Just as you thought you'd seen the back of me ........
I always get pulled back to my roots, and a building often needs to be drawn. This one caught me .... the ink is still wet.
I'm just not getting enough time to 'do' this blog, because I am really on a roll. I will just bring you up to speed as to where I am.
I saw a photo taken, I'm fairly sure, by Chuck Black, the American painter I so admire, and just had to paint it:
Patsy's Alpine Adventure
Then I fell under the influence of Tobias Brenner, the German painter I also admire, and I painted:
An Afterlife on an Ocean Wave
Among Us Red
Next I saw a photograph of the 'Porthcawl Wave' by Nigel Waters, which I didn't copy but it gave me a steer.
I have found that the relaxed process of chaos-drawing, has influenced my portrait painting. With portraits I attempt to put a likeness on to a surface, with 'chaos' I seek to extract a likeness from the chaotic surface.
With a portrait I don't exactly use a grid but I position certain features, by measurement, specifically from centre lines I have drawn. This procedure does restrict and discipline the portrait painting. It's as if I don't trust myself to put the key-features in the correct place.
With 'chaos', it is totally freehand and I don't even think about trusting my ability, in fact I don't even consider I may get it wrong because it doesn't matter. Here it becomes common to continue with the mistakes and accommodate and correct them as you go along.
I hadn't realised all this until my niece asked me to paint a portrait of her husband's mum. She was quite a fantastic woman and a good friend, who died a few months ago aged 97.
The last portrait I painted was four-years ago, before I broke away from art to nurse my late wife. It therefore made sense to draw a portrait, before attempting to paint it: to try to get back into the swing of things. Consequently, I did a freehand charcoal sketch; the direct result of doing 'chaos'.
I was quite pleased with the sketch, and this encouraged me to paint the portrait entirely freehand, which I did. (The flash of the camera has hidden the eyelashes on her right eye).
Madame Maachi was Algerian by the way, which reflects my cosmopolitan family ... we also have a Japanese, American and Australians ... not to mention English.
'Madam Maachi' Oil on Stretched Canvas
16 x 11 inches (400 x 280mm)
In the 1940s, Bluetown, on the Isle-of-Sheppey, was ghetto-like: surrounded by walls, cut off by a moat, with one road in and one out. The people of Sheerness generally viewed Bluetown as a slum populated by a class of people they distrusted. It was into this area that my family brought me to live as World War Two was raging.
If Sheerness people of the 1940s had looked at Bluetown on a bad day, they might have seen many buildings collapsing, collapsed or in ruins, an abundance of pubs spewing hordes of drunken sailors, gangs of ragged children, domestic violence, poverty, and despair.
However, if those people of the 1940s had looked at Bluetown on a good day, they might have seen a small close-knit community with its own church, school, police station, theatre, railway station and pier where paddle steamers landed their passengers. They may have seen cobblers, grocers, butchers, chandlers, hairdressers, bakers, laundry, collar factory, crisp factory not to mention the Magistrates Court. If that wasn’t enough, Charles Dickens had once lived there, and Lord Nelson had stayed at Bluetown’s grand hotel, the ‘Fountain’.
Bluetown was all those things and more, for it lay in the shadow of an army garrison and Samuel Pepys’s Naval Dockyard which provided the main source of employment for the island and surrounding area.
So, as you can see, Bluetown was always a series of contradictions, not least in its architecture. On one hand were the ramshackle dwellings, whilst on the other, there were grand buildings such as the one we Bluetowners called, the Magistrates Court; more correctly, I’m assured, it was officially the County Court.
The "Old Ferry Bridge"
Those that know me, realise that I only paint and draw in the Realist mode, NEVER impressionism or abstract.
I have just seen this young chap drawing ‘Chaos Art’ and was fascinated by the whole process. I just HAD to have a go’ so I bought some compressed charcoal (soft) sticks, a kneadable eraser (feels like bread dough), charcoal pencils, and began drawing on cartridge paper.
Although I was born a Welshman, I grew up in Kent. When all the kids were being evacuated from Kent to Wales, to avoid the German Bombing during World War II, my parents moved me from Wales to Kent... and we got bombed!
In short, I grew up on the Isle-of-Sheppey and left, aged 21, in 1959. I didn't realise that I would never return there to live again. However, it was a great place to grow up and I still feel semi-rooted there and, latterly, I have kept in touch through a Facebook Group called, 'The Sheppey History Page'. Which turned out to be interesting, informative, very friendly and active.
As you can imagine it has a great deal of Memory Lane wanderings, despite the many generations spanned by the membership. One of the common concerns is the loss of many of the old buildings. I undertook to draw many of these demolished, and neglected, old buildings.
I began with the Rio Cinema and its neighbour the Royal Hotel. The Victorian hotel was built in 1825 by Sir Edward Banks who also built parts of Sheerness Royal Dockyard and the London and Waterloo Bridges.