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Painting alfresco. 
by   R.Orton

 I do most of my painting indoors at my home studio, as whenever I try to paint alfresco something usually seems to go wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a whining winger or a moaner!  I like to get as much pleasure from my art as possible and anything that gets in the way of that happening is frowned upon and spoken harshly of.  
Painting can be many things to many people.
A pastime to be enjoyed,  relaxing, stimulating, creative, challenging……..
I could go on, but luckily for you I won’t.

So let me set the scene….
It’s a lovely sunny day in summer and I get a call from a friend to spend a day painting outside at a farm location. 

Now do I ‘play safe,’ make my apologies and paint at my home studio or take a chance that on this occasion the outdoor experience will be fine.
Great weather, great location and the 
company of a fellow artist.  
I had to go.   


As I was applying washes onto my 200lb Bockingford  I began to notice a noise that was getting louder. Before I could turn to my friend and say “what is that”, a farmer in a hedge cutting contraption /machine appeared in the next field.

This not only sent wood, dust and leaf particles spiralling into the air only to rain down onto my ‘wet on wet’ , but also disturbed some of the local wildlife.

I call them Thunderbugs, don’t know what their real name is but they are hardly visible , thin black flies that get everywhere and make you itch like mad. In your ears, hair, down your neck, up your nose…… We were both trying to ignore them as much as possible and carry on painting and indeed if I had got a third hand for scratching myself there wouldn’t have been a problem.

They do make a pretty pattern as they land onto the wet paint and do their best to drag themselves over it as much as they possibly can, but the trail marks can be quite confusing to the viewer admiring your finished sky.


So there we are, sat at our chosen location doing our initial sketches before painting.
Paint, brushes and water at the ready.

It must have taken all of the first five minutes for the local ‘cat from hell’ (I think he had been named Arni or Terminator or something like that) to find us and jump from the top of the pergola that we were sitting under, landing neatly next to my feet, oh and then knocking over the tub of water as it decided to kick my tubes of paints out of there box.

Now I don’t want letters and e-mails from cat lovers saying that I am being cruel, but you have to see this from an artists point of view. This cat had miles, yes acres of land to play in. It could have chased birds till its heart was content, caught rats and mice until its belly was full or just lay in the sun doing nothing at all.   No, it’s more fun to hassle this human invader to his territory.

I am an adult professional person and so conduct myself in a grown up manner. Hence I swiftly shouted at the cat to go away or I may take it to my taxidermist friend. Well, once a visit to him and it would have stayed still long enough to at least paint it.

The cat then disappeared and we got a productive 30 minutes into our work.

It was another10 minutes of scratching before I had enough. The last straw was when I noticed that these thunderbugs had decided to use my water as their outside lido.
I swear that if you looked close enough you could see a few of them doing backstroke and it is
common knowledge that dive bombing into any pool has been prohibited for years.  
So when you think it may be nice to go and paint outside……beware,
something may be waiting out there.....
determined  to distract you.
Don't be negative about painting alfresco (like some), 
be strong and go where both wimp and hero has gone before, armed with your art tools,
and paint.




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