Friday, 30 March 2012
Oil Painting 7 - Anderton Boat Lift
The Anderton Boat Lift - One of the 'Wonders of the Waterways' crying out to be given some dramatic perspective treatment - accentuating the height of the structure by pulling the verticals towards a vanishing point at the zenith and bowing the horizon slightly around that point. Also knocking the overall structure of the view off vertical, setting it at a mild angle to give added drama, a technique frequently used by comic book and graphic illustrators.
I was blessed with temperatures over 20 degrees and a cloudless sky for 2 days running. Not bad for mid-March! Quite an obvious view I suppose though one I thoroughly enjoyed exploring. The lift complex was closed to the public as it was still the winter break but the kind staff let me through to paint.
It is difficult to some up an intense pattern of geometric metal girders quickly in oils and the sky or background colour underneath quickly contaminates the top layer of metal structure so I was having more luck on the second day once the under layer had become tacky.
How to sum up a cloudless blue sky? The sky over these two days was reaching dramatically dark levels of blues to purples directly above where as nearer to the horizon it had a distinct warm pink. The water painting in this piece is less detailed than the recent reflection study and Anderson Boats tall painting (Oil paintings 5 & 6) although I am fond of this more abstracted approach in this painting. I am hoping the more and more I revisit reflections and representing water (which I am guessing will be a lot in this 'Year of the Boat') the more I will develop my own visual language for recording it. I really admire David Hockney's swimming pool water studies. It is an endless organic subject that changes completely in different light wind and atmospheric conditions. It is endeavoring to record the impossible.
Back to the lift though, the staff all seemed interested, one did his 'Titanic' impression from the centre of the railings from the top of the lift! Dave who had only recently started, was manning the gates at the base of the lift and made his way onto the painting, which he tells me his family were pleased about. If you look closely though, he is pictured on the wrong side for the tour boat which is pictured in the other chamber about to go up in the lift. This is just one of those happy accidents that occur through painting and selecting points of interest from an entire 2 days rather than recording a split second snapshot like a camera.
I am also grateful to the British Waterways staff for getting us down on to the Weaver and back up again the same day and facilitating a great day of river fun - a completely different ball game with currents, canoeing teams and manned shipping locks!