The Who at Manchester Arena!

I attended Manchester Arena in April 2017, just a month before the appalling bomb attack, to see The Who.  I would have loved to have gained entry to the sound-check in order to sketch the band from life but all attempts to obtain permission were unsuccessful. Working from memory and about 130 photographs I composed a rough image using a digital manipulation program. Sometimes I use Gimp on my laptop at home and other times I use Fireworks if I’m working out the composition at my studio but it all comes down to the same thing as I “Photoshop” one image from the many photographs. Often I will use more than one image to assist the painting.

Manchester Arena is a BIG venue and I wanted to express the scale of the stage and back-line set-up. Two large screen, one either side of the stage, provided close up footage throughout the evening and I knew that I wanted to use this in the painting I was already planning during the gig. Every time I go to a gig I consciously and subconsciously juggle various things in my mind. I’m always conscious of colour, posture and what football commentators describe as “body-shape”, lighting effects, the audience and how a painting might be composed. In addition to these considerations I need to record these through memorising certain nuances and through taking copious photographs. Whilst typographical details is not my primary interest, some accuracy is desired to maintain authenticity-after all if Pete Townsend is playing a Fender Stratocaster, it has to look like a Strat! The crucial consideration is the overall ambience or the feel of the concert. This “feel” has to be felt and for this one must experience the music, the band and the audience. It is important for me to be in the audience, as a member of it, not just a cold observer for no number of sketches or photographs can replace this. When composing the image on computer I am always mindful of what it is that I will be trying to express. Once the painting is underway further decisions are made sometimes moving or omitting stage furniture to improve the composition or structure of the painting. Various other changes will follow during painting…including drastic changes to lighting, position of band members and posture. Whilst the “Photoshopping” of photographs is useful it doesn’t provide me with the final image…this has to be worked out or worked through on the canvas.

The finished painting of The Who will be exhibited for the first time at my studio’s next Open Studio event ( ) in October. It will be hung alongside my oil painting of Black Sabbath at Manchester Arena and my oil on canvas of Walter Trout at Parr Hall, Warrington, a very different venue.

The original along with signed, limited edition Giclee prints are available

UPDATE: 5th January 2018, the original painting is now SOLD but limited edition signed Giclee prints are available.