Chucked out of the Threadneedle Prize and with paintings not selling on the gallery wall and whaddayano - whammo - Doubt creeps up on me and slaps me in the mush. Good old Doubt - you know you can count on him. Why did I even write that on the painting? What's with that rubbishy edge thing? That old Doubt - he know's all the right questions to stick the knife in.
So, on Sunday, it was the big reveal for THE BATH PRIZE (where the organisers tell you which bit of Bath you've got to paint for the competition). Now, bearing in mind the blurb ("designed to stimulate new work celebrating the glory of a World Heritage City") I'm expecting Pulteney Bridge maybe, or the Royal Crescent, or maybe just somewhere where a tourist would choose to go. HA! No, my designated painting assignment is ... wait for it ... Southgate Shopping Centre!?!?
What? But I thought ... but, ...
Still, I have to laugh - I don't mind the subject - it's an opportunity to get all WW, but all the same, it's a bit of a curve ball.
So, Southgate Shopping Centre and Doubt - a pretty heady cocktail. I spend the afternoon prepping the board, (so there's no painting to post) with the big D gnawing away at me.
In the evening it's the fabled Brain of Bath quiz and I'm on one of the teams. Get that. I don't answer many questions, but I do learn some stuff. Not least of all is the fact that the memory doesn't function better on beer and the last few rounds I'm a definite liability. I still can't believe I got Thin Lizzy and Led Zepplin muddled up. Damn - once that bugger Doubt starts messing with you.
I wake up in a blinding light of revelation. I've sweated out the big D in a fever of humidity and tangled sheets and it all becomes so obvious. The Southgate Shopping Centre. The big unfinished building site at the bottom of town - it's perfect for the unfinished painting look. Finished on one side and getting lost in nothingness (or maybe a few pencil lines) on the left. Can you see it? Can you see what I did there?
Also - good things about the place I am painting:
- Shadey (again);
- Only one person asks me if I'm Peter Brown;
- A little girl peers around the pillar I'm standing next to and asks me lots of painting questions: do you paint the buildings? do you paint everything? they can be tricksey can't they? I have to stop painting and lean down to talk to her, but she's sweet and I make the effort. Her mum comes out of the bus station and the girl says, 'look mummy a painter', but mummy's got other things on her mind and drags her away.
- A guy comes up and says he is the project manager for the development and that they might be interested in the painting. He even gives me a card. The developers are called 'Multi'. I've painted a lot of pictures in Bath, but it takes a painting of Southgate Shopping Centre to get my best lead on a sale - go figure. Let's hope the Man from Multi, he say yeah.
- Can't stand exactly where I want without constantly opening the automatic door to the bus station behind me;
- It's a long way from the Studio so it's quite a hike to get here;
- A group of builders start talking to me, just as I get some sweat in my eyes. With both my hands full I can't do anything about it. They're asking me questions and I'm trying to answer, but I can't really think about anything other than the fact that I look like I'm crying.
It's windy today, which makes me Mr Grumpy from Grumpleton. I don't seem to move the painting on very much which makes me even more sour. I don't make eye contact with anyone. I didn't get where I am today by making eye contact with anyone.