One thing that struck me immediately: There is a LOT to paint in London. And I mean, a LOT. Not only is there a melange of buildings old and new set against dramatic skies -it's all about the skies in English landscapes- but there is an ocean of people of all colors and creeds and dresses and faces...just heaven for people watching. And the leafy greens, and the grey, and the browns, those dirty muted browns against the summer or the lurid yellow of construction crews ...and did I mention the skies?
On a separate but essential note: If you plan to come paint plein air in London know this : a) It rains a lot, unpredictably, heavily, and coldly. b) It'll be windy. c) They do not sell "panel carriers" in UK. People mostly use the "matchstick system, I'm told. d) Standard board format sizes are both in the metric system and in inches with 8"x10" a frequent format. Your favorite format from the US might not be available. For some reason they favor square formats.
So I start my blog with some sketches. Done in a paper not suited for watermedia and hastily but still with the urgency of this new visual buffet. Just to get acquainted to this new landscape. My palette has steadily but surely started to shift away from warm saturated tones, (reserved now for cloud rims and traffic lights) and towards cooler greys (Payne grey has become essential), cooler greens (emerald, I hardly knew yee), and toasty brick brown.
|Shadwell. My chosen neighborhood.|
|Sketched while taking care of Laundry.|
|The River Thames|
|Sketching the hipster crowd in Shoreditch|
One of my first stops was to the "Making Colour" exhibit at the National Gallery, a show where you get to explore pigment through the ages. The exhibits include minerals, insects and roots but most importantly, the masterpieces where they ended up. Every room was dedicated to a hue with the notable absence of Black and White but the fascinating incorporation of Gold and Silver instead.
Another stop was the BP 2014 Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery , an impressive array of wonderful portraits done by a legion of talented artists. Most american artists will recognize awardi David Kassan. Spain was also proudly and magnificently represented.
Leighton's House in Kensington was an obligatory stop. But more about this wonderful place later.