Painted Clocks

While standing at my workbench, cutting away at the paper for a recent architectural study (the process is very therapeutic and extremely satisfying), I found myself staring at a clock face… it’s a strange thing when you’re in that creative zone and working through a piece, some actions can be quite repetitive and it leaves your mind blank and receptive to new ideas. I’m not sure which blank space this idea came from, but there it suddenly was… “wouldn’t it be great if these clocks actually worked!”. The concept of painted clocks didn’t seem too far fetched. I’ve seen plenty of artists using simple clock kits and painting images onto a classic round face. So it would potentially be adapting an existing mechanism to fit into on of my illustrations. Here’s some photos of my first two attempts at creating working painted clocks!

The Zyyturm

The first experiment had to be the Zyyturm, the clock tower with the white and blue striped tile pattern that stands above the old town in Zug. It’s featured in quite a few commissions now and I know it’s details pretty well. The proportions also seemed to work for this tall frame, which was originally a panoramic style. By adding some white buffers around the frame edge I was able to create a custom box frame. Then the clock mechanism could be cut through the painted surface and mounted. That illustrated paper layer could even be lifted slightly from the backdrop like my other paper dioramas.

The results looked pretty good! The mechanism didn’t feel out of place within the image. The fiddly cuts I had to make to the tiny (possibly aluminium) hands were a little rough but once they were painted up it seemed to sit well against the hand drawn lines and brush painted colours.

The St Pancras Hotel

Following on from that, I wanted to work on another favourite scene. Although i’ve only made one painting of the St Pancras Hotel so far it’s a building that holds special memories for me. I remember whenever we made a visit to London, I would arrive into King’s Cross station and walk out into the city past it’s glorious architecture. The reddish colour and ornate details have always been fascinating to me.

The trouble here proved to be selecting an area of the building that worked within the same box frame (I could have worked with a bigger frame but I wanted the focus to be on the clock and sometimes it’s good to restrict yourself). There were a few details that I just had to squeeze in, so the composition ended up with the clock sitting off to the left hand side. It’s another occasion where I wasn’t sure about how it would look and balance by the end… but I actually quite like the different spire and roof heights within the piece. It feels much more dynamic than the straight up and down of the Zyyturm and I will have to keep that in mind for future clocks!

But the best part about both painted clocks is that they have kept the correct time! It’s great to have them up on the gallery wall in the studio, and even better to look over and know that they’re working.

These are the first examples of a new series, but if you’re interested in seeing more you can follow the #paperdiorama or #Clocks tag on the blog for future working illustrations like these. I always like to hear your suggestions too… which famous clocks would you like to see me recreate in my acrylic and ink style. Drop me a line using the contact form or say hello online with facebook, twitter or instagram.

These paintings have also been included on the artist support pledge tag (#artistsupportpledge).

Where would you send an artist to be inspired? What location should I paint next? leave me a suggestion or comment here!

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