Monday 18 August 2008

Extreme Painting

Back at home now after nearly a fortnight away visiting cousins and going on painting course in Yorkshire followed by couple of intensive days at the Festival of Quilts ( which will be another post). After a couple of days relaxing and catching up near Ripon ( including a tour of the Black Sheep Brewery and witnessing 1100+ year custom of the Hornblower, complete with mummers play) we headed off to Malham Tarn Field Centre. The centre is fairly basic but confortable and the food was excellent especially the trout caught by the fly-fishing course! The main ingredient of the painting course was the weather - it rained all week with just the occasional glimpse of the sun. Several members of the group were experienced 'extreme' painters kitted out with large fishing umbrellas, shelters and even an inspired arrangement of ground sheet held up with trekking poles. I had none of these except good waterproofs but as the week went on became more intrepid, accepting the effects of raindrops on paint as an integral part of the painting experience
Our first outing was near Keasdon looking out either to the 3 Peaks or Vale of Bowland. You could see the rain clouds advancing but even so were freqently caught out by sudden downpours. I concentrated on quick sketches which weren't so badly effected by a thorough drench.
Back at the studio I fairly quickly got back into using acrylics on paper (used mainly 1/2 imperial size sheets of Saunders Waterford 300lb paper which is almost like card )
Our next excurson was to Arncliffe which for me had more potential in terms of patterns of walls and scree ( I find distant vistas less appealing and difficult to interpret) I did a few studies on the spot on watercolour paper and started a larger piece which all went horribly wrong when back at the studio. I have lots of photos and other sketches to draw on for future textile work, perhaps one of the reasons the painting I started didn't suceed was that it would work better in another medium. Good excuse.
On the course I did 3 years ago, I did a drawing of the 'dry valley' above Malham Cove so already had my painting spot chosen this time. We were literally on the Pennine Way, with lots comments from walkers from 'Why don't you take photos , it would be much easier' to ' I'd like to take up painting, it must be so relaxing'.
I meanwhile was trying to brace myself on a slope with my easel threatening to take off at any moment ( my easel arrangement is a drawing board with a metal plate which screws onto a lightweight camera tripod), paints rolling around and frequent spills of the waterpot ( an ex 'mango chutney' container donated by the Field Centre)

I was rather pleased with the effects achieved with acrylic ink drawn with the dropper and dribbled over the page ( and my waterproofs - I now have an official 'painting cagoule' ) I also did a close-up of some of the rocks using palette knifes ( the blade unfortunately fell off my favourite one which I use for quilts so I had to use a far daintier one). It still needs a bit more work to overcome the resemblance to bad teeth.
Probably the most inspiring place we went to was Gordale Scar ( and the most satisfying painting, carried out mainly on site). Initially as it was pouring with rain, we set off just with sketching gear but found it was completely dry under the rock overhang. After coffee and a look round Katherines studio in Malham ( her more abstract canvases are stunning) several of us headed back with more serious amounts of kit.
I've really enjoyed using acrylic inks ( especially white)and now have a large shopping list for other colours ( and a new palette knife ). Maybe not the fishing shelter,I'm not sure I'll retain my intrepidness in Brentford although I'm inspired to tackle the river and boatyard here.

1 comment:

Helen said...

ooo glad you had a productive tiem - I love these, especially the last four. Thank you for showing us.