A Bird’s eye view of Maldon
5 years, 10 months ago Posted in: Blog Comments Off on A Bird’s eye view of Maldon


Bird's eye view midres-remasteredOil on canvas 23″ x 39″

This picture was begun at the same time as my painting of All Saints Church which is featured in the previous blog. Last year in April and May I stayed at an apartment attached to the Blue Boar Hotel in Maldon. I was hoping to do some pictures of the trees around the church coming into blossom.

However because it was so cold and wet the spring was delayed by a month. In the meantime I started work on the composition sketching in the basic structure of the tree and the buildings behind. I was hoping to create a space so that when the tree did begin to produce blossoms I could paint them in. But nothing ever turns out the way you expect, for some reason painting in the blossoms in this way didn’t work and I considered abandoning the picture.

Bird's eye work in progress 1.low res

At the end of May I had four paintings in various stages of completion. Fortunately I was able to book the same space for November. Once I was back in London I decided to cut off some of the dead space on the left of this picture. In reality all one can see is a confusion of branches. I took the canvas off the stretcher cut it down and stuck it to a piece of MDF.

I returned to Maldon later in the year with the intention of turning this painting into an autumn picture. I thought a few leaves left hanging on the branches with the remainder lying on the damp pavement would make a good scene. But this didn’t work either, for some reason the excessive amount in yellow in the picture seemed to jar. As more and more leaves fell away the architecture of the buildings behind began to peep through the gaps in the branches. However the perspective of the buildings in reality didn’t look right in my painting so I made the incline of the road less steep. In the central part of the painting the tangled mass of twigs and branches needed to be simplified.

Bird's eye work in progress 2 low res

At the end of November the picture was still unfinished and I resolved to complete it using the photographs I had taken the previous spring. The picture had come full circle. It was now going to be a painting of a tree just coming into bud with the first rays of the rising sun illuminating the buildings behind. At last the painting was beginning to work. In a painting like this one has to be aware of the eye level. I like to put more space into a picture than I can actually see without moving my head. So looking down towards the pavement one can almost get a sense of vertigo.

Bird's eye view cropped

So far so good now it was time to paint in some living creatures. I wasn’t keen on painting in too many people so I settled for a dog walker in the middle distance. After that I added the cat and the various kinds of birds. We have starlings, pigeons, sparrows, yellow tits, finches, a blackbird, a thrush and a seagull. I like painting these kinds of details. I’m hoping to make it look as if the starling and the pigeons are flying into the space outside the picture. There is a small narrative as the starling flying above the cat is crying out a warning to those starlings that are feeding near the crocuses by the gate. The observer of this scene could easily be a bird hence the painting’s title.
Bird's eye view detail

Although this painting may look real and it’s certainly my intention to create the illusion of space – this painting isn’t real at all. The reality upon which it is based has been doctored, idealized, a great amount of tidying up has been done and scale has not been strictly adhered to. Also the colours are exaggerated as I like to paint using saturated glowing colour with the maximum depth of field.

Along with my picture of All Saints this painting has been shortlisted for the Curwen Gallery Prize for figurative Painting. The paintings will be exhibited with the other shortlisted pictures from the 8th to the 29th of October in the Curwen Gallery, 34 Windmill St London WIT 2JR.
Colin at the Curwen Oct



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