Monday 10 October 2011

I can paint Roses and Castles!

The sound of sirens and beeping horns, the stench of bus fumes and cigarettes jostle for attention through rude rucksacks and grumpy faces as I walk through Kings Cross. So as I enter the London Canal Museum, (which is secretly tucked up behind the Caledonian Road) my boots trip-trap conspicuously across the silent wooden floorboards. The train made me late for the roses and castles painting workshop and everybody else has started painting roses on paper plates. Tricia is friendly and relaxed though, as she welcomes me to the class, and I catch up quickly.
So, you start with three blobs, then a nose and a smile. Yes these are the technical terms that I can understand. On top of that, you paint three commas and then three swishy brush strokes.
“Comma, comma, comma, swish, swish, swish.” I can remember that!
The working boatmen didn't have much time to paint their livery, Tricia tells us. They had to snatch a moment here and there while waiting for orders. So this folk art is quick to do, and before lunch we have progressed on to painting plant pots. I am left feeling satisfied with how much I can achieve in such a short amount of time.
Tricia seems to have been somehow connected to England's canals for much of her life, as she drops into conversation her previous cruises and boats, her friendships with working boat people in the sixties, her current floating home in Little Venice, and fourteen years of experience painting roses and castles. Her theory is that this folk art may have originated in Persia.

I can paint roses now!

In the afternoon I feel confident enough to splash out a few roses on to the green tub that I wrote about last week on Magpie Monday. Next, we paint the time-honoured castles, bridges and mountains on to pieces of wooden board; this is a slower process but perhaps even more satisfying than the roses. I decided not to paint the large tray that I bought in a charity shop last week, but instead bought a piece of white-washed board from Tricia.
I resist the temptation to slightly stick out my tongue whilst I concentrate on building up the layers of paint, copying Tricia, step by step. We're using acrylics and she says we should varnish it later with something like Ronseal hard glaze.
It probably takes about two hours to paint the castles, but the time flies by as we giggle at our mistakes, and Tricia is patient, easy going and always encouraging. The class is small, there's just seven of us and we share a long table on the mezzanine with plenty of natural light flooding in from the canal basin.

I am quite proud of my first time effort

I haven't painted for years and my creativity has been reignited. I feel inspired to become a regular magpie, seizing bargains from charity shops and painting them in this traditional style. So watch out friends, family and foes, you are all getting home-made Christmas presents this year!

The next roses and castles painting workshop at The London Canal Museum is on 27th November and costs £25

Tricia Parrott runs evening and weekend classes in Roses and Castles, narrowboat livery and lettering, and international styles of folk-painting. She is a professional signwriter who learned the craft in Braunston boatyard in the early 1970's.
For more information contact Tricia directly on 0207 2896323

I am linking this post up to Magpie Monday, to update the other magpies on what happened to my little green tub!
Me and My Shadow

You may also like my article about Learning Opportunities at the London Canal Museum and my watercolour painting of Uxbridge Lock.

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