Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What Happens When I Die?

30 Tourists - Part one
30 Tourists
30 Tourists. Drawing on Canvas for Acrylic Paint (20x50cm).
This week at the South Leicestershire Art Group (SLAGs), I started a new project. After doing three lengthy architectural works, I decided a change of subject would give me more of a challenge and stop me from getting into a rut doing the same old thing, and boy what a challenge this one is turning out to be.

After picking up this long canvas for a bargain price at Dunelm Mill, I wondered a little about what to do with it. I had one or two photos in mind and ended up choosing a cropped photo of a crowd scene outside the gates into Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, London. It was eventually a toss-up between this and a thin wide view of the buildings from the parade ground. All of these young tourists were busy taking photos of the  guards in their bright red coats guarding the venue. It must have seemed quite strange therefore to them that I was only interested in taking a photo of them. But you see, being an artist, I have constant subconscious thoughts of what would be a good subject for my next painting project!

Well, getting back to SLAGs, the reaction from fellow members on seeing my photo and blank canvas was to laugh, and quips like "You've got your work cut out there" and "You are a gluten for punishment"! Well maybe I have and I am, but one thing's for sure, I'm going to have a great time working it all out and getting to know all the little quirkiness of the characters on the canvas as I paint them.

As well as painting, our weekly meetings consist of a fair amount of chatter, and as most of us are getting on a bit, it wasn't surprising that the subject of death came up and what we thought about it! It mostly centred around what happens to us when we die and where our ashes are to be scattered. It was most amusing when one lady said that she kept changing her mind, and her son who was a farmer said to her "Oh don't worry, when you're gone, I'll put your ashes in the muck-spreader and spread you onto the fields"!

The preliminary sketch above, may seem rather detailed for an acrylic painting, but it gives me precise details to work to, which has come in handy for my recent architectural studies. Here I've used the 'squaring-up' method to enlarge the photo to the scale of the canvas, (the corresponding squares on the photo obviously  being much smaller). I usually leave unwanted features out or move them around slightly, but this one remains pretty true to the source photo. This sketch still remained tricky, taking me around four hours to complete.

Now for the paint!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Old Grammar School, Market Harborough

I've lived in the busy town of Market Harborough for many years now and spent a lot of my working hours pounding the streets delivering milk, not just in the town, but surrounding villages as well. Despite this familiarity with my environment, I never cease to be amazed at the diversity and detail of the architecture of our older buildings. The one I've photographed and painted here is the Old Grammar School, which was founded by Robert Smyth in 1614. It has the unusual feature of standing on huge oak legs, the ground floor section was apparently the home of a butter market in years gone by. It has seen a few cosmetic changes over recent years, but except for the addition of a brick staircase in 1868, the building remains a quaint and beautiful focus for the town centre.

Painting it has raised a few challenges for me and taken quite some time to complete. The size of the painting (40x30cm) is a fair bit larger than my source photo and has been painted with acrylics. It remains true to detail other than a tree in the foreground which spoilt the composition so I left it out! Also, the sky in my photograph was very grey after the rain shower that got me wet before I took it. This I changed using an earlier photo of a more blusterous sky taken at another location last year. I find it helps to take photographs wherever I go, whenever I can, as this gives me a constant supply of things I can use in subsequent paintings even though I may only use small parts of the image. The picture below shows the work at it's varying stages.

Last Autumn I joined the South Leicestershire Art Group (SLAGs), which is a small, informal group that meets every Tuesday morning to have a chat and paint together for a couple of hours in a church centre. Having this small point in time each week set aside for painting  has been a fantastic boost to my work, both in terms of quantity and quality, and is something I constantly look forward to. Long live SLAGs!

This shows the work at various stages.