Work Started on the Fountain of Love Commission

Fountain of Love Detail

I have been working on the drawing of the Fountain of Love commission, which has been testing to say the least. I have just included a detail here, otherwise the image would be too faint to show

The photograph of the fountain itself was included in my last post, and I may have explained that the fountain is in the grounds of Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire. The house is magnificent and is now an hotel but the grounds are run by the National Trust and are extensive.

Over the ages, Cliveden was associated with powerful women. One of the more recent being Nancy Astor, American heiress as well as an MP in Westminster, possibly the first woman MP. More recently still, Cliveden was the scene of the scandalous liaison between Christine Keeler and John Profumo, a married government minister

Again I have been balancing two commission projects, as I have just finished the sketch study of a rather lovely yacht in St.Katherine’s Dock, just to agree the composition with the client before going on the finished painting. I drew this with the help of a grid but there is something about the sleek almost feminine lines of a boat which seem to elude me, no matter how many measurements I take.

Dancing Girl Sketch

As usual the camera leaches out the colour but the essence is there. I did find it useful to make a sketch on this occasion. So many mistakes could be made and were made. At least these have been cleared out of the way, hopefully not to reappear

There is something about highly polished surfaces like plastic or metal, which don’t work well in watercolour. Give me some rough old wood or rusty iron any day, and that will look realistic enough to touch. Still, if you owned a rusty old tub, you probably wouldn’t want it commemorated in a painting

We will await the client’s comment to see whether I have got the composition right as a first step

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The Finished Docklands Commission

Finished Dockland Commission

And this, I believe to be the final draft. I hope so. I am just starting to get tired of it being continually on the easel

However as cautiously as I can say, I am happy with it. I have kept within the terms of the commission, which was not easy, whilst at the same time, adding something myself to stop this being five copies of five photographs.

The Canary Wharf skyline has had some shadows added which have helped the definition. The little cranes even give a feeling of distance

Lensbury Circus, the second picture, that was difficult. Never easy to make anything of office blocks with lots of windows, we usually have an interesting sky or something to alleviate the sterility of square buildings. Not in this case as we are working with five vignettes, so all I could think of was to put some extra shadow over the front of the building and abstract those windows. More of an impression really

Bottom right, the pub, I think worked well. I used Cadmium Yellow for the umbrellas and the plants, which I think worked in conjunction with the violet used on the front of the building

The other two images I talked about on the last post, and still the little ferry boat is my favourite

The client is away until the end of June, so I will present the finished work then with fingers crossed under the table

To Continue with the Docklands Commission

Five Image Docklands Commission Partway Only

Well, out of the mist, some definition is starting to appear here and there

They wanted the Canary Wharf skyline to run along the top. Incidentally I photographed this on the easel so I am sorry that the images appear slanted. Also there are some shadows and stuff which shouldn’t be there. Just to make Canary Wharf more interesting I have used sunset colours building up oranges and vermillion across the windows. I have used vermillion and cobalt blue blended for soft shadows, which works, I believe. Little cranes help the feeling of distance. I think that picture is pretty well there, and I was asked to make that image soft anyway. I like to take the client’s instruction into account if I can, but sometimes they have to be persuaded to do things differently.

I finished the little ferry boat. Once I started I just could not stop. I think she will be my favourite image of the five, probably because I like painting boats anyway. For the background I have repeated the Canary Wharf Skyline, which is geographically impossible, but infinitely more interesting.

The pub in the bottom right, is ready for its next coat, which will be Transparent Brown over the Violet, which will give more definition to the building itself. I think yellow for the umbrellas, but I just need to work out which one.

The image which scares me and which I have made a start on is the crescent shaped building of Lensbury Circus. At the moment it is looking rather bleak, as though the area is run down, which of course it isn’t, far from it. All those windows too. They may have to succumb to a sort of lost and found treatment

But there are more positives than negatives so I will get back to it, but not tonight. I have spent hours on this one, but there are five pictures instead of one, which I should have realised when I took it on. Luckily I’m not on piece work or I would starve.

London Docklands Commission

Canary Wharf Skyline

The iconic skyline of Canary Wharf which makes a nice silhouette against an evening sky. The sky has a dull orange glow which should take some pale blue outlines nicely, whilst at the same time, get some orange reflections into some of the windows.

This is only one of the images I have been asked to paint, and then arrange them on one sheet.

Probably one of the more testing commissions that I have been given. This is being commissioned for a work colleague who is returning to his native land in August, so one wants to get it right. Scale and perspective have been abandoned as I try to get everything to fit, but we are moving forward inch by inch

Two of the other images are office blocks, and I have to say that glass and concrete are subjects that I tend to avoid in watercolour. The only saving grace of glass buildings is that they mirror the sky and can appear dramatic. One of them has a tint of green in the glass which makes it more interesting

The pub where they all went has something about it in style, and so,  that I can make something of. The other shot is of the ferry that crosses the Thames from the Docklands Hilton Pier, and of course, anything to do with boats is always a good subject for painting

This has already taken me a long time and will take more. Basically five drawings instead of one, so I should have charged more but never mind

Bosham Harbour goes on hold yet again. Incidentally the lady collected her wedding venue painting and was thrilled with my interpretation, for which I am relieved and delighted.

Churchill place (1)

Impressionists in London Exhibition at Tate Britain

Charing Cross Bridge by Pissarro

Charing Cross Bridge by Camille Pissarro

I took my grandson to see this fascinating exhibition at Tate Britain, a week or so ago, as he is studying Pointillism as part of his Art GCSE syllabus. The work of Camille Pissarro was much in evidence, so a lot for him to have a look at. This was his first visit to a major gallery, so significant, and as he pointed out, we were looking at originals, so the actual canvases that these painters worked on. I sometimes lose sight of that fact myself.

The exhibition was centred around the work of French painters who fled to Britain in the 1870s to escape the horrors of the Franco-Prussian War. Napoleon III had been captured after the Battle of Sedan, and on his release went into exile with his wife, Eugenie, and their son the Crown Prince, in England, living in Chislehurst. All three are entombed in Farnborough, in the abbey founded by Eugenie. After the fall of the Second Empire the fight went on, culminating in the horrific Siege of Paris in 1871. Civil war followed after a popular uprising by the Paris Commune. Thousands died. Many of the Communards were amongst those who fled to Britain, and who were received without question or restriction.

Many well-known painters arrived and stayed in London. Claude Monet had a suite of rooms in the Savoy Hotel, and painted the Thames and Houses of Parliament in all its moods. He loved the London fog, as did Whistler, credited by Oscar Wilde with the “invention of the fog”

Camille Pissarro, whose house in Louceviennes was commandeered by the Prussians, fled to south London with his mother and other relatives, ruined by the conflict. He lived at Kew, and paintings of his, of the Gardens and Kew Green are on display. He was another fascinated by the Thames and painted similar views to Monet, of the Houses of Parliament through the mist, as well as Charing Cross Bridge in the picture shown.

Not all the arrivals were Impressionists. James Tissot having been introduced by his friend Thomas Bowles, made a name for himself as a painter of High Society. With a great eye for colour and fashion, his paintings of ball gowns and uniforms are magnificent.

Many well-known dealers also followed the painters, and there are many more names that one could mention, but in the final room, is displayed the work of Andre Derain, who was inspired by the London paintings of Monet. He was sent to London in 1906 by the dealer Vollard, and produced thirty canvases from this trip. These were in homage to Monet and covered the same subjects , Charing Cross Bridge, the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. Not to my taste, I think he belonged to a group called the Fauvistes, which believed in the arbitrary use of colour. However, his work is successful, and rounds off this exhibiton nicely

Paintings are on loan from galleries across the world, so a one-off opportunity for most of us to see them. Worth going to, more than once if you can

 

Exhibition in Woking Lightbox: The Camden Town Group

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This painting is by Robert Bevan 1865-1925, one of the the Camden Art School, painting as the name suggests in North London during the Edwardian period

This painting is entitled Dunns Cottage and was painted in Devon, although Bevan was just as at home painting in London, usually horse fairs and horse drawn vehicles. Bevan studied in Brittany in Pont Aven painting alongside Gauguin, and the influence on this painting is plain to see, large blocks of flat colour and unrealistic shades

Other artists represented at this exhibition are Walter Sickert, sometimes known as the father of them all, Spencer Gore and Ginner

Rather like the French Impressionists a few decades before, the Camden group painted contemporary scenes of city life, the streets, theatres, places of entertainment like pubs and circuses. Sickert portrayed young women in the nude at their toilette rather in the style of Degas, who was a great influence. Non erotic portraits of women in dingy surroundings were something he often came back to, as though the flatness of their life was something which fascinated him.

Preparatory drawings of the figures for his famous painting Ennui are also there, a study of tedium and of people trapped in their lives

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The Balcony, Mornington Crescent  by Spencer Gore (1878-1914)

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The Circus by Charles Ginner (1878-1952)

Ginner was born in Cannes of a British father who established the Pharmacie Ginner. His brother was a doctor on the Riviera . Ginner himself studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was influenced by the French art of the day. The circus was a favourite subject, and this picture can be compared by one of Seurat, which is in the Kroller Muller Museum in Holland

Ginner moved to London and became an influential member of the Camden group

The quality of exhibitions at the Lightbox continues to improve, and well worth a visit if you are in striking distance. The other exhibition one floor below, on the History of the Comic, extremely informative and comprehensive for those interested in graphic art