Trafalgar Square In The Evening


I was watching a documentary about the music explosion in the sixties and for a few seconds a camera panned across Trafalgar Square at night. It jolted me into downloading the programme, pausing it at the correct spot and printing off the scene. Even though it was grainy, soft-focussed and washy I thought I'd try to paint it. Here is the result done on a small canvas (don't like big canvases as you have to stand up to paint on them.)


Painting a night scene is difficult as buildings are retreating into the darkness as the sun descends. I painted in the basic shapes and loose washes - some mellow shades across the threads of the canvas. I recoiled at seeing lots of buildings were only half visible in the dying evening sunlight. How do I tackle these? Loosely I splashed on paint here and there to fool the brain into thinking there were buildings there. That tree in the photo was a nuisance so I didn't bother with it.


Few tubes of paint were required as evening scenes bleach out primary colours - yellow ochre, Ventician red, burnt umber, peaches. The building shown on the left with strong Roman columns is the National Art Gallery. The building in the centre wasn't easy to tackle - in the photo the evening sun catches stonework on the right but the rest of the building retreats into the gloom. You have to plunge in with a brush and experiment until the end result looks like a respectable attempt.


For me the best feature of the square are the twin fountains and I tried to bring them out using lighter tones (even used a lick of Titanium White.) I'm not sure how long they've been there. The square commemorates the victorious Battle of Trafalgar (the British navy versus France and Spain) which took place in October 1805. Did they have powerful water pumps then? There've certainly witnessed many powerful public demonstrations held in the square. There're two big fountains but I must have turned dyslexic for an hour and painted three. Oh well.


I dabbed in a few people walking across the place and felt I'd enough and it was finished. From a distance (the length of a tennis court) it looks reasonable and from three feet away I could probably tell it's Trafalgar Square. I might keep this for my own wall. I had a dominatrix round last Friday and an incident with a staple gun and a car battery left the wall stained with blood splashes. This painting will help cover a particularly stubborn stain.



The photo I'm using above the canvas...









Me at Trafalgar Square...