross Section 3

Cross Section 4

2 Plein air Paintings

MORNING LIGHT, SLOANE SQUARE- This painting was done early in the morning at Sloane Square, the light was terrific and there weren't much people about. I was fresh and you can't beat the fresh morning feeling. If there's ever a painting I have tried to put too much detail into, it was this one, I found it hard to stop. I did the whole drawing first before adding colour, in a shape by shape method without any under-painting.

Morning Light, Sloane Square, 10" x 8", oil on board, 2011 SOLD

SPRING LIGHT,ST JAMES PARK-This painting was done late in the afternoon, I was exhausted after a hard days work, painting Sloane Square and Billy Elliot at Victoria before attempting this one and when I got to St James Park around 5pm, I got a flush to go to do the "big" one! I was running around like a mad chicken, asking the park attendants for the nearest loo. I almost gave up! Then finally, when I got the relief, I settled down to paint very near to the loo (just in case Lightning struck again) a nice scene of Spring Lovers around the trees of the Park. I didn't do any under-painting for this piece or drawing, since the scene was more organic in nature I just went for it in the most fresh and direct manner!

Spring Light, St James Park, 10" x 8", oil on board, 2011 SOLD

"If you could have the life you want, what would it be like? Everyone has dreams, but most of us suppress them in the hurry-scurry of daily activities and task lists. It's time to determine what your dream life looks like. think about your artwork, your home, your family. and friends. Where do you live? Where do you vacation? Where do you make your art and where do you exhibit it? Spare no details. Consider the colours, textures, sounds, and feelings taking form in your vision." -Alyson Stanfield from her book "I'd rather be in the Studio"

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"

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Simon Davies: Portrait Painting Demonstration and some other paintings I liked at the RP Show

(above) This is a sketch I did of Simon Davies at work.

I got to hear about this demo on Making a Mark blog and I was delighted! First it was a free demo and secondly it was going to be one done by one of my favourite painters. I think, if I am not mistaken, that this is a new feature during the RP (Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition) There was one I missed by Andrew James. That's another one I would have loved to be at. Anyway, I am posting this to share with those who couldn't make it and also to document this for reference purposes, as it was a rare opportunity.

Completed Demo piece on the day

Simon Davies is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. I fell with his work sometime back. What I like about his work is his brushstrokes, they are definite, painterly, crisp and neat! It's not always you get such a combination. His square brush strokes define his work and displays his personal style in such a way that it is very hard not to recognize his work. I am always intrigued by brushwork, I think every painter should have a brushwork that is so personal as his/her handwriting. It was Trevor Chamberlain that said, "Try to make a personal statement, remember, it's not what you paint, but how you paint paint it that will make your painting interesting, so let your brushwork be as personal as your handwriting"

Lessons, Observation and Points of note.

1. Always be open to learn from all artists out there, learning is power!

2. He paints from pictures and has 4 prints clipped horizontally across his easel.

3. 2 of the pictures are approx 6" x 9" and the other 2 are approx 9" x 12"(I didn't measure, so I am not too sure)

4. All the pictures he paints from are the same pose. But 1 is black and white, another full blown colour, while the other 2 are warm sepia versions- he says he has all these pictures outlined this way so that he can see the picture of the model wherever he looks- I found this quite interesting.

5.He uses a disposable palette with an attached dipper which contains Liquin, the medium he uses, with a few monochromatic colours (Yellow Orche, White, Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna)-All Winsor & Newton

6. His brushes are mainly long flat synthetics made by Pro-Arte

7. He is the first artist I have seen that uses a black rag to clean his brushes.

8. He is the most patient artist I have seen at work, I have been learning recently that, "Haste is the Artist's worst enemy"

9. A definite accurate and detailed drawing in graphite is done of the picture with a light was of a warm orangery grey over it or as the under-painting. For this demo the drawing had been completed prior to the demo ads he had only two hours for it.

10. He is patient and slow in his approach, his observation is done in full blown concentration.

11. Basically, he draws and stokes with these long flat brushes always modelling with a square brush stroke-it's a delight to behold. to me it's a kind of calligraphic way of painting, something I have been keen to learn myself.

12. Everything is done with slight shifts of colour all drawn with the brush. Everything is done in this square brush technique and it's all pure drawing-there's no magic here, he is patient, slow and definite, nothing is taken for granted-amazing!

13. It's great how thee few neutral colours produce such a cool monochromatic piece in the end.

Some of his paintings.

-Another great highlight was meeting fellow artist blogger Olha-She has got a painting into the BP this year!

Some other paintings I loved.
Now, I can't overstate the importance of attending this exhibition whenever it is on. It is an education. There were scores of paintings I loved but here are just a few.

Valeriy Gridnev, Artist in Studio, 70" x 42", Oil- One of my favourite painters-the freshness and his direct technique win my heart every time! He is also a candidate for membership this year.

Maryam Foroozanfar, Ying(baby series 2), 12" x 35", Oil-I met Maryam for the first time during this demo. She has been a regular in the BP Portrait Award and I think her works are simply breathtaking. She is also a candidate for membership this year!

David Caldwell, 21 Portraits 28" x 47", oil- David is a past winner of Bull Dog Bursary Award and is also a candidate for membership this year.

Alex Tzavaras, self Portrait, Charcoal, 18" x 14"- I loved his drawing last year and was on the look out if he'd put in another drawing this year and he did!

Special Quote
"The main thing is to keep working, questioning, experiencing, growing. You've got to train your eye and develop your emotions to work together. We're all students. There's no end to learning"-Everett R. Kinstler in his book on Painting Portraits