The challenge that summer was to paint a scene ‘a plein air’ as an entry for a competition run by The Artist magazine. It was to be painted on a piece of Langton 100% cotton watercolour paper, just the size of a standard postcard ! Temporarily without a permanent studio base , I knew that I needed a serious challenge, for artists, just like ballet dancers or musicians, must never stop practising their art. Even if I just get out my little pocket moleskine and jot down the briefest of sketches on a reasonably regular basis, I find that my skill and perception increases imperceptably in breadth and depth. In fact, my practice is changing even now as I write, as many of the resulting images are in demand! so a tiny watercolour pad, glued if possible at the edges for protection, is added to my mini-kit. My ‘reporters’ notebook is now reserved for notes and colour analysis . Lots of people find these notes fascinating to look through, but they’re only for everyday reference purposes, and not for sale!
So here I was, with a competition deadline looming, glancing over the sea wall early one bright, crisp autumn morning at Harbour Station, Porthmadog, North Wales, while volunteering on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway. What a wonderful view, and combined with towering clouds, the harbourside reflected in sparkling water, and the ebbing tide , I knew I had the perfect subject! Catching the first bus early the next morning, I was lucky enough to be rewarded with the same perfect weather conditions and was now armed with paints & paper!
So, with the light, clouds and tide level changing all the time, paint tubes, pencils and brushes scattered as I raced to capture the essence of the scene before me. What a day! With the enticing scents and sounds of a busy steam railway at my back, rich autumn sunshine glinting on the ebb tide, huge clouds towering above, and the breeze in my hair, what more could I wish for!
My efforts were well rewarded, as I was told my entry had won a prize, and two glued watercolour pads arrived in the post a little while later!