Monday, 20 April 2009

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

I delivered my painting, 'Waiting,' to the Royal Academy on April 7th. I didn't think I could manage to do it, being in the throes of a vicious form of Gastric Flu. What made it even worse was that the queue to the Academy was the longest I've ever seen! Normally when you go through the Burlington Arcade to get to the back of the Academy, you turn right and the entrance is only a few steps along, and usually you wait no longer than 15 minutes to step inside. On this day - the one day I didn't want to be stuck in a queue far from a toilet - I stepped out of the Arcade onto a pavement so congested that I couldn't see the cars on the road, or even where the queue ended. I had to walk right down a fat line of people holding canvases of all shapes and sizes, to where the queue fizzled out onto the next street. As pedestrians jostled to find a way between painters and huge canvases, someone came along and told us we were blocking the pavement and were a safety hazzard.
I waited at least an hour. I spent it listening to painters discussing the abnormal length of the queue, whilst trying to ignore my heaving intestines. There was a man who had travelled all the way up from a Museum in Plymouth to deliver a large, bubblewrapped canvas. He chatted away amicably with another artist who was selling paintings in a London gallery. This interesting fact prompted me to turn and try to view his unwrapped large painting, to see if it was any good. But it was wedged in the queue in such a way that I only had a glimpse of yellow and black.
I tried to work out how many artists were in front of me. If there were 80, and each took 5 minutes to drop off his or her work, how many hours would it take me to get there? In the meantime, as I neared the entrance point - which was much further along than one we previously used - I noticed a huge red canvas with a woman playing a guitar painted across it. It was quite impressive, but the voices behind me echoed my own sentiments, namely that large paintings don't stand a chance when space is so limited. Unless of course, you have a name!
Finally, I followed the now single line down a very narrow alleway, with brick walls that were black and smelled of soot. At the end was a doorway and we were allowed in 3 at a time. There were 3 tables and I hurriedly unwrapped my small canvas and a young woman disappeared with it.
My hopes are not high but it's one of those things you feel you have to take a chance on. It's my 8th or 9th attempt, and inevitably my fingers will be shaking as I tear open the envelope at the end of May. The only thing I can say this time with certainty is that my painting was good and deserved to get in - but that's not always enough!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

This is a small oil painting I have just finished and which I am entering for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It is called 'Waiting.' The idea came from a visit to the cafe at Burrswood one Saturday when I went there to paint. I usually paint in watercolour for 3 or 4 hours then go to have a coffee. On this particular day I noticed a group of teapots huddled on a trolley in the kitchen behind the counter. I felt that they were like a group of women in conversation, and liked the way that the spouts seemed to add to the sense of animation.
I took a photo and this painting was developed from it. Since then I have taken more photos as the grouping keeps changing as teapots are taken out to waiting customers. I will paint some of these other groupings into much larger oil paintings. (This one is only 30cm by 40cm.)
As for the Royal Academy Summer Show, I'm realistic enough to know that it's a lottery! (All of these open exhibitions are a lottery, but this one more than most as usually around 12,000 works are entered, and I believe that wall space for newcomers is at a minimum!)I have submitted work 8 times so far, but perhaps this will be a luckier year?