Friday, May 1, 2015

April in Britain and France: Part One: London

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 Hampstead Heath, oil on card, 18 x 16 cm




 Berkeley Square, North side, oil on card, 17.5 x 17 cm






 Here are my first offerings from April's painting trip, which took me from Brazil to London, then to Paris, to Scotland, Somerset and back to Brazil via London.

London is not a good painting city. It lacks dramatic landscapes. The weather is both bland and unpredictable and the season changes lack force. The architecture is often good, but is also often fussy or indecisive, as is the street plan which rarely accommodates grandeur. And the city is uncontained,  rolling lazily in from endless suburbs and shires, undefined.

At the same time it lacks the sort of street life that makes Morocco, say, fascinating. In London, the private is utterly hidden. It cannot be intimate with you. It's true that you can sometimes get interesting views into the backs of people's gardens from railway lines but its hard ever to be able to find a place to paint them. And they aren't that fascinating anyway.

I never really "got" London, though I lived there for ten years, I seldom found it mysterious or enchanting except in old books or through the eyes of others such as writers like Ian Sinclair or painters such as Auerbach, though I came to love the more obscure stretches of Kensington and Bayswater. But most of it makes me shrug my shoulders.




Pinces Square, Bayswater, oil on card, 14.5 x 16 cm




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Many thanks to Lise and Felix for their generous hospitality in Westbourne Grove.


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