Adebanji Alade ROI creates remarkable paintings about people and places. His oil painting, ‘St Paul’s at Night’, is available as a Christmas card in Mall Galleries bookshop. With his mastery of depicting light and activity in oils, Adebanji perfectly captures the hustle, bustle and festive spirit of London at Christmas. We asked him about his creative process, his life as a teacher and his love of historic London.
Why did you choose to paint St Paul’s in a night scene as opposed to another London landmark?
I chose St Paul’s because this particular edifice is my favourite place to paint at nighttime in London. It stands out as a remarkable beacon of light on London’s skyline and has hardly changed from how it was many centuries ago.
Regarding your painterly tips and tricks, you have two techniques that you term ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’ respectively. Can you explain what these terms mean and how you put them into practice?
I have two main ways to which I approach my paintings. The easier method is ‘outside-in’ where I block-in the main bold shapes in the picture very quickly to get an overall feel for the subject I’m painting. Once I have done this, I then refine the bold shapes and bring them to become more detailed, so it’s started outside and finished inside. The ‘inside-out’ method is a bit trickier and demands my drawing skills to be at their best! I start from a small spot in the painting and finish that spot. Then I gradually spread out to other parts of the painting, finishing each area as I go along. It’s almost like walking a tightrope - risky but interesting!
You started teaching at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in Chelsea in 2015. What is your favourite aspect of teaching and why? Have you learnt any artistic lessons from your students?
My favourite aspect of teaching is being able to help students solve the problems they encounter in their paintings. It is so rewarding and fulfilling because I believe we are all here to make life easier and more pleasant for someone else. Three of the greatest lessons I have learnt from students is to always slow down, to remain hungry and to keep learning myself. Slowing down means being more careful at the beginning to make sure the drawing is right. Whenever I am not hungry for excellence the end result is mediocre, and that’s one of the things I dread most. Once I stop learning I’m dead.
Finally, what are your plans for this year’s festive season?
Last year I went to Portugal and it was great, and this year I am hoping to be in Nigeria to enjoy the festive season with my family and friends, like I did in 2015!