13 April 2016

Farewell to London

         It's been almost two years we've managed to live in London. When my job ended here  I went into panic mode and made some rash decisions. One of them was to leave London altogether (where I could have stayed if only I had just sat tight for a bit longer). Armando, my husband,  loves his job here at Borough Market and he would have been glad to have stayed indefinitely. It is so rare to find a job you love that I wish I had payed more attention to -his- needs instead of being clouded by fear. I can't dwell on regrets and May 13th will see me  packing my bags and moving to Vancouver. Such an uphill battle to move to yet another country.

"Rises all Boats" Tower Bridge from Wapping. 8"x10" oil on canvas board.
       That said, what surprised me once I sat down to breathe,  were the 'artistic' reasons I came up for regretting my departure. I have loved painting here in England so much that I fear I am going to miss it. I've also met so many great friends and artists. Some of them I hope are for life.  During my time here, London has had a stream of art exhibitions that would make  any other place I've lived in  pale in comparison: Turner, Fechin, Sargent, Constable, Goya, Delacroix, Moroni...

"Spring Delayed" 8"x0" Battersea Park. Lonodn


"Morden Geese" 8"x10" oil on canvas board

 When I came to the UK and after only a few outings, I had the temerity of dispensing some advice in this blog for the plein air artist that arrives  for the first time.  I have a more nuanced knowledge of it now and I feel my last paintings reflect it. They have only a bit of the California artistic 'baggage' I brought here (I still don't care how many windows a building has or if I missed a lamp post).

Yes, it rains and the weather can't make up its mind. I've started  many a painting  in sunlight and  ended up  soaked, and  vice versa.  And yet,  the clouds are invariably glorious, the fogs, the mist, the sun, the greens, the greys, it is a display that makes everything  glow under any conditions, even inside London,  with the added bonus of historic buildings and shimmering modernity. I so wanted to paint the muscle-and-lace  majesty of  plantain trees and the daffodils crowding the parks. I've yet to see a cow though but I could go bonkers painting them. Next time, I'll come to paint, not to work endless hours and travel the underground.

"Selfridges" 8"x10" oil on canvas board
    I've mentioned how my palette changed almost without me noticing. Also how the luminous impressionism that aptly portrays the sunlit areas of the world tends to emphasize brilliant color and depends on light to drive the composition whereas the cooler light of England has the  effect of bringing out local color and detail against a damp veil of greys and greens. Summer here is an explosion of hard-earned brilliance after months of clouds.  For anyone who wants to master the English landscape, I recommend a thorough look at Seago's paintings with their bold 'break in the clouds' virtuosity and sense of fleeting light.

    For the painter determined to make a living here, that's another story. London is very expensive, competitive, hectic. Galleries are not searching to 'discover' anyone that has not stood out in some way or another either through the winning of prices or through strong recommendations. I wish I had had more time to explore the London art world, at least the part of the art world that doesn't involve dead sharks and unmade beds. On the other hand, the English have a very healthy attitude towards artists. The arts are a high-dividend paying industry  through fashion, film, illustration, etc so in the worst of cases they are not simply dismissed as a useless distraction.
And any type of art or artist has a place here, a meetup group, a sketchers group, a drink-and-draw-and-then-meditate-over-pizza group.  It's drenched in possibilities.

I regret leaving England . Nothing to do with the Queen or quaint cottages or tea at five or even red buses and handsomely dressed lads. Nothing to do with the fact that it has pushed me to the brink of collapse with its relentless crowds and the frantic pace of work and life.  I've lived in a rent-box more apt for the streets of a third world country than what one might imagine this city to stand for. -For that, we can just blame the immigrants as one so often does, and ignore the speculations of the Russian and Qatari oligarchs as well as the tax-thirsty councils that allow them to speculate away.

'Yumchaa Cafe. Goodge St' watercolor and ink


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