Sunday 25 October 2009

On the way to the studio

Friday 23/10/09

I like this. It's the new routine. On Thursdays I drive to the studios and at the end of the day bring home my portable box easel and a board to paint on. On Fridays I walk to the studios with the easel and board and do a painting on the way. This leaves me with a painting of a crunchy part of Bath together with no car on a Friday afternoon with drinks in the offing - it's a win win situation.

This week on my Friday walk to the studios finds me trying to be all William Wrayesque next to a railway bridge (still yellow lines in the composition, but not that dominant). I try and make something of the colours as I find them (apart from the green - dangerous colour, green) without losing sight of the fact that it's a grey miserable day and is never going to be anything but.

It's all students and bendy buses around here, but I ignore them in my painting just as they ignore me. One conversation of note:

Old lady: Can I have a look?
Me: Of course.
OL: That's an unusual subject to paint.
Me: It's early days.
OL: I wish I could paint like that.
Me: Well, it's not much at the moment, but we'll see.
OL: Can I leave you with these copies of our Watchtower magazine?


The painting isn't finished (I know it sounds a bit like and excuse, but it's true). I need to wait until it dries to go back over and emphasise the light in the distance on the road and the car showroom - and then, oh yes, and then ... you'll see ... you'll all see ... BWAHAHAHA ...

Sunday 18 October 2009

That left hand, right hand thing

Thursday 15/10/09

Line drawings again with the left hand - can't see any vast improvement yet. Plan schman - I've probably over egged it a bit. 'Plan' implies something grand and well thought out. This, on the other hand, is not that. Self portraits - who knows why? - have their own particular difficulties, not least of which is how to paint your painting hand. In my case this is my right hand and in my latest self portrait (again - who knows why?) it features pretty heavily in the foreground. See work in progress below. So I figure, what the heck, let's paint the offending right hand with my left hand and see how it goes. So far so good and in actual fact it turns out slightly easier than painting standing on one leg in a crouching position. (again - don't ask me). Yes, the sandal does keep falling off, but obviously I couldn't wear shoes as that would have hidden my toes (probably my best feature).

Friday 16/10/09

Swings and roundabouts. One minute you're up because you almost win the Bath Prize and you sell a big painting and the next minute you're down because the gallery says it can't sell your paintings and doesn't want to show them any more. Tourists want tourist pictures of bath apparently. With this in mind I resolve to paint a couple of blue garages - just cos. It doesn't come out too badly although I don't think it's quite finished yet. I write on it, 'no one knew'.

Sunday 11 October 2009

A Sad Tale

Thursday 08/10/09

This is it. It's sunny. Time to finish the yellow line. So I do and I think it's okay.

Later and I'm sitting in the studio looking at it and I get inspired and title it 'the end of the line' which I then write on it. More looking and then I go and get this idea of blocking in the bottom left hand corner all the way to the edge to emphasise the geometry of the composition. This I then do, painting over my title and other pencil marks, only to find it was a rubbish idea. I rub it all off and then try painting all the edges and then I rub this off and try again and again and it's all rubbish and in the end I get out the white spirit and rub everything back as well as I can to the white ground. Why didn't I leave it well alone? I settle for a thin green line of moss running to the edge and write the title on again. It looks to me like a dandelion seed head. Hmmmph.

Afternoon and it's still sunny so I wander up to the Marlborough tavern to finish 'STOP' (see how I've subtly titled it). The smells that dogged me last week are no more and it is a perfect day to paint. The main reaction to the picture seems to be surprise that anyone would choose to paint the view. I deliberately don't paint any traffic on what is one of the busiest junctions in Bath (according to a totally unbias survey carried out by me where I sample only me). One old lady asks, "Peter?" She obviously doesn't need to add a surname. She continues to explain that she used to see Pete painting around a bit and always wanted to take his photo, but never did and now she can't remember what he looks like. It's a sad tale, the obvious happy ending to which would be a realisation that I, yes I, could be the subject of such a photo (seeing as she doesn't actually know what Pete looks like) and her album (nay her life!) would be complete. But, no. She has no intention of whipping out her camera. Instead and, for some reason unbeknownst to me it's the 1st thing that springs to mind when confronted with obvious differences in appearance between me and the brown meister, I respond, "he's got more hair than me." What?! I'm wearing a hat for crying out loud. Why do I feel the need to burden her with this information? Oh yes, let's announce all my complexes to the world - tell her about my nose being much bigger. I might as well go on and explain the difference in our willy sizes. But of course I don't. Pete (and for that matter me) has never been known to paint with his willy hanging out as an aid to recognition. Where am I going with this?

Anyway, I like the painting.

Friday 09/10/09

Full on studio day as I try and paint two pictures of Venice. It's hard going, but I pretty well get there. I'm not sure either of them are finished, but they reach a stage where I think you can see how they are going to come out.

P.S. The astute among you will notice a subtle variation in the line drawings. Naturally you might assume that I have again been drinking prior to scrawling and this is probably true, but most of the variation is due to doing them with my left hand. Why oh why would I want to do such a thing? It's all part of a plan ....

Saturday 3 October 2009

Cheese and Pickle

Thursday 01/10/09

Didn't get much sleep again. No weird dreams to report, must be work stuff nagging me or maybe I'm getting worked up about the bath prize. Mistake - got to be laid back about these things, we've been here before.

It's lunch time and I'm sitting in the common room at the studios eating my cheese and pickle sandwich. I look down at the dry brown bread in my hand with distaste and I suddenly realise that I'm bored of cheese and pickle. I force the last of it down regardless, before setting out to paint.

I walk up to the Royal Crescent. There are lots of exciting yellow lines to paint, but it's all too obvious and would say something that I don't intend. Further on and after a good deal of deliberation I set up outside the Marlborough Tavern to paint Julian Road. It's a perfect spot - lots of yellow line action and a big STOP in the foreground. At least it would have been the perfect spot if it wasn't for the wafting aromas - cooking followed by pooh followed by cooking followed by pooh. It's not good and the cheese and pickle is coming back to haunt me.

I balls up the yellow lines and writing in the foreground, but it's okay as I can sort them next time. I leave out the blue sky - ha - no blue for me in my gritty urban landscapes. Grey a plenty though in the vari-coloured roadsurface.

A young woman has a nosey at what I'm painting, she says something, but that's not the point. To speak she has to take out this dummy that she's sucking. I don't know and I don't ask and it doesn't help my nausea. I can't take it any more and I pack up.

Later and it dawns on me that it is the 1st October. Ten years to the day that I started painting. Ten years. That's a lot of paintings. That is also a lot of cheese and pickle sandwiches.

Friday 02/10/2009

The sun comes out briefly in the morning and I get a bit more of my yellow line painting done (still not finished).

I resort to finishing the Sydney Buildings painting in the studio - messing about with the road until I'm happy with it.

Despite myself I start to look forward to the announcement of the winner for the Bath Prize tonight. I must Be Cool. I must not Be Drunk.

Later and I'm shaking the mayor's hand as we pose for photographs, because cor blimey guv, I've only gone and won second prize, and he turns to me and says, "Why did you choose to paint Southgate?" .....

I gently point out that we didn't have a choice of location and that was the point of the competition. Reminder of what it looks like:

Later still and I've had a few too many to drink (but it's okay because it's after the event) and I remember that I haven't done my self portrait line drawing. I do it and it's a bit wobbly, but then again, so am I.

P.S. One more (and probably the last) Thailand painting: