Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

March 8, 2011

A Chill Wind on the Thames

Filed under: London,Painting,Watercolour — Tags: , , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 4:21 pm

It’s been hard to find time to paint as I have been working on some commercial projects. I know a fair few professional artists who never paint a stroke for themselves and only swing a brush when a client asks. I have somehow always found time for my own painting though it has not always been very easy. There have been many months when no opportunity to get out and paint has come my way. Now as I am part retired I can paint more, indeed I have done nearly 150 paintings in the last 6 months which is an all time record. I did worry when I took the step of giving up most of my commercial work if I was being wise and maybe I just wouldn’t find it in me to paint enough to make the step worthwhile. I am much relieved that this has not been the case, you always have to be careful with ambitions as sometimes once achieved they turn out to be not quite what one expected. I am looking forward to spring now as it will be exciting to paint the fresh colours after the muted hues of winter, already the daffodils are blooming in my local park and the fruit trees are beginning to blossom. Not in this post alas we are still in the grip, all be it weakening, of winter. Enough guff on with some paintings.



Battersea, Thames, London, Painting, oils, plein air, river

This was an expedition with the brass monkeys. I was by the river by about 11 am and the light was dull but had a certain atmosphere so I set up to paint. I had been going about 45 minutes when the sun came out… often this is a bonus bringing the scene to life, but this time the scene changed so much that it was either stop or start another. This is nice enough but will probably be scraped and something better painted on top. I actually rather like painting on panels that have a few underlying attempts, seems to add a little history to the new painting.


Chelsea, Thames, London, Painting, oils, river, plein air, Lots Rd

Here is a scene that has been painted by many an artist. I should have resisted as the world doesn’t really need another daub of this view. Once on site however with the sun blasting on to the water I couldn’t resist. Nice enough, the colours were really quite odd with the sun leaching the saturation from everything with its dazzle.


Trafalgar Square, London, watercolour, watercolor

I snatched the time to do this watercolour. I have been doing many an oil of the city but hadn’t done many watercolours so this was a challenge. The thing with the medium is you only really get one chance, mistakes are hard to correct. This was started with a single wash leaving just the lights and the road markings white paper. I wanted the lights to be shining but also wanted the rest not to be too dark and heavy. As I was studio bound I had the luxury of breaking for cups of coffee while washes dried. Something I find frustrating outside on dull winter days when your first washes take an age to dry.


Whitehall, London, oil, plein air, painting

I have been experimenting with hand held painting as you would not be allowed to set up an easel anywhere like this. Hand held however you can put your back to a post and paint nearly anywhere. I was quizzed by two police officers as to what I was up to they let me carry on. For this one I just clipped my board to the palette with dog clips. There is a bit of awkwardness at first getting all the paint out and stuffing you pockets with likely colours and rags, but on the whole it was easier than holding my small pochade. The trickiest thing was that I kept running out of palette space, but on the whole surprisingly practical. I had to work very swiftly as the light was good only briefly. I had planned my venue so had the drawing already there from a previous visit. I got all the main building tones blocked in and a few bits of detail just to indicate. You can always finish off windows etc later. The main thing I wanted to get down was the distant view of Big Ben and the wonderful changes of tone and colour in the road and pavement. I put in cars some of the people later but just noted down how the shadows went. Below is a snap of my set up.



Cannon St, London, City, oil, plein air, painting

Another hand held expedition, a scene I have painted a few times in morning light but this was the other end of the day with the office workers headed home and crossing the street to the station. I got all of this done on site though my arm was aching after nearly an hour and a half. One good thing about painting London taxis is you know another will be stopped in the same place a few minutes after the previous one had driven off! I noted in the figures intending to refine them from references, but I sort of liked the way they turned out so this time I left them be. I used a head torch to help see what I was doing, but there is so much ambient light on the street I hardly needed it.


Mayflower, Rotherhithe, London, Thames, Plein air, oil, painting

A wonderful day out by the river at Rotherhithe. I was the lone Brass Monkey alas but the day more than made up for it. This scene started in flat grey light but as I worked the sun started to break through suddenly lighting up different parts of the river and buildings. The timing was good as I was at just the stage where I could dash in bits as the cloud shadows passed over. The wind was wickedly cold and piercing so after this I had to retire to the pub for beer and sustenance.


Rotherhithe, Thames, London, River, oil, painting, plein air

By the time I had eaten and warmed up the tide had dropped and I had my eye on a scene I thought would be good later. So to fill in time I painted this quick watercolour. I was very lucky in that the sun kept coming back and lighting up the boats and jetty giving me ample time to get the whole lot in.


London, Thames, Rotherhithe, River, oils, paintin, plein air

As soon as the watercolour was dry I set out to do this. The light was fantastic and I got completely lost in my work. I had to call a halt when the sun came round the building and the scene then looked like the photo below… but a grand day out and I went home tired but happy.


London, Thames

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