Wolfson College, Oxford – River Quad
Looking back on this Wolfson River Quad painting. I can see how my paintings have changed. How my art has evolved. This was painted seven years ago. I’d been painting architecture for only a few years. I had fewer colours to choose from. It was all hand drawn. My photography skills and camera skills were basic.
Looking back, it’s easy to be critical, to view the past with a perfectionist, eye. But imperfections are important. I was listening to Brené Brown or maybe it was Oprah Winfrey, discuss ballerinas, and how, once a dancer achieves a certain level of technical performance, it’s the imperfections that make her stand out and achieve fame. I think that’s true of the art world.
There are many, many artists who have perfect technique, but the finished result is lacking something. That little spark of life that changes something good into something extraordinary. Something people are willing to pay thousands or even millions to own. Would I include myself in those? Certainly not for this one, but maybe one day, I can but dream.
The artist journey is never done.
There is always a level of dissatisfaction, and a desire to do it better. To reach perfection, the next time.
So what about this painting? It’s a riverbank quad, with the river bank altered to allow the launching of boats, mainly punts and rowing boats, this is Oxford after all. Got to supply the Dark Blue team with the rowers of the future, and a trip to Oxford is never complete without a punt on the river.
The accommodation blocks are quiet. Everyone is studying or at lectures. The river is flowing, slowly. There are none of the aforementioned boats in sight. Maybe they’re training? Although training is usually early mornings. And this was early afternoon.
The colours in the Wolfson River Quad painting are erratically applied, merging browns, silvers and pale blues. The roof of the colonnaded walkway, a mixture of purples and indigo.
There’s a crumpled sky overhead. The way the folds flow down to the right hand side drawing together like a path receding in the sky. The main path below forks, to the left into the college by the curving row of columns. To the right, it disappears down some steps to the Riverside. The only hint of their presence is the dipping of the black safety railing. The path to the left, takes you back via the buildings and around the quad on the far side to the steps in the distance, where it meets the right hand path. They continue together, beyond to the quad in the distance on the far right.
I wonder what’s around there?