BERNARD FALLON: Light, Lens & Paint

Bernard Fallon: Light, Lens & Paint presents a sampling of painting and photography by the artist that spans decades, from early works made in his hometown, Liverpool, England, to current paintings of the Palos Verdes shoreline.

For many artists, regardless of genre, their artwork expresses personalized reactions to the world around them that can resonate with universal appeal. Bernard Fallon is such an artist, utilizing his many talents and personal accounts to connect his vision with a further-reaching human experience.

Fallon began reflecting upon his own localized environment in his native Liverpool, not only using his paintbrush and canvas, but also his camera and black-and-white film. Bargemen working at the docks nearby spoke to him of survival in an industrialized seascape. Human interaction with the sea would become a major subject throughout his career.

The artist moved to Southern California where his canvases brightened with the light and color of the Pacific coastline.  Afterwards, he would return to his hometown of Liverpool to paint the seascape of his youth with fresh vision. In his Iron Man paintings, sculptures of the silhouette of a man replaced the black smoke of factories.

Although his new life in California would not be without its struggles, Fallon continued to produce silver-lined visions. Hope was created as his wife battled cancer – a brightly optimistic golden light shines just beyond a cold, closed, heavy oak door. Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fallon again turned to his unfaltering muse, the sea. Somewhat abstracted depictions of Portuguese Bend confidently assert an attitude of hope through his application of unblended sections of color.  Inspired by the Fauves, this new body of work repeats the seascape in a wide array of vibrant possibilities.

Bernard Fallon is an ever-evolving artist and PVAC is fortunate to have him both as a reflective artist and instructor.

– Aaron Sheppard


Bernard Fallon’s work has been shown at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Long Beach Museum of Art, Oceanside Museum, Pasadena Museum of Californian Art, Torrance Art Museum, the Autry Museum of the American West, and at the U. S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

Most recently he has been exhibiting at the Art Directors Guild in NoHo at Gallery 800.

Fallon is an artist member of the Redondo Beach Art Group, PVAC Artists Open Group, and P V Painters. He is also a long-standing member of the California Art Club, and a charter member of the Pastel Society of Southern California.

He is also an author, and wrote a memoir,  Bernard Fallon’s Liverpool, to accompany an exhibition of his photographs at the Liverpool Museum Conservation Centre in 2007.

 This Fall at The Studio School he is teaching the online class Benefits of Still Life Painting.

“The direct observation and painting of Still Life in the studio or on the kitchen table is essential for students of all levels. Any form of painting, whether abstract, illusion, portraiture, landscape or plein air, have their foundation in the knowledge of Still Life. After all, the exterior world is linked not just how our minds understand it, but how our eyes perceive it, too. Various objects are subject to careful scrutiny, while composition, perspective, color and brushwork are practiced and refined with a series of interactive exercises. Classes are conducted with humor and sincerity with general references to contemporary and historical masters of Still Life.”

Register now at

Breakfast Tip, 12 x 12 in., Oil on canvas board, © 2019

I was inspired by a chaotic scene up at a Big Bear Lake classic diner when a group next to my table, suddenly left theirs in a great hurry. The red, pink, orange and yellow colors of food & nutrition went one way while the arrows & triangles of cutlery, cruets and crockery went another way. And then there was that lone dollar…..

PV Portuguese Point, 12 x 16 in., Pastel on board ©2020

March through May 2020. When the Covid-19 restrictions kicked in, and the coastline of the Palos Verdes Peninsula was off-limits, my frustrations grew. The land lost its color, and so did I.

Thus, I took my brightest colors and sat on the only seat available to paint the scene in a series of complementary color contrasts. I was the wild Fauve once again, beckoned by the ocean.

Iron Man in the Moonlight, 30 x 30 in., Oil on Canvas ©2019

I flew to Liverpool and stayed in Waterloo at the beachfront Royal Hotel for a family reunion in Winter 2018.  Our memories of growing up nearby had been collected and published. We were there to celebrate a ten-year task. I awoke the next morning at 5 am to the sound of rain, and moonlight streaming through the window. Jetlag had struck, but for the right reason. I dressed, grabbed an umbrella and walked for a mile alongside the cast iron figures installed there in 2005. As the drizzle swept in and the moon settled in the west behind rain clouds, the dawn light started to slowly brighten in the eastern sky. On this chilly beach the 100 lifesize figures stretched along Crosby Beach from Waterloo to Blundellsands. I was wrapped and freezing, while they withstood the elements as silent sentinels gazing into the Irish Sea. This was the cusp of dark and light, and the Muse spoke.

The Sandbank Muse, Monterey Bay, Oil on board.

I painted this scene in Monterey Bay many moons ago as a simple plein air study. Misty hills on a high horizon with a sandy foreground creating a plunging illusion of depth.

Later, there was an emotional recollection of masculine and feminine balanced across the water and a little voice whispered, “Make some changes and emphasize more imagery.”
So, I did, and the muse was made visible.

The Old Coffee Pot, 24 x 18 in., Pastel on board, © circa 2002

This was a studio set-up with fresh flowers and fruit, arranged next to some very reflective objects. I used a scribbly pastel style to harmonize the contrast in textures.

HOPE, Santa Barbara Mission Doorway, 10 x 8 in., Oil on board, ©1999

This represented the struggle my late wife had with cancer.  The stout oak door holds a little light showing inside it. It’s all you have.

This painting featured in 2000 “Strength From Unity: Expressions on Cancer” a National Cancer Institute Consortium Exhibition, Russell Senate Office Rotunda, U. S. Capitol, Washington DC.

The exhibition was also shown in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland.

Firechief, Old Tony’s, 30 x 30 in., Oil on canvas © 2018

This famous cocktail in a famous establishment on Redondo Pier, was actually painted over another oil painting. Initially I got permission, before the staff opened for business in the morning to set up a look-a-like cocktail. I could not work live here, as there was no room, but I made some photographs at different exposures, as the contrast between inside and out was too strong. Back in the studio I composed it to make a seamless still life that encapsulated the whole experience of Redondo Pier.

The Grain Barge, circa 1968. B&W film print.

Cameras were forbidden around the Liverpool docks, so I kept it out of sight until the right moment.

And here it was: a big bargeman with a big mug and a big smile, caught as sunlight enveloped grain dust from the pneumatic elevator behind him.

Three frames and it was all over.

Liverpool’s River Mersey Estuary from Waterloo Beach, 16 x 20 in., Oil on Masonite © circa 1966

I painted this scene directly from the beach as the waves rolled in more detritus jettisoned from the busy ships. The tidelines were an extraordinary mix of seaweed, dead birds, and fish all mixed up with oil balls coated in sand. This was the era of coal and the skies were discolored from domestic and commercial fires. And on this dreary day, ominous rain clouds blew in from North Wales.  The only yellow I had was lemon yellow and while I fretted over its presence in the sky, I realized later that it was technically the wrong choice, but it was emotionally perfect in its disturbing comment on the filthy place I lived in.

(This historic beach was to feature again and again in my artworks.  The Waterloo suburb was built in 1816, a year after the British defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Confederate warship CSS Alabama was built here during the US Civil War. The captain of the Titanic lived in a house nearby until his demise in 1912.  The permanent installation of 100 cast iron men by Sir Antony Gormley was installed here in three rows advancing into the waves in 2005.)

The Long Walk: Looking Down Everton Brow towards the Docks, Liverpool, circa 1967. B&W film print.

Another solitary figure, this time in the ruins of the Liverpool dockland well after the World War II Blitz was over. I saw myself in the figure, as I was shy and stammered and liked being alone. I carried a small camera and became a social realist street photographer while at Liverpool Art School.

Tug Ropes, Crewman securing ropes with a ship in tow. Circa 1967 B&W film print

Towing a freighter into the docks on the River Mersey.

A neighbor was a deckhand on a Liverpool tugboat, so I asked him permission. I’d seen these tugs in action many times from the beach, and now I was on the deck as a witness. The moment captured the circular shapes of steel, labor and bare hands on braided manila rope, with an incoming storm blowing in across the raging tide.