Comparing Urban Landscapes as Depicted by L.S. Lowry and Paul Kenton

Topics: Painting, L. S. Lowry, History of painting Pages: 6 (2309 words) Published: January 5, 2011
Landscapes can be found in every area of the world, ranging from icy landscapes of Polar Regions, mountainous landscapes, vast desert landscapes, islands and coastal landscapes, densely forested landscapes and even tropical rainforests. All landscapes are divided most commonly into natural elements or urban figurations; almost always is the sky included in any type of landscape work though. The composition of the sky in landscapes is often accompanied by the weather element of the piece too, showing whether the piece is set in harsh weather or not, naturally setting a mood. The mood of a landscapes background sets the tone for the rest of the piece, whether people feel uplifted or almost depressed by the weather effects. In most cases, natural landscapes give off a relaxed, peaceful mood while urban landscapes have this expected busy, never ending feel. Any type of landscape painting tries to show how the landscape feels, opposed to describing it, as visually seeing a piece allows the audience to lose themselves in it and sets their mood, based on the paintings. Landscapes are also used to show the overall business or relaxing element of what would often be seen as a background if people were included. Human-like figures can be found in some landscapes but the focus of the piece will always be on the landscape itself, whether it’s natural or urban-based. As part of my coursework, I have focused primarily on urban landscapes and in particular, L.S. Lowry and Paul Kenton’s take on urban landscapes. I will analyse both artists style of work, combined with their composition, use of colours, tones, texture and scenery, followed by comparing and contrasting each artist on their work within urban landscapes.

L.S. Lowry
One artist famous for painting Urban Landscapes is L.S. Lowry, who is widely known for painting industrial districts of Northern England during the early 19th Century. This artist is characterised by his distinctive style of painting, often including small human figurines referred to as ‘matchstick men’. As Lowry has such a distinctive, simplistic style throughout his work, it’s often addressed as ‘naïve’ and ‘almost childish’. However, if you look closer at some of his work, rather than it being dull as some people may originally think, it does become more detailed than it may have initially appeared. This is the key to Lowry’s work as the more you focus in to it, the more is steadily revealed to you. Lowry’s work is captivating in that he manages to recreate such a busy landscape with such simplicity.

Illustration 1 – ‘North Leach Church’
North Leach Church shown in illustration one is traditional Oil on Canvas. This painting is not what most people would expect him to portray as subject matter. Unlike his other paintings, this piece shows no human figures and the scene is a small churchyard in the Cotswolds. However, the contrast between the main image itself and the background is a traditional aspect of Lowry’s work. This contrast would be between the almost solid church and the one-dimensional bright white gravestones, combined with basic background. This is always a prominent aspect in all of Lowry’s work – having a plain, colourless background in order to draw to you the main image, emphasising the vocal point of the painting. It affects his work, and in particular this piece, as it gives his work a dull, monotonous feel, despite this being well accommodated in this painting as its set in a graveyard. Although this is a traditional view, it also incorporates some features of an abstract painting. A picture is abstract when elements of form, such as the gravestones and the path are prominent within the piece. Due to the emphasis on the simplistic shapes, the gravestones and straight path, you are able to establish why his work is often considered childish. As Lowry chooses to paint in such a simple style, it would suggest that he had no formal training in the art. I saw this piece by Lowry in...

Bibliography: http://www.washingtongreen.co.uk/artists/paul_kenton/profile.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._S._Lowry
http://www.thelowry.com/ls-lowry/his-life-and-work/
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