The Art Plumstead Watercolourists (and assorted pals) journeyed to Erith Yacht Club to have a go at painting en plein air in and around the Clubhouse. The tide had already started dropping by the time we arrived at 11 am, and didn’t turn until after 3 pm . That didn’t matter though, because by then we had risen to the challenge of painting outdoors and produced a respectable body of work.
As the tide receded, usually submerged structures were revealed, along with the eponymous mud, which is always interesting to paint. The weather was considerably better than forecast, and although it was rather blowy near the water, shelter could be found in the lee of the clubhouse, or tucked behind structures nearby. Colours changed constantly, with the endless cycling of the clouds, but it made for interesting effects.
What can’t be captured are the particular sounds of the riverside – the clanking of lines against masts, the wash whenever a large vessel came past and the periodic calls of swifts and oyster catchers. As in previous workshops at St Mark’s Hall, Andrew was on hand to give advice and guidance to anyone who needed it. After a few hours intense concentration the painters availed themselves of the bar. It was well deserved as you can see from the paintings featured here.
Regular returners to the watercolour workshops faced a new challenge when they were given a still life to paint. This gave them a chance to build on the skills they had learned in the last workshop. (see previous blog to see how they did).
The objects in the arrangement were chosen to resemble the solid shapes of the previous exercise. Fruit – including a superannuated pomegranate – stood in for the spheres, a Victorian flowerpot was a truncated cone, a bamboo utensil holder gave practice in depicting a cylinder while the tines of the fork had the perpendicular planes of a cube. Behind it all, a richly coloured cloth invited the participants to show texture, while in the foreground there was the challenge of representing reflective surfaces. Andrew provided tips on how to show colour bouncing off adjacent objects, to show objects relating to one another, and to think tonally. Everyone admires the gorgeous colours of a painting, but it is held together by the tonal structure.”Tone does all the hard work, but colour gets all the glory!”
Luckily, the weather was sufficiently bright to allow the artists to work using natural light only, since artificial light ‘flattens’ all the objects. There was an atmosphere of intense concentration, as the pictures below show, in contrast to the lively atmosphere of the community market outside in the main hall. This workshop was useful practice in drawing from life for the forthcoming trip to Erith Yacht Club, where Art Plumstead have been invited to attend to sketch and draw the sights on view there.