Last Saturday I went on my journey to Chelsea again to take part in the Pintar Rapido painting competition.
I had been preparing myself with painting exercises, taking photos from Google Streetview and seeing if I could produce a work in the time, to a standard I could be happy with. Trying different views and angles, bringing people in and looking at different shadows/light effects.
Then I found out that there is a Farmers Market on every Saturday at this spot and the view I was looking for would be obscured … ouch. So I found a picture on Google and worked on this. (Winter scene)
Well, enough practice and come the day I set off nice an early fully equipped. It was a beautiful day and I really wanted to work on getting shadows of the London Plane trees in the square. I took the train to Victoria and the underground to Sloane Square. I had enough time to go to the Market in the square before registering, to take some photos in the morning light. The stall holders were setting up and it was a lovely start to the day.
I then took a bus down the Kings Road to the Old Town Hall. I had two bags with me, so that I could drop off the frame and mounting equipment at the town hall. I was in a bit of a daze about things as there is a lot to do and mistakenly left my ipad in the framing bag. So when I got to the market I couldn’t use the grid app I had been practicing on. This upset my mood a bit but I pressed on.
I looked around the market, which was in full swing now, to find a location to sit and paint – in the shade, out of the way and with a view. My original views were blocked by a shop’s outside seating and the trees were in full leaf hiding the buildings behind. But I loved the shadows made by the leaves on the tents and road. So I sat close by one of the antique shops and started drawing stalls in front of me.
To be successful at Pintar Rapido there are possible three routes:
1) do a technically impressive painting, not worry about representation or even subject and get a prize. This was achieved by at least 5 of the prizes winners. (Go to the site soon and you will see what I mean). http://www.pintarrapido.com/
2) paint a typical representative painting of a London scene (eg river and bridge), price under £200, don’t make it too technical but make it attractive. This should sell.
3) Go to the event with no thought of winning and selling and just enjoy the day with other artists, painting the city and being part of a great event.
I tried to do 2 & 3. I, perhaps, should have made the composition more compelling but wanted to make the most of the shadows and light. Also the view and seating position steered me to one composition.
I managed to make the first sitting last until midday, by then I wanted to go to the loo, get my ipad and take a break. I returned to the Town Hall by bus and collected my thoughts. Rather than return to the spot and face the fierce afternoon sun I found a local park and finished the painting off sitting on a park bench with my ipad in front of me, in the shade.
Here is the painting, of which I’m pleased but wasn’t the result I had been working towards before the start of the competition. It has the shadows and figures I wanted and technically it is moving me forward but compositionally its a little narrow. Look closer and you can see a child in the painting.
Painting outdoors is really hard and some of the entries at the event were staggering in their quality, given the time allowed. The prices of these pictures were around £500-£700 and very few were sold. However, talking to another artist they will be sold at their galleries or by their patrons. So a sale at the event is not the final thing for these artists.
I returned to the Old Town Hall on Sunday, with my family to see my picture in place and view the other entries. I was upset that my painting was hung so low, so the detail I had painted could not be easily seen. Also another entrant chose to spend a lot of time next to his work obscuring mine. Not much I can do about either of these things. All part of the showing process.
Did my painting sell? Yes! It was a mighty close shave. I waited until 5.30pm , when the event was due to finish and was just getting it down when I was approached by a buyer. He asked me if this was my work and I of course confirmed it was my painting. He knew the location and goes to the market every Saturday so wanted to buy it. Wow, what a finish, totally unexpected but a real high to end on.