Wednesday, February 12, 2020

About Liam O'Farrell and his amazing paintings

One of the very nice things that happens from time to time is that artists that I feature on my blog sometimes write to me to tell me what has happened to them and their artwork.

 One such is Liam O'Farrell who wrote to me today.

I've seen his paintings in a number of recent exhibitions and very much like his combination of really excellent painting of architecture and people. His paintings manage to be both accurate and yet somewhat stylised. It's a very neat combination - recording contemporary life.

Last summer I featured his painting of the Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery which was selected for the NEAC Annual Exhibition 2019. I had it in my section about The Best of the Open Entry and other art I liked
Artwork I liked included paintings which did not look like the paintings of members or provided a new spin on old topics. I periodically lament that not enough people record buildings, events and the contemporary environment - as very many painters did in the past.

The Tate & Lyle Sugar Refinery, London by Liam O'Farrell

One artist who is very much about recording the present or the recent past is Liam O'Farrell - who paints in oil and watercolour but is fundamentally all about the drawing. I love his tiny people and the fact he can recreate past urban landscapes.
Liam wrote to correct me and to say that this is in fact a contemporary view. I've never seen this view of the Refinery and was convinced it was from the past. However after much comparison between Google Maps and the painting I now understand how he managed to achieve this particular view and paint it! See if you can work it out - it's clever!
Thames Refinery is the largest sugar refinery in the EU and one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of 1.2million tonnes per annum. Tate & Lyle website
I gather from Liam that the painting did not sell at the exhibition. However it was subsequently bought by Tate & Lyle and now hangs in their Boardroom!

Another of his paintings Denmark Street (Tin pan Alley) London (2017) was selected for the (last) Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2019.

Denmark Street (Tin pan Alley) London (2017) by Liam O'Farrell

I rather liked this - especially given I could not work out how he achieved his perspective.

He explained in his email to me today that he'd written a blog post about the painting An oil painting of Denmark Street London - in which he explained about he came to sketch the scene and also the people he saw during a warm afternoon in June as he drew the buildings
Liam's approach to his oil paintings is as follows
My oil paintings are generally built up from on-site sketches, colour notes and even photographs if a particular reference is needed, such as a plant shape or shadows. These are then composed together on board and finally painted in the studio, often over a period of weeks.
On his website you can also see his:
He's a big fan of Markets and Allotments! 

His paintings have also featured in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

This to my mind is one of the best "about me" artist statements I've ever read - as an explanation of what he likes and draws and paints.
Most of us are not really that trendy, confident, super rich or deliciously attractive. Most of the world is also like that. Even in spectacular locations such as Venice, if you scratch the surface the same ordinary people are there too. They just happen to be on holiday. I like to look again at all the things we can so easily miss, and celebrate them.
Of course I am not unique in this movement. Stanley Spencer, LS Lowry and Alfred Wallis were masters of it and this is just my small contribution.

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