Friday, June 26, 2009

Light and Shades

oil on canvas 51x41cm

At last, a finished painting! I started composing this in April, and have been slogging at it, on and off, since the first week in May. The view is looking from York Place towards the Playhouse Theatre at the top of Leith Walk.

What I’m trying to deliver here are two themes in one painting. At first sight, the subject is a late afternoon cityscape in mid-winter. It’s about rich horizontal light and deep shadows, and only subsequently does the eye explore the figures in the lower half. While it works as a whole, we can still choose which facet to consider - the sunlit Upper storeys or the cold, miserable Underworld.

Figure composition was my big thing years ago, and this, a crowd of heads and shoulders, was quite a gentle re-entry into the genre. (At some point I’ll post up some of these older ones.) Technically, this painting is quite interesting. The crowd and gloomy lower area were first painted as in full daylight, and only when they were ‘finished’ was the bluish shadow overlaid. To separate the two aspects of the painting even more, the warm sunny areas were treated with a yellowish glaze of raw sienna. Great fun, and again, more like how I used to paint.

Having said that, though, I’m mildly annoyed that it’s on the smallish side. As soon as I had I finished ‘The Cutting’, I had realised (with some horror) that it should have been at least twice the size. I was eager to start work on this one, but my other current project (see Works in Progress) demanded the larger of the two suitable canvasses to hand. It does work at this size, but would have been better, bigger.

For those concerned with minutiae and have very good screen resolution, the fictitious show depicted as playing at the Playhouse is ‘ТОЛПА’ (tolpa), which adds a little to the whole as it is the Russian word for ‘a crowd, throng’.

As if you didn’t know that already.