Evening Light, Whistler Statue, Chelsea Embankment (The Process)

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Evening Light, Whistler Statue, Chelsea Embankment, oil on gessoed mountboard, 6" x 8"


I was determined to paint on an evening when the light was brilliant around the River Thames and the Chelsea Embankment. I thought I was going to go a bit further in search of a scene to paint when I suddenly got struck by the light hitting the Whistler Statue along the Chelsea Embankment.

I just parked my Pochade Box and decided to give it a real go!

I enjoyed every bit of the process and decided to share the way I go about doing these small paintings in this blogpost.

Adebanji painting Whilster Statue
STAGE 1- Paints all lined up, in order, yes in order, I'm a bit of an order freak when it comes to lining up paint. The shadow is there, I love the light effects, I know it won't last, so I am gonna have to paint FAST! The view is great and I am positioned well. These are all important first things that go through my mind. I am sitting down to paint, this is my preferred position, because it stops me from rushing when my legs start to ache. Also I feel more relaxed when I sit down.
STAGE 2- I don't want to put the statue in the dead centre, so I do a little thing I call "dividing the format into unequal parts". If you notice the shapes that emerge from the division are all unequal but also the line that runs vertically helps me to know where to position the statue off-centre. I am not using the sight size method to paint as many other painters do, I just sketch to suit the surface I am working on, I'm a bit flexible, loads of sketching on a daily basis has helped me judge proportions naturally.
STAGE 3- Here, I quickly sketch the base of the statue and plan to capture the light effects and the shadows as I  know this part would not last as the light is changing quickly.  In a shape-by shape procedure you can see how I have quickly put blocks of colour patches to capture the bottom area of the painting. It's the part that is going to be hardest to capture from memory if the light changes so I handle it first!
STAGE 4- I add a bit more details to the bottom area of the painting, moving shape by shape- I try to finish one section and then move on to the next section. I finish off the base of the statue and then quickly sketch in the main statue parts. The sketching is done in Terra Rosa with liquin, I sketch with a very thin sable brush.
STAGE 5- Once I have completed painting the base of the statue and all the parts on the bottom third of the painting. I leave off completing the main statue and quickly capture the sky, the light is beautiful and the sky plays an integral part so getting the right colours is vital! You can see the patch of mixtures on the right hand side of my palette where the sky colour gradation is planned.
STAGE 6- Once the sky is complete, I then sketch into the sky-wet on wet- to get the tree into the painting. It is possible to paint into the sky as the sky was colour was mixed with a lot of liquin, this helped it in drying fast. The painting is beginning to take shape now!
STAGE 7- Now I concentrate my energies on the main thing, the Statue of Whistler. When hit by the light it looks so dramatic! I had to refer to the images on my digital camera to remember how the light hit some areas of the statue as the light had changed completely while I was painting this part.
FINAL STAGE- I bring everything together by adding a few details here and there and work on a few lamp poles is the background, I didn't want to add the traffic lights as I thought it would ruin the airy space around the statue
"Sometimes it's important to remember how the scene looked when you first got there!"-Adebanji Alade

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