Looking the Other Way

Painting of people on a bech in Stroud

Looking the Other Way

I needed to paint this picture. I have painted a lot of landscapes lately and I was missing the challenge of the human form. Or rather painting light on their clothes and faces.  I was spending the week with my parents who live near Stroud. My favourite day for street photography is on Saturdays when there is a farmers’ market and there are lots of people and dogs. I like painting dogs in particular. These three friends were enjoying the autumn sunshine on a bench in Stroud. I liked how they sat close together. Are they related or just friends? The two on the left have a similar style. Perhaps they are married? The street is very steep and although the bench is level, its always as if gravity has pulled the three of them to one end of the bench.

I loved the colours of the woman’s green mac and purple hats and how they worked so well with the men’s pink and blue tee shirts. They seemed to sit in a comfortable silence a lot of the time. The pigeons were not important. They were just hanging around. People often eat here as a baker’s shop is near by. The pigeon in the foreground was in the process of stepping forward, and she is forever preserved as if she only has one leg. When  I lived in London, a couple of decades ago, I often saw pigeons with toes and feet missing. They were presumably eaten away by a sort of pigeon leprosy, so I always delight in seeing a pigeon with healthy feet. The man in the pink top looks down, is he looking at a pigeon or just lost in thought. Later on, I spotted this trio walking around the town, the lady in the green mac still in the centre of the trio. On another visit later in the week, the man in the flat cap was sitting on the same bench on his own.

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15 replies »

  1. I really enjoy this painting, Emma. I found myself thinking about them, wondering if they grew up together, have known each other for decades. So different from my own experience. And when I read your description I chuckled because I was thinking exactly the same thing~I know the bench is level, but you can feel the pull of gravity down the street. Like you, I am drawn to people out and about.

  2. I found this very interesting. Who are these people? Why are the two on the left looking away? do they know the man on the right? Is he in some kind of distress or is he just tired? There is just so much going on here. These are real people with stories to tell. Love it!

  3. I followed the link to your other people paintings. They’re all so well done–distilled down to the essence of what is only necessary, no frills. I especially liked the one “Woman’s Best Friend”. The painting in this post doesn’t disappoint either, it follows in the “footsteps” of the previous people paintings!

    • Thank you so much, Alli. I love doing people paintings but they tend not to sell as quickly as landscapes so I have to hold back a bit (there’s not a lot of space in our house).

    • Stroud’s a very small town centre so you often see people a few times in a shopping trip. I often spot the subjects of my paintings/photos days or months later. Once I have painted them I never forget them.

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