Monday, February 18, 2013

Nocturnes, Night Plein Air painting in London (No 2)

This is another nocturne plein air I have done in London. This particular one was done on 2, 10" x 8" boards. I started off the first one then I thought it didn't justify the scene, so I decided to add another 10" x 8" board to it.

Trafalgar Square at Night, 20" x 8", Oil on board

 These are some other shots of the painting session in progress.

The First session in progress.

As I must have mentioned before, painting at night is a brilliant exercise, the light remains constant and if you've got great surrounding light around from street lamps and possibly a head lamp- the job at hand would be made much easier!

At this point I had added the second board.
Some people have often asked how I get my pictures taken. Well, while painting in London, so many people stand and watch for hours while the painting is in progress, a lot of people love to take pictures too, especially tourists. It's from these folk that I politely ask for them to take me a picture too. I show them exactly what I want and they are always more than willing to help. When I don't see these guys, I basically keep asking until someone agrees. I have also devised a plan of taking myself, I used this technique while Painting in Bath but they normally make me look a bit foreshortened. But they are better than not having a picture at all.

This is the finished piece with the scene

The Pochade box I am using was made by Guerilla Painter, this particular one is the 6" x 8" Thumbox. It has some extensions that make it also useful for 8" x 10" work.


"Areas of light can occur as pinpoints in a night scene, such as streetlights or car headlights, or as a broad pane of light in the window of a house, so it is necessary to carefully compose using them. It is easy to end up with a piece that looks spotty, with points of light scattered in a disjointed way all over the painting. Design with the thought of how the viewer’s eye will move through the piece.

Remember that the area where the lightest light and the darkest dark come closest together will draw the eye first and become the focal point of the piece. Sometimes in a dark painting the largest area of light will become the focal point, such as a large window where the light pours out. Be sure that in either of these cases that the visual pathway formed by any other points of light compliments and reinforces this focal point, rather than drawing the eye away.

Light areas in a night painting are the perfect place to use exciting colors, such as the sulphur yellow and lime green of the lighted square in Van Gogh’s painting. The contrast of dark surrounding the light accentuates it, making it a special feature of your painting. Different kinds of bulbs cast light of varying hues. Incandescent bulbs are warm and yellowish, fluorescent light is generally cool and neon light is intense.

All bright lights at night have a slight halo, a softening of the edges where the light seems to hang in the air. The night air is somewhat moist and this vapor holds the light inside it. The larger the light and the wetter the night, the bigger the halo tends to be. Technically you can achieve this effect by saving an area in the dark plane where the light will be, then laying in a medium color, perhaps a red, and blending it slightly into the surrounding darkness. Then add a layer of a medium-light color, depending on the color of the light itself, and allow the color beneath to show at the edges. A final touch of the lightest color in the center, usually very light yellow or white, simulates the brilliance of the light shining in the darkness
."- From an Article on Night Painting (source not mentioned) (c) Deborah Christensen Secor

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Elected as An Associate Member of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters (The Journey)

My journey and passion with Oil colour started while I was at Yaba College of Technology between 1992-1997. It was where I discovered this wonderful medium, up till then I had only painted in water based media.

ROI 2007- The painting Rush Hour III won the First Prize in the Winsor & Newton Under 35 Category. 

I can't remember the exact year but something tells me it was in 1993! I heard a lot about the prolific painters in the Higher National Diploma classes while I was doing my National Diploma in General Art, from other art students in my class. They told me to ask politely to get a chance to watch them paint! I tried peeping through the windows first, but the windows were too high up! One day, a day that would be the day I got "trapped" in this medium was an afternoon when so many of these guys were painting pictorial compositions directly from sketches they had composed from life and imagination in their sketchbooks. They had massive palettes all placed out with juicy blobs of oil colour pressed out on them in a very orderly manner. Some of them had also mixed all the tones of each of the colours they were going to use to paint! The smell in the room was terrific! Turps and Linseed reeked in the whole place! I saw these guys absorbed completely in their paintings with various sized hog brushes bashing against their large canvases, the least sized canvas in the studio was a 24" by 36". These guys were bold with colour!! I was allowed to sit at the back and watch for a while, until I couldn't hold it again! I just shouted, "SEE COLOUR!!!"- which was a Nigerian way of saying, LOOK AT THOSE WONDERFUL COLOURS!!! That was it! From then, they would nickname me, "See Colour". That was the day I would decide to specialize in Painting! That was the day I got hooked on Oil Colour!

It's 20 years since I got introduced to the medium and I remember doing my first Oil painting in 1994 or there about. I accepted a commission to do 3 Oil paintings and I had never used the medium. I took up the challenge, gave it my best shot and my friend who commissioned me to do the work, paid me N800. That would be about £8.00 in today's Pound Sterling! But N800 was a great bonus for me and I went on to sell more work and win major art competitions where I was awarded N15,000(£100) in 1996! So I was thrilled with my improvement!

ROI 2008- Felt really great, My painting Rush Hour IV was hung in the main gallery next to Past President- Dennis Syrett's painting!!

Then in 1999 I came back to London, where I was born, to continue my life and see if I could further my career.  But when I came over it was a total shock! The culture shock was too much for me to handle! I went to the job centre in search of something I could do and it was a great disappointment!  I couldn't get to do anything but menial jobs, so while doing menial jobs-I decided never to stop sketching even if I couldn't get back to painting.  I later volunteered to share my art skills with homeless people at St Mungos in 1999 and I did that for 6 months after which I got a temporary job there.  I later got a permanent job working with homeless people from 2001-2008. I would one day become full time painter in 2008, till date!

 When I got enough money to buy my first set of oil colours in the UK, I was so pleased, that would have been around 2000 or 2001. Then the magic started again! I started painting portraits and I started getting commissions too, in oil!

In 2003 I decided to do a Diploma in Portraiture at the Heatherley's School of Fine Art in Chelsea. There, the tutors enlightened me greatly on how to mix and use oil colour properly, more than I had ever known before. Alongside this, I would buy loads of instructional books on Oil painting- The Best being Alla Prima, everything I know about Oil Painting by Richard Schmid. It was an Artist called Z. S. Liang that recommended the book to me after contacting him for advice on how to kick start my Oil painting on another level and I must say, this book completely gave me everything I needed to know about the usage of this medium. I don't know how many times I have read it, I still read it every now and then, it is a book one can refer to in a life time. The only thing I am yet to do in it, is the almighty colour charts, which my painter friend David Pilgrim cracked and he is now a Full Member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. 

ROI 2009- Great feeling again as my Painting , "Summer Light, Clapham Common wins The Artist Magazine Award!

Immediately I left Heatherley's I decided to take up entering into competitions and open exhibitions at the Mall Galleries. The first society that I got my work into was the Pastel Society, in 2006! Then I got into the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Royal Society of British Artists! I was so pleased that I finally tried the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 2006. I was encouraged to take part because in 2005, one of the students from my Portrait class at Heatherley's won the 2nd or 3rd Prize in the Under 35 category. So I put in 2 works but none got in! I wasn't discouraged because one of them had a D, which means it was judged and then rejudged before it didn't make it into the final selection.

So I thought if I could get a D in my first attempt, I'll do much better work and see what would happen. In 2007, I entered 2 paintings: one of a Homeless guy and one of my Rush Hour Paintings. The Homeless Painting was Rejected BUT The RUSH HOUR painting was accepted and won the First Prize in the Under 35 category! I was over the moon! That was the first time I would get  a painting into the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Exhibition and the last time I would be able to compete in the Under 35 category. It was a great boost for me to win and ever since then up till 2012, I have exhibiting regularly with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.

ROI 2010- My painting at Norfolk was one of the paintings I did in my First Instructional DVD! You can get a copy of it with Town House Films.

In 2009 I was made a Provisional member and then in 2012 at the Annual General Meeeting after the December show I was elected an Associate Member! The journey has been long since I first discovered the medium and I am so glad to be associated with such a prestigious society!

ROI 2011-Great feeling again as my painting of "The Face of Homelessness, Kings Road" is one of the first to sell, even before the Private View starts!

I am also thrilled to be taking part in my first exhibition as an Associate member in April this year, at the A K Wilson Gallery. I'll update you with the details when the time is near.

ROI 2012- Great feeling as my painting "The Face of Homelessness, Earls Court" gets hung in the main gallery alongside Roger Dellar, A prolific painter and member of the RI and PS.
"Never ever give up! You might be down today, feeling low, but don't let that feeling affect your tomorrow!"-Adebanji Alade