That wasn’t exactly one of the words I used when I nearly ruined my painting on Saturday morning. The air was blue! In more ways than one. Having spent over 100 hours so far on a large watercolour of the Queen’s chimney sweep I’d masked most of the painting so I could airbrush the deep blue sky I’d planned. A nice cerulean blue gradated up to a deep ultramarine to represent a night (Mary Poppins) sky was progressing well when suddenly the airbrush projected dark blue splashes all over the top part of the painting and then deposited three large dollops of paint on the virgin white of my watercolour board! I quickly abandoned the airbrush and attempted to paint the sky in gouache colour. It was not what I’d intended to do, but at least it semi-saved the situation – even though my beautiful cerulean gradation had to be sacrificed. However when everything had dried out and I lifted the mask I discovered that a 4-inch square section of part of the painting I’d already completed had escaped the masking and was now covered in a mid-blue tint! I spent 9 hours yesterday, Sunday,  working on the painting, and hope, eventually, to disguise that bit. My stupid fault for not checking the state of my airbrush regularly. Maybe I’ll show the progress in my next blog.

Bowling started again on Monday evening. Having not played since last September I expected to be very rusty, but pairing up with one of the best players I found that it was fine, and we ended up winning our match – and I beat his score too.

It’s always so nice to meet up with old friends – especially those that I’d met when living overseas. Jack and Eileen Bygrave were such a couple, but sadly Jack died last autumn. Eileen however is visiting England with her friend Jeanette so we met up for lunch at Phyllis Court Club on Tuesday. Here they are standing under a fading magnolia tree.

On Thursday my young friend and I caught a late afternoon train to London so we could attend the private view of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. As we walked through Trafalgar Square towards the Mall and passed the enormous lion, we noticed that the fourth plinth at the north corner of the square was now filled with a golden sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse.

Until a permanent sculpture has been decided upon it’s always interesting to see what has been erected there as the occupant is changed regularly. Now on to the Galleries.

It really was a splendid exhibition and just shows how many wonderful portrait painters there are practising their art in England today. It being the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the RP has dedicated a section of the exhibition to their patron, Her Majesty the Queen, so it was interesting to see dozens of these Royal portraits painted and drawn in a great variety of techniques. Apparently there were nearly 2,000 submissions to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters this year so I was very pleased to have my small portrait entitled ‘Farmer George’ accepted.

I’ve just been told that my miniature portrait of the actress, Rula Lenska, has been awarded the Bell Prize for the best portrait in the upcoming Hilliard  Society Annual  Exhibition in Wells, Somerset. Truly honoured, I’ll be collecting this award when I travel to the West country later this month.

I didn’t go to sculpture classes on Friday as that was the day of my old friend Terry Jordan’s Memorial Service in Beaconsfield. And what a lovely service it was. Two hundred friends and family filled St. Mary’s & All Saints Church. Jimmy Tarbuck, Terry’s best friend, gave the first tribute. Being a comedian, his recollections of some of the times spent with Terry were hilarious and, although the occasion was sad, the church rocked with laughter. But even Jimmy couldn’t quite control his sadness towards the end. During the service a stunning blonde walked up to the front of the church and sang ‘Ave Maria’ and later on ‘Pie Jesu’. Her name was Keddie, and I must say she had the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. Terry would have loved to hear her. She was so wonderful that the whole congregation clapped. And I was very honoured to see that the large painting I had made of Terry several years ago was placed in a prominent position at the front of the church.