I was talked into entering the Pintar Rapido – create a picture in a day. This is a self-explanatory exhibition based in Kensington and Chelsea, London.
Essentially you have a day to complete one picture in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and deliver it to the Town Hall in Kings Road to be hung for an exhibition for the next day.
What to paint?
Initially I was going to paint The Royal Court Theatre as it was pretty near the town hall, under the shade as it was forecast 32 brutal degrees. It also had plenty of shops close by for a few distractions.
Also I only had one day to do it all in and it is a fairly simple building so over all it was ‘doable in the time allowed’.
Prior to work I went into Google images to give it a look over and get a bit of preparation together on how I was going to tackle it and this is all where it started to go wrong.
While looking over The Royal Court Theatre images Google threw up one of those anomalies that it does on occasion. It spits out an image that has nothing to do with what you are searching for.
In this case it was Michelin House in the Fulham Road. Michelin House is a late Art-Nouveau masterpiece of a garage and tyre fitting centre designed by François Espinasse, and finished in 1911. Now of course it is a top quality restaurant and shops.
It is delicious and I was immediately smitten. There was no pretending I hadn’t seen it, this was the painting for me.
What it entails
Me getting involved with this building would be tough as all bad love is. It has complicated shapes and curves with confusing pillars that have varied widths all the way down, added to that are the multiple colours and different building materials from brick, stone, to glass domes and of course the facade is dominated by a giant stained glass window of The Michelin Man.
I would be lucky to get it finished on time and it also had no shade what so ever.
I got there early in the morning slapped all over in factor 25, there would be no time for lunch on this day, I had to do it all in one go so I was also armed with a large bag of bananas and two litres of water. When I set up, it was 27 degrees and climbed quickly to 32 just as promised.
Beginning the painting
I started with a quick thumbnail of what I was looking for, nothing fancy, just the basic shapes that I could reference on the final piece as I worked though.
Then I pulled out the large water colour pad and began the final piece. I worked as rapidly as I could building Michelin House in line with the sketch and to the right size of the frame that I had at my feet. I worked from a few angles to get all the detail required.
For the side angle, I worked outside The Chanel Shop on Fulham road. I expect the Chanel Shop only gets about ten customers a day so the occupants quickly became my audience, throwing encouraging smiles though the window while they bathed in the rarefied atmosphere of haute couture air conditioning. I, however, was bloody boiling and a headache had begun to grip my baking brain.
Then two Chanel people slipped out of the shop to take a closer look. They made pleasant noises about my work and were very sympathetic to my struggles with the heat. I ventured to ask if they would like to lend me a small silky something to cover my fevered brow for the day. Oh how they laughed.
Next door was La Brasserie which was run by a mixed bag of Portuguese and Spanish. I chatted to those fellas when they were on their cigarette breaks. Smoking in Portugal is practically compulsory so I was rarely without company as I scratched and painted away. They were great fellas and the manager supplied me with a free Coke too.
It was a full on all day and despite feeling dreadful due to the heat and not eating enough, by 6pm, I had more or less cracked it and the end was in site. Once I had done all the tidying and had the final nod from the Brasserie lads and the Chanel people I packed up.
I dropped into La Brasserie where one of the waiters made me a Mai Tai Cocktail which is highly recommended on hot days. It was delicious. I knocked it back and got over to the town hall to frame up and deliver.
On arrival at the town hall, I fixed the picture into the frame I brought along. Thankfully it fitted just fine and it was delivered safely. I then lumbered over to the West End for a well-deserved Chinese meal and a few jugs of freezing beer.
The next day was the exhibition and very busy it was too. My good friends and colleagues Roy Connelly and Karl Terry and I exited from the throng to go and work down by the river where we may catch a breeze. I was still recovering from the previous day so while they painted I took an easy option and drew them painting.
Pintar-Rapido was a very tough challenge for me and I have only myself to blame. All that said it was great fun and I will do it again next year.