The Coach House
Location: laneway off Wellesley St. E. Toronto,
Tony Batten continues to impress me with his art.
Let's take a close look at this work. As I scan my way around it I am struck by how busy a work it is. The sky is almost non existent and there aren't many trees - two classic space fillers for artists. But look at what Tony does with the space he has. We get it all; a house with bricks, windows, window frames, a lane, a fence, and a roof and coach house. Each one demands its own type of exact attention and replication of detail.
But yet there is more. Anyone who has grown up in an older urban centre in Canada, can recognize elements of this residential theme. It bears a certain sense of nostalgia, of times long past; a time of graceful living and community elegance.
Now, lets follow the visual pathway up the laneway. To the left we find the back porch which has a white upright post and this is followed by a grey telephone pole, which along with the back garden fence, constricts our visual pathway. The dark, shadowed house on the right side completes the blocking. And in the end, we are led along the lane, through the coach house where we are left to wonder what is beyond that.
As a painter, I find myself impressed by Tony's control, design and methodical work. I can't help but wonder how long such a picture would take to paint. More then all that, I am impressed by his skill as a watercolourist. Splendid painting Tony.
"l have tackled this scene several times over the years and am drawn back to it again and again. Its appeal certainly lies in the three main fields of depth ie the two bracketing residences that sit on each side of the foreground, then the coach house with the central void that is the driveway and that leading the eye even further to a row of garages and sheds. What is presented is one of the most basic perspective views of a group of structures .. a central vanishing point. Usually one of the least attractive views! However l do think that given the variety of surface materials and the myriad textures that this rather static view does have considerable appeal to both the artist and the viewer. One of my concerns is always to attempt to light or illuminate my compositions in a way that adds drama and interest and this work was no exception. l worked out the lighting system with a number of preliminary sketches and took some liberties with cast shadows attempting to create dramatic diagonal lines that would run counter to the dominant central vanishing point.
All the of the several versions of this scene that l have produced have been acquired by collectors so they presumably saw something in the work that appealed to them and that is most satisfying.
l recently passed the buildings and again saw in my mind's eye yet another painting however the next one may be painted a different medium, maybe acrylics."