The way I like it

Friday July 1, 2005

I seem to be fated to fail when I visit Skegness just now. Yesterday, still recovering from my fit of the blues, I decided to go out for a fish’n’chips lunch in a proper seaside setting. My legs were working well and I felt quite up to a bit of an outing. And then, when I got to the carpark I found all the disabled spaces were taken and had to pop the car in an ordinary pay-and-display spot. I’m quite unused to paying for my parking space, and when I got to the machine it was to find I hadn’t enough coins for more than an hour’s stay. Parking fees have gone up. Stupid! Next time…

Anyway, the fish’n’chips were delicious. They’re frying new potatoes now, having reached the time of year when the supply of over-wintered spuds is unreliable. Oh, boy, but I could have gone back for seconds! The piece of fish was pretty good, too.

My allocated time was too short for a stroll along the prom, so I picked up a small ice-cream cone from the stall next door, and took a turn around the park. Not a bad outing, but I really must remember to have a better supply of coins with me next time.

Today I had greater success of a morning trip to Boston, to renew my car road tax for a further six months. The little blue Ford is going to have to be traded in against a new one shortly before Christmas. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it but it is only a matter of time, a short-ish amount of time, before it becomes less than totally reliable. I still haven’t made up my mind on a new vehicle. I have an in-built resistance to thinking about cars. I like my little car, and it’s been a good, reliable friend, taking me all over the Kingdom. The subject of cars, though, is one I find ultimately boring and I don’t intend to spend a minute longer than absolutely necessary to select and acquire a new one.

Back home, I sat down to a belated writing session, then, yawning, took myself off for a nap. I’d been dozing for only half an hour when the phone rang. One of those darned cold-calls, from a nice lady somewhere in India who thought I’d be overjoyed to have my kitchen redesigned. She doesn’t think so any more.

Sleep wasn’t going to happen, so I got up, stretched, downed a cup of cofee, threw my painting gear in the back of the car, and took myself off over the fens, looking for a spot where I could park, set up my easel, and spend a happy hour or two sketching some suitable scene. We’re spoiled for choice here on suitable scenes but the question of parking on country lanes restricts things somewhat. Nonetheless, I found a good spot, and enjoyed my time in the open air.

I’d elected to start with a small, 14 by 10 inch canvas board, having some concern about the wind catching a larger one. My suspended bricks-in-a-bag stabilizer worked perfectly, however, and I could probably have got away with something larger. Small canvas or not, I used my big brushes, and a pallette knife, looking for the freedom of a loose, smack-it-on approach as a counter to the heads-down delicacy of the miniatures. It’s a long, long time since I took this approach and, while strange, I found the whole thing enormously liberating.

When I got home I unpacked my gear, propped the sketch up on the table easel, and sat looking at it over a mug of coffee. Not bad. Not quite what I was aiming for, but the elements are there. Just need to think about it a lot, and try again, many, many times. I might stick with this smaller format for a while—much bigger than the miniatures of course, that goes without saying, but a long way from the big canvasses I want to make. Meanwhile, this is a good, and cheap, way of breaking new ground.

When it’s had time to dry off I shall apply a little scumble here and a little lining there, and sign it. It’s only a sketch, though, and I’m really content to let it be what it is.


Stickford, Jul,'05
Landscape sketch
oil on canvas board, 14″x10″


Then, needing something else, I set to the task of completing and uploading the little house by the fens section of the website, hooking it in to the ‘houses’ gallery. Reviewing the result, modelled very closely on the two preceeding house sections I find I’m no longer too much taken with the approach. I plan to do the next house very differently. But then I have plans. Busy. Busy. Just the way I like it.



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