Three weeks since I did the pencils and I’ve just finished doing the black undercoat. This method of working harkens back to my comix days and I full accept it’s not a conventional way to paint landscapes, but it’s the way I’ve learnt through trial and error and it works for me. Now comes the colours. I’m aiming for an end of July deadline but with other commitments that may have to slip back a few weeks.
Graffiti found on a bridge near Holbeck, Leeds. I think I know what the author of this text meant. The city has changed a lot in the 18 years since I last lived there, and continues to change every time I go back up there. Some things have improved. In the 1980’s Boar Lane used to look like something out of Escape From New York and now it looks like any other blandly “regenerated” street in any city anywhere in Britain. By becoming a place very much on the map nowadays, it’s lost something of what once made it strange and unique.
Wandering the fields in Churwell, near Leeds, recently, I found this plastic sheet dumped on what is still referred to locally as the Pit Hills. It reminded me of George Shaw’s painting ‘The Living And The Dead’, and the strange phantom that haunts the 1968 BBC Omnibus adaptation of M.R. James’ Oh Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad. When we were kids we used to nick car bonnets from the scrap yard, sit on them and slide down this hill as if on a bob sleigh. Halcyon days.
Oh Whistle And I’ll Come To You, My Lad (1968 version)
Whistle And I’ll Come To You (2010 version)
Regular readers may recognise this as a place I’ve photographed several times before. Why such a nondescript place – a subway tunnel under the M621 motorway – should hold such an enduring place in my imagination I have no idea. Perhaps I need to just paint it and get it out of my system once and for all?
Last weekend I met a fellow artist: John Ball. His paintings of decrepit urban landscapes are exceptional, and we seem to share an aesthetic appreciation for such places.Talking with him has given me a lot to think about in terms of what I’d like to paint and what I think I ought to be painting, leading me back to the maxim: do what you do best, not what it’s best to do.
He’s one of the least pretentious artists I’ve ever met, with a refreshing take on the world that I greatly admire. See more of his work at Beware The Void.
I’m back from a few days in Leeds. Further to this post from last Saturday, here’s a shot of the same view taken on Monday. I took a lot of photos while I was up there, some of which might even be good reference for future paintings, and I’ll share the most interesting ones over the next few weeks.
This view is forever burned into my soul. Standing on the edge of the Pit Hills in Churwell, looking north towards Leeds, this is what you get. Later today I’ll be stood in this very spot, taking in the same view. I suppose that one day I’m just going to have to get on and paint it.