When I was back in the UK I visited an exhibition of Peter Brown’s work in the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, Somerset. https://www.victoriagal.org.uk/events/peter-brown-bath-painter%E2%80%99s-travels
I saw this was on in an art magazine and was very pleased to see an exhibition was on at a location I could easily travel to (I LOVE it when that happens!) His oil paintings looked exciting and full of energy, capturing the local area with a style of his own and I was not disappointed. Brown loves painting en plein air in all weathers, indeed a lot of his work describes beautifully the heavy rain that seems to happen rather a lot in Somerset.
This short clip on Youtube shows Brown at work . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwgqFNyCiKE
I am going to focus on 3 works, which appealed to me and from which I may learn something. All photos are my own, with permission from the gallery.
‘St Michael’s with St Paul, Night’. Oil on canvas. This stood out for me, as it is a night scene and I was surprised how well the large, dark sky actually worked. It offers a strong contrast to the warm glow of the street lighting. I like how the red stop signs stand out; a common motif as he uses pops of red in quite a few other works. The top of the church is floodlit, which draws the eye upwards and balances out the picture. Brown is described as an impressionist painter, although I would say there is quite a lot of realism in his works, but almost as if viewed through thick, slightly distorted glass.
‘Pigeons in the rain, Abbey Churchyard’. Oil on canvas. There was also a smaller version of this, but this one has the recent bicycle tracks through the rain, which I think is just brilliant and tells a story whilst also drawing you into the painting. I love how he has described the rain falling and the shine and reflections on the pavements and the light coming through the alleyway. This is a colder painting than the previous one, but it has a cheerfulness about it, what with the pigeons pecking for crumbs left from the abandoned tea on the cafe table and the people hanging onto their umbrellas against the elements. The reflections in the rain and the light are the main focus of this work rather than the edifices.
‘Russell Street’. Charcoal on paper. In addition to the works in oil and a few water colours, Brown also had some charcoal sketches in this exhibition. I have to say if I was going to buy any of them I would want the charcoals. They are breathtakingly executed. I did not know such detail could be described with this medium. (The blue in this is a reflection as I took the photograph). What I said earlier about his work looking real and yet as if viewed through thick, distorted old glass definitely applies to his charcoal work. The monochrome of these works inspire me to think what I could achieve with just painting using black and white paint.
I will be referring back to Brown when i start of part 4 of this course, which I believe includes town/landscapes.
Below are some notes I made at the time and a few fast sketches to try to understand how Brown works.