Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Canary Wharf Sky - 8.24am, 13th January 2006

Canary Wharf Sky - 8.24am, 13th January 2006
5" x 7", coloured pencil on Arches Hot Press paper
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've noticed that artists who like colour seem to fall into two groups. There are:
  • those who like very saturated colour often in bright hues - often producing bright and very 'colourful' pictures (which always seem to sell well!); and
  • those who love all the subleties and nuances that can come about when you mix colours.
There's nothing right or wrong about either group - they just have a different 'take' on how to see colour. Both groups can be very interested in the optical effects of mixing and juxtaposing colour.

I'm very much in the second group - I can become totally absorbed with the effect that light has on both colour and form and the associated fractional change in colours as the light moves over form and time. I seem to be endlessly engrossed with the task of learning more about how to represent this in both coloured pencil and pastel - in terms of mixing pigments and making marks of 'pure' hue. It's the second group that I also associate very much with having a love for 'coloured greys'. They're becoming a passion of mine of late and these skies are an excellent way of learning more about how to mix them and how to make them work in optical terms within a composition.

This image is of dawn breaking on a morning in January of this year. The dawn light always comes from the left of my view and I love the way for just a few minutes there are all sorts of different compositions given the different mix of moving clouds and moving light effects. I took about 6 photos this morning - and the last one is (I hope) fabulous!

The airplane in the picture is a feature I very much associate with Canary Wharf. We have two sorts of planes which come over - the smaller planes which fly in and out of London City Airport from European and UK cities and the big international jets which sometimes use Canary Wharf as a marker if they're in a holding pattern while trying to land at Heathrow. (Update: Please see my comment in the comments section for the reasons why I left the airplane in this image).

Update on the hand: Not a lot better - but I have found that if the brace gets strapped on first thing in the morning and that I do work with my hands in bursts that I can contain the worst of the pain. The priority is to keep keyboard work to very limited bursts. I'm writing this post while scanning and cropping the image, adjusting what comes out and learning a new bit of Photoshop (which is doubtless going to become the subject of another post!).

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  1. lovely :) subtle, colourful, atmospheric, beautifully observed

    the fact that you are painting something you know so well and love really comes through in the work

    this series is going to be great

  2. This is really beautiful Katherine. The softness and optical color mixing on this one is especially lovely.

    I regret to say that the airplane has some weird effects on me though. It actually turned my stomach and made me a little dizzy seeing the airplane over a large city like that. I know it is from 911 flashbacks and not sure if it has the same effect on others.

  3. Thanks Vivien and Nicole

    Nicole - I did wonder about whether people might think that - and if it had been an image of New York I'm sure I wouldn't have put it in - I'm not a New Yorker and I have no sense for how it feels there right now.

    But this is London and this is the view from my home and I have planes flying up the Thames and past my windows (and thankfully not often overhead!) all the time. It's my reality. And these drawings are about recording that.

    Living in London for as long as I have, I've grown to realise (as have many others) that we have to find a way of living with such threats otherwise life would quickly become intolerable.

    And I speak as somebody:
    - whose home was physically rocked when the bomb went off at Canary Wharf;
    - who was on the way to Harrods to buy a Christmas pud the day the Harrods bomb went off;
    - who was working two streets away from where the rocket launcher was located that sent a missile into the back garden of No 10 Downing Street and heard it go off;
    - and who used to line manage somebody who was on the top deck of the bus which was blown up last year and who thankfully survived.

    My mother, who doesn't live in London, finds it very difficult to understand why I still do. I guess my answer to that is because this is where I live. If we ever start pretending these things don't happen and if I can never draw what is my everyday reality then I guess those who would seek to threaten us have succeeded in their aims.

  4. This was my favourite of the photo references - and it is just beautiful with all those magical colours in the sky.

  5. This is truly one of the best things you've done. I didn't think 911 and it is clear that neither did you when you created the piece.
    The idea, however unintended, is intriguing though. It would be like a memento mori in a still life.
    Regards, neil

  6. Robyn and Neil - thank you for your very kind comments

  7. This is gorgeous, the subject matter looks so very different to your other work. What I also like about it is that the simple shapes could almost be an abstract painting as though you're playing with different tones and colours that happen to be arranged into simple rectangles, triangles etc. And I love your comment about not caving in to terrorist threats.

    I am sorry to hear about your hand, it's awful when the one thing that will allow something to get better is to do nothing.

    On a more frivolous note do have a look at my onemile Dec 02 entry - another picture inspired by your prompting!

  8. Thanks Julie - and your flashing dog collar is very impressive! Could Rufus come and pose on a roof near me soon?

    I'm going to say a bit more about the choice of subject matter in the next few posts. It's very odd - I'm just beginning to understand myself in drawing these why I am so 'drawn' to do them.

  9. Beautiful atmospheric effects, Katherine. A very Turnerlike feeling in this. The layering that you do is just so effective.

    I hope your hand heals quickly.


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