Friday, 27 April 2012

Beware of Toilets!

Since my book ‘How to Paint Flowers in Acrylics’ came out and with my recent TV appearances on Sky Arts, demand for demonstrations and workshops for art groups has increased somewhat. Venues can vary greatly from such places as the magnificent pork pie hall in Leicester to the Palmer-Tomkinson building which is like stepping onto the bridge of the starship Enterprise. Some venues are incredibly small, no bigger than a garage, where as you stand back, you end up sitting on the ladies lap on the front row. Others are either very grand with the plushest of Axminster carpets, or quite run down, falling apart, covered in wriggly tin and with the rain and wind blowing through the gaps. One of the problems of arriving at an old venue in winter is that there’s no heating and the room’s freezing cold. This can make it quite a challenge when trying to pick up pastels with numb fingers, so now I take a hairdryer to warm my hands up. Fire stations seem popular with art groups too.. I’ve painted in a couple of those. When going to the loo in one, I noticed that there were colour swatches above the urinals showing a range of earth colours from raw sienna to cadmium orange. Mentioning this to the group when I returned, they informed me that they were in fact colour charts to tell the Firemen if they were dehydrated or not! Loos can be quite a problem, Louise managed to lock herself in one recently and not wishing to show herself up, stayed quiet. Half an hour later at the end of the demo when it was time to go and I noticed she was missing and had to stage a rescue attempt. I quite like to have a comfort break prior to a demo and at the same time fill my water pot. Going into the loo recently, the lady organiser said “I can do that for you…” I remarked that it wouldn’t be very hygienic. “Nonsense! She said, I can do it in the sink for you”.. I then realised she meant my water pot! The other problem with loos is I nearly always forget to turn my microphone off and so the audience are usually treated to waterfall impressions during the break!! Food is another interesting demo phenomena.. around the Birmingham area, a splendid, lavish buffet is often provided at the half time break though this can eat into the time I have available to paint for the group.. My friend Tom won’t mind me mentioning that his group provides one of the finest at Burntwood, making that visit an even greater pleasure. In fact, the foods so good, some artists just book themselves in and tell Tom when they’re coming!! Christmas demos are also a great treat as food is nearly always provided at this festive time. At other places, there’s usually a half time break with tea and biscuits. I only went to one where the group weren’t allowed a break because they the organiser said they talked too much, with me alone getting a cuppa half way through, it made me feel quite guilty and sorry for them. This spring has been one of my busiest ever, but now things are quieting off and it will soon be time to start thinking about the Patchings Art Festival, I hope you will come and join me there and say hello.