Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Last night I changed the basic composition of the picture again.

At first, I found myself needing to take it back to how it had been initially. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes. This move was an improvement, but something was still needed. At first I was completely stumped, and annoyed that it didn’t seem to be working! Then I suddenly realised that I had to let go of my attachment to the initial sketches I was making use of if that was what was necessary; the hand on the hip of the figure on the far right, which I had found such a nice shape in the original sketch, was not serving the painting as a whole; so I changed the position of the arm and then suddenly the eye could flow around the picture far more easily. The eye had been sort of getting stuck on that elbow, I felt. I wanted the compositional flow to begin first from the figure at the left (which is how we are all of course programmed to read, in the West at least) and then across and then to circle back into what I think is perhaps the final focal point of interest; the girl in the middle of the picture, who is looking out at the viewer. Hopefully in this way, although it is not immediately apparent, the viewer comes to feel that they are implicated in the scene; they too, are part of the picture…

I had over the weekend got my housemate to take a photograph of me with the appropriate lighting arrangement for the figure on the left. Although I basically decided to use myself so as to not have the hassle of finding someone else willing to pose for this figure, I also thought it would be interesting for the painting to begin, when viewed, as something of a self-portrait perhaps (When this picture is exhibited I shall try to ensure that I also exhibit a more obvious self portrait- such as the one I first posted on this blog- so that the viewer will notice that it is perhaps the same person in this picture, and will then infer that this painting is relating an experience that I had, which is more or less the case: I am actually bringing figures seen and sketched during two separate evenings together, but I don’t think anyone would mind that…) Last night I soon realised that I needed to darken the tones around my head, and also generally on the left hand side of the picture, so as to give more focus on the other figures. I suddenly remembered- a recent trip to the National Gallery fresh in my mind- how Rembrandt and also Daumier would manipulate the shadows in their pictures; how they would throw large areas of their pictures into darkness to give greater focus- and hopefully also poignancy- to the areas in the light…

So there it is, the story so far. I am also here including the initial sketches I am working from for you to see. They are not examples of my best sketching abilities, but rather what my sketches look like when I am trying to draw someone who is not entirely still in a pub, on a tiny page of one of the tiny pocket-sized sketchbooks I always try to have on me, and without them noticing too! If you click on the sketchbook pictures then you can see them on your screen at about the size of the real things.

I have a couple of other pictures on the go too, in various stages of completion. The project is up and running now. I don’t think I have time to write about the progress of the other pictures as I am writing about this one, but I am hopefully before long I shall be able to post some more finished pictures up here…

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stage two of the underpainting, or grisaille for ‘At the Macbeth, Shoreditch’. I have made some changes, but I’m still not sure that I have resolved the design of the thing yet. It is tempting to just jump in with the colour…


Stage two of the underpainting, or grisaille for ‘At the Macbeth, Shoreditch’. I have made some changes, but I’m still not sure that I have resolved the design of the thing yet. It is tempting to just jump in with the colour…

Monday, March 5, 2012

At the Macbeth, Shoreditch (Unfinished)
Oil on canvas, 35.5 x 25.3 cm

Almost a year ago I went to a gig at the Macbeth pub in Shoreditch where people were dressed up in the most extraordinary way. I sat at the bar and sketched one or two of them as best as I could. Now, about a year later, I have started a painting which I hope will work out okay once I come to put all the colours in, despite my only having a few quick sketches to work from.
I have also put into this picture a girl whom I sketched on another evening out. She’s the one in the stripy dress. I got chatting to her when she noticed me sketching her and we hung out a while that evening; her name was Sarah but unfortunately I never saw her again, as is so often the case in London. Perhaps one day she might notice herself in this painting when it is finished and eventually ends up on the walls of the Tate? That way I might get to see her again!
I have also sketched a figure in on the left hand side, that I shall attempt to pose for myself. I thought it would be interesting to try and put myself into a picture in this way, although it will be tricky to paint myself in profile like that…


At the Macbeth, Shoreditch (Unfinished)

Oil on canvas, 35.5 x 25.3 cm


Almost a year ago I went to a gig at the Macbeth pub in Shoreditch where people were dressed up in the most extraordinary way. I sat at the bar and sketched one or two of them as best as I could. Now, about a year later, I have started a painting which I hope will work out okay once I come to put all the colours in, despite my only having a few quick sketches to work from.

I have also put into this picture a girl whom I sketched on another evening out. She’s the one in the stripy dress. I got chatting to her when she noticed me sketching her and we hung out a while that evening; her name was Sarah but unfortunately I never saw her again, as is so often the case in London. Perhaps one day she might notice herself in this painting when it is finished and eventually ends up on the walls of the Tate? That way I might get to see her again!

I have also sketched a figure in on the left hand side, that I shall attempt to pose for myself. I thought it would be interesting to try and put myself into a picture in this way, although it will be tricky to paint myself in profile like that…