It was such a beautiful day that I decided I’d paint the papier mâché boats in the garden. The entire enterprise ended up as a very sharp learning curve in so many ways but, that said, I haven’t had so much fun for ages. This is what I learnt:
Firstly, my idea that painting in the garden would be quick and easy to set up could not have been more wrong. Several journeys up and down stairs and I thought I had everything I could possibly need. A few more journeys once I’d started and I did have everything, but nowhere to put it.
Chocolate boxes are perfect for transporting paints and an empty urn doubles up as a useful plinth for paints.
‘Fine’ paint brushes are not the same as ‘paint brushes which have become fine because they have lost so many hairs’. I have four of the former, far too many of the latter.
For my purposes cheap watercolours in palettes are just as good as fancy ones in tubes for most things. They just need additional extra shades now and then.
There is a reason why artists favour north-facing studios. Although my garden is very small I have two sets of tables and chairs; at any time one is usually in the sun, the other in the shade. It’s only April, I reasoned; how bright can the sun possibly be? Very soon half the table was plunged in deep shade, the other half in sunlight so bright I could barely see what I was doing.
Decorating papier mâché is very different to decorating clay. For years I worked as a potter and I assumed that watercolours and acrylics would behave in a similar way to underglazes and glazes. NO. After a certain amount of trial and error I found that watercolours are best for details, while acrylics can be used for interesting base colouring.
Eventually the five boats got their basic colours. They still need details, masts and flags but I’ve learnt a lot and now feel better prepared for the remaining ninety-five.