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Lincoln Baron's Auction
01-10-15

The Auction was held at the Double Tree Hilton on Brayford Wharf in Lincoln. Lots of people turned up to watch and bid, the room was heaving. There was a lot of interest in my Baron and he finally sold for 6,800. I'm told that the buyer is going to put him in the garden. That seems rather fitting since he is painted with roses, daisies, marigolds and forget-me-knots. In total the auction raised 167,000 in aid of the Trussell Trust Food Bank Charity. It was great fun to be part of this historic event in celebration of 800 years of Magna Carta and to help support such a worthy cause.

Here's to the next project!

Creating the Lincolnshire Waterways Baron
20-08-15

Design

As Lincolnshire isn't generally known for it's waterways I wanted to highlight them by using canal art and the colours in the Lincolnshire flag as the background for my design. The flag was perfect for this as the colours are blue and green, both of which are used for background colours in traditional canal art.

I wanted my design to look as if the Baron was wearing clothes which is why I kept his arms and helmet simple whilst painting a riot of colour on the rest of him.

The timescale for painting the Baron was only four weeks so I immediately arranged to collect him from the transport depot. Fortunately he just fitted into my car. He was made of fibreglass and very heavy!

It was only when I got him home that I realised how big he was. The designs I had submitted were only for the front and back but I discovered that there was lots of space round his sides so I had to think how I would fill those spaces. After a few sketches I decided to paint a Heron on one side and a Swan on the other since they are two birds that are commonly found on the LIncolnshire waterways.

  

Styles

My sponsors were BITC- the Healthy High Street programme and included M & S, Lincolnshire Co-Op, Boots, Santander and Lincoln BIG. I had a meeting with them to discuss how the design would work on the actual baron and then that was it! Time to start painting.

I wanted to include 2 different styles of rose design that are found in traditional canal art so painted Braunston style roses on the Baron's garland round his neck and round the castle scene picture on the back. I then painted knobstick rose garlands on the 2 bottom front panels and on the back of his helmet.

Those who are familiar with the castle scenes of canal art will know that there are several elements in the picture which are always present; mountains or hills, a river/lake or both with a bridge, boats and the castle. Depicting Lincoln in a traditional canal art castle scene was perfect since all the elements in the city are there; the castle and cathedral on top of a hill overlooking water with a bridge across it. I simply made the scene into a canal art style.

The back panel of the Baron shows Lincoln Castle and Cathedral sitting on top of the hill and overlooking Brayford pool where a narrowboat is sailing past. The sponsors also wanted me to include something to remember Lincoln's industrial heritage and, since steam trains were an important part of Lincoln's history and the coming of the railways also heralded the start of the decline of the waterways network, I decided to include a steam train in the picture.

  

Baron's Shield

The Baron's shield was large enough for me to paint another castle scene. Wanting to keep to the Lincolnshire theme I decided to paint Tattershal Castle, near Coningsby, home of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, hence the silhouette of the Lancaster Bomber flying overhead. Again, you can see all the traditional elements of castle scene as used in canal art in the picture.

You can see from the picture at the bottom of the shield there is a 'U'. The organisers of the Baron's Trail allocated a letter to each Baron for people who are walking the trail to collect and form a slogan which lead to a prize of chocolate coins!

Baron's Face

Another style of traditional canal art is the use of diamonds and diagonal stripes and there were several places on the Baron where this technique could be used.

The most challenging part for me was his face. I'd never painted a portrait or any type of face before but I knew I wanted him to look as realistic as possible. I started off by reading some techniques on painting faces by those who paint napoleonic die cast models used in recreating battle scenes of the 18th and 19th centuries. After mixing lots of different colours, and after several attempts at painting his face, I eventually managed to get just the right skin shade I wanted to achieve. I wanted him to have fairly rosy cheeks so rubbed a bit of rouge colour on his face with a piece of kitchen roll.

I believe the eyes either make the face look real or not so I spent some time trawling the internet and looking at how portrait artists paint eyes and used this technique on my Baron. I'm very pleased with the result.

Transporting the Baron to his Plinth

The start of the Magna Carta celebrations on the 13th June included the unveiling of the final baron - mine!. My Lincolnshire Waterways Baron took a spin round Brayford Pool on a boat before being lifted onto his plinth on the quayside opposite the Lincolnshire Echo building.

It was a very rainy day but lots of people turned out to watch it and it was great fun being part of the festivities.

  

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Melanie Clare
email: melanieclare.canalart@gmail.com