Tuesday, January 29, 2019

VIDEO: Carl Randall paints Waterloo Bridge, London and 57 people from life

Carl Randall has produced another stunning large painting of an iconic place with lots of people in London. His painting of Waterloo Bridge, London
  • measures 6.5 feet wide (200cm)
  • includes 57 people who each sat for their portraits to be painted from life
  • took 5 months to complete
He's also created a video (see below) which shows how he created this.

This blog post is about
  • the creation of the painting, 
  • the artists included in it (see if you can spot them
  • portraits of places and why we need more painters who paint both people and 'scapes - people in context and context with people
  • how Carl creates his paintings
  • what I like about his work and his website
  • his impressive profile/biography - and where you can find him on line

About Waterloo Bridge, London and London Portraits

Waterloo Bridge, London (2018) by Carl Randall
Waterloo Bridge, London (2018) by Carl Randall
Oil on canvas, 200 x 93cm

Anybody who knows London during peak commuter times will be familiar with the absolute  HORDES of people who stream at a very fast pace across the bridges over the River Thames. The stations at Waterloo and London Bridge are on the South bank - and the City of London and many tube lines are on the North Bank - hence the rapid transit on foot!

I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if this painting ended up in major office building in the City!

The Artists in the Painting

It's worth going to the website to see a much bigger version and to see if you can spot the portraits of some of the artists who are included in the painting.  They are:
Oddly enough I thought some of them looked rather familiar before I knew they were included!

About portraits of places

I have been pleading for more artists to create more large scale paintings of people in context for YEARS!

Carl was one of the artists who stimulated this request. His paintings of groups of people in Japan in his BP Travel Award exhibition in 2013 were very impressive - and made me realise what we're missing.

The thing about "places" is they are both structures / scapes AND people. You have to go to some very remote areas to find landscapes without people and cityscapes with no signs of human life!

  • In terms of recording where we live and what it's like at a point in time paintings MUST include people. 
  • It's a line of travel which, in my opinion, is under-explored by both contemporary portrait painters and landscape painters.
So while I like, for example, the suburban paintings by Turner Prize nominee George Shaw - they are so completely inanimate and without life that they feel as if they are frozen in time. In fact to my mind, they're almost sterile - as if he is actually painting a matchbox set of buildings with his Humbrol enamel paints.

Carl Randall working on his painting of Waterloo Bridge
By way of contrast Carl's paintings are contrived and representative but actually feel more real - because of the inclusion of people.

That's not to say they are without some stylised conventions (eg what I think of as "Hockney Water") which move across various paintings which provide impact when viewed in a series.

He starts with grey matte paint which gives a surface from which he can then go up and down in tonal value - using monochrome paint - when painting the buildings and the heads . The river, transport and vegetation provide the coloured highlights.

Carl has a meticulous approach to recording the shape and structure buildings in his 'backdrop' to his story - however he also distorts size and relative placement if it tells the story better.  It's a figuratively based representation of a view in London.  It's an imaginative image grounded in reality - NOT a copy of a photograph! (The distortion introduced into the person relative to the context is particularly evident in his smaller and earlier London Portraits.)

He then paints each individual - from life - one at a time as a grisaille portrait in monochrome. Each head is approximately the size of a palm - and they start off completely separate on the canvas.

Each individual was painted from life
- this is at an early stage in the painting by Carl Randall
You can see more of how all of this works in the VIDEO below.

I particularly like the websites of artists which tell a story in terms of the artwork featured on the website.

In the case of Carl Randall:
  • His early work tends to be urban landscapes without people - and people without context
  • He graduates from the Slade and goes to live in Tokyo for 10 years and while there keeps his Japan sketchbook - and the ere are examples of how his artwork progressed during that time in this section of the website. It includes very fine monochrome drawings of Japanese individuals often without any context. He moves on to drawing groups of Japanese people in urban contexts eg travelling to work and eating, drinking and dancing together
  • These develop into Japanese Portraits - including the work which he completed for the BP Travel Award exhibition. They're fully developed and include people in contexts - albeit these can have distorted perspective and be highly stylised. For me they're my most complete insight into Japanese people doing ordinary things.  They also seem highly influenced by the graphic art which pervades Japan - although his art is unique and I've never seen anything quite like it by anybody else
  • Back in London, where is now based, he's been developing his series of London Portraits.  They started small and have got bigger!  When painting individuals they choose the backdrop which is meaningful to them. It's clearly an approach which lends itself to commissions.  There's also some wonderful photos of Carl painting his sitters from life having worked out his backdrop in advance.

I find his website one which is always a pleasure to look at - because of the unspoken narrative and graphics underpinning his work.

It's rather like reading an illustrated book where you start to wonder what the painter is going to do next!

About Carl Randall

Carl Randall is a British figurative painter whose work is based on images of modern Japan, and more recently London.


The thing that makes his portrait paintings work very distinctive is that he locates people in a cultural context and specific location. (Me in this blog post)

Awards & Prizes

Solo Exhibitions

  • 'In The Footsteps of Hiroshige: The Tokaido Highway and Portraits of Modern Japan' is on display at the National Portrait Gallery' (National Portrait Gallery, 2013 followed by tour to galleries in Aberdeen and Wolverhampton until June 2014). This display of sixteen Japan paintings at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013 was accompanied by 'Japan Portraits' - a catalogue illustrating paintings and drawings made during his 10 years in Tokyo.
  • London Portraits - featured well known people in places in London that are meaningful to them - see my blog post London Portraits by Carl Randall and prints of the paintings were displayed at the National Portrait Gallery
  • He has had several solo exhibitions in London and Japan

Group Exhibitions

Carl Randall in his studio working on ink paintings for the
Royal Drawing School at Christies New York exhibition
  • Royal Drawing School at Christies New York Jan. 23, 2016 – Feb. 7, 2016
  • Summer Exhibition - The Royal Academy of Arts, 
  • The Jerwood Gallery, 
  • Flowers Gallery London, 
  • The National Portrait Gallery, 
  • The Mall Galleries, 
  • Tokyo Art Award, 
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Art Fairs

He has participated at art fairs in Switzerland, Turkey and Taiwan.

Television and Media coverage

His work has been the featured on the BBC World Service and CNN

Permanent Collections

His work is in the collections of
  • University College London Art Museum, 
  • Tokyo Geidai Art Museum Japan, 
  • Foundation Carmignac Paris, and 
  • The Royal Collection. 
  • He was invited to be artist in residence in Hiroshima City to paint portraits of survivors of the Atomic Bomb, and at the Grand Prix Formula 1 Races in Japan. 

Social Media - where you can see more of his work

Website http://www.carlrandall.com
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/carlrandallpainter
YouTube Channel - Carl Randall
Twitter https://twitter.com/CarlRandallArt
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/carlrandallartist/

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