Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of my Alvaro Castagnet Masterclass. Hard to believe that it was only a year ago (no doubt due largely the the fact that it took about three years from booking the course for it to become a a reality!)
I had been reflecting on the past year and revisited some photographs from the weekend:
A combination of all this reminiscing along with my recent efforts to improve my interpretation of faces/skin tones etc seem to lead me quite naturally to attempt to capture a likeness of Alvaro!
Hats off to those people that choose to paint portraits! I have to confess that I find them the most unforgiving of subjects! Even so, I was quite pleased with some aspects of this. My favourite element by some distance is the hand. I wish I could have captured the face with same degree of looseness.
As it was, the face ended up becoming quite overworked. I think there’s still a definite likeness, but in an ideal world I’d have captured a little more of the energy, movement and dynamism that in my mind so characterises Alvaro.
I did share this with Alvaro to seek his permission to share this effort and he was gracious enough to say yes!
Back to earth with a crash
Last Saturday saw the May gathering of the Brighton Painting Group. The location for this month’s meet up was Brunswick Square in Hove. This square is five minute walk from where I live, and I walk around one side of it almost every morning, and the other side of almost every evening! (It’s one of the few gardens in Brighton and Hove where dogs are forbidden so I’m forced to walk our dog around the perimeter on our way to and from the seafront.
It is undoubtedly a beautiful square and a wonderful example of resplendent regency architecture. The garden is also a delight and yet, despite all of this, I still find it a really challenging environment for inspiration.
I think that familiarity probably plays a large part in this, but so too does the square’s innate prettiness! I was quite nervous about exactly what I might find to paint… and this nervousness proved to be well founded!
Here’s the view, along with my daub!
I really struggled. I had in my mind a totally different interpretation than this! I could picture it in my mind’s eye… and I can honestly say that it didn’t look a bit like this!
The only positive I can report is that it didn’t take me long to paint it… and once I had painted it, I couldn’t wait to cover it up!
The buildings in the background aren’t a complete disaster, but that amorphous mountain of mush in the middle! I really have no idea what that’s supposed to be or to look like!
After a brief period of time during which I genuinely feel I’ve produced some of my best ever paintings, this felt like a crashing return to earth – and a most undignified one at that!
The only positive I could take from this was that I completed this in double quick time! I managed another sketch, which I’ve forgotten to photograph and still managed to leave with almost an hour to spare before scheduled end of the session.
I should have stayed around to show my support for other members for the group but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t wait to make a hasty exit!
To be painting plein air on the anniversary of my masterclass with Alvaro Castagnet felt like such a wonderful way to mark the occasion. I just felt so disappointed with myself for not producing something that I felt demonstrated the progress that I felt I’d made over the past year!
But I suppose that’s painting, or anything creative perhaps!? Progress isn’t linear. It’s not a constant upward trajectory. It’s much more of a gradual accumulation, characterised by many steps forwards and, hopefully, fewer steps backwards.
This particular weekend felt like a distinct step backwards. I’m not going to dwell on this, however, because we’re all entitled to an off day (or two, three, seven!).
I’m off camping for a few days next week so will be packing a sketching kit and am hoping for a return to some better form!