Paintings of London I (The making of "Rain, Rain, Rain, London Streets"

demo Enid Lawson Gallery exhibition london oil oil on canvas

My group exhibition with Chris Daynes, Michael Richardson and Karl Terry starts on 8 June, 2011, Wednesday this week at Enid Lawson Gallery, 11 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 9UD. it runs until 22 June, 2011. Don't miss it! This exhibition will show the work of four friends who frequently paint London Cityscape's and it's great to see how each of us capture London at it's best. The brief given to us was simply "Paint the London that Londoners know and love". So, all through this week I'll be posting some of the works that will feature in this exhibition and how I went about them. It's a great thing to paint but even a better thing to share the way I paint. Some of us never have the opportunity to look over the back of an artist to see how they go about their creative business, so I'm ceasing this opportunity to share my techniques. Hope you enjoy! This is not exactly a step by step demonstration but I have decided to take some picture at strategic points while it was in the making. It also helps to know what was going through my mind while at each stage. I took over 25 pictures of each stage but I decided to knock it down to 5 for clarity of purpose.

Rain, Rain, Rain, London Streets 48" x 30", oil on canvas, 2011 SOLD

"The Making of Rain, Rain, Rain, London Street"

1 STEP 1

Here the canvas size is 48" x 30"- I have decided to remove the white gesso with a wash of brick orange(The mixture is white, burnt sienna and yellow ochre-acrylic colours) I do this just to get comfortable and messy with the surface, sometimes doing this to a white surface can be daunting. I then sketch in the main features in black coloured pencil, I started with charcoal but it got too messy. The sketch is important, all mistakes need to be dealt with here. I keep on rubbing and changing things here to avoid correcting painting strokes, which can be discouraging.
When satisfied with the sketch, I fix the sketch and get ready for colour application.

2 STEP 2-

It is funny here but I attack the sky and foreground first because I feel they are the main places that depict the mood of the whole picture. I also give the trees a bit of first coat because I want it to have a wet on wet feel with thew sky and not have harsh edges with the sky under-painting. All strokes are laid in a step by step shape colour application technique. These applications come on top of an initial monochrome wash I did on top of the pencil sketch. The monochrome was was done with raw umber and raw sienna wash.

3 STEP 3

After the sky and foreground, I decide to give the Architecture, middle ground trees and traffic lights a bit of attention. A I paint I keep in mind the mood I expect to achieve, it's all about rain, and it's the greys that make a rainy day beautiful. So every colour is laid with that thought in mind, even the trees are greyed down to incorporate this factor.

4 STEP 4

Here I move to the roads, cars and figures. I love treating the figures most sometimes I can't wait to get them going. The same rule applies here. Most of what people wear on rainy days in London are dark colours. I really didn't want them all to be so dark, but I noticed that they worked well as silhouettes against the lighter background, which I found interesting. I try to paint the figures with a light touch, knowing fully that if I don't do this, they may end up looking stiff and in other words lack the vitality of movement that I love so much in urbanscapes.

5 STEP 5

It's all about more figures and umbrellas here. I remember making one of the umbrellas the colour of the union jack and Richard Burn and Alex Fowler who I share my studio with, felt that the Umbrella colour stood out like a sore thumb, I struggled for a while before I made up my mind. All along I kept the overall impact I wanted the picture to have in mind.


I finally made up my mind and at this final stage I changed the colour to a brown shade. I then completed the other figures and tied up the whole composition, keeping the grey moody feel to prevail and not allowing any colour to really over rule or dominate the painting. When tying up the painting together, it's better to add dark accents than lighter ones-I discovered this and it works. Working on the reflections and making them have a good relationship to the features they are reflecting is also important. Ken Howard said," dark things appear lighter and light things appear darker in reflections" I have have observed this in real life and it is true!

The full catalogue of paintings on show can be seen HERE

"I would not paint at all unless I felt strongly about the things I paint: the people and the places that I feel a need to describe, commemorate, and fix into some form"-Bernard Dunstan in his book "Paintings in Progress"

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