the need for a following wind

How to begin is the question? I can have a clear idea, but not often, and in fact, too clear an idea, in my experience, is not always helpful. I remember telling a painting class to paint a whim, and that, on reflection, is where I was with 'Tea and Topiary'. At this point I start some thumbnail layout scribbles, small, about 8cm in pencil. After a few minutes I came up with the drawing below.

To my eye I could see the canopy, the distance, the table, the steps and pots on the left - it was all there, ready to go.

Putting paint out is intuition, this is gouache, I choose about eight colours. English red, Crimson, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Ultramarine, Cobalt, White, Cad Yellow. Taking a 25mm flat brush I rapidly painted the whole thing in 4-5 minutes using most of the colours. I dried it with a 'hot gun' as I lack patience, anyway it was nearly lunchtime and wanted to get to a certain stage in the work. Again I painted the whole thing with slightly different colours from the same palette. Dried it thouroughly, then floated water all over with a wide brush twice, then scraped it all back hard. This creates a nicely coloured paper that I can work on after lunch.

Lunch is home made roasted tomato soup with brown bread.


Adding definition is the difficult part - too much and it looks wrong and overworked, I need to still see the underpainting to give it life. I work on the distance first and then beef up the sky. I put in the table, but soon remake it much larger. The steps too are a problem, just wrong. I wash the whole corner and scrape of the paint - it looks better. The recent 'wrong' work was useful now and a benefit. So I proceed - embracing risk - ready to backtrack and remake - insisting on making good.

here is a corner detail, you can see clearly the underpainting in conjunction with the surface manipulation that creates the illusion.

The overall work is done when it is done - when the illusion of summer warmth, sights and smells are evoked.

It's not cutting edge 'art' . . . . but it pleases this old painter as he cleans his palette and washes his brushes.