‘It can take your breath away’: The artist capturing north London in paint
- Credit: Alan Lancaster
North London’s varying scenes of woodlands, lakes and grand architecture are being captured on canvas by a local plein air artist.
Alan Lancaster, 66, has recreated in paint many of our most-known locations, from Crouch End's clocktower to the view from Primrose Hill. Driving round on his motor scooter, he said he tours the streets until something catches his eye. And, once it does, he paints it.
While art has always been in his blood, Alan has not always spent his time hurtling around north London streets searching for sites. Amongst his previous occupations are teaching, mural painting and latterly, running a property development company.
It was about five years ago that he took up painting again, he said, a decision that led to him being able to commit full time.
His style, called plein air, is defined by the artist painting their subject outside. He does not use any photographs, and always paints sat or stood in front of his scene.
Which, as you can imagine in our famously unpredictable British weather, can cause a few problems.
“The thing about plein air painting is you’ve only got a maximum of two hours that you can do it in before the light changes so significantly that you end up painting a different picture on top of the one you’ve done already," Alan said.
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Primarily focussing on areas such as Hampstead, Crouch End, Golders Green, and as far south as St John’s Wood, Alan said the diverse beauty of north London is what makes the area such a joy to paint.
He said: “I’ve been here 35 years now, and I just love north London. It’s just got everything you ever need or want, and it’s got these great natural locations as well as the wonderful buildings. It’s got the woods, the fields, Hampstead Heath.
“I think it’s got a very, very distinct appearance to it.”
His favourite spot though? The view from Alexandra Palace. “I think every artist has one subject that really appeals to them, and they want to explore it as much as they can. And the view up there changes by the hour, every time you go up there it can take your breath away.”
Alan’s next exhibition is planned for December at Burgh House, Hampstead, which he is calling The Villages of North London.
To view more of Alan’s images, visit his Instagram page at alanlancasterpleinair.