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Hopperesque

I love Edward Hopper’s paintings – his unique blend of impressionism and realism, use of bold colours and blocky shapes, impersonal public space, stark compositions and the sense of solitude, urban loneliness and after-hours melancholy they convey. In the course of my pre-dawn  bicycle rides, along deserted streets and promenades, I often feel as though I am pedalling into the sorts of scenes he would have painted had he lived in these faded old seaside towns. One such scene is this row of houses along Cambridge Road, coming up out of Hastings. Early in the summer I noticed these brightly painted old houses and thought that, employed correctly, they would make a rich Hopperesque composition, but I had to wait until conditions were right to create the sort of image I had in mind. I wanted a few lights shimmering in the windows, but at the same time I needed the street to be dead quiet so I could set up my tripod on the other side of the street and shoot undisturbed. Autumn proved to be the best time of year for this – with the early mornings dark enough so people put on the lights, but with the sunrise still at such an hour that the streets were not yet busy. I went around there before dawn on a cool, damp Saturday morning, with the overcast skies made a rich luminous blue in the gathering light, recognised that this was the very composition which I’d held in my mind’s eye. I set up tripod and camera and captured this Hopperesque image.