Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Canterbury and painting the town “en plein air” some thoughts of an atrocious artist on snobbery and daubers.

The paintings, sketches, artworks, daubs or whatever you want to call them, of Canterbury in this post have all been done by me, not from photos, but by going to Canterbury, finding some sort of view of Canterbury, preferably with a comfortable seat, near a toilet and with a supply of food and drink.    
This type of painting may be called en plein air although a strict translation is “"in the open air" so as some of them were painted from inside café windows I suppose they should be called peinture sur le motif "painting of the objects or what the eye actually sees"
One of the first things I consider when I look at a painting of a place, is where did the artist paint it from and often I go to the place and take a photo from the artist's point of view. Often this turns out to be somewhere you couldn’t easily paint from like the middle of the road, suggesting the painting or drawing was done from a photo, possibly even traced from a photo, though usually I assume the photo was squared off to make it easier to copy. Of course there are paintings drawn from the imagination and lots of practice drawing from photos may help with this, particularly if your imagination looks like a photo or you square it off.  Frankly most of the paintings of Canterbury aren’t much help to me when I comes to choosing somewhere I can paint from.
There are two main snags with this type of thing, one being that perspective through a lens looks different to perspective viewed with the eye and the other is that some of the colours are different in photos, particularly the blue of the sky. 
Anyway I am working up to doing some oil paintings of places and as far as I can see the options are:

1 I buy a cheap campervan and park it where I get a decent view.

2 I take a photo and paint from that.

3 I do a watercolour sketch and copy that.

4 I take all the oil painting paraphernalia and put up an easel somewhere and give it a go.  
I would say the fact that there are lots of oil paintings of Canterbury and yet you don’t often see artists there painting them is an indicator that this may be a difficult one.  
One think I do assume is that there are going to be lots of watercolour paintings and drawings that were used to paint oil paintings of Canterbury, so far the galleries I have visited in Canterbury just don’t seem to have any on display. 

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