Brighton Painting Group’s first meeting of the year was due to take place on Saturday 14 January however the weather forecast was so atrocious that it was moved to the following day. Fortunately I was still able to attend, and I’m so pleased that I was!
The weather was bitingly cold, but at least it wasn’t raining as well! The location was Stanmer Park, a large park just outside Brighton that features open grasslands, woodlands, a small village, a church and pond and even a grand manor house! It really does offer a bewildering array of opportunities and, even though I know it well, I’ve rarely turned to it for inspiration. For anyone interested, here’s a little overview video that gives a good flavour:
Some years ago, I’d been on a walk in the park and did take a picture that I thought held some promise. After we gathered on Sunday and said our hellos, I made a b-line for this spot. The sun was breaking through sporadically and, just as I arrived at my destination, I was rewarded with this sunlit scene:
I managed to get this and a couple of other sunlit photos for reference, which is just as well as soon after this it clouded over a little. I set myself up on the track and got busy. I had expected (and hoped to be honest) that not many people would have been walking up and down this track but it actually turned out to be quite a busy spot. People seemed keen to be making the most of a break in the weather to get out and get some fresh air.
It never ceases to amaze me how supportive the majority of people are when they stumble across me painting (and I don’t think this is just me, I think it applies to most plein-air enthusiasts!). Those that may not be supportive generally seem to be completely disinterested or sometimes too shy or wary of disturbing, all of which is fine. On the whole, most other people are curious to see what I’m up to and generally, seem to admire that you’re willing to stand out in the open in full public view to try and paint something.
It’s true to say then that I had some genuinely delightful and often quite funny conversations with passers-by – all of which was tremendously heartwarming on a cold January day.
Here’s how my painting looked when I’d finished my labours, and you can see how the lane was now in shade compared to when I first arrived:
And here’s the painting on it’s own:
Having now lived with this for a few days since painting it, I think it’s probably the most successful plein-air painting that I’ve ever completed! It certainly made my day on Sunday and has given me some inspiration for painting a larger version of this view.
All in all, it was a great way to kick off my plein-air painting in 2023!