Hey! This is supposed to be spring. Hard to tell, as it’s
still freezing cold and every night the temperature goes below zero. There are
compensations. Just look at this beautiful scene as we drove through the woods
in Nettlebed last Sunday on the way to the Cotswolds.
It almost looks like a black and white photograph – probably
hoar frost settling on top of snow. I was on the way to Bampton with my
sister-in-law Val and my young friend to have lunch with my
old friend Joanne. She had just been given a new Mini iPad as a birthday
present, so with three of us all tapping away on our iPads the scene resembled a
modern version of a knitting bee! The curry lunch was delicious.
On Saturday morning we went to the Royal Berkshire Hospital
in Reading to have my pelvic and chest scan. Won’t know the results until I see
the surgeon – probably next week.. It was snowing hard when we left the
hospital to make our way to London. We had to go that day because I had to pick
up my painting, which had not been selected for the RP exhibition. When
paintings are rejected by the Royal Academy at least artists get a nice letter
expressing regret that the work had not been selected that year. But with the
Portrait Society we merely get a pink slip warning us that if we don’t collect
the rejected work on a particular day it will be placed in storage and a hefty
daily charge will be made. As one of my paintings was selected last year – and
I secured a very nice commission as a result
- I don’t think the RP selectors wanted the commission cake to be
divided by too many artists other than the members. But then, that’s probably
sour grapes on my part!.
It’s nice when things pop up from the past, isn’t it? The
other week an old school friend wrote to me, enclosing a cheque and requesting
a copy of my autobiography. He’s now a n eminent Professor at Sussex
University. It was he, when we were both about 15 years old, who posed for me
when I painted his portrait in oils. It was my first commission, and he reminded
me that his father paid me the princely sum of £10 for the large portrait. I
painted him holding his violin, and can’t ever hear the ‘Czardas’ these days
without thinking of that time. He was being taught by the famous violist, Godowski, I recall. £10 wasn’t a bad sum in
those days – especially for a first commission. I remember not having the funds
to buy an easel, but what I had forgotten, until Peter reminded me, was that,
being an impecunious youth, I’d bought an old painting from the saleroom and used
this to paint on! Wonder what lies underneath? It might be an old master. Peter
also sent me an image of the original sketch I made all those years ago.
It’s a little wrinkled – a bit like me. However Peter also
sent me a photograph he must have taken around that time. I remember my hair
went through a 'frizzy' stage at the time. Here it is
I’ve just finished my latest painting, but can’t show it yet
until it goes on exhibition in May. The past Master of the Worshipful Society
of Apothecaries came over to pose for me yesterday. He has commissioned me to paint
his miniature portrait for permanent exhibition in the Apothecaries Hall in
London. A unique tradition. Apparently past Masters also donate a stained glass
window of their coat of arms to be permanently placed in the hall.
This stained-glass window is positioned above the screen at
the south end of the Great Hall of the Society. Here’s a little historical
note: The Society of Apothecaries traces its origins back to one of the
earliest fraternities, the Gild of Pepperes of Sopers lane, which was fined 16
marks in 1180 for being adulterine, so it must have been established before
that date. The Pepperes dealt mainly in spices and peppers, and were responsible
for importing, inspecting, cleansing and compounding these items. They had
charge of the Great or Kings’ Beam in the City, by which they regulated the
weighing of heavy imported goods. The Company gained its first charter in 1429.
I’ll finish the pencil drawing I’ve been working on next week,
but here’s a preview of part of it.
That’s about it for now. Have a happy Easter, my loyal readers.