A watercolour painting by John Haywood of a street scene in Barcelona

The calm after the storm

After a tumultuolsy busy few weeks preparing for last weekend’s artists open house exhibition at 2 Knoyle Road, I find myself nigh on wordless – so I’m relying on the old adage of a picture been worth a 1,000 words and throwing a stack of them into this post!

The weekend got off to a rather inauspicious start when, after believing myself to be completely prepared, I arrived to set up my exhibition only to find that I’d left all of my unframed works at home! (I’m sure that if there’s a rule book for exhibiting, rule number one would be ‘remember to take what you’re exhibiting!) Fortunately, home wasn’t far away so it was more embarrassing and inconvenient than disastrous. It did mean however that on my return to the open house, I was able to catch two great artists, Jane Dwight and Kate Osborne demonstrating their skills. It was wonderful to watch two such accomplished artists, totally at ease with their craft, work with such calm aplomb whilst others looked on expectantly and asked questions.

Seeing Jane and Kate demonstrate completely gave me the collywobbles about having committed to paint in the garden on the Sunday! I’d done my best to manage expectations – mainly my own! – by purposefully avoiding the word ‘demonstration’ on the basis of a complete lack of any qualifications to demonstrate anything! I had instead promised to ‘splash some paint about’ and, partly based on advice from a reader of this blog – had vowed to myself to treat it as a loose sketching exercise rather than an attempt to paint a ‘finished’ painting.

I loosened up with by splashing some paint about onto some spare paper that I’d brought along, together with some old paints and brushes so that I could entertain any children that came along. This actually became one of the most fun bits of the day as most of the children really enjoyed this activity. Should I ever do this again, I’ll definitely do something similar as it was great fun – only wish I’d taken some photos of this and some of the works the children created.

For my ‘not a demo’ piece, I’d already decided on a subject that I showed last week of a Barcelona street scene, and arrived with a sketched out drawing of this just so I could get started straight away. It was a nervy start but after a short while I began to relax a little. Lot’s of people stopped by as I was painting, some just out of curiosity and some that actually stopped and spent some time, asking the odd question. Most of the time this was fine, there was just the odd occasion when I was concentrating so hard on the painting that I couldn’t quite engage with the question – let alone figure out an answer.

Overall though, most people seemed to quite like stumbling across me splashing some paint about and it definitely gave me something to do with myself. Here’s a few pictures from the day of me painting:

Every now and then some friends would drop by which made for some natural breaks to let things dry, and then there were those that were interested in buying so naturally I stopped double quick time for those people! Selling had never been my ‘end game’ in this endeavor but it was wonderful nevertheless when people expressed an interest in buying my work. It was even more wonderful when people went a step further and did actually buy some of my paintings.

A few of my favorites sold and at first I thought I’d be a little sad about losing them, but I actually felt more pleased that my work had connected with people and that my paintings would now be a source of  pleasure to others.

Here’s a larger version of the Barcelona street scene, which I spent most of my time working on:

Watercolour by John Haywood of a Barcelona street scene in the spring
Barcelona in the spring, street scene

Having taking quite a while to complete this, and I felt having rescued it from a bit of a rocky start, I was eventually beginning to find my stride. With most of the day gone, I decided start on a second painting that I’d already sketched out of a street market in Barcelona. I tackled this much quicker, and much more boldly than the first. I think the speed and boldness shows too – and not necessarily in a good way – but it still captures a strength of light and I think I may try to do this, or something similar, back in the comfort of home.

Watercolour of a street market in Barcelona
Street Market, Barcelona (full size)
A watercolour painting by John Haywood of a street market in Barcelona
Street Market, Barcelona (cropped)

Midway through this second sketch, and to my complete surprise and delight, someone bought the Barcelona ‘not a demonstration’ painting!

Needless to say this really made my day but, by the end, I was completely shattered. The weekend was the culmination of a lot of time and effort and, although I really enjoyed it, I now want to let the dust settle, get back to some painting, and then start to think about my next adventure!

I’m also looking forward to catching up on a lot of the blogs that I follow as I’ve had my head down so much that I’ve lost track of what a lot of you have been up to in recent weeks.

Thoughts on The calm after the storm

8 thoughts on “The calm after the storm”

  1. Pingback: Cafe al fresco watercolour –

  2. Pingback: Watercolour coaching – just do it! –

  3. That was so enjoyable to read — although I don’t dream of exhibiting my work (no where near that point!!), I can see myself writing a post just like yours…. I could feel everything from your nerves to excitement to exhaustion at the end. Congratulations on such a successful day! Love your work! p.s. It was also a treat to see a photo of Kate Osborne as all I’ve ever seen are her hands quickly painting on her instagram videos.

    1. Thanks so much Lisa – this is full of so many wonderful things and I really appreciate all of them – especially about the paintings and the blog! Really pleased too to be able to give you a glimpse of Kate – I know those Instagram videos really well and it was great to see her painting live! Thanks again Lisa!

  4. Reading about children splashing paint gave me a good
    smile! If you have a Twitter account, you can collect others’ photos on your hashtag :). Mine: ‘#mr_martin_1’.
    Wonderful paintings, as always. Love the feeling!

    1. Hi Martin and thanks for this. After writing the post I did have second thoughts on the photographs of the children using watercolours as I’d need to seek permission from parents/guardians etc to photograph and publish them. I’ll look you up on Twitter – I do have an account there where I’m @watercolourjohn – thanks so much for the kind comments about the paintings – much appreciated!

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