|Me on the Millennium Bridge, painting the crowds before the boats came|
Let me tell you all about yesterday!! I know that most of you watched proceedings on tv and saw for yourself how beautiful the boats were, and the amazing atmosphere with the crowds lining the river bank waving their flags! And the weather... hmm. Not exactly what you'd expect in June (British summertime, no?) and not exactly Pimms and strawberries weather!
There were twenty artists chosen by the BBC to paint the event, unfortunately they couldn't take any more than that so we all felt very special to be chosen.
We assembled and met the tv crew at about 10am and then spent the next two hours huddled around a table in the Tate Modern cafe, while the rain poured down outside! It was so great to meet some new painter faces! The only person I knew previously was the amazing David Pilgrim AROI.
When we went out to the bridge the rain had eased off and our half size french box easels had been assembled and lined up. We were allocated places and then we had a little shuffling around as some of us wanted to paint the boats coming towards us and others preferred the view on the other side of the bridge, looking towards Tower bridge.
David and I had a problem straightaway with the easels as they couldn't hold a canvas or board any shorter than 35 centimetres! If you look at the photo above you'll see the masking tape at the top of my board holding it on!
This was such a surprise to me as most plein air painters paint on a small scale in order to work quickly before the scene changes too much!
Having said that though, some of the artists on the bridge had enormous canvasses to work on! One guy had half a door! The lovely lady next to me, Gillian Burrows, was painting on her iPad!
There were others using oils, acrylics, watercolours, pen and ink and gouache. Quite a variety!
Everyone got cracking straightaway. The atmosphere was fantastic! I could hear the BBC coverage playing from a big screen somewhere nearby but couldn't see it. There was a lovely smokey smell from some food being cooked outside that was making me feel hungry!
I decided to get a painting done of the crowd lining the river and have a little practice painting the bridge, before the boats reached us. This is it, exactly as painted on the bridge and relatively unscathed by the journey back...
|Crowds lining the river, waiting for the Pageant to start|
I had to work fast! The drizzle turned to rain which got heavier and heavier. My Jullian umbrella (possibly the best painting accessory of all now!) was worth it's weight in gold that day!
The wind was also getting stronger, so I had to hold my umbrella the whole time I was painting, in case it flew away with my easel!
I didn't have time to take any photos!
I looked up, looked at one particular boat, tried to capture it's main shape and colours in my mind and then tried to place it on the river in my painting, using only a couple of brushstrokes. Repeated this method over and over again.
This is why my painting is a medley of boats from the different sections of the Pageant. I have the Gloriana, some rowing boats, the Royal Barge 'Spirit of Chartwell', a lifeboat, a narrowboat, a gondola (? not sure but it looked like a gondola to me!) and anything else that caught my eye!
The rain was coming in sideways and underneath my umbrella and my palette was getting wetter and wetter! The canvas was getting a fine spraying, and water was swirling around my feet!
Some of the artists started to leave as their work, anything on paper particularly, was suffering too much.
Easels started to fall over. I held my umbrella as close and as low as I could!
One of the crew asked me if I would do a piece to camera with Anneka about 'soldiering on', I said of course. Then my umbrella had to be lifted away from my painting for the cameras, and my canvas started getting really wet.
After the interview, I couldn't add much more despite my best attempts to dry the unpainted parts of my canvas with my sleeve! The oil paint just wouldn't stick because of the water - it was like wax resist, but in reverse!
Here's my painting now, completely untouched since I left the bridge -
|The painting as I left the bridge!|
This is the view from my umbrella!
I've decided I will work further on these paintings but only very little, as I'd hate to lose the spontaneity of the piece. That's what actually being there in person does for the painting, and it would be a travesty if it ended up looking as though I'd painted it in a nice cosy studio! I may try to do another more finished piece though, based on these ones.
Thought you might like to see the view on the bridge by about 5pm!
|Another scene I'd like to paint!|
Before I go I just want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who took the time this weekend to email or text, leave comments on my blog or Facebook or Twitter. You are so fantastic and it made me so happy reading them all on my way home on the train last night! :-)