It's cold, grey and windy. Oh yes, don't forget the wind. Perfect for finishing the cold, grey painting of GPS started way back on the 29th Jan. Only, they've gone and set up a mass of road works right in the way - I'm not averse to a bit of real life grit in my paintings, but this would be a bit much.
Not dispirited, I find another small bit of board in the back of the car and head further into town. The board is a bit warped, but I figure it will do. I end up in front of Pulteney Bridge. It's an odd thing, but as I start to paint I feel particularly nervous - probably one or all of the following, take your pick:
- it's a small painting so I know I really should be finishing it in one session
- the subject is quite tricky with lots of subtle angles and lots of detail
- I'm very much out in the open and overlooked by the tourists along Grand Parade
- the painting starts off going really rubbishy.
I have three encounters:
1. Tourist: "Can you move please so we can take a photo." What?! Don't they know I am a tourist attraction?
2. Another tourist: "Can you take a photo of us please?" One of these days I am just going to lose it and run amok with my size 5 filbert hog hacking and slashing and leaving a pile of tourists brushed to death in my wake. (No I won't - you can't use this as evidence in my trial, anyway it will all end with me taking my own life by guzzling a 120ml tube of cadmium red - ha! ha! see you on the other side suckers!)
3. Man asks me if I was painting up by the Royal Crescent a few weeks ago (Yes, it could have been me) because while he was looking at my painting he met a woman who was also looking at my painting. He wants to shake my hand because he has been out on his first date with her and it's all down to my painting!
He then proceeds to talk about star signs (he's a believer) and get this - he and she are Cancer & Pisces (two water signs, obviously a good match) and me and mine are Pisces & Cancer (cue spooky music) - and then, get this again, he lives right next to my studio ... This is okay, because I don't think he's crazy. Then he tells me that I look like Sting and I know he isn't crazy because it has been noted before - admittedly, not for some time, due primarily to said fading rock star stoically holding onto his hair - but I am wearing a hat so yeah, the likeness is uncanny. Rock on ...)
All the while we're talking, I'm packing up (having rescued the painting and now being quite pleased with myself). I put the painting against the railings and, for a moment, forget about the wind. (Where oh where is my trusty cardboard box when I need it?) I turn to dismantle the easel and then 'flip' the painting is blown over and and I look around to see it lying face down in the dirt. Damn! But wait, there's still hope: the warp in the board could come to my rescue. I pick up the painting and, relief - look there's no paint on the ground at all, ha! But then I realise why there's no paint on the ground - the ground is on the paint - Big Pooh Word (my daughter reads this blog) - all my lovely sky, covered in brown speckles. Sigh.
Back to last week's inspiration and today I'm using canvas rather than board to paint on. (It's got a cleaner edge, which will mean I can frame it with the edge showing - make a feature of it.) Canvas has a different feel with the brushes and the paint and as I'm not sure of the results I steer away from any crowds and wander up Marlborough Lane. The light catches the chimney tops leading up towards Lansdown Crescent and yes - that's it - I'm sold.
Spring must be coming because it's warming up (ooo - insightful comment) Sun out - hat off, sun in - hat on. On off on off on off.
Van man: "Am I in your way here? I can back it up a bit if you want." !? He does and the van then acts as a shade for the canvas while not blocking any of my view - that is definitely something that doesn't happen every day.