Walking around town and sketching the urban landscape was a trip down memory lane for me. Side streets, subways and urban decay is something I’ve always been drawn to.
The stories of buildings once made for purpose that are left crumbling after their use is served is an interesting story of the growth of a city. The juxtaposition of street art, a contrast of colours and creativity sprawling over oppressive grey concrete is to me, a statement of how free and individual art is.
I took a walk around the back of Piccadilly station in Manchester through an old disused industrial estate, full of dilapidated walls, overgrown junk yards….and to my amazement, an old disused train station!
After looking up the background on it, Mayfield Station was closed in the 30’s, but was a fully functional train station located to the south of Picadilly train station. It had a precarious rickety looking structure almost ‘tacked’ on to the side of the sturdy train track arches, built in dissolving corrugated steel, and propped up by spindly looking iron shafts.
The structure itself was massive and quite imposing because of how high it was, regarding the thin iron rods that were holding it up, so I decided this would be a great drawing to try and capture the alarming desperation of this curious building.
Using watercolour pencil I was able to achieve the effect of the moss and deterioration of the metal flanks and the stippled brick work, but then I wanted to re work it with biro to bring out the contrast of the dark underside against the metal supports.
Layered shading technique.
I think subconsciously this is why I was painstakingly drawing in the detail, only to know that I was going to scribble over it with a biro.
In the sky line exercise I used a black paint pen and started to understand about filling in the background detail before shading over this detail to create depth. I also noticed that I could highlight areas without highlighting them, but by darkening the surroundings. I could then add another layer of shading over both areas to push them further back into the shadow and illuminate the next area. By doing this I found that I could create a depth which still held detail well into the shadow, and also incorporate a dramatic contrast with the surrounding areas.
When I saw the structure of the supports receding into the dark underbelly of the rickety structure and the diminishing light failing to describe the details of the windows and brick work it felt right to take this theory, add colour and a few more mediums and see if I could achieve the same effect on an other level.
Only with so many different levels of structures, the windows and wall, the back supports, side and front supports and all the over crossing bars in between was I able to break them down into planes of shade so they worked together to illuminate or darken the surrounding areas while still retaining detail in even the darkest areas.
Working with the biro over the watercolour I realised how well the mediums worked together and how I could accentuate very subtle changes in shade and colour, and even though the picture has a very graphic approach to it, I feel comfortable using water colour pencils and biro to a level I wouldn’t have come across if I didn’t pay so much attention to the detail.
Using this layered shading technique to achieve detail to even the darkest areas is definitely a technique that I will be using and developing to enhance the contrast and depth of my work.