Imagine an Urban Landscape. Do you think of Clean? Probably not. Cities are much cleaner than they used to be but cities and grim go together like pencil and lead. Like many other cities, the clean air act transformed Manchester. As a child I remember lots of very dirty cotton mills. And I mean dirty with black soot. Features hard to determine. Wherever you looked the urban landscape was grim. In fact, I grew up thinking most old buildings in Manchester were made of black stone. That was until they started cleaning them up. After a while I forgot and think my memorywas wrong. I began to question whether things were really that dirty. Then I found this post in the Manchester Evening News which confirms Manchester was a very dirty places. So, when I saw Quarry Bank mill my first thought was… “It’s far too clean!” OK, it is in a rural area but there should be some soot somewhere. So I thought I’d dirty it up a bit. Now, that looks better! Although looking at the photos from the Manchester Evening News, I don’t think it is dirty enough! If you fancy seeing some more urban grim take […]
The Walkie Talkie Building… Also known as 20 Fenchurch Street as seen from Lombard Street. A while ago I painted a Golden Locust trade sign. Created in the days when reading was a rare skill, and images were the traditional method for advertising a company. There’s an interesting history of them here. I took several photographs at the time and managed to find a position where these signs were visible with the Walkie Talkie Building in the background. This painting took a while, and I seem to have gone mad with the photos. Here I’m getting ready to start painting. With watercolour, you need to be ready to act quickly. The best results are always done with the minimum of fuss. Although you can re-wet the paper, some techniques suffer if delayed. A close up of the Anchor. And another close up of the masking phase. I managed to catch the sheen of the water wash on this one. The painting begins… It seemed to take forever to get to this point. Some details of the painting once I’d started applying wet ink. Here’s the anchor with some other signs and the clock. And then we reach the best bit. […]
The London Eye has captured public imagination. It’s dominant, impressive and overshadows everything around it. Near the London Eye is a statue. It too is impressive, but not on the scale of the London Eye but what it represents is arguably more impressive. It’s a memorial sculpture for the International Brigade. Created by Ian Walters in bronze, it recognises those who fought in the Spanish Civil War. A powerful image of four figures supporting a fifth wounded figure. As you stand next to it at night and look to the Thames the London Eye towers over it like a halo. Which was my choice for the painting. Here is the first stage of the painting it inspired the graphite image with the figures central to the halo created by the Eye itself.. The image of Atlas carrying the World sprang to mind. This is how it looked after the initial washes and ink application had been allowed to dry overnight. I then started to emphasise details with ink. This is when I usually start blowing the ink around. Looking at the results form the salting I was keen to keep as much of this texture as possible. And here is […]
Battersea and Chelsea combined. Being from Manchester, I had no idea how close Battersea Power station was to Chelsea Bridge. In my mind the two have very different images. One a clean, flash symbol of luxury life and the other with the daily grind of the power plant. True Battersea Power station was decommissioned in 1983 but it’s image is synonymous with industry and productivity. There may now be far more glamourous plans afoot for it but it was not always so. I first saw a picture of Battersea on the Animals Album by Pink Floyd. An image of neglect but a symbol of everyday resiliance. It has intrigued me ever since. Natually it was high on my list of industrial buildings to paint. So when I knew I’d be heading nearby for the Affordable Art Fair, I armed myself with camera and set of. As I say, the proximity to the “posh” end of town was surprising. It’s a lot cleaner than I was expecting too. But otherwise, it was worth the effort. I’ve a confession with this one, I have shared it when I submitted it to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, they didn’t like it […]
Finally I can reveal my latest canvas! It’s taken a little longer than planned but I’ve finally finished the work in progress I started last week. After a hectic but thoroughly enjoyable weekend followed by far too much paperwork I’ve been able to finish a painting! I’m still working on the title so as yet it’s “untitled number whatever I’m up to now”. Although as I write this I’ve a strong urge to call it “The eyes have it” Those circles are the lights but they’re looking distinctly eye like to me and more than a little bit creepy. Do you see what I mean? It’s purely coincidence mind you. I was keen to take it more abstract for this one. Now, what shall I call it?