Friday, 12 August 2011

I'm only an amateur please don't watch me paint

The article that I have added here is one I wrote some time ago and which has stayed in my computer files. I came across it when changing computers and decided to send it to the letter page of the Artist Magazine. Imagine my delight when they e-mailed me to say they would publish it in the August edition. To my surprise it was the letter of the month! Today I received the prize of System 3 Heavy Body Acrylics, worth £34.95 courtesy of Daler-Rowney. The magazine had edited the original piece and I think it makes for a better read but you must judge for yourself.
I wrote this when we lived in the West Midlands and we have now moved to Market Harborough in the East Midlands. The Black Country accent has been muted for clarity!.
I’m only an amateur please don’t watch me paint
Earlier in June I went to paint the scene behind Stuart Crystal Cone where the canal and locks are to be found.
The first time I went it was a lovely day. A peaceful scene with an old wharf shed mirrored in the placid waters of the canal basin.  A canal boat, a rusting hulk, made a superb foreground. An ideal composition. I had a lovely two hours to sketch and make colour notes, on my own, uninterrupted
Later at home I began the process of enlargement on a prepared board and laid down colour and tone in acrylic paint ready for the next stage.
Two days later I returned with the work on the easel, my palette prepared, ready to begin working in oils. The wind, which tried to blow my easel over, was rippling the water and the reflection was but a blur. Just as I was putting out some liquin to help the drying process, a little boy with his fishing rod came by and stared at the work.
“Hey mister, that boat ‘as gone!”
I looked up in disbelief, dribbling sticky liquin down my trouser leg and, sure enough, it had been towed away.
“Yo don’t ‘av to worrit. It’s just past the nex lock”
The lock gate mechanism began to whirr by my side. A wife was dutifully labouring whilst her husband sat patiently in the boat, waiting patiently to navigate out of the lock and into my picture, whilst churning up any reflections.  At least they were too engrossed to worry about me.
Two mountain bike riders and helpfully said the old wreck had been moved,
“Yes, thank you , I know the boat has gone!”
When a man with a dog arrived, I thought I knew what he was going to say. However he didn’t but stood and looked at my picture.
“ Yo’ve copt it better ‘n the bloke who was here last week. Do ya want t’ sell it? Oi’ll buy it off ya,‘cos I only live round thay’re.”
Whilst trying to tell him that it was my course work for the Open College of the Arts  and therefore not for sale, that I noticed his dog quietly peeing on the bag containing my paints and things!
If you are painting in watercolours you can bet someone’s pet dog your water but this just about took the dog biscuit!
I did visit again and finished the painting. Perhaps the next time I am out on my own I shall follow the advice of a professional artist friend. “The best thing to do is to put cap down by the side of you. If anyone ventures near you, ask for a contribution. It works wonders!”  It’s a bit like having insect repellent when painting,’ en plein air’ or for the fleas when sketching new calves in a barn, but that leads me to another story. And this is the painting at the back of the cone Stourbridge.


1 comment:

  1. Ha Ha, very amusing story Ken! Next time I go out and paint in public, I must remember to take some dog biscuits, so as to entice any dogs away from my kit.
    I love your painting, especially the reflections in the water and the houses receding into the distance.