As I walked into the nearby village, this battered old house struck me, as it is reminiscent of traditional houses from the last century, that were the prerogative of the well to do. It now lies empty, unloved, but its grandeur lives on. Its on the main road so although I knew I wanted to paint it, when I came back the next day alone, I set my easel on the opposite side of the road, on waste ground overlooking the garden of another property, so was able to paint in peace and also to include the blue and the pink flowers.
A cluster of local children soon gathered around me with the usual 5, 000 questions. “Τι ζωγραφίζετε;” – “What are you painting”, and ‘Αν επιτρέπετε, πόσο χρονών είστε;” – “If I may ask, how old are you”! And that from a ten year old!
When they heard the reply they politely said “Δεν φαίνεστε” – “You don’t appear that old” which I guess compared to the Greek γιαγιάδες (grandma’s or simply old ladies) is probably true, as I was in a skimpy dress and not all in black!
Anyway night fell before I had finished, but I was still putting the final brushstrokes for that day when a man came up in his car, and insisted that I move, so he could park in that particular spot, even though there was plenty of room at the side of me!
So I packed up, feeling a little deflated, but fortunately was able to finish the painting two days later.
When I first moved to Dewsbury, I painted several canvases from subjects from on Park Road. Here the children playing so happily will now be in their 40’s of course. Sadly I sold this at Holmfirth Art Fair, as the children’s father, the late Stephen Battye chose not to purchase it, as he had recently commissioned another portrait of his children. He did however, purchase another of my paintings at the time. I offered to buy it back many years ago, but the couple who then owned it refused to sell it, though it has subsequently been sold on at auction at much less than its original value, so if anyone knows who currently owns it , I would love to know! It encapsulates all the natural fun of simple child’s play as I watched them making their mud pies of the garden wall at the Gothic House, as it was then known!
This garden is in Washdyke Lane, Hucknall, Nottingham. The owner, who sadly has since passed away, was holding an artists’ get together . We were encouraged to be productive so I brought along my oil paints, and this smallish square canvass and set up my easel in his garden. Fortunately it didn’t rain and it was warm enough to be comfortable standing outside all afternoon. I was forced to think carefully about what to leave out in order to make this painting work , using only his garden as the subject. The bench, the garage and a few flowers were enough to create what you see here.
This style of drawing is one of my favourite where the lively pencil sketch from life is the main element of the composition , then overlaid with a light watercolour wash to allow the structure to still be viewed while also adding a dimension of colour.
When I first moved to Dewsbury, the street opposite our house was a source of inspiration for many of my painting around 1989. One of my favourites was of a guest house with an amazing Victorian conservatory. Others were of houses on that street, some of which were purchased by the owners.
My second husband had a fledgling printing business, which he worked hard to build up. He hung several of my paintings in his office to decorate the walls. Unfortunately the business failed and the bailiffs were sent in, and despite my paintings being nothing to do with the business assets, they were removed and sold so I never saw them again. One was of my older daughter in stripy leggings. I wonder who has it now…..?
A few years later my then husband and I split up. He only took with him 4 or 5 of my best framed paintings, which I did not begrudge him of course, but strangely enough , some time after that his home in the Barnsley area was burgled. The only things the thieves took were my paintings, one of which was that of the Victorian Conservatory at Ayton Guesthouse! If you have it, let me know, as I would love to have a photo of it at the very least…