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Day 3: Artist Residency at The Hide

Day 3

Wednesday 27th March

Left: Unfinished sketch of a tree dwelling on the common.

Right: Sunset next to The Hide overlooking Nailsworth.

I start the day with yoga again, enjoying being able to expand into warrior pose without my hand grazing my clothes rail. Matcha tea and marmite toast. 

I join Alice for a mentoring session in her studio, a clearly treasured space which immediately feels safe. I journey with her through my artistic experiences; the fields of Dartington, Falmouth and the sea, South-west China for my last solo residency, London alive with exhibitions and galleries, museums and archives in Bath, painting and growing in Bristol, and now, here. I exhaust myself in nostalgic time-travel. Alice shares questions with such a sensitivity that unfolding truths come tumbling out. My fears are all-too familiar to most artists and I place them safely in Alice’s hands, with the knowledge that she speaks their language. We chase whispers of curiosity and enquiry, piecing together fragments until they start to fit. I leave cracked open, tender, and awake to the richness of my creative practice.

The skies look promisingly bright for a forecast with 82% precipitation, so I grab my easel and set out to the common. I batten down my sketchbook with the extra bulldog clip I finally found and paint an arching landscape dotted with tree caverns. I flick my rigger to create brambles and branches, building up shadows - ‘create tonal value’ echoing in my head. All the dark shadows I layer up gather at the base of the trees. I’m not used to painting upright on easels, only flat, and I watch the pigment as it pools. 

The wind picks up, I pick up the easel and get closer to the nook I first came across. The branches are woven into knots and tendrils, some of them pale and withered as if the effort has expired them. I create a quick impression on the page, attempting monochrome but it ends up a reliable brown rather than the sepia I envisaged. A fuchsia lycra-clad jogger exclaims “Are you painting? How brave!” I quip that running is more brave to me. They say how nice the reds and greens are and nod “Good on you” before running along. A few spots of rain later and I sweep everything up and carry my sketchbook home, open and upturned.

I head to Nailsworth market town in the afternoon, keen to see if the camping chair I saw propped outside a charity shop is still there. I find it tucked in a corner of the shop, sheltering from the rain. I happily pay £3 for it and sling it over my shoulder in its carry case. I avoid downpours by nipping into eclectic homeware shops and indulging in a beetroot cacao whilst I catch up with Dan on the phone. I take myself for an early dinner at an Italian restaurant (pizza and a glass of red) before the breathlessly steep trek home up ‘the ladder’ to catch the sun setting over the valley.


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