Turps”, I didn’t need much encouragement to join Frank and his wife, Marych, for a sumptuous meal of couscous buried amongst sugar snap peas, huge, juicy prawns, crab legs and who knows what else he had tossed together with some choice hot, green chillis – picked from the crops in that self-same greenhouse tunnel he has in his garden where he drank my coffee that day in 2005. He even gave me a doggy bag to take home to my husband, Alan. I’d say he’s admirably redeemed himself.
Yesterday (8 August 2009) I joined about ten other painters on a one-day landscape painting course just beyond New Quay, Co. Clare, in Fraggy Bay, given by Frank, hoping to learn the magic of his fresh and wild landscape techniques.
Frank is all heart. He’s mushy emotion, big comfy hugs, and a grin full of twinkly eyes, only gently growling like a cat who feels she’s been stroked and tickled for too long, if he feels his creative space being crowded out. And that’s what he teaches: know your basics of tone and composition, but paint from your heart, paint from your soul, acknowledge your style, love what you do and have confidence in your freedom to paint who you are.
The weather was good and got better as the day wore on so the only element we had to battle was a bit of a sea breeze. My easel was a bit light and wonky but with the help of a few strips of elastoplast from the safety-first bag in my car, I managed to stick my canvas-covered board to the easel and secure it’s feet firmly amongst a couple of nearby rocks.
This is the second painting course I’ve done, ever, and I noticed a bit of a worrying pattern in my behaviour emerging. The reason I do the courses is to learn from a seasoned painter; one who has battled challenges and come out of it with something to give, something he feels is worthwhile to contribute to the art world. The day begins fresh for me and my first painting complies with the lesson of the morning … never perfect, but hopefully with potential. There’s usually a good spot and a bad spot in the painting and, as usual, the bad spot yells louder than the good spot, like a bully in the classroom, sapping the confidence of the good spot and hindering its growth. But that’s not the pattern I’m worried about. I can work on that one back in the studio.
Fraggy Bay, New Quay (Painting unfinished!)
Lunch break comes and goes and as we settle into the next phase of the course, lo and behold, off Cookson goes doing her own thing, half-heartedly trying to incorporate the lessons of the morning, but allowing another bully to take over, the rebellious bohemian streak, which sits on my shoulder and whispers: “You can do something different here. Give the lesson a nod with a taste of what you learnt, but hey-ho-off-you-go, bring in a bit of abstract now.” And invariably I make a mess, use the most awful colour choices, and cause the teacher to tap into every ounce of politeness he can muster, so he doesn’t have to crush me entirely at crit time.
Across from New Quay Pier (Painting unfinished!)And that’s exactly what happened yesterday. I loved the day, had an absolute ball socialising with the other artists and Frank, bought some first class salmon and prawns from the little fish shop in New Quay, revelled in the fresh sea air, sunshine and scenery … and messed up with the lesson.