Brrrr! and Brrrrr! again.

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.