We gathered on a perfect day for painting outdoors. The sun shone, the air was warm, the sky was blue and the other colours (mostly a thousand variations of green) were vibrant. After a jolly coffee together at the always welcoming cafe, we selected our different pitches in the familiar, beautiful gardens. There is such variety here: charming buildings, wooded scenes, tended flowers and water vistas with ducklings paddling furiously behind their determined mothers. Add to this a plethora of hikers, picnickers and children climbing the lower branches of the magnificent cypress trees and it can be hard to settle on a subject. All of our artists set diligently to work through the morning and the lunch break arrived with amazing speed. Some of us had picnics on the main lawn. All was peaceful and the mood was underlined by the gentle buzzing of a fat, friendly bumblebee. Suddenly a moment of intense excitement burst upon us when a duo of professional dog-walkers arrived with an unruly collection of frisky young charges, which were allowed to slip their leashes and run amok amongst the picnics. Amazing how quickly a kilo of Waitrose’s best Ardennes coarse pork liver pâté can disappear down a ravening throat. Order was eventually restored by a brace of spoon-waving mothers, without any intervention at all all from the amazingly indifferent walkers. Yet another challenge to face the intrepid plein air painter – it all happened much too quickly to capture on canvas!
We closed a marvellous day with our usual cuppa and mini exhibition, to ourselves, of our efforts. This venue is excellent for our group and would be just as good for any individual in SoFAP who wanted, on the spur of the moment, to go somewhere on their own to have an impromptu plein air session.