Through the Artists Open Houses, I have received a new commission from my neighbours. They had originally been interested in one of my Barcelona paintings but, in a fine example of ‘sods’ law’ – the one they were most keen on has already sold. As they were keen to have a painting with which they had a real connection, they asked if they could commission me to do a painting of Park Gate, where we live. It’s a challenge that I’ve nervously accepted. I do love Park Gate and I love the modernist style of architecture. It’s not, however, my natural choice of subject matter and it’s not, by any stretch, what could be described as ‘pretty’ nor a perfect match for my loose approach to painting.
I do have a few ideas that I’ve discussed with ‘the client’ and have started to take a few reference photos. The challenge that I’m trying to balance is focussing on what excites me, which is usually a play of light and capturing some of the character of the buildings without tying myself in knots with loads of details. I had a scour through my photos and did come across an image that I thought would be good for a warm up to see what does or doesn’t work. What I liked about this view was that it combined strong light, included enough detail to make it clear where it is (especially to anyone that lives in Park Gate), had some human interest and that the buildings were identifiable, but not the focal point.
For a preparatory sketch, I was quite pleased with this and, more importantly, it gave me some good ideas for what I’d do differently next time. For instance, the white band of the buildings were applied at the end using gouache. This is fine for this sketch, but I need to find a way of preserving the white of the paper for these sections. In future sketches, I’ll look at painting negatively and will also most likely explore masking out these areas so that I can still work very wet and loosely over these areas and then knock them back a little afterwards.
What’s great is that this will be a really interesting project to focus on once the Open Houses come to a close after next weekend. In the meantime, I had a wonderful time last weekend with dear friends out in the countryside. The weather was glorious and the scenery was so beautiful that it rekindled in me the desire to do some landscape painting – something I’ve done precious little of for quite some time now.
It feels wonderful to have so much to look forward to with my painting: a new commission, some landscape painting and, an entirely new personal project that I’m still formulating. I hope to be able to reveal more about this next week but, as a sneak preview, it relates to the 30×30 Direct Watercolor 2018 project that’s being championed by the brilliant Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf amongst others. But enough of the spoilers! As I say, I’ll hopefully be back next week with more details about my plans, plus a round-up of the Open Houses which come to a close this weekend.