It was a beautiful English summer day but hotter. There were blue sky’s and lovely cotton wool clouds floating by. I checked in at the town hall with a lot of other artists. It was good fun chatting in the queue before hand. I took the bus up to Knightsbridge to paint Harrods as I had planned but as got off the bus at the top of Sloan Street I noticed Harvey Nicks and thought of an evening I had a few years ago that started from there on the top floor where all the smartest of young London Arabs meet up in the early evening. I looked at Harrods and found the shape wasn’t great for the canvas I had so I went back and found a spot on the traffic island opposite Knightsbridge tube and set up there.
Every time a car stopped at the lights the driver would lean out of their window for a chat. After a few hours a police car came by, did a quick u turn and stopped behind me. The policemen got out and I thought; oh, O! They said “don’t worry, we’re just being nosey, mind if we have a look? We chatted for a bit, I gave them a flier with free tickets for the show, they shook my paint encrusted hand and promised to come to the show before they went on duty. In fact they arranged to meet each other at Sloan square tube said to each other it’s a date then. They then went off in their patrol car, blue lights flashing and executed a rather dodgy u-turn. I saw them go by a few times in the day and we waved at each other as they passed.
A lady with purple hennaed hair and her pretty young assistant who was wearing very heavy make up came over and gave me a chocolate bar and a bottle of water. They were working at the Rolex shop and so I said I would come over and buy one one day.
My son Lewis and his girlfriend, Andreea came and brought me 2 cokes. It was great to see them. Lewis was going the next day back to Padua where he is working and I don’t see him much now-a-days
Lastly, a couple of women came over and said. “Cor, that’s brilliant! It’s just like it!… It’s Harrods ain’t it. I was a little embarrassed to disagree that it was actually Harvey Nichols.
I got back just in time and there was lots of queuing but we were all in the wrong queue. Mr Rapido was there being very jolly. He has only one arm and that seemed suddenly normal as I had only the day before listened to a very good podcast story involving a lady with one arm.
I was photographed holding my painting and then handed it in.
I then had to go and move my car from the Parking space I had booked for the day.and I was just unpacking a few things when I saw a family getting into their car on the other side of the street. A lady came over and said that her daughter wanted to know what my rosette was for. We were issued with rosettes to identify that we were artists doing Pintar Rapido and I was still wearing mine. I said that I had just won best pony in show and they looked really excited. I felt a bit bad disabusing them to explain about the 500 artists painting London in a day but I gave them a flyer and they went off laughing and little girl waved as they sped by in their open top Audi.
The next day, when I arrived at the opening event the first painting I came to was by my friend from the Royal Drawing School, Alex Cree. Here is the mug shot of him and his painting
We hung about a bit and then the prizes were announced. Neither of us were winners but they were all reasonable and deserving choices none-the-less. You can see that Chelsea Town Hall is a very splendid place. The panels that the paintings are hung on give the exhibition a feel somewhat reminiscent of an amateur art show in a village hall but I’m not sure how the organisers could ever get round that.
I watched a demo beinng given by Ann Witheridge from Lavender Hill Studios.
I have various friends and students who have been there and was very interested to see what sge would say. I enjoyed her talk but she was slightly up against it with a couple of the audience who were verging on being hecklers. You can see two guys in the front who were part of a large Dutch contingent at the competition..Anne Witheridge passed around some sample painting panels sold at Lavender Hill and one asked why it was warped, if that served a purpose. She said that it would straighten when it was framed. He said Oh I see, it straightens when it is framed, I see, um, yes. He was plainly mocking her as he did the same sort of thing over the subject of paint drying as you work. This would have been a bit annoying for her but worse came in the form a slightly crazy guy in a leather coat and hat.(it was a hot day) As luck would have it sat in a recently vacated seat in the middle of the front row and started a stream of random interruptions such as “What’s the most you ever sell a picture for?”
Anne was a bit too polite and looking rather embarrassed tried to answer patiently so I called out that we wanted to hear the talk which silenced him for a very short time.
After the talk I met up with Alex at the Chelsea Arts Club and we passed the afternoon pleasantly putting the world to rights.
When I got back to the town hall I spent half an hour chatting to a few fellow artists. Out of the corner of my eye I glanced my two friendly Policemen in Mufti having a serious look at all the work.
The verdict is that it was tiring but great fun and I am pleases to say that my interest in the plein air phenomenon remains undiminished. In fact I shall be taking part in the event; Paint Out Wells-next-the-sea in Norlfolk between the 9th and 13th September. Norfolk is one of the most beautiful and remote counties in Britain, if you don’t know it already, I recommend a visit ASAP.
Maybe see you at the mass Sunrise Paint out taking place on the beach at Wells and Holkham on Friday 11th?