Rob Adams a Painter's Blog

June 14, 2012

The Jubilee on the Thames and London Streets

Filed under: London,Painting,Watercolour — Rob Adams @ 8:09 pm

Longer than I would have liked between posts, but I have been doing commercial work to refill the coffers that inflation is steadily depleting. I can’t get any interest from galleries so I’ll not be relying on landscapes and river scenes for a living anytime soon. That said I have covered my costs, which is as good as can be expected I suspect. It takes a fair while to establish any sort of reputation in any area of endeavour, I should know as I’ve done it several times in different specialities. So I know that it takes time and persistence. I sent images to several galleries that sell the sort of thing I do, but received no one single reply… not even a no thanks! So I will have to carry on putting in for as many of the open exhibitions as I can. The Marine exhibition of the RSMA is next and luckily due to the Queen ruling for a long time quite a few impressive nautical subjects hove into view in the river. The weather didn’t exactly help but I have three or so that will fit the bill as entries. I shan’t be surprised if I don’t get in as the standard is very high, but you never know. I am off to France to paint in Brittany in a week or so which should also throw up some contenders. The latest thing with open exhibitions is to allow you to enter digital versions for them to pre-pick. I am not sure about this, it may save framing costs but you wonder how the winnowing is done, do they have decent monitors… the process is not really fully explained.

It’s all watercolours this month as I have had breathing problems so too many solvents floating around in the room seemed a bad idea. I have been enjoying the painting though as I am trying to refine my balance of tight and loose. There are many people trying to be Alvaro Castagnet and Joseph Zbukvic and I can fully see why, I very much enjoy their dash and style. Both are fine draughtsmen and very strong on tone, colour and composition… they are also two of the hardest acts to follow for amateurs. Some admirers get pretty close mind you, but I am never quite sure about basing a personal style so closely on another painter who’s work you may admire. I myself very much admire the watercolours of Trevor Chamberlain and study his paintings to learn, but I don’t want to paint how he sees things I want to paint how I see them! Not that I would turn down some of his painting and compositional skills mind you. So here’s what I’ve got done we will start with the marine hopefuls I think… they can be clicked for larger versions.

 

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This is the Pelican of London moored on the Thames near Tower Bridge. The tide was low so I could get down on to the fore shore which really improves the composition with such subjects. The low view lifts the ship up and compresses the water. My first wash took an absolute age to dry, fortunately I had a book with me so I just read until it was ready. One of the advantages of a dead flat day. The warm yellow in the sky was an imaginative addition but by the time I had finished the afternoon was moving on into evening and it had almost become true!

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watercolour

Here are Vic 56 and 92. VIC is Victualing Inshore Craft built by the admiralty. They looked very fine moored together, although it would have been nice to have had a brighter day, somehow the light rather suited these two old steamships in their matching yellow livery. The key to this picture was to get the water the right overall tone so that as few as possible marks had to be laid on top to define the ripples. I even did a little thumb nail test of the key tones so I was confident the various initial washes would dry the tone and hue I wanted. It is amazing how much such a simple thing helps. I still find it hard not to rush straight in with hastily mixed washes once the drawing is done, but a little pause for consideration nearly always pays dividends.

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I have been considering this view for a while. It is only this time of year the sun shines down this very ordinary street in Brockley in South London. I set up perched on the bonnet of my car as usual… this prevents me being killed by passing motorists! I got all the drawing done and the first washes in but then the Landrover upped and offed, then to add insult to injury a big van parked in its place! So I had to finish up at home. Pity I need more practice at getting a 1/4 sheet done en plein air.

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Not altogether sure about this one. Lots of good things, but I don’t like the centrality of the two sitting figures. I have gone down again since and done a few thumbnail sketches, so expect to see another version. There is a very good picture of this scene to be had so I will persevere.

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This is Wapping high Street. I was out with the Wapping Group and just sizing this up when Trevor Chamberlain passed by. He had painted this very view himself many years ago and then apparently you got a glimpse of Tower Bridge at the end of the road. Nowadays we have to do with expensive and very ugly flats… Getting the light to flow through the picture was key to this one and also the balance of the greens. I might knock back the car on the left as people have pointed out it is a little too strong. Thanks to modern technology I shall test this in photoshop before risking any paint!

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This St Alfege’s Church in Greenwich, designed by that great London architect Nicholas Hawksmoor Christopher Wren’s talented pupil. There has been a church on this site since 1012AD. It is another scene I have been meaning to do for a while. It is always hard to be on the spot when a subject is perfectly lit. I make a point of always carrying my camera and a sketch book with me even if I am just off to get a pint of milk. You just never know when some very humdrum scene will be transfigured by a moment of glorious light.

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