I moved to Vancouver in April 2000. I was immediately struck with how depressing the climate here was for it rained continually for about three weeks with barely a break in the clouds. The climate would eventually change to clear and temperate spring weather that reminded me of life growing up in the UK. Then over the summer months I was treated to some of the most spectacular sunsets I had ever seen by simply looking out from my balcony.
To those of you from the prairies this would be nothing new but I was from London and then Toronto where such spectacular skies were a much rarer occurrence and easy to miss unless you happen to be picnicking in a city park with an unobscured horizon. Like many people I took photographs of the sunsets but the prints hardly came close to what I had experienced seeing. A good or professional photographer with a tripod, exposure compensation and various filters would have produced far more memorable prints than I could ever have done. Now some twenty years later we have cameras with incredible digital capacity that can record a spectacular sunset in the hands of an amateur with an IPhone.
So why paint sunsets? Photographs we carry are ubiquitous images and not often seen in a printed format.
They are mostly an endless “roll” of spontaneous moments stored on our camera phones shared with a click and hardly viewed for more than a couple of seconds. It’s a poor substitute for being in the moment watching a Vancouver sunset and seeing how fast and dramatically the sky can change. These paintings, seen at their best here under gallery lighting, offer a different viewing experience, one that allows for more contemplation and perhaps an interpretation that can be visually poetic notwithstanding that photography was used in recording the inspiration for this series of eight paintings.
The reference photos for paintings 1 and 2 were shot on colour print film and for painting 3 it was B&W film with a quick sketch and colour notes made at the scene. Paintings 4, 5, 6 and 8 were recorded with an old Canon pocket digital camera. Painting 7 was done from memory bar the foreground which I shot in the daytime and then transposed to dusk on the canvas without any photo. None of these paintings were simply copied from the reference material, rather I have recomposed them to varying degrees in preparatory studies with foreground changes and colour and tonal enhancements to satisfy my personal aesthetic.