Painting Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Not inspired by the coronation, because I have looked at this amazing abbey for some time, as a possible painting. A lot of architectural detail which I love to have a go at. I work by allusion. I could not reproduce all the detail exactly, especially with a brush. I put in some detail, some shading and get the colour as close as possible to the original stonework, which is a pinky grey colour, and this seems to work. I sometimes think that the eye of the neholder finishes off the image and fills in the gaps that I have left.

I sorted through various photographic references. I had plenty to choose from. Part of the facade was obscured by two buses and other traffic. There is a column of pink granite in front of the abbey which I felt was in the way, so just left it out. I took out one bus and moved the other one as far left as I could manage, and painted in the red livery that you expect of a London bus. As far as I could see, this is one of the new Routemasters. I am not an expert. I just eclipsed the abbey with the bus, just to show they belonged in the same picture, not placed together artificially. I felt they worked together. I echoed the red with pedestrians in different parts of the composition.

St James Palace on the left I put in heavy shadow, much heavier than the photograph reference. I liked the effect. The spotlight was now on the abbey. The tower of the Houses of Parliament I painted in very pale violet. The image faded away, giving an impression of distance.

I felt satisfied with the composition. The facade of the abbey needed some work. I sharpened some of the detail on tracery, and put extra shadow in to let the eye see where everything was. I don’t do much more than that. The allusion is complete. The eye of the viewer can fill in what is missing

The painting is finished . I would have preferred not to introduce green but there was a tree which couldn’t be left out. This painting will be shown next month in Chichester where I have been invited by a gallery to take part in an exhibition. So a new area which I am looking forward to.


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