‘Create a simple narrative, involving one or several human figures, and produce a painting that gives the viewer the clearest possible idea of whats happening’.
This might be a bit self-indulgent, but I have an idea to recreate my maternal grandmother and grandfather’s wedding day from a few pictures that I have. My sister has also sent me some information (she researches the family tree) and I know the wedding was 15th April 1922 at the parish church in Montacute, Somerset. (It seems strange that it would be their anniversary tomorrow!) The photos we have show them outside the house and none of the church, and it looks wet so maybe it was pouring with rain at the church so they took the photos when they got back. I love that his trousers are a bit short and I love the tin bath hanging on the wall in all of them….
This is the photograph I have and my sister has sent me some other ones that include the best man and the bridesmaid (my Nan’s best friend Mabel, who was Nan’s brother’s wife and died soon after she got married. My grandfather died when my Mum was about 20 so I never knew him.
I want to tell the story of a simple wedding on a wet, April day back in the 1920s.
So today I have been trying a few things. I was thinking maybe they could have stood outside the church with an umbrella… Could it be a red one that will really stand out in the grey rain and that will symbolise protection and warmth? I have found some photos of the church with a google search and am looking at those. If only I was in Somerset I could have gone there and done some sketching…but anyway, this is what I have done so far. They are just fast pencil and watercolour. I think I will have to keep it a little on the abstract side as none of the images are clear and I want to put in the rain, which will blur the view of the church anyway.
Today I did a pencil drawing, using the images I have, to put the couple together under an umbrella and this is the positioning I will use in my painting. I have also laid down a ground, (after trying this in my sketchbook) using a pale blue and streaking in some white, as a rainy background to work upon. The light will be from the right and the rain driving across from the left. Using blue, mixed with a little black and white I hope will give a feeling of the coolness of the day and the wetness of the rain.
I used the sketch above to paint the figures like this onto the canvas. I then worked on the figures and used a maroon colour in the end for the umbrella, as I felt this was more in keeping with the era, but still a warm, protective colour. I then marked out the background and painted in the church and gateway in a really loose way with the same blue but with some black mixed in. Kept it all very wet. Added a little more rain and drops and reflections until it looked right.
I hope it tells the story of 2 happy people getting married on a wet, grey, spring day – who didn’t mind the rain! Gilbert and Elizabeth Cole, my grandparents. 🙂