Welcome to my new feature ‘Take 5’. The idea is that you take 5 minutes out for yourself to have a read and learn about someone through 5 bits of work that represent them, it could be 5 yoga poses, 5 poems or in this case it’s 5 striking pieces of urban landscape art by acclaimed artist Neil Whitehead. I am so excited to highlight Neil’s work here, particularly as there’s a story behind the first piece. I took a snap on my phone of a deserted Yeovil when I was on the way to get my first covid jab at the hospital. The stillness in the town centre together with the clock tower there is a real sense of capturing a moment in history, a moment in time.
Yeovil town centre
Neil says “Inspired by photo from Somerset Shines, I was immediately drawn to capturing a pleasing composition and detailed Yeovil landmark. This original piece was in fact a continuous line sketch (the pen does not leave the paper) you can watch the technique here video“
Bath Place, Taunton
“One of my most instantly recognisable and popular prints, Bath Place, Taunton. This was a scene I was keen to capture when I stared my journey urban sketching – it fulfils all that I seek in a scene; perspective, movement, detail and colour. Helping put Bath Place on the map, this print has been sold as far away as North America!”
From the river Tone, Taunton
“In between lockdowns one and two, I took to creating a series of Taunton based postcard sized originals. Looking back from my vantage point on the bridge over the river Tone, my view looks towards the Independent Quarter and the start of the town centre. The weather and light was very changeable on this day and it gave way to a varied palette fuelled by raindrops on the paper.”
City of Bath street scene
“Bath is an urban landscape artists dream! In a scene that was immensely complex I chose to let the watercolour medium take the lead to help create an artful representation of a recognisable street. With so much to capture I chose to work at A3 – a little larger than usual. In my 20 years experience I’ve learnt valuable lesson that art isn’t always about creating a photographic replica of a scene, but more about capturing the essence with a sense of rhythm and narrative. I enjoy capturing details that might not necessarily be so obvious — giving them a new perspective, like they’re being seen for for the first time. Everything from the little forgotten archways to the old shop frontages that bear the marks of previous generations.”
Taunton Independent Quarter
“The rise of Independent shopping at the Independent Quarter. My sketching ‘base camp’, I have sketched and painted on location many times here over the years, This piece was adapted into a range of larger prints and postcards. Painted in a pre-covid time, this street is now seeing a resurgence in shoppers looking for personalised gifts. One of my personal favourites, the original hangs in my lounge. I love capturing the rhythm of perspective, colours and people.”
Thank you Neil for taking part in this Take 5 feature. We can all think of buildings that are important to us, or mysterious, or sacred or somehow reassuring in their grandeur and presence and Neil really captures these qualities in glorious ink and watercolour. The buildings reach to the sky and the skies wrap around and reach to the buildings, with luminous colours used to highlight and create atmosphere. Neil is based in Taunton and I’ve featured his Somerset works here, but you should also look at his website to see London and beyond! Here’s a little more about Neil:
As an urban landscape artist my work is inspired by the cities and towns we live in. Whilst capturing a scene from everyday life, I always seek to bring an element of intrigue and spontaneity to deliver a more ‘artful’ representation rather than capturing a photo-realistic representation. Be it in the rapid sketching style that demands a simplification of the scene or indeed the fluid and spontaneous use of watercolours, both help to add rhythm – the essential ingredient to make it work as a piece of art.