I’ve been painting pictures again!

As I continue balancing my two hobbies of historical wargaming and painting pictures, it’s the turn of the latter for this posting.

I’ve just completed my most ambitious painting so far – a view of Queen’s Wharf (Wellington, New Zealand) some time during the mid-1890s.

I was inspired by some old photographs of Wellington Harbour that I found online. I loved the hustle and bustle they conveyed, reflecting a period when shipping and rail were the lifeblood of the city.

I also thought this subject might challenge me to overcome my fear of painting people, and in particular horses!

Before starting on the painting proper, I put together a mock-up on my computer. The grid helped me to transfer the basic composition onto my canvas, which I had marked out in a similar pattern of squares. Though you’ll see I didn’t always rigorously follow the mock-up when I actually started painting.

I added the model train into the mock-up as I wished to depict the former Te Aro Extension in operation. This was a branch line that used to run along Jervois Quay, but which has long since been dismantled.

I used acrylics (including Games Workshop Contrast paints for the details) applied on a stretched 700x550mm canvas. The above slideshow demonstrates the process I went through to build up the painting, layer by layer.

And here’s the finished product! I’m really happy with how it has turned out.

In the next few photos I will also pick out for you some of the many little details and vignettes, in what could almost be regarded as a 2D diorama!

There’s lots to see in this picture, if you look very closely (click on the image to enlarge):

  • a couple of hydraulic cranes
  • the harbour control tower
  • several steamships and a sailing ship
  • horse-drawn cabs lining up for passengers
  • three heavy goods drays (including one with a schoolboy hitching a ride!)
  • a couple of pairs of boys fishing
  • goods being transported on hand-carts
  • a news-agent kiosk surrounded by customers
  • men studying the shipping arrivals and departures board
  • there’s even a little dog – but he is pretty hard to spot!

Moving over to the right of the painting, we see:

  • a white steamship with a clipper bow
  • a small steamer tied up at the far left
  • another steamer about to cast off, the captain on the bridge
  • several different types of wagons (note the horses – as mentioned above, I have always been afraid of painting these!)
  • a snazzy couple out for a stroll
  • the newly-constructed Wellington Harbour Board building (now a museum).

Here we see:

  • an old-fashioned railway crossing
  • a pair of old geezers
  • a cab-rank with cabbies touting for business
  • a dapper gent with his cane
  • a ‘sporty’ little one-horse gig
  • and even some horse droppings and a dung-heap!

The final quadrant of my painting includes:

  • a well-dressed lady crossing the road (though if you look at my reference photo above, she seems to have aged in my painting!)
  • my piece-de-resistance – the train (for those interested in such details, this is a R-class ‘Fairlie’ locomotive pulling a clerestory-style passenger carriage).

I am half-thinking of getting this image made into prints, and approaching the Wellington Museum (which now occupies the building on the right of my painting) to see if they’re interested in selling them through their gift-shop.

5 thoughts on “I’ve been painting pictures again!

  1. Nice work. The location is two or three minutes walk from where I work . There has been quite a bit of reclamation since the time of your painting. Interesting to see the difference

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