I started “Cuppa” in the middle of winter, February 2021. After almost a full year of the pandemic, with all its peaks and valleys, I was missing social contact and travel.
I chose a scene of a coffee shop in London from our autumn 2019 trip. This cafe was just down the street from our hotel in the Kensington area on Bayswater, steps from Notting Hill. People were out and about early morning, chatting and meeting up, catching red double decker buses. How were we to know then what was coming?
I sat at a back table watching it all. It was my break before heading to the National Portrait Gallery on one of those buses. People were coming and going, some rushing, some lingering at tables. The light streamed through the front window. And that was my challenge. The light and dark balance in this cozy cafe. Motion and rest. Solitude and camaraderie.
I wanted the woman in the yellow plaid coat to draw your eye through the scene to the morning light on the street.
I had one reference photo with a red London bus passing in the window and I loved the sense of place it gave to the picture. But it stopped your eye from looking through the scene. So many important decisions.
I actually have spent the past four weeks adjusting the tension between light and dark, spotlighting some details, adding highlights to a shoulder or a tabletop, emphasizing some hanging lights over others, pushing areas into the shadows. Inviting your eye to travel through the scene.
I finally achieved the balance I wanted. Somehow I just get a sense when it is done, but those last few adjustments are so critical.
And by the way, “Cuppa” is Brit-speak for “a cup of tea”, and often flags a break in your day. I asked My Beloved Brit if it could mean coffee, and he firmly said no. It was tea. I just love the sound of it.
Cuppa, 30 x 24″, Oil