First of all I would like to remember that wonderful day of urban plein air painting in July where at least 300 artists took the streets of London: it was Pintar Rápido competition, and we all managed to complete a whole painting in just one day! I choose to paint in King's Road, the window shop of John Lewis-Peter Jones and the flowers that hang along that street. It is not a usual subject for me, but I enjoyed the challenge and I got to remain close to the Old Chelsea Town Hall, where all the paintings needed to be handed over by 7pm. My composition was very challenging but I managed to find the way to balance it, putting a figure closer to the viewer. This bigger figure was a mix of 2 girls to whom I asked to pose for me there and then. The problem with oils is that they don't dry in the day, in fact the next day, hung in the exhibition, in the Chelsea Old Town Hall, my painting had several unintentional touches that blurred or deleted some small areas, coming either from the hanging process or from some unaware member of the public, often carrying racksacks or coates in their hands. However there was a beautiful surprise that day for me: my painting was given the third prize! There were some really good paintings around, and narrowing down to just a few prizes must have been a very difficult task for the jury. You can browse almost all of the works made in that day by clicking here.
en plein air
ENGLISH: Last Friday I had the pleasure to paint from life with Haidee-Jo Summers and Adebanji Alade, such a high level there, for a very enjoyable afternoon of work and chatting. We took a couple of models to the sides of a canal that didn't look as picturesque as we decided it to become on canvas, and that is the beauty of improvisation: you don't need to go too far away to find inspiration, any small spot with some interesting colour or pattern could become a nice background for the models, in fact this place was convenient for us because it is just outside of my studio building, The Chocolate Factory. Having grown up by the Mediterranean sea, I still find that England is too difficult a territory for en plein air painting, if one is looking for strong lighting contrasts coming from the direct sun and needs to work over more than one day with the same conditions. In fact the best thing to do in here seems to be either avoiding the ephemeral sun completely, in order to be able to work over several days with similar lighting conditions, or, in those lucky bright days, to leave everything aside and rush to do a painting in just one quick session. In this case we had a typical variable weather, with sun, wind and clouds alternating, a very difficult condition to capture. It was difficult also for the models, who stoically resisted most of the times the temptation to adapt their clothing to the abrupt changes of temperature. Nevertheless it is always fulfilling to paint from life outdoors, and England is perhaps still the homeland of the plein air painters, and those painters that sometimes we encounter in our Mediterranean countries working in the streets are especially foreigners, many Anglo-Saxons among them, of course!
ESPAÑOL: El pasado viernes tuve el placer de pintar del natural con Haidee-Jo Summers y Adebanji Alade, para una tarde muy agradable de trabajo y conversaciones. Pusimos dos modelos a posar a lado de un pequeño canal, el cual no parecía tan pintoresco como lo pintamos todos nosotros en el lienzo. Esa es la belleza de la improvisación: no se necesita ir demasiado lejos para encontrar inspiración, cualquier lugar con ciertos colores o formas se puede convertir en el perfecto fondo para los modelos, y de hecho este lugar lo elejimos por comodidad, estando justo fuera de mi estudio, The Chocolate Factory. Habiendo crecido a lado del mar mediterraneo, tras varios años viviendo en Reino Unido todavía pienso que inglaterra es un territorio demasiado difícil para la pintura al aire libre, si uno busca los fuertes contrastes de luz que la luz directa del sol origina, y si uno necesita trabajar en esas mismas condiciones durante más de un día. De hecho, lo mejor que se pueda hacer aquí es evitar el sol por completo, porque es una condición demasiado efémera, si se plantea hacer un cuadro que dure varios días y se busca por ello una condición generalmente estable. Otra solución sería la de dejarlo todo en cuanto salga un día afortunado de sol más o menos estable, pero completar la obra en el mismo día. En nuestro caso, tuvimos una típica sesión variable, con viento, nubes e intervalos de sol, unas condiciones difíciles de capturar para los pintores, y también para las modelos, las cuales resistieron la tentación de adaptar su ropa demasiadas veces a las variaciones de temperatura tan bruscas. Y sin embargo, inglaterra quizás sigue siendo la patria de la pintura al aire libre, y en nuestros paises mediterraneos los pocos pintores que se ven pintando en la calle son sobre todo extranjeros o turistas... Muchos Anglosajones entre ellos, claro!