Friday, 16 November 2012

The Legacy of a Flavours Painting Holiday Remains

Italian art; a subject so vast it’s hard to begin to get the measure of it, well, certainly not here. Where do you start: Etruscans, the Roman Republic, Renaissance, Futurism or Transavantgarde?

If you stop to consider Italy’s achievements in this field it is enough to make you put the paints back into a cupboard and do something else instead.

Sometimes our own expectations can actually prevent us from trying something. How familiar is, ‘I’d like to, but I don’t have the confidence.’ or ‘I’ve always enjoyed painting but was never much good at it.’ I’m a firm believer in the philosophy: if you enjoy something, why not just do it?’

Also, if you are serious about taking up painting, developing a talent or simply working in a different environment, why not treat yourself to a Flavours painting holiday in Umbria, Tuscany or Sicily? Inspiration really is all around and there is no excuse not to put something down on paper.

For years I would browse art supply shops, fascinated by all the colours and possibilities contained within the empty sketch boxes and the highly textured papers. I would buy flat tins of crayons, oil pastels and drawing pencils. When I arrived home I would draw, immediately feel dissatisfied with the results and so the art materials would end up in the drawers of my desk.

One fateful day a famous art shop on the Charing Cross Road had a sale to celebrate the watercolour exhibition held at the Tate. ‘OK’, I thought, ‘this is it’ and I bought the smallest box of watercolour pans that came with the tiniest brush and a block of 300 gsm watercolour paper 148 x 100mm – postcard size.

I put colour on paper, added water; tried adding water first then paint, experimented with line and tone and pattern. As each piece dried I pinned it on the fridge and started my own exhibition. They were tentative, crazy things.

I then copied a book cover and there was potential in what I had done. Suddenly I couldn’t stop and ever since I have been painting most days and my work has evolved through practise not raw talent.

Most of my work has a strange perspective but it adds to the quirkiness. I have my own style. I can’t draw hands and have two wooden models which I gaze at regularly in the hope some divine inspiration will be forthcoming, sadly not yet!

I have a desire to paint; it’s always been with me hidden in my art history post graduate qualifications. It was only this year, that I thought, ‘No, this is my opportunity’ and booked a Flavours painting course. I am so very glad I did.

My tutor, Penelope Anstice, was a delight and knew instinctively what tiny tweak would lift my work. It’s funny how a professional who understands and practises their subject knows the road and can offer a map with clear directions.

I found that throughout the course and the whole holiday filled me with excitement and that sense of possibility which also comes from being around like-minded people.

My fellow painters were so talented but I wasn’t weighed down by this as we were all there for the same reason: to develop work at whatever level and it was a privilege to see what was going on around.

To sound almost effusive, I found my painting holiday such an inspiration I think of it each time I put brush to paper and I know that I will return. Why not join me next year? As Henry Miller once said, ‘One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing the world.’ Recreate the dramatic landscape of Tuscany, Umbria and Sicily on a Flavours Painting holiday next year.

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