Plein Air, Rain or Shine: Peter Brown on Painting in London

“It’s a bit #rainy today in #London,” Brown said on Twitter while painting the “Royal Courts of Justice” (above)

I recently had the pleasure of coming across a post from plein air artist Peter Brown on Twitter when he shared a rainy day moment. When I asked about his work, he kindly shared the following:

“I paint London in the rain a fair bit,” Brown says. “The York Stone paving slabs go a brilliant gloss when the heavens open and views which were not that interesting suddenly pop up everywhere you look.

“I do not always use an umbrella as some canvases are 35 inches square and I am battling the wind enough. I find the view and return to the van, where I work under the tailgate to mix pools of color that I think I’d need. I then return to the spot with my box easel and try to keep as much dry as I can, particularly the canvas (by facing 2 same-size canvases face-to-face).

“Piccadilly Circus,” oil on canvas, 60 x 75 inches

“Depending on the strength of the downpour I can then work for one or maybe two hours, concentrating on the wet pavements, referencing the architecture above and trying to put down broad areas of tone and color. Eventually everything is soaking wet, the canvas taught as a drum, and the easel completely collapsible due to the wood swollen in the rain. I return when the rain is lighter or it is simply an overcast day to work on the drawing and architectural detail and to strengthen color and tone.

“Over Chelsea Bridge,” oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches

“This one of the Royal Courts of Justice is that important first sitting. As all plein air painters know you get comments from passersby and the most popular doing these is, ‘You should be using watercolor.’ After painting the Chelsea Bridge (above) for two hours and looking like a drowned rat, a passing lady stopped and asked if I had meant to paint in the rain. I think a lot of people look at me and think ‘What an idiot. He should have checked the forecast!'”

To see more of Brown’s work and artistic endeavors, follow him on Twitter here.


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