Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April in Britain and France: Part Four: Somerset and London; Conclusions



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 Wiltshire, a view near Bruton, oil on card, 17 x 24 cm




That brings me to a close. Somerset is beautiful, but the weather was inconsistent, and England in the grey doesn't make for good painting.

I left via London:




From Alexandra Palace, London, oil on card, 13 x 18 cm





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Conclusions

The trip involved too many different destinations or, rather, I found my energies spent too much in lugging luggage around, catching planes or trains or taxis than I would have liked.  In future, It would have been better to have rented a place for a month and used it as a base, instead of constantly having to pack and unpack and carry bags here and there. It's good for me to paint in different places: I need variety. But the actual business of travel itself has become tiresome for me.

This is the longest period of time I've spent in the UK. It is a cold country- in April it was still overcoat weather. It is not a place on the edge of collapse as some of its newspapers would like to imply, but reasonably orderly and civilised. It is very crowded, especially in the south. Despite the foodie revolution, it is still not easy to get a good simple meal for less than ten pounds. The beer is good, however, but it is not cheap either. It is not cheap to roam around in but, thankfully, major museums are still free. 


It is a poor place for painting on account of the weather. I had a conversation with Adam Elston, the writer, and it was about whether gray days might not have their own aesthetic qualities. Of course they do, but their charms are extremely limited:  sunlight defines not just colour but form.

Paris was agreeable but not as stylish as I'd expected. The women are not as chic as I'd hoped and the place often feels dowdy, though the architecture remains magnificent.

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The pochades have grown in size steadily over the last couple of years. This makes them more difficult to carry around, and I paint fewer. I have started working with a portable easel which allows me to work in a wider variety of places, though it is devilishly heavy. There are about ten pochades from this trip that I like, not a bad percentage.

But on almost all of my trips I have been guilty of taking my subjects for granted. I mean, assuming that good pictures would flow, almost automatically, from simply being in x, y or z place. Aware of this, I've been extending my periods in specific locations with each successive trip. I shall increase my stays, and  re-visit places.

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The next foreign trip will, circumstances permitting, be to New York.


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Thanks to Jane Hodson for her generous hospitality in Somerset, and to the Ecclestons for their kindness in London.


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