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Hidden Gems (of St Thomas, Swansea)

Hidden Gems by Emma Cownie

Here is a short series of paintings based on the shadows in a backlane in Swansea.  The photographs I used for these paintings were taken a couple of years ago. I came across them in my folder of printed images and decided I wanted revist my “urban minimal” themes.  The light in St Thomas is quite different to that in Brynmill, where I am at the moment.  I don’t know if its because the sea is closer to this part of Swansea, or because Kilvey Hill  has a particular angle of steepness,  but on a sunny day the light is luminescent.

I particularly wanted to used a glazing medium called liquin, to see if I could add depth to my shadows. I first did an under-painting using red ochre and sepia and then used the medium to add colour to shadows.

Back Lane, St Thomas (2021)

Back Lane, St Thomas (Swansea)(2021)

As I grew in confidence I used more liquin medium to paint the drying washing on the line and shadows on the stone wall.

Hung Out to Dry (St Thomas)_Emma Cownie
Hung Out to Dry (St Thomas, Swansea)

I think the darker shadows were more successful than the lighter ones.

Backlane Basketball painting
Backlane Basketball (Swansea) 2021 

I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the neat house with its clean, fresh drying washing and the apparent ugliness of the rough breeze-block wall in the backlane. This painting is very hard to photograph because of the very light and very dark colours. Some part of it end up too light or too dark! I think I got about right but I am still not happy with the final image. Just a reminder that you need to see a painting in real life to really appreciate it.

Too Dark!
Too Light!
A Soft Breeze (St Thoams, Swansea)
Just right? A Soft Breeze (St Thomas, Swansea) 2021

Read more about my Urban Minimal project

My Painting Project: Urban Minimalism

12 thoughts on “Hidden Gems (of St Thomas, Swansea)

  1. Just right is that, just right.

    1. I am glad you think so, I sometimes come back and change my mind!! lol

  2. Thank you for telling us the process of how you arrived at the “just right “. I enjoyed all these paintings.

  3. They’re lovely Emma. And you’ve reminded about liquin, I haven’t used it for years – must have another go with it. Katharine

    1. Yes, I had a bottle of it hanging around for ages until I thought of actually using it! I need to work at my patience with it, as I am usually in too much of a hurry!

  4. I love these. They seem to have parts of people’s lives in them.

  5. Yes, that a lovely way of describing them. I am often fascinated by the way light and wind moves washing.

  6. I want to add that backlanes are a fabulous place to go. It is like being on a train and seeing into the backyards and gardens of the houses. Their true face not the “street” face.

    1. Ah, yes, you make a really good point. I love looking at the back of houses from the train too. Sadly I have not been on a train for 15 months for obvious reasons!

  7. The washing adds a lovely bit of movement to the painting, Emma. I always like to see it flapping on a line 🙂 🙂

  8. Ha ha “Goldilocks”–too dark, too light, just right!

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