Saturday, 7 June 2014


Much as I would like to, I don't earn my living through painting.  Instead, I get up at 6 o'clock every morning and make my way up to the bright lights of the city.  Everyone I know who does this journey, complains about it as some time or another (I'm including myself in that list).  But even commuting has it's moments and my next two paintings were my attempt at capturing some of them.

I walk or bus to the station (depending on the weather) and arrive in time to catch the 7:22 train.  There is a point around late October / early November when this part of my commute coincides with sunrise.  I remember when I was in Fiji, I got up early one morning and climbed to the top of a nearby hill to watch the sun rise and it was one of those magical moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Sunrise at Fleet station on a cold November morning is somewhat less magical but I do like the way the light of the sky reflects off the rails.

It takes about 45 minutes to get to Waterloo then it's onto the tube to complete my journey to Canary Wharf.  All through history the religions of the world have built giant temples and cathedrals to remind us of the power and dominance of whichever God it is they want us to worship and I sometimes think the buildings in Canary Wharf are temples to the God of Money.  Love it or hate it, this is an imposing place and I've been wanting to do a painting of it f for a while.  So I was probably the only person on the Isle of Dogs who was quite pleased to walk out of my office one day last week and see big dark storm clouds gathering behind the tower.  The sun was still shining behind me and it reflected of the Citibank building to produce quite an impressive scene.  It wasn't easy to paint though.  This is my second attempt which I'm reasonably happy with although if I was to do it again I might make the sky a bit darker.  Those of you who have used masking fluid will appreciate the number of paintbrushes I got through painting this twice and will understand why I'm unlikely to try a third version.

But dramatic skies are just that, dramatic skies and they can happen anywhere.  What actually makes my commute bearable and at times even enjoyable is the people who share the pain with me.  If you're on this list then these pictures are for you:

  • You judge if you're running late by how far down Fleet Road you've got before I overtake you in the morning.
  • You're one of the butchers who waves at me when I walk past your shop.
  • You catch the same bus as me on the days when I can't be bothered walking.
  • You were with me back in October when I suddenly stopped half way across the bridge to take the photo that went on to become picture number one.
  • You have identified yourself in picture number one because, well, that's where you always stand so it must be you.
  • You meet me on the platform every morning and we put the world to rights on our journey up to Waterloo.
  • You are one of the people who sits near us and pretends not to listen in.
  • You catch the tube with me every time there is a strike and then spend the rest of your life doing something to do with security in Africa.  I don't believe that you work for Barclays, I think you're a spy.
  • You work in my office and occasionally appear on the escalator behind me at Waterloo.  It was a team effort working out who you are.
  • You catch the bus home with me in the evening and you think I'm some kind of millionaire...who travels on Fleet Buzz.
  • You're wondering where I put the carpark - it's big and ugly and I don't like it so I deleted it along with the people who ride their bikes along the platform in the morning.