Plein Air at Richmond Park (Isabella Plantation)


We were anxious to catch the amazingly vibrant colours of the azaleas and rhododendrons in the Isabella Plantation before they faded. I was stunned by the splashes of red, pink, violet and blue when I did a recce a week prior to the outing and kept my fingers crossed for sunshine and longevity. Of the flowers I mean. And, I guess, mine too. Well, we were not disappointed! Although the day started rather overcast, it cleared into bright sunshine by the afternoon and the plants were unbelievably beautiful. In fact, they looked so chocolate-boxy, that it was hard to know how to treat the scene on canvas.

We gathered at the Broomfield Hill gate nearest to the free car park, well wrapped against the morning chill, some sensibly armed with a warm thermos of coffee. All the artists, unusually, decided to pick the same spot which was the drop-dead gorgeous Still Pond, flanked with flaming bushes. Once there we met an independent skilled artist from Clapham who joined in the fun. Apart from being a trifle over-awed by the vista, doubly daunted by its refection in the pond, we were a little stuck by our restricted palettes. How to mix such crazy hues from a limited choice of basic reds, blues, greens and yellows? Generous sharing of tubes of colour was the answer, particularly if anyone had an especially vibrant pink on hand.

The azaleas attract a pretty impressive crowd and, though we tried to squeeze ourselves into unobtrusive corners, there was no escaping some curious (but often encouraging) onlookers. There is no café to go to for lunch in the plantation, so we had all brought our own picnics for the midday break. As we were all within sight of each other, we left our easels standing and just gathered loosely to munch our lunch. The work continued till about 3pm and we knocked off a little early, a trifle exhausted by the saturated shades, but pretty happy with the results. A lovely challenging day – we must make a note to hit this spot at the same time next year.

Report by Martin Burrough

Attended: Clare Weatherill, Juggy Pandit, Madeleine Morrow, Martin Burrough, Rouhi Peck, Rouhi Peck’s husband Graham, Susan Frey, Tony Herbert


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