A chance to mass-produce Christmas cards
All similar but all different
The theme for the last watercolour session of the year at St Marks during the Plumstead Community Market was how to capture winter scenes. It was a particularly well-attended session with just enough room for everyone who came. There was a selection of suitably snowy pictures for the benefit of anyone who hadn’t brought their own to work from. Several people used candles to create a wax resist while others used masking fluid as they had been taught several workshops ago. Luckily for us, the heating was working more effectively than in the main hall with the consequence that everyone who came into the room exclaimed at how warm it was.
Andrew showed how he had produced his Christmas card for this year by basing his composition on a standard landscape scene and then imagining it covered in snow, inventing the colours. Usually there is an air of intense concentration but as it was the last class of the year a more lighthearted atmosphere prevailed with a bit more good-natured chatter than usual. In spite of this a number of accomplished paintings were produced. Now that most regular attendees have built up a body of work, the idea of participating in the Open Studios during Plumstravaganza was mooted.
Not a woodcut, but a watercolour, showing the source material
Based on another picture, but with new colours imagined
A relaxed atmosphere at the last watercolour class of 2018
With half an hour to go before the end of the market, homemade spicy apple cookies, shortbread and a selection of chocolates were produced, all washed down with a bottle of sherry and a bottle of port for the benefit of anyone who fancied a festive drink. A couple of regulars who hadn’t been able to participate this time also dropped by and socialised, before we all packed up and went home in the perishing cold and rain.
A Maxfield Parrish moment, but not based on one of his pictures!
Local street scene after rain, working from mobile phone
Regulars and new faces were in attendance at the inaugural watercolour workshop held at Shrewsbury House in room 6, with sweeping views across Kent and Essex and the eastern flank of Shooters Hill. As if by telepathic communication nearly everyone was dressed in shades of blue which is variously held to be associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. It is a calming colour and helps with balance and self-expression, so it was a perfect choice for the task ahead. The breeze was a refreshing change from the seemingly endless hot weather we have had lately and cooling zephyrs came through the French windows that lead out onto the balcony.
This is the first of two Art Plumstead painting sessions to be held at Shrewsbury House, with the second one to run on the 18th August. It was a freestyle format with painters working on their own projects but with expert guidance from Andrew as required. As usual, there was an extensive collection of images to work from for anyone who hadn’t brought their own.
By the end of the afternoon, several people who had arrived feeling quite agitated were completely relaxed. When it all became too much, there was the opportunity to step outside for a few minutes and take in the landscape below, or pay a visit to the geography of the house, resplendent in rich blue tiles. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be about sitting and meditating, but can be any totally absorbing activity. As such, watercolour fits the bill with the added benefit of producing a picture. Even if it doesn’t quite work as an image it can always be re-worked or chopped up to make one or more greetings cards, although as Andrew remarked ruefully it usually costs a lot more to present watercolour paintings than it does to produce them!
Around half a dozen regular watercolourists rocked up for Summerfest 2018 in Rockliffe Gardens and tucked themselves away into nooks and crannies before starting work. The vibe was relaxed and leisurely, with several people chatting to the painters and reminiscing about when they used to make art in their youth.
Unlike with photographs, people don’t generally object to being painted or sketched and there were plenty of visitors, some of whom have been unknowingly immortalised as patterns of colour on paper while enjoying the series of bands on offer. Meanwhile on the lower level the Canine Capers fun dog competition was followed by an impromptu game of football, providing inspiration to one of the group who tucked herself behind a chair, the better to capture the scene unobserved.
Also on site were several stalls, including a bar, Grizzlys (located in Plumstead High Street opposite The Plume of Feathers) and a show for children which was well-attended. By close of play, there were quite a few pictures produced, some of which may well be appearing on a stall near you in due course – if you live in SE18 that is.
The final weekend of Plumstravaganza allowed local residents and visitors to see artists’ work in their own homes. This is the very first time Open Studios has taken place in Plumstead, but it has been in the pipeline for a number of years.
The idea is to pick up a leaflet, then visit the houses in turn. Naturally, not all the work will be to everyone’s taste, but that is not the point. It is a social occasion as much as a chance for the artists to showcase their creativity.
Feedback was very positive; from the artists, who were pleased to receive visitors to see their work, and the public, who couldn’t believe Open Studios was taking place in Plumstead. Now that Open Studios has happened, there is every chance that additional artists will consider being part of future similar events.