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A page from a foolish painter’s diary

Zoom and Plein Air Drop-in Groups – click on the links below

Tuesday and Friday morning Pleinairists
Tuesday Afternoon Short Pose Drop-in Life Drawing
Wednesday Morning – Drop-in Life Drawing and Painting
Wednesday Afternoon – Drop-in Portraiture
Saturday Morning – Drop-in Life Drawing and Painting

Painting in the studio

It looks like we will be having small groups, pre-booked online, back in our studio. These are likely to start in August and we still have to make a few practical changes to the studio to make this possible and safe. We do so miss the verve of a room full of artists and hope that you’ll join us again as we take these tentative steps back into being. Meantime there’s Zoom!

A page from the diary of a foolish painter.

What could be better? A medieval village at the foot of the Pyrenees, a clear blue sky and a day set aside for painting. No wind, no rain, a good spot under a loggia swathed with wisteria; if I’m honest a trifle warm but compared to painting in the UK this is as good as it gets.

But the light. There is so much of the stuff. It makes the majestic plane tree which shades the village square glow underneath with light bouncing up from the flagstones. It looks fantastic but by golly it’s a bu**er to paint.

So the first painting takes a good couple of hours in situ and looks about right. Back in the holiday rental the light is more subdued and the values don’t work, without the bright light the colours look confusing, the effect is lost.

Another attempt is made, this time larger, in the studio where I can think a bit more about the composition and work on the colours. Pushing the values improves aspects of the image but the bit I liked so much about the original optical experience – the luminosity – are no longer apparent.

The next day we return to do a colour study, turn up too early and the light is not right so I do a small picture of the citadel walls dripping with bougainvillea whilst we wait for the overhead sun to blast the square with insane quantities of photons. A ‘menu de jour’ at a local eatery later and the effect is there and so the study is done, small and quick. I learn some useful lessons about indicating architecture with loose brushstrokes but I’m not sure I have the light right.

Back in the studio I look at all three. They are all very similar, the third is the most successful but for it to work in normal viewing light it’s going to need some help. There will be a fourth.

I could find something to paint that would challenge me less by navigating in known territory, paint an attractive coastline or a still life, indeed they are on my list. But it seems that one of the good bits about painting is charging off into unknown territory without a map, just a sense that there is something there. If there isn’t, we may look a little foolish but we just dust ourselves down and move on. If there is, it could be a golden city or a marble fountainhead of creative loveliness that will fuel endless and important work.

I don’t know how I’m going to fix this painting. I know some things I can try but painting in the midday sun is a daft thing to do, even Monet decided that the morning and evening were the time to paint in Provence. We’re actually west of Provence, near Collioure where the Fauves used stark saturated colours to describe the landscape. They say that the searing light here contributed to their unprecedented use of colour.

I may end up looking a little foolish but there is something about that light…if I can get to what I sense is there it will be a fine thing, even if the painting is unsaleable it will be a way-marker for me and whilst I chase the light, at least I’ve learnt a bit about painting buildings.

(If anyone has any pointers to catching Mediterranean light – do drop me a line and save me from myself!)



David says:

“Plans for plein-air next week
I’m tied up at the beginning of next week and suggest we do Thursday and Friday, going to Beckenham Place Park Thursday morning, there’s some good views in the garden with the stable block clock in the background ( might be an idea to bring coins for the car parking if you haven’t managed to load the app).
Friday morning perhaps Dulwich park for a change.
The weather at the moment is looking better for the end of the week.
Hope to see you then

The stable block in Beckenham Place Park

If you are interested in painting along with David the Cost is £35 per session, which lasts approximately three hours. We use our Pleinairists Whatsapp Group to coordinate.

These are small groups where social distancing is maintained throughout.

Sign up here

Tuesday Drop-in Short Pose Life Drawing 2.00pm-5.00pm on Zoom

Adrian will be giving us a series of his very drawable short poses, lots of drama: you may need some pink and orange crayons. We start each hour with very short poses which extend in length until we end with a ten minute pose.

You can choose to join us for one, two or three hours and as we’re still rolling this out the charge will only be £2.50 per hour. To get the special price use the discount code PESTE1 at final check out when purchasing the session.

Click here to book

Wednesday Drop-in Long Pose Life Drawing 10.00am-1.00pm on Zoom

Hannah is in a seated pose with one camera showing the full figure and the other showing her head and upper torso as seen in the work in progress at the top by @stuartfairlamb

Please book here

The session fee will be reduced to £10 if you use the discount code PESTE2 at final checkout.

Wednesday Drop-in Portraiture 2.00pm-5.00pm on Zoom

Amy is one of those models who was quick to adapt to our strange times, modeling from her home and offering Zoom sessions. She’s getting out to our studio now and we’ll have her for two weeks for a portrait.

Please book here

The session fee will be reduced to £10 if you use the discount code PESTE2 at final checkout.

Saturday Drop-in Long Pose Life Drawing 10.00am-1.00pm on Zoom

Stephanie will be giving us a pose for this week and next week, it will be based around one of Degas’ women brushing their hair. She will be bringing her own hairbrush. Stephanie has lots of hair so this will give us a good compositional device.

Please book here

The session fee will be reduced to £10 if you use the discount code PESTE2 at final checkout.