Behind the Scenes: Painting Newcastle Artwork
There are so many amazing things about living in the North East. Where else can you visit an award-winning golden sand beach, UNSECO countryside and a bustling metropolitan city… all within an hour’s drive?
In this blog, I write a lot about the beautiful Northumberland countryside and award-winning Tyneside beaches. However, I don’t often venture in land to our wonderful city, Newcastle Upon Tyne. In fact, this year I challenged myself to explore painting cityscapes, starting with my home city.
So, in this post, I want to share some of my recent original artwork inspired by this glorious place. Let’s take a closer look at the places that have inspired my recent artwork, and I’ll chat through some of the creative decisions that led to the final pieces.
The Quayside and Bridges
There are seven bridges crossing the Tyne at the Quayside, although many others cross the river at various points in its journey. Of course, the Tyne Bridge is probably the most iconic. This Grade-II listed structure was designed by Sir Ralph Freeman in the 1920s - yes, that’s the same guy who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The similarity is certainly no coincidence!
The Tyne Bridge is special for so many different reasons, not least because it acts as one of the main crossing points of the annual Great North Run: the world’s largest half marathon!
We ventured to this structure’s youngest sibling, The Millennium Bridge, to sketch a cross-section of all the bridges. If you’ve seen my artwork before, then you’ll know I usually paint rolling sand dunes, flourishing wildflowers and picturesque seaside towns… so all of these manmade structures and straight lines were definitely a change to what I’m used to.
Back in my studio, I took my reference sketches and started to build out the original piece on canvas. Often I’ll take drawings from different angles before I decide how the final painting will turn out - this is especially important when painting an architectural structure that requires accuracy. There’s less creative freedom than when I paint wildflowers and rolling sand dunes, but I still find ways to express my creativity through different shapes, textures and hues.
Cityscapes are a new venture for me and, as a result, I’ve been working with lots of texture and collaged fabric to balance the rigidity of architecture with the flowing nature of sky and water.
Here’s a sneak peek of one of the final pieces. The winding Tyne acts as a centrepiece for the intricate old buildings overlooking the river. Painting Newcastle landmarks has been so much fun. The original Newcastle paintings as well as some limited edition prints are all available from my online shop and at my Cullercoats art gallery.
Pink Tyne - Original Painting
The same venture inspired another two pieces, this time with a textured skyline overlooking the city’s famous bridges reflected in the river in motion. The skewed perspective allowed for an interesting square composition - one you don’t often see in horizons or cityscapes.
The Angel of the North
Another unmistakable slice of the Geordie landscape, this statue has overlooked the bustling A1 for 24 years. Designed and built by sculptor Antony Gormley, The Angel of the North sits on a former colliery and represents the region’s industrial past.
There are so many different artistic interpretations of the angel, I wanted my piece to be an original take while still representing the iconic landmark in all its glory. The angel is obviously a piece of art in itself, so putting this onto canvas required a bit of lateral thinking. I opted for a sweeping sunset sky with pinks, blues and yellows. The contrast between the big, bold brushstrokes of the sky and the finer details of the statue help to bring the eye to a focal point.
This original painting or limited edition print would be an ideal centrepiece for any neutral-coloured room. A perfect gift for a lover of local sights or even an adopted Geordie!
So, now I’ve painted a few of the city’s most iconic spots, and I’m already brimming with ideas of where to paint next. Even within Newcastle, there are some exciting locations I hope to visit and sketch in the spring and summer of next year. Where would you like to see my paint? Let me know over on Instagram @JoanneWishart.