I have gradually accumulated on my iMac around 25,000 photographs. They go back to the early 1950s when ‘I were nobbut a lad’. As I have said before I generally do not have time to sketch a scene that catches my eye so a photograph has to do. I guess around 60-70 percent, or more, of my photos have been taken with the intention of possibly using them for a painting. I came across a print of this picture last week and couldn’t remember when or where the photo was taken or even why.
An appealing scene doesn’t always carry its mood over to the camera and I didn’t look the most interesting of subjects but I could feel a hint of why the picture was taken and I was caught by the arrow on the fence so I set to with my easel and acrylics.
The photo has quite flat lighting and lacks a meaningful focal point. After thought I decided to give the picture a dramatic sky and from that came the full frontal lighting on the cottages and distant house. This was OK but still lacking a ‘path’ through the image. This is when I added the shadow from the barn on the left which when cast on the leftmost cottage pointed a way to the right. Then I swung the rightmost fence panelling to close off the right side. I still had an unimpressive chunk of road to the lower left so I began with the frontal shadow from a tree ‘behind’ me which partly forced the eye into the mid-ground. Finally I added the posts and wire (a favourite cliché of mine) with the intention of turning the interest round the corner, up the shadowed bit of road and then to be guided across the fronts of the cottages by sunlight, up the pole and to rest at the distant mansion. Thus ‘The Arrow’ was born.
I hope this works reasonably well but whether exhibition judges will agree is another matter.
Later, I did some research and found that I took the photo in May 2006 in Hambledon, near the Thames. A village once owned by W H Smith. Not his company but the man himself who was later lampooned in ‘HMS Pinafore’.