Month: July 2014

Sold! via Pintar Rapido

I found out about Pintar Rapido from a dance friend, who in turn had heard it on Radio 4. Its an open painting competition, held annually and based in Chelsea. Last year was the first time it was held in London and it attracted over 380 artists. This year I entered.

The idea is to pre-book a place, register in the morning and produce a painting, in whatever medium you choose, before 8pm. The next day the paintings are hung at the exhibition hall, in Chelsea Town Hall and sold.

I spent a lot of time thinking what I could paint and even went on a days scouting in Chelsea, on a very hot day. My choices boiled down to a scene in the backstreets or Chelsea Embankment. In the end I went for Chelsea Embankment as it had lovely views of the Thames and the bridges plus I could use the wall as a work surface.

I was not alone. It proved to be a very popular place to be. I’m not sure how many artists entered this year but it looked just as busy, with a lot of them painting scenes of bridges, water, boats and skies. I started with a good sketch of Albert Bridge and boats moored up. I then found out I had forgotten my masking fluid! So I had to paint very carefully.

After about 4 hours and chats with friendly artists I felt I needed a break and went back to the Town Hall. At the registration your paper or painting surface receives a stamp so that they know your are starting with a blank surface. I had two sheets stamped so I went of to a local park and bashed out a back up.

second attempt

second attempt

The second painting was not a success and I felt mentally exhausted so returned to the Town Hall to mount the painting of the Thames. A photo was taken of the proud artist and the painting went to the hall for display the next morning.

The next day we all went up to view the paintings and see who won. The variety of work was extraordinary and range of materials used wide. I really liked the winning painting but my family were not impressed.

Chelsea Town Hall

Chelsea Town Hall


We found my piece and wondered if it would be sold. Overall there weren’t many red dots but in my section there was a little rash of them. All much better than mine and more expensive. I had priced my work low as it was not the best I could do but it did cover the cost of the frame.

The row where my painting was

The row where my painting was


After walking round a very humid room for just under an hour we were just leaving when we noticed red dot on my work! I had sold my first painting. How exciting.



The painting with a red dot.

My painting

My painting

Additional information about the  Pintar Rapido London 2014 event:

501 passes were sold, 400 artists turned up on the day, of which 380 paintings were hung and 90 sold.


Thames at Kingston

Upstream from Hampton Court is Kingston-up-Thames, the closest point to the Thames from where I live. I found a place to paint there in April 2014, close to the bridge. The bridge was under scaffolding and this was not a paintable option so I chose a quiet spot in Canbury Gardens. The gardens follow the towpath downstream from Kingston Bridge and contain range of facilities such as a bandstand, cafe, toilets and rowing club. Parking is a little limited but a good place to paint.

Along the towpath are small gaps used by anglers and they are good places to sit and sketch. I found such a spot and set down to paint the scene. Downstream a dingy race was underway and I included this  in my painting despite the constant tacking  of the boats.

Composition is a constant thought in painting. Any sketch does have simple composition decisions but with a more complex painting there are factors to be worked through. There are ‘rules’ but they can’t be taken too seriously and personal taste and what you have in front of you is equally as important. Artistic licence can improve paintings dramatically but when you are working with full intent it’s so easy to just paint what you see. (or what you think you see)

I took a little time to find this spot, liking the bend in the river, the head on profile of the central boat, the tall tree to the left and submerged rowing boat at my feet. I’m pleased with the way it came out.


Canbury Gardens , Kingston

While I was sitting, painting the scene, a family of ducks came and settled on the submerged boat in front of me.  They moved around this part of the bankside but were in constant threat by the Canada Geese. I took a photo when they had settled down and produced a quick sketch of them at home.

family of ducks

A watchful snooze


On a another trip to Canbury Park I was in a restless mood and could not decide on a composition. So I selected this boat as a study. The dark foliage against the whites of the boat interested me. How dark could I go? How much of the foliage do I paint? Not sure but this little study took a lot of time to get right and painting with watercolours its a gentle process.



Boat on the Thames



This final scene was produced at least a year earlier. Its upstream of the bridge looking across to John Lewis on the far bank. I was pleased with the boat shapes but my painting let me down and I lost heart with it.  The railings of the white boat are too heavy and this is not retrievable with watercolours.



Thames at Richmond & Hampton

Living near the Thames and growing up both alongside and on it means I’ve a strong connection with it from Weybridge downsstream to Richmond. The sketches for this post were made in early 2014, in the mornings  when there was good weather and before I became too cold.

The first picture is from the Star & Garter Hill, over the looking the bend in the river.  The view is spectacular, with the Surrey Hills, Heathrow and Twickenham Stadium in sight. As I painted this scene a group of canoeists came into view and I managed  to capture them with a few marks.

Line and Wash

River Thames at Richmond

I followed up this theme with trips to Hampton Court Bridge and Kingston. I started at Hampton Court but this will be on another post called ‘Grand Designs’. As the theme is the Thames for this post my next picture is of the rather lovely Hampton Court Bridge. Seen from downstream I made this quick sketch with a picture in mind. I painted the scene again but as a line and wash in my sketchbook at home. I think there is a full watercolour picture here in the future. Tell me what you think.


Hampton Court Bridge


Hampton Court Bridge

For my next picture I really wanted to paint inside Hampton Court but didn’t want to pay for the entrance fee. So I found a small beach overlooking the bridge and I’m really pleased I spent the time here. It’s one of my favourite pictures. Not too busy but with plenty of interest.


Hampton Court Bridge

Whilst I was sitting on the beach there was a lot of activity around me. I didn’t think my presence was causing this much attention and then around the bend of the river came the Royal Barge, Gloriana. I took a quick a couple of photos and when I got home made a quick sketch in my small sketchbook. Standing up on the bridge are three figures. George I, his body guard and  the barge captain.

Royal Barge





The Thames at London

Working so close to the Thames is a wonderful opportunity to draw some spectacular views. I should have produced more with so much inspiration around, especially as I cross Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges almost every day. However, I have only there three sketches to show for it.

In my defense I have made sketches of other stretches of the Thames, nearer to my home, but these will be part of another post.

This first sketch was made on a journey up to London Bridge. It was a really hot spring morning and I had to find shade, a view that inspired me and a place  to sit down without being in the way. I walked a stretch of the north Embankment from London Bridge towards Tower Bridge but there was no shade. There was a great view of HMS Belfast from London Bridge but again no shade and full of tourists. The south bank was even busier but I found this view on a seat set back from the main walkway. After the main drawing I added some simple washes to the Tower of London but then it started to rain. I packed away and went to a Tango lesson in Southwark at the Tango Club. The painting was polished off at home a week later but I decided to keep the colour to just the distance as I felt adding more to the foreground would make it too busy.


View from the South Bank looking at The Tower of London

This view is of HMS President. I walked to the Thames from work on anther hot spring day. The  spot gave me a great view of the ship and bridge plus the base of the lamppost. I made the line drawing in my small sketchbook on two visits and kept it without colour for some time. It was quite daunting to paint the river but I jumped in about a month later and I’m happy with the result. The Shard was in the background but I decided to  keep it simple this time. I have danced Tango on HMS President. Its a great afternoon event and worth visiting. The dance floor is interesting as there is a definite camber each end.


HMS President

Also from my small sketchbook is this panorama of the London skyline from the South Bank. On a lovely clear evening in June I was walking to Waterloo when I saw this pier and view. I was just starting a week off from work and I felt I could spend an hour sketching the view. Again the line work was done in situ and I laid the washes a couple of days later when I had more time. As I painted there was an Oompah band on stilts playing close by. It was  gentle company and kept a lot of the tourists away from my precious spot.

St Pauls and Blackfriars Bridge

St Pauls and Blackfriars Bridge

As an addition to this post I have included this drawing of Albert Bridge. I entered the Pintar Rapido 2014 and was on a location finding day. I started along the Chelsea embankment and found a handy bench overlooking Albert Bridge.

It was a very hot day and there was a lot of road traffic behind me. However, I sketched this in about an hour before heading off to find other locations.

River Thames

Albert Bridge