Monday, 28 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Aviemore Road

Flag day in Old Swan. England's last hurrah on a day that flags and banners are coming down quicker than Christmas decorations. A World Cup in South Africa that saw blame laid on the altitude, the ball, the keeper, the manager, the pitch and the fans. No doubt after last night's debacle the referee and the lack of technology will be added to that list...the only thing missing is the players, hmmm, I wonder...nah. Anyway...I haven't seen bunting hanging from house to house since the Jubilee back in the 70's

Three Cherries Still Life.

Managed to spend a couple of hours at the studio today. Someone had left a few cherries by the fridge, I fancied a sit down with some oils so I confiscated the still life. It's really surprising how much of a colour change from deep purple to bright red the effect of a spot lamp can have, totally altering the local colour. I try to keep an eye on the time doing these small pieces as I don't want to make them look overworked. I try not to exceed the three hour mark as you could spend a lifetime changing this or altering that.

'Do studies, not pictures. Know when you are licked and start another. Be alive and stop when your interest is lost. Put off finish as it takes a lifetime, wait until later to try and finish things, make a lot of starts.' p20 Hawthorne on Painting

Friday, 25 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Everton Brow.


Another one done from photos, colour studies and a sketch from Everton Park. Been Googling other painters who are involved in painting urban street scenes,(it can seem a bit nerdish not being at the cutting edge of art), and came across the work of Danny Markey. Danny claimed second prize in The Royal Watercolour Society/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.

Frank Whitford, Art Critic for The Sunday Times and one of the judges, writing in The Sunday Times, 30 August 2009, says;

'The subject-matter is simple, like a straight blues riff: suburban landscapes and night scenes, which at first sight appear lonely until one registers, almost everywhere, the residual presence of humanity. Cars nestle in driveways; a solitary camper van looks out over the bay, a river of lights drifts down a Welsh valley. Even when the humanizing strokes are few, so that we’re more aware of absence than presence, the effect can be soothing, though not perhaps comforting, cars and vans and cement-mixers making a kind of wide-screen still-life with the natural world for a backdrop. '

Don't feel as nerdish now.

Other websites featuring this artist's work

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Woolton Road

This one of Woolton road was done from photos sketches and a few colour notes I made. A little row of shops across the road from the Halfway House pub. Found a good old book today, (1986), by the painter Trevor Chamberlain, 'Oil Painting Pure and Simple', by Ron Ranson.

Trevor's an outdoor painter who has done more than a few small paintings of Liverpool from the looks of things. I've uploaded a small picture of one he did of Lime Street Station, this place has just been refurbished so I might pop along and see what a new one would look like 25 years this space.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Everton Terrace

So I have finally found where white van man goes for lunch. I had to be really quiet so as not to spook them and send them off into flight... back to the roads. The park at the top of Everton Brow offers fantastic views of the city spread before you. Turning to the right takes you to the estuary and beyond, right out to sea. I was immediately thinking about a long, long painting that captures the whole vista, something like 8ft x 1ft. It's also a good place to see both Cathedrals at either end of Hope Street.

Monday, 21 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Wavertree Nook Road.

A sunny day and a bright red pillar box, like the same coloured phone box (designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for the Anglican Cathedral), just say England. Sadly both are now rarely used.

Pillar Box

The Royal Mail red pillar box is one of the most familiar items of British street furniture. Introduced in 1853, only 13 years after the foundation of the penny post, it meant that posting a letter no longer involved making a trip to the nearest Post Office. Its inventor, surprisingly, was none other than the multi-talented English novelist Anthony Trollope, who worked for the postal service in both Britain and Ireland for over 30 years. Pillar boxes always bear the monogram of the reigning monarch.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Wavertree High Street.

Actually done from my photos and colour studies. Looking into the sun reduces everything to that silvery ghost of a light. The lack of colour really suits the basic palette of ochre, cadmium red, black and white. When the painting is done I can add the touches of cobalt, yellow and green

Friday, 18 June 2010

BBC Coverage

Full interview for the BBC, this can also be found on their site.

Sprainger Street
Steve Strode's painting of Sprainger Street

Liverpool artist Steve Strode is aiming to paint pictures of over two hundred unsung city sites over the next year.

Producing around 20 pieces a month he plans to exhibit the year's worth of work at the end of the project.

He will deliberately focus on unsung areas of Liverpool, rather than the iconic images that are usually shown.

Steve says he wants the public to suggest areas that may soon be gone,"The Liverpool I remember is quickly disappearing," he said.

"I think there's enough people doing the waterfront and pictures of the cathedrals."

Steve wants people to suggest areas they think he should paint by commenting on his website.

His paintings, are comparatively small, measuring 21cm x 14cm.

Steve says this is by necessity because of how he has to work in many locations, "Once you get out there if you're struggling with a great big canvas you'll draw a lot of attention and it's very unwieldy."

Thursday, 17 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Hope Street

11th painting of the month for the Liverpool project. I have quiet enjoyed using the Zorn palette and then adding the small amounts of blue for the sky and the green of the trees. With mixes of yellow ochre, cadmium red, black and white, the subdued colours they create work really well in the shadows yet yield bright earth colours for the brick and concrete in the highlights.

May I Start, May I Finish. Studio update

I had a go at yesterdays painting in the studio today, with the four oils suggested in the last post. This is the first pass at the slightly changed picture. I have to say that the palette might be more suited to sunny autumn days, rather than the full colour of the summer months. I notice that the black and ochre to make green, performed far better in oils than it does in acrylics, and the sky is just black, white and a touch of red...looks almost bluish.

I will transcribe a few of my favourites paintings from the project using oils, as the edges are far easier to manipulate than with quick drying acrylic. This is not a problem if you work really quickly, wet in wet, but you really can't stop for too long before it's as dry as the Betty Ford Clinic. I have tried the retarders with acrylics but find them a little sticky to use.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Back Percy Street

In an email post this week I was sent details of how Bulgarian-born painter Ignat Ignatov
used a limited palette. Ignatov pared down his colour choices to include four pigments: titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium red, and ivory black this palette was associated with the work of Anders Zorn and is used in some of his paintings. He took up the handful of colours to perfect his ability to evaluate colour and harmony.

The four colors used in the Zorn palette create a muted color spectrum, as it incorporates the three primary colors, with black standing in for blue. Similar to looking through a color filter certain colors are suppressed.

The closest a painter can come to blue is gray mixed with black and white; the greenest green is a mixture of black and yellow ochre; purple is a mixture of black, white, and red. The palette limits the saturation and intensity of several colors, yet the subdued tones often help artists recognize complimentary colors and strengthen their understanding of the structure and formulations of the color wheel.

Now I've tried this in oils and adding ochre to the black gives up some beautiful olive greens, but not so with acrylic, ochre and black yields a dirty grey ochre ,so I had to add cobalt and hookers green to the mix to get a decent result. I normally use a palette similar to that of Richard Schmidt, but I can see the value of having a limited choice if only to make you think of what can, and cannot be achieved.

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Monday, 14 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Grenville Street South

I think I must be developing a fascination for the iconic in the background. Liverpool's well known buildings are reduced to supporting roles as they oversee the everyday street scenes in their shadow. Urban painting number eight for the month.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish, Pochade painting of Simpson Street

The backstreets that surround the studio are full of dead or dying old buildings, the old Liverpool. I could spend hours walking these streets full of past trades and uses. These areas are becoming fewer and fewer, making way for the shiny and new. I quiet like the abstract blocks of colour, red brick and rust, throw in a few shadows and we have the makings of some really good painting possibilities.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

May I Start, May I finish. Pochade painting of St. Domingo Road.

Two great old buildings side by side, the distant Everton Library looking the worst for wear. Im still trying to find an interesting take on the North Liverpool Academy close by, thought these will do for now.


Friday, 11 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Old Swan

I managed to get a few photographs to work from late last night. This is the first painting of the Old Swan area as suggested online, along with a quick sketch of the old Barclay's bank roof. If you go to you'll find an excellent site on the Swan and surrounding areas with heaps of old photos.

Talking about photos, if I work from pictures they are always my own, but even then you must remember there are few pro's and cons with a camera.

I always use my own pictures as this means you were actually there and experienced the time of day, sounds and light etc.
The camera records good references for what was there and where.
You can take pictures from a vantage point you could not ordinarily paint from, i.e too crowded, no room to paint, the last part of the day.
Things can move too fast to be painted, cars or children, unless they are parked and remain there for some time, the cars not the children.
The camera is like your drawings or colour swatches, a visual aid. it will not give detail in the shadows and it will lose colour in the highlights, your drawings and colour swatches wont.

'They are recording devices not experience devices', Richard Schmidt. p181 Alla Prima; Everything I Know About Painting

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of the Mersey

I hadn't been down to the Pier Head for quiet some time. Looking out over the river I could be looking out on the 1960's when I was a kid, it's only when you turn back to land you see all the changes. The new Liverpool Museum, buildings of glass and marble still being erected and all the old edifices sandblasted crisp and clean, I felt like a tourist in my own city it's changed so much.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Kitchen Street.

The sign reads...Chadwicks Hardware Store, 1916. Purveyors of Domestic Hardware, Cleaning Materials, Ironmongery, Fastenings Glues and Abrasives. We seem to be losing to many of these old red brick buildings, their hearts beat in a different time, caught in between conversion or demolition. It's a good feeling to come across an old Ironmongers or Sail-makers, trades that are still touching the past with their fingertips.

Monday, 7 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Roberts Street

Back from a three day break in Wales and straight into the Liverpool project. I was interviewed about it today by BBC Radio Merseyside. I think it will be aired this Wednesday morning on the Sean Styles Breakfast Show at 11-30. So fingers crossed it would appear to be moving in the right direction.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Angela Street, Liverpool.

I've been meaning to paint this view for some time now with the Catholic Cathedral as a backdrop. No paintings of Liverpool for a few days as I take in the splendor of Wales for a long weekend. It will be another chance to visit Anglesey again and sketch a few landscapes for a change.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

May I Start, May I Finish. Pochade painting of Sefton Park Bandstand.

Spent the day in Sefton Park today, another scorcher. I sat under the shade of the trees in what was once part of the ancient Toxteth Deerpark. It was eventually opened as the park we know in May 1872 by Prince I'd never heard the name before either. Quiet a few people trekked up the hill to chat and take a look at what I was painting and one gentleman even asked, 'what you doin?'