Rob brushes up for exhibition of East Finchley paintings

Artist Rob Thom with some of his paintings of East Finchley that will be on display in the Phoenix C

Artist Rob Thom with some of his paintings of East Finchley that will be on display in the Phoenix Cinema - Credit: Archant

Rob Thom has become a regular fixture in East Finchley over the last few years.

Armed with a canvas and his watercolours, the 41-year-old has been artfully recreating the street scenes of the neighbourhood. A former art student, he picked up the brushes again a decade ago out of sheer boredom.

“I was at an ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house and she suggested we go to the 99p shop and buy some paint and canvasses and make a bit of a mess,” he said.

“Something clicked in my brain and I took it very seriously. I then went to some life-drawing classes to sharpen my ability, and started painting.”

Working as a civil servant in Whitehall, he was also stimulated by the river scenes available on the doorstep of his work.

He said: “I went to the National Gallery and saw a Monet painting of the Embankment and realised this was on my doorstep.”

Rob then turned his attention closer to home, where he lived in Muswell Hill, and in nearby Crouch End and East Finchley. It gave him a new perspective on the roads around him. “You end up looking at the street in a way you never have before.”

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He has since moved away from the area, but continues making the 90-minute journey there from Plumstead in his free time.

Two buildings in East Finchley in particular stand out for him.

“My first painting was the Phoenix Cinema,” he said, “and turned it into a greetings card. They liked it so much they sold it in their foyer. My personal favourite is one of Black Gull Books, and I did another recently of Alan’s Records that I’m really pleased with.

“The view down East Finchley’s High Road is one I really like, especially trying to capture the people walking down.”

The reaction of locals to his paintings have also heartened him.

“I’ve never had anybody come up and say anything negative about them,” he told the Ham&High. “It can be quite intimidating, to just set up in the middle of the street and start painting, but people are really nice. Adults can be wary, but children seem to bound up and take a real interest.”

The exhibition of Rob Thom’s paintings of East Finchley starts today (Thu) and runs until November 28 in the Phoenix Cinema’s community exhibition space.