Greeted by a cold and wintery morning, it was not a surprise to get a few last-minute messages crying off for the day. Some artists had caught the prevailing (nasty) cold bug and were sensible to stay away; others had taken one look at the forecast and were seduced by the warmth of their homes. I wished I was among them as I hurried with my kit to the tube.
However, despite the cold wind the morning remained dry and patches of blue beckoned in the sky. We gathered on the north side of Kensington Gardens, close by Lancaster Gate underground station, and were rewarded by some nice autumn colours and some satisfyingly bleak and bare branches. The new café by the Italian Gardens gave us a warm welcome and a rich cup of coffee before we ventured outside.
Someone always manages to leave one piece of vital equipment behind and on this occasion I discovered it was me – I had forgotten my portable easel. Not clever. I was busily trying to work out how to set up a Heath Robinson solution with stray sticks and bits of string when Patricia floated to my side like an angel and lent me her spare, super-light easel. What a star!
We worked away in good strong light, wrapped in a wonderful array of warm clothing, until a late lunch back in the café. Hard to drink soup with shivering spoons but we managed. In fact the camaraderie of our small group was a lovely thing and we enjoyed the chance to be proud of our hardiness and to be impressed with each other’s work. Sadly rain clouds appeared as we prepared for the afternoon so we made good a quick escape, looking forward to fencing with our brushes again in the spring.
It has been an exhilarating year for our plein air group and I can’t thank our members enough for all the fun, talent and support that they bring to each location.
Report by Martin Burrough