Estuary Sea Forts: Sketch

Estuary Sea Forts

This is the preliminary sketch from the photograph. Very quickly done, as I have dropped behind with this particular picture, probably because there is no deadline on this one. As I said before, I am just painting these forts for my own amusement

There is very little detail drawn in so far. This is just a basic framework put in with the grid ready to transfer onto watercolour paper, which hopefully will ensure that the perspective is correct, and that everything goes into the right place. I quite like finishing the drawing straight onto the surface that is going to be painted. It just feels more immediate that way

I have started to have a few thoughts on colour. I think I will go right across with a mix of cobalt and pthalo blue. Let that dry hard and glaze the sea with another coat of pthalo blue. The horizon line is quite low, so there won’t be too much of that

When that is hard, I could put in the shadows perhaps this time with a mix of cerulean blue and violet, just to show where they are. When that,too, is hard, give the metal work a glaze of pthalo green as a base colour. That should set me up for having a crack at all that rust and dirt and seaweed. The shadows can be deepened up with a dark brown

Once I get those base colours in, then things will get more interesting, I am sure

Thames Estuary Sea Forts

Pirbright 098

I have just finished the work for my second exhibition which I set up tomorrow in the Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford, for anyone living close enough to go, this will be on for a month. All new work, so hopefully enjoyable

With that said and with a couple of weeks spare before I start my next commission, I am going to indulge myself and tackle something totally different, namely the Maunsell Sea Forts in the picture above. These are in the North Sea about nine miles out from the Thames Estuary, and loom like ghosts in the mist as you approach them

They were designed by a civil engineer called Guy Maunsell, and had a short but intense life during WW2. Built in 1942, they were erected on sandbanks, and commanded the estuary of the Thames, so they protected London and the Kent coastline from low-flying attacks by the Luftwaffe.

After a spell as a pirate radio station in the 1960s, they relapsed into disuse and as far as I know nothing is being done with them, probably because they are out of sight and so out of mind. There were seven of them, but one was hit by a Norwegian vessel and had to be taken down

We went to see them some years ago on a one-off trip organised out of London. This was on a paddle steamer called the Waverley, which originated from the Clyde as I remember, but would sail round the British coast and would organise excursions from various ports. This one was from London. We started in the Pool of London, sailed through Tower Bridge which was novel at the time, although I think cruise ships do this quite often now, and then chugged down the Thames, stopping only at the end of Southend Pier to pick up some more passengers. The voyage continued out into the North Sea , passing a surprising number of ferry boats at anchor, mothballed until they were needed. The forts slowly came into view through the sea mist. Very atmospheric indeed

I thought I would paint them one day, and have finally got round to it. Not something that is commercial, although I may get a surprise, but that doesn’t matter. This will be an interesting project in itself, tackling all those rusty surfaces, and hopefully capturing something of the mood which the photograph has missed somehowPirbright 091

 

Finished Painting entitled Christmas Shopping:Guildford High Street

Signed revised Christmas Shopping Guildford High Street

Christmas Shopping: Guildford High Street

The historic High Street of Guildford is always a joy to paint. This street is actually Saxon in origin, although nothing that early remains above ground. The plan of the street though goes back that far, and the dimensions of the actual plots are still the same

There are still buildings from the c13. The iconic clock which I have mentioned before is dated 1683, when the facade of the old Guildhall was restored. A relative newcomer, the classical arch in the centre was built in 1819, and was the last corn market in the town. Known as the Tunsgate Arch this was built on the site of the old Tun Inn, one of the many coaching inns in the town. The Tun Inn went bankrupt and was demolished in 1818. The columns used to be equidistant until the middle two were moved to accommodate motor traffic in the 1930’s. In the 1990’s the arch was closed to motor traffic, and paved over. To celebrate the twinning of Guildford with Freiburg in Germany at the time, the coats of arms of both towns were let into the floor in mosaic.

This painting was commissioned by a charity called Cards for Good Causes, and I am pleased to say has been approved, and will go forward for reproduction as a Christmas card.  They will be on sale in pop-up shops in every town in the UK from 18th October onwards.  Details on their web site. The proceeds are distributed amongst 25 well-known charities and should you wish to support, thank you.

An extremely detailed painting which has taken me some time to complete, but enjoyable nonetheless. The framed original will also go on sale in support of the above

 

Winter Street Scene Current Progress

Winter Street Scene Interim

Well, I have made a start with the painting, after staring at the drawing for ages.

The blue sky is in. As a bright winter sky, I am happy with that. There will be shadows, quite long ones for that time of the year. The shady side of the street has had one wash of blue but is still quite pallid. Those shadows will have to be deepened considerably, if we are to get the effect of bright sunshine over the rooftops. I think I will put a little red in with the blue next time, which I prefer as a shadow colour, when I glaze over the existing

The large white space in the sky is, of course, the large clock. This I will have to redraw and paint as accurately as I can. I have done the clock a few times now. I tend to do it freehand, and I have always been lucky. Watch it go wrong this time, as I have a lot riding on it.

This clock, if I haven’t mentioned it before, has become the iconic image of Guildford. It dates from 1683, and was the gift from a London clockmaker called Thomas Aylward, who wanted to set up in Guildford, so presented this as a gift to the town to accompany his application. Today we would call it a bribe. It hangs from the old Guildhall, just off the picture to the left, a building which served amongst other things as the town law courts until well into the twentieth century. The clock works perfectly today, and is lovingly maintained.

Back to the picture, quite a lot of laborious masking out, to preserve the snow on window sills etc.That took a lot of time with little to show, but happily we are on with the actual painting now, so starting to see something taking shape.

Quite a lot of detail in this picture, and I am taking my time, just doing a little, letting it dry, so that I get the true colour, and then going on from there. It is hard to say when I will finish, but I have promised it for the end of the month, which once looked a long way off, but now doesn’t. Oh well, crack on.

Winter Street Scene Initial Sketch

High Street Winter

This is by no means the finished drawing, but is plenty for me to transfer onto watercolour paper. I like to leave some freehand drawing still to do on the final sketch before painting. It seems to preserve the spontaneity somehow.

I have dressed the figures suitably for the winter, thanks to online catalogues. There are Christmas references and of course there will be snow which won’t show properly until the colour goes in

A lot more detail to go in, as I say. Some buildings are still to be completed, and there will be more figures further down the High Street. Not too many so that the composition looks cluttered, but hopefully enough to make the street look busy

Not only do I have the tedious job of moving the sketch onto watercolour paper, but I must soon start thinking about colours.

The sky will be a wintry cloudy blue. The time will be early afternoon, so still some watery winter sunshine with long shadows. The painting will not be grey. Colours are visible. Shadows should be blue especially on the snow. I need some oranges and reds. Brickwork and roof tiles will help. Some of the snow will be sliding off the rooftops, as a very gradual thaw has set in

Clothing? Some olive greens perhaps and some browns. One or two red anoraks dotted up the High Street. Also one or two red Christmas hats and some red spots on Christmas trees and in shop windows

Let us hope that all goes to plan

Watts Chapel and Gallery, Compton

Watts Chapel,Compton

Watts Cemetery Chapel, Compton, Surrey designed by Mary Watts

The winter street scene of Guildford is going to take me some time. Not only do I have to use my imagination, which is not my strong point, I also have to do a fair bit of research and also calculation, which I have to take my time over.

This does give me an opportunity to post something local which we visited not that long ago, which is Watts Cemetery Chapel or sometimes known as the Watts Mortuary Chapel.This is in the village of Compton, near Guildford in Surrey. I painted the above after our visit. Financed by the famous Victorian painter, George Frederick Watts, through his paintings,he donated it to the village of Compton.The Watts Gallery is also nearby. Recently restored after years of dilapidation, it houses a wonderful collection of his paintings and sculpture. The chapel was designed by his wife Mary Watts who also oversaw the building

In 1895 Mary started giving evening classes to the villagers at their home Limnerslease, teaching them how to model the local clay, and producing decorative tiles in terra cotta. They modelled the symbolic and beautiful patterns that she had designed, which would be used in the interior decoration of the chapel. The chapel she designed is in the Arts and crafts Style, the nearest we get in England to Art Nouveau, although I maintain many of the interior details are really Art Nouveau

In England, we never really had an architect who epitomised Art Nouveau, as they did in Scotland with Rennie Mackintosh. I sometimes think Mary Watts was our Art Nouveau heroine.

Close by, her husband’s gallery. A very famous Victorian painter, G.F.Watts, known for allegorical and symbolic works. His paintings hang all over the world, yet many are here at Compton, and this gallery is so worth a visit.

If I were to be asked to pick a favourite painting, it would be that very famous one “Hope”. There are many to choose from, but this female allegorical figure, clutching a wooden lyre with only one string left, is very poignant.

There were two versions painted and when we were last there, the version from the Tate was on loan to Compton.

This painting has been an influence on many great names. On Picasso during his Blue Period for his hunched figure The Old Guitarist, is one example. Martin Luther King referenced it in his collection of sermons. Nelson Mandela allegedly had a copy on the wall of his cell in prison on Robben Island.

Later in the 1980s the painting was the subject of a lecture by one Dr.Frederick Sampson in Richmond, Virginia who described it as a study of contradictions. One Jeremiah Wright apparently attended the lecture and in his sermon in 1990 on Hope, coined the phrase “audacity of Hope”. Having attended the sermon, Barack Obama adopted the phrase later as the title for his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address, and more well-known to most of us, as the title of his second book.

I think the quote runs something like : to have one string left and to have the audacity to hope that you can still make music

How some things echo down the ages!800px-Assistants_and_George_Frederic_Watts_-_Hope_-_Google_Art_Project

Hope

Critics of the day called it Despair but obviously missed the point