So, on July 13th, there I was....
...floating in the middle of the Thames looking downriver to Chelsea Bridge and Battersea Power station with the trees of the Embankment and Battersea Park on either side...
I'd paid my tenner online then at 9am on the day trudged, with easel, canvases, paints, drinking water and sun cream, water jar and the vital langth of string string (purpose to be explained later ) to Chelsea Town Hall and got my canvas stamped with the whimsical Pintar Rapido logo. It was hot and I was nervous.
Plein Air is terrifying for me - the unknown and unpredictable encounters with invaders of your space. I may be a Trekkie but for me random alien encounters and art don't really gel (except perhaps in the Wordsworthian sense - 'emotion recollected in tranquillity' i.e. I work best in the studio). I need to inhabit that precious and delightfully lonely semi-conscious yet heightened zone which one inhabits when painting and which is so vital for decision making... For me the anticipation of people looking at your work mid flow shatters that before one can even reach it. I had a cunning plan to circumvent these problems; but might something go wrong?
Meanwhile 379 artists streamed in and out of Chelsea Town Hall - all the stereotypes you could ever dream of what an artist might be like: the small wiry intense, grey bearded man with his 1960's easel and battered wooden paint-box; the tall young man - cutting edge - with the purposeful middle distance stare; the two middle-aged ladies in long cotton skirts and little sun-hats - excited and twittery about tinkling their water jars in a leafy London street.
My plan was to avoid the frantic, luggage-laden dash for the best spots, be out of the public scrutiny, have peace to think and yet be on the river. .. Cadogan Pier was the place. I'd been given the entry code by a friend with a houseboat... sorted!
next instalment... watch this space...
I've heard of fish falling from
the sky; nevertheless it was a shock to find a goldfish lying on the hall carpet.
The two cats guarding its sad, still form pretended disinterest.
However I know, dear cats, that you were only trying - in your limited way - to provide me with a 'fishy in a little dishy'.
Oddly enough, the only one for whom 'the boat' came 'in' was the fish. It magically revived in water - even allowing me to stroke its nose (probably how the cats hooked it)and next morning
flipped itself joyfully out of a plastic bag and into the nearest lake....
...long may you swim in freedom little fishy... and may those pterodactyl-like
herons never find you.