As early as 1936 Paine was living at 43 Longcroft Lane, Welwyn, and perhaps in that year was engaged by Welwyn Garden City Ltd. ‘to take responsibility for the creative angle of the organisation’s publicity’.
His first poster, Make Your Home in Welwyn, was designed for display on the London Underground.
His best known work from this period is the series of four seasons posters, advertising in the Underground houses to rent or buy in Welwyn.
The Spring poster evoked considerable comment in the local paper. A correspondent wrote, ‘I have just seen the finished painting of Welwyn Garden City’s new spring poster. It is the work of resident artist, Mr. Charles Paine, of Longcroft Lane. Mr. Paine is an artist whose work is much admired in this country and in the United States. He is a pioneer of modern poster art. His first poster for Welwyn Garden City Ltd., Make Your Home in Welwyn, attracted wide attention, but I think Spring in Welwyn which is being lithographed by the Alcuin Press and will be on the hoardings in about two weeks time, will not only succeed in its job of advertising Welwyn, but will once again proclaim him a master of composition and colour.’ The prediction was fulfilled and the paper later reported, ‘The Garden City’s latest poster Spring in Welwyn is still attracting considerable notice. The popularity of posters can often be gauged by the number of requests for copies. The public relations officer tells me that applications for copies have come from all parts of the country, even from as far north as Westmorland. Among the applications last week was one from a student at Newnham College, Cambridge.’
The posters were displayed in the Occupational Therapy Department of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. A letter of thanks said, ‘… they are quite the best posters I know and I am sure will be much appreciated by the patients.’ Copies were also requested by ‘architectural decorators’ in Canada. (British Textile Designers Today 1939)
G.C. was inspired to a poem:
Wicked lamb, who drew thee? Dost thou know who drew thee Gave thee shape and bade thee baa Up and down L.N.E.R., Sheltered thee, in purest paint, With snowdrop, size of what it aint, Gave thee such a satyr’s eye Set in blameless infancy? Wicked lamb who drew thee? Dost thou know who drew thee?
Wicked lamb who drew thee? Paine of Welwyn drew thee; Fervent, fluid and mathematic, Drew thee in his Longcroft attic; Conjured thine endearing lambics Out of what he calls dynamics, Half a poem – half a lark To fire the wit of Brookman’s Park – Loopy lamb, we love thee! Loopy lamb we love thee!
At the bottom of this image Paine has placed a grasshopper and a bee. The grasshopper is playing a flute, the notes floating up to join the butterflies. This refers to the story The Bee and the Grasshopper which is very similar to The Ant and the Grasshopper attributed to Aesop. The grasshopper plays all summer while the industrious bee gathers food for the winter. When winter comes the improvident grasshopper dies.
Like the bee and the ant, the squirrel and the mouse lay in food stores for the winter, acorns for the squirrel and beech mast for the mouse.
A constant feature of Paine’s work was the use of animal imagery. The choice of the four seasons to advertise Welwyn on the Underground emphasised its all-year-round appeal but in his choice of design he avoided the obvious option of picturesque houses set in lovely countryside. Instead he produced four remarkably modern animal images: a lamb and snowdrops for spring, insects round what looks like a daffodil for summer, a red squirrel for the autumn and hares in the snow and a chaffinch for winter. The ideas may lack originality but the execution implies an educated audience. ‘The appeal is both muted, up-to-date and subtle.’
Study in acrylic for a poster (below) ‘Winter at Welwyn’. The startled robin is typical of the humorous touches with which Paine enlivened his work.
I have only this b/w photo of the finished poster but no doubt the colours are much the same as in the study.
Study for a poster.
This lamb bears a distinct resemblance to the wicked lamb in the Spring poster. It looks as if he might be about to lose his periwinkle to a swallow.
‘Dame Adrian Bird’ Undated Undated
1939 (See also ‘Welwyn Stores’)