A perfectly vile week threatened to throw a snow blanket all over our plans for the first outdoor session of the year. But we got lucky. A changing forecast lived up to its promise, more or less, and we ventured into the great outdoors in Chiswick House gardens on a clear, dry morning with temperatures nicely above freezing. Emblazoned in a woolly variety of super-cozy clothing (spot the packet of hand warmers in one of the photographs) we cranked up our internal temperatures with piping hot coffees and set off for our chilly stands. I was so impressed to be in a band of eight resolute artists who wouldn’t let icicles get in the way of painting!
Chiswick House has a lot to offer around its long thin lake and some of us were able to explore a little further than usual, going right down to the far end of the water feature, past the Classic Bridge. Here there were surprisingly rural scenes to be found. Winter colours were mildly warmed up with sporadic sunshine and this led to some lively work. Ideas of monochrome sketches were quickly abandoned. The emphasis of the day seemed to veer towards abstraction as our artists took unfettered advantage of their escape from the studio. Lynda Minter led the way with some wonderfully energetic efforts, paint flying in all directions, most of it landing with delightful results on her large sheets of paper. A great way of combating the cold too!
We gathered for lunch in the toasty heat of the cafe and sadly, as we did so, against all optimistic predictions, the rain started. A single, rogue blue-black cloud swooped over Chiswick and stopped dead to soak the gardens. So that was the end of that. Fittingly we had all been reasonably industrious so there was some excellent finished work to show. It was good to get out again with a bag full of plein air kit to paint with some extremely good artists, amongst them a new member, Tracey Gardner, whom we were so happy to welcome.