Well a busy week or so. I have been concentrating on the beginnings of a few urban paintings, one of which I much to my surprise completed. When I was working out in the west of London a few years ago one of the quickest ways to travel meant cutting through the City of London in order to change from overground to underground. At a certain time of year in the winter the commuters are arriving as the dawn breaks, which makes for some wonderfully dramatic moments with the low light glancing down the streets and picking out the grand buildings and glinting on the busy traffic. I have snatched a fair few photos over time which I want to combine to catch the early morning mood.
Earlier in the week I had the honour of being a guest to paint with the Wapping Group of painters, who since the 1940’s have painted the Thames and surrounds. Many very fine artists have painted with the group over the years the present members being no exception. (I have added their web page to my links section on the right) As luck would have it the weather was merciless raining steadily from a mostly flat grey sky for most of the day. But the members sallied forth none the less to paint whatever the day had to offer. I did a quick oil before the weather totally closed in, and a couple of sketches. After painting we all took refuge in the pub to recover, it was a great pleasure to go out with them, painting is often a solitary business and it was a great pleasure to go out and paint the river in like minded company.
Firstly though my street scene painted in my nice dry studio!
I had great fun painting this, it is made up of quite a few references shot at different times combined with a few figures I had sketched or snapped. You can see from the image it is still very wet, but I was pleased to have got the most out of the range of tones to suggest the morning light on the buildings. The hardest bit was finding traffic that fit the bill and I ended up going up to town to take more pictures. I don’t often use black but here I have on the nearest figures to bring them forward. I put a fair amount of time into arranging the composition to bring the eye eventually to the main figure. It is the the people that give the city it’s vibrancy, but also I wished to catch the almost contemplative feeling that is often present as people make their way to work.
On my day out with the Wapping group I arrived a little early to see what was on offer as far as the scenery went. The group was meeting in Wapping itself which I hadn’t visited for quite a while. There are still a fair few interesting bits left not swallowed up in ghastly riverside flats. While waiting I did this quick sketch of Tower Bridge, though I won’t paint it, there are probably enough paintings of this iconic scene in the world already. The light was very flat and dull, but I was to find this was to be the best of the day!
After meeting up with the group we sallied forth into the wet. I set up looking into the light at the mooring that lies in the river just east of Tower Bridge. Painting was distinctly tricky with the need to hold my umbrella over all to keep out the rain, unfortunately with the wind I could either protect the job in hand or myself so I was left with the water trickling down my neck. Even so it was an engrossing subject and I was soon lost in the process The wind had got up so the quick flowing water was ruffled by the wind which I felt made a great partner for the grey ragged clouds being chased across the sky. One brush was lost to the river, knocked in as I juggled palette, brushes, paints and umbrella, it was with a certain amount of relief I returned to the pub to imbibe whisky fortified coffee.
Various members of differing degrees of dampness trickled in and sketched each other whilst bemoaning the rain. I did venture forth again, but the the painting this time was not a success alas, a fine day out despite it all though and I hope to join the group again for an expedition later in the year.