What a lovely day I had yesterday!!
Set off with an arty friend Lynne Frost before half past seven only to get lost twice on the way despite having printed off the google maps (and no it wasn't women reading maps syndrome!!). I called my husband to let him know we were on the way home and shared my frustration about the outward journey and guess what he said? He said " Well you went last year, didn't you remember the way?" I had to put my foot in my mouth to stiffle the reply (and that is no mean feat... get it feet /feat!!). Good job I was over 2 hours away!!!
Anyway we eventually arrived to a rather dull chilly day and of course I had a flimsy top on (you can see me now can't you?) and a short sleeved cardy (don't you just love that word) so was pretty cold and needed a coffee to warm us up!! We saw Gill Fox and Sue Bradley almost as we arrived so joined them for refreshments. We then met up with Dana Mallon and as Gill had kindly got our tickets to see Ann Blockley demonstrate in the St Cuthbert's tent for the afternoon, we decided our first stop in the morning was the artists tent where it was a treat to meet Andrew Geeson. Do check out his work from this link, you won't be disappointed!!
I have never seen Andrew's work before but as we passed his stand I was delighted to see some work which was all that I love about watercolour. We chatted to him for a while where he described in a very amusing way how he goes about things and said if we waited abut 10 minutes he would show us in a short demo... not that we put any pressure on him but the demo seemed to happen immediately rather than in 10 mins and we were all enthralled while Andrew shared his methods and even let me have a little go. Lynne said she thought I painted quite like him anyway but even though I do use lots of water it is in a slightly different way, and he has made me decide to try more direct wet in wet approach.
Not to be too picky about it but the difference is subtle, I add quite thick concentrated paint to my paper and then add water to let it all run and mix with other colours I also add direct to the paper...however Andrew thoroughly wets all his paper... leaving strategic areas dry for the white bits and then adds his colour very wet in wet, mopping up pools of paint and water with kitchen roll . The advantage is the dry paper acts as a barrier to the paint and so he can preserve his whites at the first stage whereas my way of building up a wash seems to be a bit more haphazard. Anyway will be having a go as his work was lovely and one or two of his paintings reminded me of the wonderful Victoria Prischedko. Of course I couldn't resist the DVD he had on sale which I thought was a bargain at £6 for an 85 minute film. We have enquired as well about workshops and we may be inviting him to the sunny shores of the Northwest if we can get a group of us together... the flapjacks and cake will be waiting Andrew!!
So we then meandered around the rest of the artists tent and Lynn and I went for lunch as we wanted to be ready for Ann's demo...... Sue had been to the morning demo as well which was very good apparently but when we met up with Ann she was unsure about what she was going to demonstrate at the afternoon session and was actually quite nervous... well who wouldn't be with 300 people in the room!!
So we arrived at the tent all set up with 2 large screens so that we could see Ann working as she paints almost flat, with her work at just a slight angle... it always feels good to see the really good artists working as you do, makes you think you are doing something right!! And so Ann started the demo and still wasn't sure what she was doing but as she talked her decision seemed to evolve and we were treated to a bluebell wood. Her style is very carefree and I would imagine she encourages real creativity on her workshops as she is prepared to try anything and likewise anything goes. It seems to me the thing about these exceptional artists is that they have transcended the basic stages where we mere mortals are learning about colour, composition, tone etc etc... they seem to have that knowledge which then frees them up for so much more experimental, exciting stuff, they are already masters of their media and they can then really start to play and explore other ways of doing things.
Ann built up the painting adding more and more paint to an already very wet wash... I am sure I would have left it to dry far sooner than she did (big lesson there!!) and finally added some salt and acrylic inks then she left to dry!! In the meantime she started another painting, a vibrant poppy scene and out came more acrylic inks... they certainly have the wow factor and the first washes on this piece were stunning to say the least and despite the real looseness of the approach a few dark spots in the centres and a few well placed edges and the poppies were really starting to appear... how do they do that???? Back to the acrylic inks later!!
Ann's demo finished, we all had a look at her wonderful work, had a quick chat and then I went off to find myself some acrylic inks. I have seen them used before and have Ann's DVD where she uses them fantastically and so the idea started in that wretched tent and what was at first a feeling of ooh I like those rapidly became one of those sort of itches which has to be scratched and I knew I would have no option but to go and find myself some inks!!! I went in search and was relieved to find them on the Daler Rowney stand with an offer of 3 for the price of 2...... a bargain.... should I save money or use the opportunity to buy more... no prizes for guessing which option I chose!! I then had to take decisions about which colours so from picking 3, it very quickly expanded to 6 then 9.
A brush purchase, cup of tea and a cake later..... Lynne and I set off back home.... I didn't lose my keys this time thank goodness and we made the sensible decision to stick to motorway for the journey... we didn't think we could get lost that way. I had a thoroughly lovely day and will be back again next year!!