Over the years much of my art has depicted night-time scenes: inky dark skies punctuated with dull clouds and vibrant electric lighting set in monochromatic compositions. This year, however, I decided to embark on a project of bright daytime scenes, many painted on a larger scale than my usual plein air work. I chose to depict Barking in East London, with open spaces in the process of regeneration.
The area is plentiful in regards to backland themes, including new builds such as affordable homes and eco-friendly industrial sites, small natural waterways and major roadways and typical industrial symbols such as pylons. The intermingling of new infrastructure and the natural ruggedness of open space is what made the area an interesting study for painting. Although much of my work is often inspired by Danny Markey’s suburban sprawls, I set out to make this project appear less dry in feel. Backlands are usually associated with dull colour schemes and functional building structures, but they are transformed into something positive and uplifting when illuminated under bright blue skies.
I used my standard acrylic paints when working because of they have a slightly hard painterly quality which gives a good representation of the the feel of artificial fabric e.g. fluorescent coloured plastic work site barriers and the bright ambience of industrial parks reflecting strong sunlight. The challenge here was how to avoid overworking the paintings. When creating a built up scene, adding various details is sometimes necessary if part of the composition appears woolly, but I attempted to make each picture as painterly as possible, for example, the scene in the painting “Construction time in Barking” contained dark coloured piping stacked up like a honeycomb lattice which needed to be rendered carefully to avoid ambiguity, but I left the rest of the picture as unfinished as possible, even partly obscuring the transmission tower cables seen overhead. Another composition “Long Reach Road IG11 II” was also painted with clear line work to help bring out the simplicity of the industrial park buildings and vehicles in the street view.
“Barking, The Gores” (top of page) was a colourfully inspired landscape featuring sky, dry grass and water, with brightly reflected man-made structures. I wanted it to be a positive and uplifting scene that showed the intermingling of eco-friendly industry with the natural ruggedness and ecology of a small local tributary valley.
In another street view, "Long Reach Road IG11 I", I was attracted to the functional fabric of everyday structures of creosoted wooden fencing and logistics palettes stacked in front of a weather-worn corrugated cladded warehouse. The parked vehicles stand sharply in strong sunlight, almost without shadow, in a simple parking area and serve as a contrast to the brightly reflected storage facility behind. As before, I avoided detail where possible, choosing to focus on the composition and sunlight.
All of the paintings featured in this blog will be on display at The Other Art Fair Bristol 26-29 July.