Monday, 16 June 2014

come wind and weather

our pitch, ready and waiting first thing on Saturday morning!
© Teresa Newham
Given my previous experiences with Art on the Common, regular readers of this blog won't be surprised to learn that I stalked the weather forecast obsessively last week. My co-exhibitor Hillary Taylor and I set up with high hopes; there was only a 5% chance of rain, after all!  I'd even decided to bring along some original watercolours rather than playing it safe with prints.

Harpenden Common Discovery Day
© Teresa Newham

A few spots of rain as we opened didn't daunt us; plenty of folk were out and about visiting the show, or on their way to and from the Harpenden Common Discovery Day, which was taking place further down the Common.

down came the rain . . .
© Teresa Newham
So we were quite relaxed; and when the heavens did open (of course) we just moved everything under cover.  Then the rain started blowing in horizontally through the open sides of the gazebo . . .

. . .  and soon everything was getting extremely wet!
© Teresa Newham
We started to wipe everything down as the rain slackened off. Even though the exhibits were dumped in the middle of our former display, people were coming in to take a look; at one point I sold an Acer Leaf monoprint from a mini browser perched on a soaking wet tablecloth.  We started to lay it all out again and down came the rain for a second time; I hastily moved my pieces back into the centre, virtually prising boxes of postcards and bookmarks out of somebody's hands as the rain blew in.

revised layout, with everything on central tables
© Teresa Newham
When we finally dried it all off once more and surveyed the damage, there was surprisingly little.  Our framed stuff was virtually unscathed, and everything else was damp but OK (so glad I brought along some kitchen roll!).  We dragged all the tables to the middle, covered them with the driest cloths, and set up for a third time . .

some of Hillary's drawings, with the City of London at the front
© Teresa Newham
The new layout enabled visitors to walk around the outside of the whole display while we sat at the back, and was a vast improvement on our original idea.  We liked it so much that on Sunday we set up like that from the outset, with only a light drizzle to contend with.  The wind, however, was stronger today: a couple of my taller exhibits fell over and had to be relocated onto the grass.

the second day - re-arranged again to guard against the wind!
© Teresa Newham
We both made some encouraging sales; my watercolour painting May Evening, Harpenden Common has found a new home - and two Winter Bird monoprints are on their way to Dorset!  so it was a good morning, even though I had to ask my husband to bring me some trainers and socks as my feet were getting cold in some ill-advised sandals!

some of the other art on show
© Teresa Newham
The weather hadn't kept the crowds away - there were plenty of art-lovers walking up and down looking at the work on show.  The wind was still playing havoc - I had to re-arrange my cards in the rack to stop them blowing about - and as a final sting in the tail while we were packing up, a gust tore at the gazebo canopy just as we'd removed the tent pegs. It could have been a Mary Poppins moment . . .

cards jammed in tight to stop them blowing about
© Teresa Newham
I've learned a lot this weekend: sales can happen in the most appalling weather and the right person for the right painting can appear out of the blue.  Well-framed or well-wrapped items can survive a shower or two.  Always pack appropriate footwear.  And never, ever trust the weather forecast . . . !

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who visited Hillary and me at Art on the Common last weekend, and to Joy for organising it.  To see more photos from this event, visit my Facebook Page.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

a drawing a day - sketches from Leros

"The important thing is to do, and nothing else: be what it may" - Pablo Picasso

Last time I blogged about my drawing a day project, I was doing pencil sketches in and around the home. This taught me a lot, even though I don't really enjoy working in pencil;  years ago I did an evening class in Life Drawing at Central St Martins and found I much preferred charcoal - only really coming alive when the tutor let me use ink and a brush!

Zig pens and Hahnemühle sketch diary
© Teresa Newham
At Christmas I was given One Drawing a Day  - a book by Veronica Lawlor, which places the emphasis on working quickly and playfully, rather than on the result, and encourages experimentation with different media. I treated myself to two or three Zig Brushables, and quickly became hooked.  I'd also been given a Hahnemühle Sketch Diary, and decided to use these to record our holiday.

Chora town square, Patmos
© Teresa Newham
In the past I've done watercolour sketches on location in Ireland, usually with my friend Sue and often from the comfort of a car; wide open spaces with nobody else around.  But my husband and I were travelling to the Dodecanese island of Leros, via Kos - a day trip to Patmos was also in the mix - popular holiday destinations.  As soon as I got my sketchbook and pens out, fellow tourists started to take an interest, so I had to get over my self-consciousness pretty quickly . . .

family on Panteli beach, Leros
© Teresa Newham
I was keen to practice drawing figures, but didn't want to intrude on anybody's privacy; so I often found myself sketching people some distance away.  Of course, they kept moving: by the time I finished the little illustration above, the young boy in black was sitting somewhere completely different.  I needed to rely on memory as well as speed!

the ridge above Panteli, Leros
© Teresa Newham
I tried various ways of capturing the hillsides and vegetation of Leros, but short of carrying dozens of pens of varying shades I had to improvise.  A black and white sketch will remind me of what the place looked like just as well, particularly if time is short.

diners at the next taverna
© Teresa Newham
I also discovered that by and large tourists don't wear brightly coloured clothes; blues, whites and greys proliferated.  Flesh tones might have been a problem, but as everyone was tanned I was able to use orange, which contrasted nicely with the blue!

yacht in Lakki harbour, Leros
© Teresa Newham
Having time to spare over a sketch wasn't always an advantage, as the temptation was to overwork it: I can't help thinking this yacht would have looked better without the background hills (or just their outlines). Ironically, for someone who is scared of water, I love drawing boats . . .

on the ferry from Leros to Kos
© Teresa Newham
I even got a bit twitchy on the ferry, so to take my mind off things I tried to immortalise some of my fellow passengers.  They, however, were busy exploring the boat;  I'd only half got this chap's hat down on paper when he left the rails and I had to try and remember what his back view looked like.

view from the terrace
© Teresa Newham
You can probably tell I had a lot of fun with these sketches.  And there's the small matter of 400 photos to attend to.  I trust that the spirit of Leros will be with me for a long time!