Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career 33, 34 & 35


Around the Royal Theatre Before The Rain, Acrylic on Board, 40cm x 20cm, 2009

The painting won the Plein Air Plus prize at The Bath Prize in 2009

Now, if there's been any single painting that has opened up so many opportunities for me during my career so far, it is this little one! It was the year 2009 and things were starting to go from bad to worse. I kept on wondering how I'll be able to pick up the magic that the year started with, but everything seemed bleak. I remember walking into Borders Bookshop on Charing Cross Road and I didn't even have enough money to buy an art magazine, I decided to sit there and read it through. While checking through this art magazine, I saw an advert on The 2009 Bath Prize. There were a couple of Prizes at stake and one of them was The Plein Air Prize worth £1,000 cash for the best plein air painting that depicts life in Bath. I thought to myself, " I think I can do this!" We were to travel down to Bath and get a random location picked for us. I was allocated a place called The Theatre Royal. It was my first time in Bath and I didn't even know how to get there. I asked directions from the gallery people who were organizing the competition and they gave me directions and I finally got there. But unfortunately it started get all dull and grey and I almost regretted going. But I had to encourage myself to just paint it as it was. I was using acrylics to do my plein air paintings at the time and because I had to avoid the rain, I pitched under a shelter and painted with all my heart, an unpretentious view of The Theatre Royal just before the rain.

I submitted the work with 2 other paintings I did from pictures. But when the competition results came out it was this little painting that won the prize! I won £1,000 cash! It meant the world to me! Not only that-A lady walked up to me during the exhibition and asked me to explain my painting process of the scene. I did that with the most vivid illustrations and enthusiasm. At the end she decided she was going to buy the painting for £750! Now that was it! I also sold one of the other paintings I put in for £1,375 ! It all happened so fast that I had to keep pace with the sudden breakthrough. This led me to sell many more paintings in Bath. It helped me get so much publicity in the papers and the local magazines! I ended up being a judge for the next competition and I had a solo exhibition with 212, 6" x 8" plein paintings all of Bath-and most recently selling my works in an auction in Bath! It's been an incredible love affair and ever since going to Bath in 2009, I always long to get there again and do more paintings of the glorious world heritage city! The story won't be complete without mentioning Mr Mike Porter, a man who simply believed in me and encouraged me to keep at it! I haven't looked back since then and it has been a wonderful experience all because of an opportunity that opened up and the willingness to take it at the time it opened. I am saying this because many artists are out there working so hard but never seem get recognition. It can be that way sometimes, but the key is never to give up or stop practicing because one day that preparation and hard work is going to meet an opportunity that has been waiting for the right moment and that will only happen to those who have keep going and keep believing!!!


Rush Hour VIII, Oil on Canvas,24" x 20", 2011

This is one of my Rush Hour paintings. It's not so crowded but it shows the movement, depression and utter frustration of being in these situations. I snapped this scene with my camera on one of the days I was on the escalator on the Jubilee line at London Bridge. I decided to paint it as part of my group exhibition last year with Enid Lawson Gallery on London Paintings. I was so happy when a lady who introduced herself as Margaret Thacthers Nurse bought it and said it captured everything she felt about these situations in London! She took the painting off with her to South Africa! I 'm always thrilled by these people who can strongly relate to what I had in mind while doing the piece.

I really love crowded scenes, I tend to treat each figure like a still life object. It's always nice to see how they come out in the end, as I used a shape by shape technique to complete it. The process of this painting can be seen HERE


On The Way To Bath Rugby Home Game, Oil on Canvas, 36" x 24", 2011

The story about this painting can be seen by clicking HERE. It was posted in March and in order not repeat everything I have said so recently I have decided to have the link HERE.

I said I wouldn't write about it but I can't ....It's a painting I did when on a visit to Bath I saw all these Bath Rugby supporters on their way to an afternoon home game, I must have taken about 50 pictures that afternoon but settled for this one because of the balance in the composition. It 's also a painting I did with only 4 colours to keep the harmony alive. The colours used were Terra Rosa, Yellow Orche, Prussian Blue and Titanium White.

I was exhibited at the Bath Prize in 2011, it didn't sell at the auction but a week after on a day when Bath Rugby were playing it was put in the shop front and inquiries started flooding in and a couple showed interest and now have this painting with them included in the crowd! I ended up going to their home to include them in the painting.

Preparation does not mean mastery of the facts. It does not mean knowing all the answers. It does not necessarily mean achieving the consensus. (Former British minister Margaret Thactcher remarked that " consensus is the negation of leadership.")It means putting yourself in a better position to succeed."-John C. Maxwell from his Book "Talent is Never Enough"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career (31, 32)


The face of Homelessness Charing Cross Road, 36" x 48", Oil on canvas, 2011

This guy is one of the people I randomly meet on the streets. Sometimes it's just impossible to resist asking if a sketch could be done when one sees a face with so much character like this guy has. I saw him way back in 2009, I think, and after asking politely he agreed and that was it! I sat down to sketch him. He looked through my sketchbook later and said the sketches were quite impressive.

Last year I decided to do a big painting from a photo I also took of him, it's the first time I have done a "big head"- but I experienced so much freedom and liberation while painting it that I'm so sure if I have a bigger studio-I'll be doing more large works like this. Sometimes I would stand back and just pick up heavy colour mixed with Liquin Impasto and just paste all over the work.

This work made me know that we can never say we can't do something without trying! I was inspired by my studio mate Alex Fowler, as he was working on some large landscapes from smaller studies he had done from San Fransisco, that I said to myself, "I think I can do something like this!"-I mean something large. So I did it and now I am just waiting for more opportunities to do do large heads.....this one gave me so much buzz!


The Festival Begins, oil on canvas, 40" x 30", 2011

This scene is taken from The Edinburgh Festival! It's such a wonderful time to be at Edinburgh....I didn't know I was going to see this scene when I traveled there last year. But when I saw it I took some pictures and decided to paint this one for the Edinburgh Art Fair last year and it was exhibited by Enid Lawson Gallery.

Works with crowded figures always give me a buzz, painting this one was a great experience because I was able to close in all the individual people and treat them as if they were people I knew. The architecture in the background was another highlight and as much I wanted it to show, this piece was all about the people and the buzz of the Festival! Controlling the reds was another challenge but I just managed to reduce the intensity of some spots with specks of green.

Completing this piece gave me the confidence to try an ever bigger one of these scenes, I always relish the challenge to push it a bit further!

"If you want to be successful, you must focus on what you can do, not what you can't"-John C Maxwell

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career (29, 30)

NUMBER 29- St Paul's Panoramic View

St Paul's Panoramic View, 44" x 20", Oil on Canvas, 2011 (Commission)

I was pleased to get this commission for two reasons, the first being, I just really love St Paul's as a building, I think it is architecture at it's magnificent best! Then secondly because it came from the fact that the client had seen my painting of The Royal Crescent and loved the way I handled the paint in various degrees of thickness, that they had the confidence that I would be able to take on St Paul's in the same manner. The client was very detailed with exactly what they wanted, they had an image stitched up from google -maps, it had where they wanted a bus, a taxi, the people, the New Change building etc. To really get me absorbed into this work, I must have taken up to 500 shots of the whole St Pauls area before coming down to one which I produced a sketch from, once the client saw the sketch they were pleased and I went on to complete it.

The final email I got from them read thus:

"Dear Adebanji,

We finally picked up the painting on Thursday as we have been so busy. It was great to see it with our own eyes, and we are very pleased with it. Keep up the good work and I hope we meet again.

Kind regards,

R & S"

It's not every time that one gets a commission that really suits one's passion, but this one really did!

NUMBER 30-After the Rain , London Streets

After the Rain , London Streets, 30" x 24", Oil on Canvas, 2011

If I could, I would say this is my best painting till date, but I can't, I believe the best is yet to come! I think it encapsulates everything I love in a painting-Crowded figures, movement, reflections, bold colour and subtle greys. I did it for the Affordable Art Fair Exhibition last year at Battersea and it sold straightaway!

The client took the time to email me these few words

"Hello Adebanji,

We bought your picture "After the Rain" at the Affordable Art Fair and
I just wanted to let you know that we are absolutely thrilled with it.

Good luck"

Now, when a client is thrilled with a painting, it pays more than the money!!

"Decide what you want to do with a particular painting, Keep it down to one thing and communicate that thing so strongly that even the man who couldn't see properly would feel it was done!"-Adebanji Alade

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career (27, 28)


The Face of Homelessness Kings Road (Scarlet Solitude) 16" x 20", Oil On Canvas, 2011

The whole story about this one can be read HERE- It was a painting I did entirely from a sketch of a Homeless guy I saw on Kings Road last year. I used the Zorn Palette (Whiite, Cadmium Red, Yellow Orche and Ivory Black) and it was done Alla Prima. I worked in full concentration as I didn't want to miss any bit about his face that I was trying to recall from memory. The greatest temptation was not to overwork it but just leave it fresh with all my first-hand strokes.

I still look back at this piece in awe at the sudden striking of inspiration that can hit us as artists at times when we are just fully absorbed in our work. The day I painted this piece was just one of days I never really had a plan but at the back of my mind was a deep desire to capture this guy, whose face speaks a thousand words. I even wrote a poem on this piece which can be read HERE

The work sold at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition Last year at the Mall Galleries.


Creep, 120cm x 80cm, Oil on Canvas 2007

This painting is of one of my great friends. I met him years back while working at St Mungos He was a brilliant guy who could make anybody happy with his funny jokes and expressions. What brought about this painting was his story of his participation in the Angolan War. He was a soldier and had some weird experiences on the battlefield, these experiences would often haunt him at night while alone in his room. He would explain vividly how these affected him. So I decided to put this experience in to a painting. I decided to call it Creep- As they were kind of creepy feelings coming in the form of dark shadows to cast their effect on his mind.

He really loved the work. I did too! One of my good friends from Secondary school who saw my talents at an early stage way back from 1983-89 bought the work from me. He said it encapsulates a powerful mood that affects every human being. The effect our past has on us!

The picture below shows me in a reflective mood too, with the painting.

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career (25, 26)

NUMBER 25-Evening Light, Leadenhall Market II, 24" x 30", Oil on Canvas, 2011

Both paintings featured in this post are two of my best spots in London. Leadenhall Market is an amazing structure and has its beauty at anytime of the day. I love it best at evening light and having painted it once before I decided to embark on a larger piece for a group exhibition I had last year at Enid Lawson Gallery.

The piece was done entirely in the studio and I worked from a photographic reference. To see some steps on how I developed this piece from start to finish, click HERE from a post I did on it last year.

The beauty of painting this piece was that I enjoyed the mystery of the figures evolving from the underpainting as can be seen from a picture of how it looked during the process below

It sold during the exhibition and is one of my best studio pieces till date.

NUMBER 26-Winter Grey Afternoon, Sloane Square, 24" x 18", oil on canvas, 2011

This painting was done entirely outdoor over 2 sittings. I remember it being so cold in January last year when I did this piece that I developed a stab of cold in the back even with all my layers of warm clothes. Click HERE to see some progress shots of this painting in progress and my ice breaker footwear from Cabelas

This piece sold at the Chelsea Art fair last year- it was one of the first paintings that sold that year and the beginning of a very successful year for me!

"Whether you are working indoor or outdoor, from photos or from life-You need to know what you want to do with what is in front of you. Don't just copy what's there, be in control, determine what you would like the composition to be like, what to take out, what to add, what to exaggerate, what to downplay, what to add more contrast to and what to soften.....the list of things you could do could go on. Just remember nobody is going to go back to the picture of place you painted to cross check, be an artist and not just a painter"-Adebanji Alade

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career 23, 24


"Art Therapy"(self portrait) 24" x 24", Acrylic on Canvas, 2009

I remember at the time I did this piece I was doing a bit of research on Art Therapy and I used myself as the model to depict the surge of hope and spark of life that Art Therapy can bring into an individuals life. The individual may be finding it hard to cope with various negative symptoms and experiences in life, but all of a sudden the individual is able to recover, reconnect and get revived through creating art, self expression and a renewed sense of belief in ones self through creative means.

Most of the strokes in the dark areas of the background in this painting are the negative words and experiences that I personally struggle against, while the calligraphic strokes in the brighter areas are actually positive, motivational and inspirational words that have helped me remain focused in the most difficult times and experiences in my life. It was the first time I felt completely liberated to introduce my technique of "calligraphic mark-writing into the drawing" in a painting. I didn't care what people were going to think, I said this work is purely about my experience and my life, so I am free to do what I want. For this whole piece I used the new Winsor and Newton Acrylic on canvas. I developed this piece with a "sketchful" force and tried to keep that vitality throughout till the end.

I actually did this work for an Exhibition called "Art Liberating Lives" - It was an exhibition organised by the Sue Ryder Care at the Mall Galleries -which was an uplifting and eclectic collection of works inspired by the theme, "Liberation". They were to use the commission on sold works to support the Sue Ryder Charity.

When the day of the Private View came up, the place was packed and everyone was out there being inspired by different artist's take on this theme. I was going to travel to Japan in a few days after the Private view and I knew I wouldn't be around to pick up my work if it didn't sell, but I was thinking to myself, "who would buy such a Self-Portrait and put it in their home?" The clock was ticking and everyone started going home after a great event and I still buzzed around with a beaming smile talking to artists whose work I admired when I lady walked up to me and said, "Is that you in that painting over there?". I said, "yes"-She asked if I could explain a bit about why I did the work and what inspired me. My heart was beating, I was like, "This IS MY CHANCE!" So I took a deep breathe and started mumbling the words.....I saw her eyes glow...she connected with it and said it costs a lot of money though...£1,250! I said in a low tone, "But it's worth it!"- She looked once and then twice and concluded that for her to buy it, I'll need to to do a demo of how to paint for her little 9 year old girl who loved art too. I said I'll do that with all pleasure, I told her I'll come over with my little boy too, and she agreed and that was it, the work was sold! I didn't need to worry about anything while travelling to Japan and when I came back I fulfilled my promise by doing a demo that they all loved, She hosted me and my son for the day in a stately house at Sevenoaks ans I spent the whole day having fun!!!

Looking back, I learned always do work that I connect with wholeheartedly, work that gave me a buzz and work that really makes me happy first! It's not always easy in these days of market and sales driven themes but I think its a good thing to keep being sincere to ourselves and our deep philosophy of why we do what we do. When it is done well-then others would connect to the work with that same buzz we had as artists at the beginning! I also learned that while at exhibitions, one has to keep a happy and cheerful outward appearance . Nobody is going to connect with an artist with a gloomy, shy, long or tense appearance.


EMOTIONS V, Oil based pencil/Sanguine & Sepia dust, 8" x 10", 2009

This work falls into category of works I did when exploring peoples emotions when they are in different circumstances faced by situations that produce a kind of reaction from them.

The guy I used for the model here was one of the great buskers around, these are the guys that play on the trains and tubes to make music while the commuters drop a few coins in appreciation. I worked with him at St Mungos and he was very much interested in art too, he worked in coloured pencils.

I started this by ghosting the dust (sepia and sanguine) on self sanded-watercolour paper and then adding details with the oil base pencils and graphite(mechanical pencil).

This work brings back good memories because it was one of the only two works I was able to sell on Ebay. Ebay never did me much help but I got so much experience from working on a daily basis, something that instills discipline in to us as artists. Working to post daily never suited my style because to meet the deadline of the day, I'd have to rush some pieces which never gave me the satisfaction I get from working over and over again on a piece for days and weeks.

"Be guided by feelings alone. Before any sight and any object, abandon yourself to your first impression. If you have really been touched, you will convey to others the sincerity of your emotion." (Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Story Behind 40 works that changed my career ( 21 and 22)



AFRO XXII, Charcoal/Graphite, 10" x 8", 2009

This is one of my drawings that show the beauty of natural hair. It's one of my favourites! The model I used was a very good friend of mine. Because it was purely one of those pieces that I chose to do, I altered her facial features a bit to suit the purpose of the piece. Sometimes I do this especially if the person doesn't want to be seen as the model or if I don't want the person to be seen as the model, in this case the later was the reason. Again this work celebrates one of my best used techniques when it comes to drawing. It's my charcoal wash technique, which I create on a self-sanded watercolour paper to create textures. I mix charcoal dust mixed with water to start off the piece as if it were a pure watercolour, the charcoal dust acting as a pigment. Once I get satisfied with the forms and shapes in the build-up, I then introduce graphite for the areas where I would like to add more texture and do a bit of writing into the drawing, a technique I call "calligraphic mark-writing into the drawing"-Looking closely at this drawing would reveal words that have to do with the beauty and way I felt while working on this piece.

Funny enough when I posted this piece a while back. Someone made a comment, that the work looks exactly like her. Now that's what happens when faces get altered. I couldn't agree less.



RUSH HOUR I, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 36", 2006

This was a painting that was going to launch me into a world of the unknown! Looking back at this first Rush Hour piece brings me pure joy! I was only out to experiment and this is one reason why artists just need to keep trying new things. This was a time in my life that I was experimenting a lot. Just trying to find out things that were interesting to me and things that gave a buzz! Naturally I always found myself getting intrigued by peoples faces, this is what keeps me sketching people on public transport all the time. But then, I also love to see a variety of faces at once, I love pictures that reveal so many different faces and people in one solid composition. I buy all kinds of books and magazines to influence my artistic appetite and I remember buying this book illustrated by Glenn Farby. In one of his illustrations for a magazine cover for the "PREACHER" Number 56-which can be seen HERE I saw loads of faces of different people all merged into one whole setting, and I was like, "WOW! I love that! I wish could do a painting that would have all those qualities!" So, this image kept on 'haunting' me, and then one day on a hot summers day probably in 2004 or 2005, I was at Clapham Common Station in London and I was approaching the escalators when I saw all these people during the peak of the Rush Hour period. Thank God I had my digital camera, it was the first one I had ever used, a 1.5 mega pixel. I just snapped this- "almost out of focus image" of the scene unaltered. I never knew I was going to use it for a breakthrough painting until I got inspired by Glenn Farby.

I remember painting this piece for close to 6 months, I used to work full time at St Mungos and I had just married 2 years from then and had my first child a year from then, so it was a busy time for me, yet I wanted combine all this with my art, something that I couldn't just leave. So I'd paint a little go to work, paint a little, go to work...and I think this continued for 6 months. When complete, I put it into the Patchings Competition organized by the The Artist Magzine and it won the Daler Rowney Award, which entitled me to £250 worth of Art Materials from Daler Rowney! Now that was so encouraging, and I got publicity in The Artist Magazine but the work didn't sell.

Then a year after I discovered a lady called Sharmina Karim! Now, sometimes you just happen to meet the right people. She was organizing a competition to give exposure to upcoming artists in the contemporary scene. The good thing was that the selected works would be exhibited at the Barclays Headquarters at Canary Wharf! And I thought to myself, "Even if I don't win the any of the Prizes at least I'll get some exposure!" So I gave it a go and the work was selected, and for the first time in the UK, I was going to exhibit a painting that would SELL!!!! The exhibition day came and even before I got to the venue on The Private View Day, the work had a red dot on it! I was happy, I remember going with my wife and my baby son and they so proud of me! I must say I was happy with myself! That first Rush Hour painting sold for £875, It meant a lot to me then but continuing this series has seen some works go as high as £7,500! But there's always a beginning! So, the greatest thing I keep reminding myself everytime-whether I'm up or down is to KEEP ON KEEPING ON! There's a lot of power in PERSISTENCE, I mean real DOGGED PERSISTENCE, I mean sometimes, you want a change so badly, you are ready to sacrifice anything to get the results you are looking for. Well, that's enough said on this piece!

"There comes a time when you will be the only one who can judge your paintings. you can not rely on what has been done in the past or what is accepted now. It is up to you to set your own standards and understand how to judge"-Angela D'Aleo from her BOOK, The Purpose of Painting

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back After a Long Break (Stories Behind & Sketches)

It's great to be back to blogging! I have had to take a break from blogging to sort out loads of stuff in my life that needed attention, and I am glad that after a break and also a wonderful spiritual refreshment with the youths of my church recently at a Youth Camp called, "Call of Duty"-Get Equipped", I am back with a firmer, stronger and more determined spirit!

I'll continue the remaining 20 works that made my career tomorrow and these posts would come two at a time, for me to recover from some lost time. Meanwhile enjoy these bundle of sketches that have always been the story behind my success in my career!

"Very clear here I play the game for lost and found, the feeling of dynamic quality of abstraction.......This drawing is unfinished on purpose. Only draw the face, not the hair, seeking the feeling of broken and partially revealed. The unfinished part makes the part that I did more delicate and finished. I feel "less is more."-Zhaoming Wu-talking about his process