I have painted a football stadium or two in my time, and I always relish the opportunity to learn a bit more about them than what flashes by on the TV results. So when I was asked to paint a match day at Bloomfield Road in Blackpool, I was most keen.
A bit about Blackpool F.C.
Blackpool is not one of those ‘pop star’ football clubs. You know the ones, the ones which are staggeringly rich and, oddly staggeringly in debt too. Blackpool is not one of those teams that have most of their fans outside the city in which they are based. No, those ‘pop star’ teams reach far beyond the city boundaries and far beyond the UK’s shore too. They boast hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world laying their dollars, Yen, pounds and Euros down for the latest absurdly priced nylon shirt.
Though what the ‘pop star’ teams have in their vast fan numbers, however, they often sadly lack in loyalty. Yes, once the billionaire backer has needed to flee the country due to one dodgy deal too many, and the medals dry up, many of these footie fan moths flit across to the bright candle next door with a cry of ‘I will support you through the good times and the better times too’. I ask, is that the basis of a genuine relationship?
Supporting a local side
I come from Portsmouth, and I feel Blackpool has some similarities to this northern counterpart. They are both seaside towns, in fact Blackpool are known as the ‘Seasiders’, they are both predominantly working class, and they both have a totally solid, loyal football following going back well over a hundred years.
If you support Portsmouth or Blackpool, you almost certainly come from Portsmouth and Blackpool. Not only that, after your teenage years are over (teenagers always drift) you will almost certainly support your home team for the rest of your days. Through thick and thin, whatever the weather.
With that in mind, I decided a pre match gathering was in order, where fans meet up just prior to another legendary win.
Drawing and Painting the stadium at Broomfield Road
I much prefer to get in front of the subject to draw and paint, although here, we did not have the time or budget to waft up to Blackpool.
I had to instead work closely with the client with as many photos as could be supplied, and of course, the genius gift that is Google Street View. I had to do a street scene of New York for Tatler Magazine once. This too was accomplished via Google Street View. Tatler loved it a and reprinted it twice. Totally ‘Made in Somerset’. A trip to New York would have been nice though.
Sometimes the ‘God of Arts’ sends other gifts too. He blessed me this time in the shape of the Blackpool Tower. You can see it clearly from the entrance of the stadium, so in my initial drawings, I made that the centre, then worked away from there.
I sent through the drawings to get a sign off of the stadium. I did this as one of the drawbacks of photos and such is the sense of scale. The client had visited the stadium a few times over the years and was happy with my impression.
As I progressed, I began to place the fans and those that work on match days including mounted police and badge sellers.
I also put in the client and her family. This was a surprise present for her husband, there was a spot of skulduggery in getting match day shots.
Match days in Northern seaside towns can be a mite chilly so on the whole it was coats all round.
Once we were all clear, I began to paint the final piece. I enjoyed painting the terraced houses to the left. Even though they are standard Victorian terraces, they still hold the seaside tradition of painting houses in bright colours. Most enjoyable.