Historical Istanbul

Well, the flight back to home today was cancelled due to snow on the runway at Heathrow. We’re due to fly tomorrow night now but I think that seems doubtful with the cold weather. I know there are worse places to be than Istanbul and there’s a lot more I want to see here, but Christmas is here in a few days and I’ve not seen my family for 5 weeks. My daughter is 11 months old and I think she’s changed quite a bit. Oh well, I’ll take the opportunity to see some more of the city.

The architecture and history here is incredible. I’m particularly interested in the Byzantine period as I knew very little about it before I came. This trip has been something of a chance to fill in this historical blind spot I have. I saw the Valens aqueduct yesterday – a breathtaking structure, and still standing strong after 1600 years. It’s quite something to see a busy 6 lane highway ploughing straight through its arches.

The Valens Aqueduct

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A challenging mural project

For the past month I’ve been working on a project in Istanbul. It’s a city that’s been on my list of places to visit for many years and I’m now lucky enough to be working here on a house with beautiful views of Asia across the Bosphorus. I’ve travelled a fair bit in Asia over the years and have always wanted to see the this historic city and the gateway to the east. The company is good too – I’m helping another muralist, the artist Richard Bagguley and working alongside graphic designer David Bird and S.P. Howarth the poet and actor.

Working out here has given me a little more free time than usual, hence starting this blog.

Here’s another painting I did some years ago. It was for a bar in Bristol and had to be completed within a very tight timeframe. It was around 7 metres in length and I had around 20 days to produce it. The whole thing was painted in my studio to be installed on completion. I fell off a ladder on the first day and ripped the canvas and this set me back a couple of days with ordering a new one. Luckily, when I finished the final painting I still had a few days to spare. The brief itself was quite open – I was required to paint a classical reproduction in an almost letterbox format. I chose this painting by Guido Reni, as I had painted it some years before as a street art piece, the format fitted and I knew it fairly well. I stretched the canvas myself in a studio I was working in at the time. After my accident and false start I sketched the outline in one day and made a start on painting the fabrics.

Drawing the outline of the mural

After this, the painting went rather quickly – I took the next image at the end of the second day. Most of the painting was sketched in now and all the canvas covered with an initial layer of paint.

At the end of day 2

After the second day, things really slowed down as I guessed they would. I had to get adding the details – painting all the figures in, getting the contrast right, blending of the clouds and so on. The painting in the end had to stand up to a fair degree of close scrutiny.

Final mural painting almost finished.

It felt like a challenge at the time to complete such a large painting in the time I was given and I was glad to have a break after. As soon as the paint was dry I spent the money from the painting on a flight to Kathmandu and a month travelling around Nepal.

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Introduction

Hello everyone – welcome to my blog.

I’ve set up this blog to publish a few of my murals and explain some of the processes involved and some of the thoughts behind them. Well, at least that’s the idea – I’ll just have to see where this takes me. It will probably be like a painting in itself and take on a life of it’s own…

Ok, I’ll tell you a bit about myself first:

I was born in Stoke, England and brought up in Derbyshire. I left school with an interest in both the sciences and art. I studied at art college for 6 years, leaving finally with a degree in graphic design. In hindsight, I guess I should have studied fine art, but my graphics training has probably given me a commercial leaning and a tendency to tailor my style to each individual brief. I worked as a pavement artist for the last two years of college and carried this on after graduating for another five. This was great fun, it allowed me to travel and earn a surprising amount of money.

Painting on the street around 1995

This seemed to lead on quite naturally to painting murals and trompe l’oeil. I tend to work very hard at what I do and always try to raise the game with the quality. I get wrapped up in each project (much to the annoyance of my family now) but still love the work. Each job brings new challenges and no matter how far you get there is always so much more to learn. I’ve always believed that when you think you can’t learn any more it’s time to put your brushes down.

Mel

My mural website

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