Wednesday 8 March 2017

Rydal Hall Retreat - more sketching than stitching

My annual retreat at Rydal Hall with the NWCQ group  seemed to go faster than ever - this is our 5th time there. I  left the large piece  I'm working on at the moment at home with the intention of just responding to this environment I know so well now. I did very little stitching  apart from the postcard above and  some time each day on my daily stitching project  but went out painting every day  

 My bedroom was in a different part of the house than I've stayed before with views out the back towards the wood. There was a lot of fallen trees -  you could see how shallow the root system was on the one above,  no surprise given the rocky substrate it was growing on. There were bulbs around the trunk having to change their direction of growth !

Lots of logpiles around too although not quite so colourful as the ones last year. New sculptures to admire and older ones beginning to merge and disappear into their surroundings.

My studio space in the work room soon became covered in scraps of fabric and sketchbooks. !
I put together the start of a Journal Quilt based on the rushing water and stones ( seen  here with part of my daily stitching 'winding cloth' .)
The 'grot' overlooking Rydal Falls is a favourite if frustrating painting place - it's impossible to capture the colours and the patterns of water but I enjoy trying.  It's my first port of call every year  and at least it was shelter from the sleet.

Another day, another painting station was a bench in the 'quiet garden'  not quite as peaceful as you'd think with the fighter jets practising overhead !

I was especially lucky this time in that I had company  on sketching expeditions on 2 days . On Wednesday morning Millie, Pauline and I headed off to the art shop in Grasmere followed  by coffee before heading off up some back roads to do some painting. We found a narrow metal bench :too high for me, my legs were dangling ;Pauline had a stone for her feet but got in a tangle with the Velcro on her coat ;Millie became embedded in her tripod stool. Then the rain came and washed our paintings away. Time for another venue once we'd recovered from  laughing. I introduced them to my favourite bench at Rydal Water ( much more substantial  and the weather behaved itself a bit better).  

The  clouds lifted a bit, the wind dropped and we were treated to  spectacular mirror-like reflections
The next day it was Millie, Karen and I that headed up a path behind the house  following Rydal Beck upstream.

Still very damp, using a tree stump as a  table, it took ages for the paint to dry  but there's something magical about  painting in situ. Even when  the results are not that great, the process  and sense of place make for a memorable experience.

 As a group we had less planned than in previous years, we've got much more comfortable about a relaxed timetable ( fitting around meals and traybakes of course!).  Judy F. gave us a slide presentation showing highlights from the last 6 years . Lots of trying to work out who was who from back views on walks  and trying to remember what year we did   different activities ( blind stitching probably the most memorable)
Linda B.  set us   an interesting  design activity  on Tuesday in the hour before the bar opened.  We'd been told to bring an A3 piece of paper - painted, printed , crumpled, whatever. Linda then divided each sheet into 12 and then redistributed them to us , the challenge to use some of everything in a composition. .  
As the selection I had were so diverse, I made 2 pieces ( above)

It resulted in a wide range of responses  in scope and scale including some 3D structures. Linda asked who had  started off with a  concept and  who had responded to the papers themselves   - roughly 50:50 split . She's already written it up for CQ newsletter!

We headed back home from Friday lunchtime onwards, refreshed and reinvigorated with time spent in such a lovely location and good company .Already looking forward to same time , same place next year.

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