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Paintings like Edward Hopper's
Opinions about paintings and painting styles are always subjective.
Some time ago I posted a short YouTube video with the headline,
''If you like Hopper paintings you may like these.''
It has received over 30k views and the only comment of note was rather critical:
‘’No, I don't particularly. Edward Hopper caught a moment in time (personal) as well as historical. These are pale imitations at best.’’
On the other hand, people have appreciated the work and approached me on various occasions with regards to using my artwork to create a Hopper style mood for their projects:
‘’Is there a chance you could be persuaded to design (in 5 cases re-design) the covers in your Hopper-esque style (admittedly you have enhanced that style as your own – all very, very, emotive and impactful)?’’
Other pleasant remarks have been:
‘’Very nice work. I feel a bit of influence or inspiration by Edward Hopper, with a more
contemporary feel to it.’’
‘’Since Edward Hopper is very much used I wanted to find a unique artist and after much searching I found your work that's equally if not more amazing!’’
At the end of the day I’m only painting what appeals to me. There is no conscious decision to copy Edward Hopper’s style. My paintings represent my time and my upbringing. Hopper was a product of his time. What was relevant to him then, is different to what is relevant to me now.
Does my artwork have any similarity to Hopper, well you will be the judge.
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My fascination with Edward Hopper started in the late 70's
How did it all start? Naturally, it was all by chance....
In the 1970's a gallery in London had a print of Nighthawks in a beautiful gold frame featured prominently in the window. I thought Wow!
It was a street scene at night with a lit interior of a restaurant, allowing the viewer to observe the setting through a large window. It was like being at the cinema, it had a story but no answer.
Every night I would stop and look, trying to puzzle it out. The lady was holding a note, what
was on it? The man’s hand was reaching towards the lady. Were they a couple?
This framed print was a 150 pounds, a lot of money then, but I had to buy it. It was the first print I had ever bought.
Three decades later, and of course life had taken over, in 2004, I was standing in front of the original oil painting of Nighthawks at the Tate Gallery, the first major exhibition of Edward Hopper in Britain.
I was fascinated all over again, but this time in a different way. I could see Hopper’s brushstrokes, I could see his techniques, I could see his colour mixing and I realized I could do it, or at least have a go.
I decided to become a painter. Only one snag, first I had to teach myself to paint, and I started learning how to draw....
Hopper's influence on the cinema
Hopper’s work has inspired many artists and film makers alike, notably Alfred Hitchcock in Psycho. It is being said, that Hopper’s painting By The Railroad, is the inspiration for the dwelling of Bates Motel in the Hitchcock classic, Psycho. Other film makers of note who draw inspiration from Hopper's work are David Lynch, Wim Wenders, and Jim Jarmusch to name just a few. With such impact on the art world and the cinema, it is no wonder that Hopper is regarded by many as America's most important realist painter of the 20th century.
Gallery of work
Here is a small selection of my paintings.
Is the cinematic or Hopper influence apparent?
I no longer know anymore, in any event, I hope you enjoy them...
The Ticket Office
The Ticket Office is a tribute to Edward Hopper. A connoisseur will notice the reference to Hopper's Nighthawks in the background. Anyone familiar with Windsor however, a town to the west of London, may have recognised the authentic setting of the Royal Victorian Railway Booking Office in Windsor, still operational today in its Victorian glory.
At first glance you notice a woman, her eyes closed as the early morning sun hits her left cheek. She tightly clasps a red leather bag, wearing a white and patterned dress, perhaps a little overdressed for the early hours of the morning. A single green suitcase sits at her feet.
She looks like a heavy burden rests on her shoulders. Perhaps her evening date didn't go as well as she had hoped, or more likely, she has been working the late hours in one of the local hotels where the long shifts take their toll. We can never know for certain. She is lost in thought and probably unaware of the road sweeper's whistling, a proud old man who has swept the station for over 50 years.
Homage to Edward Hopper, The Ticket Office by Theo 2018
The Barber Shop At Night
Who can resist the opportunity of peeking into a lit room revealing a private scene, especially at night time when you feel safe and anonymous in the shadows. The Barber Shop painting features this voyeuristic moment beautifully in this intimate shot of a barber at his craft.
The Barber Shop At Night, oil painting 2020
People In The Sun
The backdrop to the four sun worshippers is the harbour of Hamburg, one of Europe's busiest ports. Unlike Hopper, who featured a row of sunbathers on a terrace with a mountain view, this painting features a docked cruise ship to compliment his sun worshippers. Both artworks share the juxtaposition of formally dressed characters lounging in a row of deckchairs.
People In The Sun, oil painting by Theo 2019
A sweeping Mediterranean house stretches across the canvas. Sunlight reveals the form of four majestic columns, leading the eye to the red tiled roof. The warm roof casts oblique shadows onto the white walls, which are soaking up the mid day sun. One assumes the owners are wealthy, but nothing is revealed about them.
We are unable to look inside, as both the front door and the shutters are tightly closed. The ornate gate was carelessly left open, by the postman in the early hours of the morning.
We see an artist dressed in white. Intentionally or unintentionally we are cast as voyeurs. We try not to look but the light catching and accenting her female form draws us in. The artist wears a wide brimmed green hat, shielding her face from the sun and us. She is used to painting outdoors as she is heavily tanned. One can assume the house is not her own, and surmise she is painting it as a commission for the owners.
This painting portrays an intimate shot of a seamstress at work.
The trend of working from home has been compounded by the recent pandemic, but for many generations it has always been a way of life, especially in the clothing industry. All you needed was the sewing machine and you were set up for business. I remembers as a child the sacks of fabrics being delivered to my sisters, to be sown together and then picked up the following week. It was piece work and meeting your quota was imperative to make ends meet.
The Seamstress, oil painting by Theo 2020
Despite its title, the painting Cafe Paris depicts a Hamburg scene. It features the interior of a restaurant in the centre of the city. The arched and tiled art deco ceiling is a beautiful reminder of the cafe's previous identity as a butcher's shop. Cafe interiors are a frequent Hopper theme, but it is also the isolation of each character in the painting (no one seems to interact), that echoes Hopper's style.
Cafe Paris oil painting by Theo Michael 2016
The Melon Seller
Last and certainly not least, The Melon Seller. It features a lone vendor on a quiet Sunday afternoon, waiting for his customers.
In the painting he smokes a cigarette sitting on the warm concrete as the sun beams down. The background shows his truck full of melons as well as some Jars of Halloumi, a typical Cypriot cheese.
During the melon season many vans appear on the Cypriot roads offering their water melons for sale. Once the season has passed they disappear again just as quickly as they appeared to begin with.
You can't help but wonder what he is thinking? Is there a woman who is weighing on his thoughts, perhaps? Or is he looking forward to finishing his work and having a few drinks with his friends and family?
The Melon Seller, oil painting 2010
Painting like Edward Hopper?
I never intended to paint like Edward Hopper, it is something that simply happened and has become part of my catalogue. Perhaps it is a subconscious expression of that early encounter so many years ago, that irresistible fine art print, hanging in a shop window in a London street.