Thursday, 2 August 2012

Oil Painting 30 - Wolverhampton Viaduct

We reached the end of the peaceful Shroppie and began entry in to the great urban unknown of Birmingham, beginning with Wolverhampton, and a day's slog up 21 locks on the Main Line into the city centre. Our joy at reaching the top of this lock flight was short lived when we realised we were moored in a police investigation scene after a tragic incident at a nightclub alongside the canal. This setting highlighted our anxieties about now bringing our boat and home into an urban area, which seem exaggerated anyhow having spent quite some time off the beaten track. It is a noticeable feature of this year how our feelings are effected by having the ability to engage and disengage with mainstream society. You see very little advertising on the canals living without television, in an era when we are bombarded normally, but then reentering a built up area, especially such a warren of disorientating canals as Birmingham, makes you doubly apprehensive about mooring up all our possessions in an unknown area. The constant complicated logistics of this trip we're taking their toll at this point.  A new map book helped in us visualising what we had ahead of us on the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigation) that has more canals than Venice and also the act of getting the paints out to paint this Oil Painting 30 - Wolverhampton Viaduct really helped in taking some form of ownership over the landscape we now find ourselves in.

This is a real positive of the painting process I have not really mentioned before but spending long periods of time observing an area gets rid of all anxieties about that location. Because a painter with an easel is such an unusual sight I talk to a lot of passers by, and low and behold the people of Wolverhampton turn out to be some of the friendliest I have met on the canal network.

I had noticed this scene on the way up the lock flight and was fascinated with the angled spiralled brickwork underneath the railway viaduct as it compensates for the old canal passing through at an angle other than 90 degrees. It reminded me of the spinning ghost train tunnel at Alton Towers and got me thinking about how this angled approach is a much more effective way of representing the planes of a tunnel. I am talking about quite abstract values here so I will try and help illustrate with some doodles -
I do a lot of work with perspective and drawing viewers eyes into a painting by taking them down 'tunnels' of interest towards a vanishing point. I create these tunnels, a lot of the time, by using obvious directional brushstrokes to manipulate the viewers eye. These are not literally tunnels but can be looking through a passage of trees or down a street etc.

To date I have been mainly painting the brush strokes pulling straight towards the vanishing point like an orthogonal on a perspective drawing

or alternatively creating hoops with the brush strokes.

The Breakfast Painting, 2009 -  You can see a lot of 'hoops' in the brushwork in this piece creating a tunnel for the eye

The brickwork in this viaduct, and the thoughts of the ghost ride spinning tunnel got me thinking that I should utilise this method more as it a dynamic combination of the two. So try and emulate this more complex recording of space when next painting a passage of trees or an underground tube station or even put the pattern in the sky with brush strokes above a subject I want viewers to be drawn to.

Have another look at the full painting at the top, I have altered the graffiti that was on the bridge to be my signature for this piece.

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