I spent all of yesterday on my hands and knees in a cold unheated warehouse, kneeling on a bare concrete floor. The door to the outside was open, letting in a chill breeze, and cobwebs clung to the roof rafters. The only windows were covered in more cobwebs, and were high up letting in a bit of light, and one overhead lamp was the other illumination. I was so cold my hands were frozen even though I had two tee shirts, a high necked sweater, a fleecy jacket and another top over it, jeans, warm socks, and thick soled walking boots. I had a large bowl of hot porridge for breakfast as it was the hottest filling food I could think of to warm me up before I started and I was still chilled through. I started just after 9am and left at 5pm. Lunch was a chocolate bar and mug of tea that took all of three minutes to consume whilst standing up. But I was happy. So happy that I went back again this morning and did it all again!
Yes, its that time of year again when the art boards for Ashby Arts Festival need to be painted ready for the middle of May. The reason they need to be done now, rather than early April, is because the warehouse is soon to be demolished, and we are able to use it as a wonderful (yes, really!) place to paint the boards in. Each plywood board is 8 feet by 4 feet, and there are over 30 of them, so of course the space is difficult to find for the painting of them, somewhere easy to get to, and with enough room for half a dozen artists to work together if need be. So, it may be cold, it may be draughty, it may be a hard concrete floor, but as far as I am concerned, its ideal! I really love the room, and wish it was my studio, although with a closed door, better lighting, cleaner, and some heating!
Last year the theme was “Myths and Legends” so I did this painting of a dragon flying over a fairytale castle by the light of the moon. The theme this year is “Ashby de la Zouch, past and present” as its the tenth anniversary of the art boards being displayed around the town. As soon as I heard the theme I knew what I wanted to do. There was a lot I could have done, from the ancient pubs in the town, to the soap factory that has now gone, to KP foods who dominate one end of the town, the ribbon making that used to be done there, and a hundred other ideas that would have worked as well. But, Ashby de la Zouch as another connection, one that everyone who is connected with the town knows of, since half the places or businesses seem to have the name somehow within them. And that is the name “Ivanhoe” from Sir Walter Scotts novel of knights. So, as far as I am concerned, since I love all things Medieval, that Ivanhoe jousting was my theme. I found some suitable photos to start ideas from, and added a lot more of my own, and very quickly had a drawing that depicted what I wanted. Two knights on horseback jousting, as if you were looking over the shoulder of one of them. Lots of action and drama, just how I like it! And the thing that is important for these boards, since they have to be viewed from across roads and below buildings, is getting the tones worked out clearly, and the colours bright blocks of colour almost like a poster. Its therapeutic painting them, since its just a block of colour using emulsion match pots since that is the cheapest type of paint. You need an awful lot of paint to cover 8 feet by 4 feet! Of course finer details can be added but there’s no point in being very specific, since they won’t be seen. I really enjoyed my painting days, and love the painting I have almost completed.
I’ll show it to you when I’ve completed it. Almost there!