St James’s Park watercolour

Yet another trawl through the photography archives led me back to a wonderful day of plein air watercolour painting in October 2018.

The occasion was an open to all – and free to all – plein air painting event organised by the British Plein Air Society. The venue was St James’s Park London – a park that I have many happy memories of. Of all of London’s great parks, it’s the one I know best as I used to walk through it daily on my way to work. Even now I can recall how privileged I felt, not just to be able to walk to work in central London but to also pass through this wonderful park every day.

But I digress! Back to October 2018.

Artists’ were invited to rendezvous at St James’s Cafe, in the heart of the park, before setting off to pitch their easels wherever they fancied for a day of painting. It was wonderful! I completed one painting in the morning and another in the afternoon before returning to the cafe at the end of the afternoon when everyone was able to share their endeavours.

I remember walking through the park to start my second painting and just seeing artists at their easels all over the park! It really was a wonderful and joyful sight to behold!

Here’s a quick video clip of my first effort on that day…

On location in St James’s Park, London

…and the subsequent painting:

St James’s Cafe in the Park

And here’s the painting I did in the afternoon, just on the perimeter of the Park, looking down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace:

Plein air watercolour painting from The Mall looking towards Buckingham Palace by John Haywood
Plein air watercolour painting from The Mall looking towards Buckingham Palace

At the end of the day, everyone that wanted to participate was invited back to the cafe’s roof terrace to share their experiences and endeavours. Here’s a quick excerpt from the end of day show and tell (see if you can spot my paintings!):

The end of day show and tell

But forgive me! Amidst all this misty-eyed reverie, I’ve almost lost track of what this week’s post is supposed to be about!

Here’s the most recent painting that I’ve just completed, based on a photo I took at the end of the day on the roof terrace, with people enjoying an end of afternoon drink whilst looking out across the lake:

Drinks on the terrace, St James’s Park, London

While this doesn’t quite do the entire day justice, there are some parts of this that I’m quite happy with. The softness of distant trees and the reflections, combined with the dry brushstrokes of the foreground foliage are I think the most successful elements. The figures aren’t my worst, but nor are they my best, and with the foreground, I was a little disappointed with how this turned out but feared that further meddling would only exacerbate matters!

Compiling all of these images for this week’s post has made me want to revisit and maybe paint one or two of this views again. Partly to see how different they might turn out and also, because it really was such a wonderful day!

If anyone might care to read my original post about this wonderful day, you find it here: Plein-air painting in St James’s Park.

My fingers are firmly crossed that we’ll soon be able to look forward to days out like this again – I can hardly wait!

Thoughts on St James’s Park watercolour

6 thoughts on “St James’s Park watercolour”

  1. Ah! Those were the days… when we were all footless and fancy-free! Your latest piece is excellent, John. I love your recently introduced salmon pink and purply grey foreground – and the colours across the lake, too, to be honest. Not quite so long now and you’ll be back there again.

    1. Thanks so much Rob, really appreciate this – and that salmon pink purply grey foreground is mainly due to you! It’s the Quinacrodine Magenta that you put me on to ages ago as a potential alternative to Alazarin Crimson. (Thank you very much!). As for being back there again soon, it would be lovely wouldn’t it!

      1. And, fickle as always, would you believe that I don’t use it any more? Nowadays I cover that area with Permanent Rose and Quinacridone Violet! (Well, it keeps me thinking…)

    1. It really was Louise! and reminiscing about the day, and seeing my photos from it have been quite a tonic as we can almost see the opportunity to do things like this again on the horizon!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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