This weekend (July 15th 2017) I attended my first ever proloco event in Longridge Lancashire. The Create Longridge event was launched in September 2016 and challenges artists to create a brand new, original piece of art, from scratch, in one day. And what a day it was! I decided to attend after seeing the event on social media. I was interested in learning more about these types of events and as I sketch on location and enjoy the process of capturing places (and people) from life it seemed like a good idea!
The day started at 8 am where artists reported in the morning with a blank paper (or canvas or board) and dispersed within a 3 mile radius of the town centre. All good so far… drizzly, but the weather forecast suggested it would brighten up and clear after some rain (light, not heavy) in the morning. We had umbrellas and easels (and too much stuff) so up the hill we went, up Berry Lane, to our chosen spot, looking along Market Place towards Fell Brow. A great view, although no protection from the elements…. But it was only drizzling and it was going to clear wasn’t it……Here was the view when we visited a couple of weeks ago (and my sketches around the place, note I didn’t sketch the view I had chosen for my Create Longridge piece). The bending of the road, the character of the buildings and the historic significance, including the old cinema made this a favourite view for us. I think it lulled me into a false sense of security!!-the weather then, not the sketching!
I usually work by holding my board and clipping paint etc to it (at A3) or in sketchbooks when on location. However, fortunately, today I decided to use my lightweight tripod easel-All the better to hold my umbrella with my free hand!! I also used my Colour First approach where I lay the watercolour down on the paper, in a semi-abstract way, just paying attention to shapes and to an extent, colour, followed by linework. I am usually relying on the paper to dry out after addition of the watercolour (in a wet on wet approach). The early linework usually bleeds a little (as the paper is still damp) but then it dries so that the line is crisper. This was not true on the day. The paper never dried out, in fact, it got wetter and wetter! This meant that the colours carried on mixing throughout the day and the line work has more of a haziness.. With that in mind, I had to pay particular attention to creating depth, taking care not to darken the furthest house and road detail too much. All the linework was done with fountain pens and waterproof ink (note, although waterproof, this doesn’t help if the paper is wet!).
Oh my goodness. The weather forecast was WRONG. It rained virtually all day with very little respite. Often, it was very heavy indeed so rather than work on my piece I had to try to protect my work with a large umbrella. I’d like to think that my work reflects the day. I am always trying to create a sense of place and occasion in my work!
It was wonderful to get so much interest in the work and the approach we were taking to capturing the view. However, even though I sketch on location all the time, I hadn’t anticipated the extent of the interest we would get, especially in such weather conditions. This meant that there was a feeling of being watched and needing to chat but it added to the day, by giving a sense of belonging and of inclusion. There was a good exchange too, we learnt some local knowledge of the place and hopefully those that came and saw us got a sense of the way we work.
The finished piece
At around3.30 pm, I decided to get inside to dry the paper off (everything was still moving-ink, colour etc!!) and add my lettering (I usually title my pieces done on location) and frame. Actually, I had to find a hand dryer and hold it under that for a while! The (dried) piece is now available for sale in the week-long exhibition in Longridge, held at the Longridge Gallery. Why not go and check it out for yourself? All the pictures shown here were done as the day progressed so please excuse the lighting and reflections-I hope you appreciate the ‘authenticity’!
What I learnt
Overall, it was a great experience and I am really glad to have entered. As is always the case, you learn a lot and here is my top 3 from the day.
- To carry less (not just because it was heavy but because it got ruined or sodden in the weather conditions!-Im still drying out some of my ‘spare’ paper).
- To be realistic (perhaps a plan B would have been useful). It felt too much like the Krypton Factor to be as enjoyable as it might have been!
- To be more prepared for adverse weather if we were going to battle it out in the open air! (one large umbrella with non-waterproof bags didn’t function very well on Saturday-although to be fair, they would have been fine in the predicted weather!).