I stop by a French bakery on the outskirts of Galway City, wait in a socially-distant queue and buy all the pastries I can reasonably buy without looking like I haven’t eaten for a month. I am celebrating: twenty-one years ago, in a tiny country church in the Wicklow Mountains, I married Marcel. It was a rather fast courtship, but it felt like a long one: when you both know you’ve found The One on your fourth date, especially after spending the previous ten years panicking that everyone will always find you odd, eighteen months feels like a long time. It was exhilarating, exciting, romantic, but above all it came as a huge relief to me. I was two or three months shy of my thirtieth birthday when I met Marcel, and I was extremely depressed about it. But when the big Three Oh came around shortly afterwards, I was proud and delighted to embark on a new decade. Here we are now, our three children are almost grown (two, technically, are) and Marcel and I are still speaking to each other and enjoying patisseries over coffee break, despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum in many respects. Staying married is a daily miracle.
Back to the present day. I get home and paint the croissants directly in watercolour, as fast as I can: I have texted Marcel on the way home to put the coffee machine on and I know it won’t be long before he appears, after which the pastries’ days as muse will be numbered. Paint paint paint, quick quick, then in comes Marcel. “Have you been home long?” he asks. I say I have and that I was just painting the croissants. “Wow!” he says, “you actually delayed giving me pastries so that you could paint? You would DO that?” He laughs in disbelief. Like I said…staying married is a kind of miracle. But it’s an everyday sort of miracle for millions of people the world over, who were lucky enough to find the old sock to their old shoe.
I started a new term of classes via Zoom yesterday. I am in the extremely honoured position of having my students return to me for a second term. To my great surprise, one of my classes is completely sold out, and the others are respectably patronised. This Land Rover, sketched on location in Chatham Docks, was the subject of a class on glazing, and as each student showed me their work I felt my spirits lift – I am still as amazed as they are at the standard they can achieve with careful guidance. yes, they are doing it line by line along with me, but as they become used to producing consistently good results – using my very straightforward methods – their confidence grows, and their inner artists get to have their say.
The later class concentrated on wet-on-wet watercolour and using different colours for a nice effect, and again the students astonished with their beautiful paintings of crabs and a lobster, which I painted alive in Co.Wexford. They may be following along, but they are working on their own in whatever corner of the world they call home, and they are absorbing countless tricks I share with them that I have picked up along the way.
You can still join in: there are 2 drop-in places available on Saturday mornings (10.00am-12.00pm GMT): just leave a comment below and I will contact you with details. You can also still avail of the beginner class on Mondays (3.00pm-5.00pm GMT, 6 places left) and the intermediate class on Wednesdays (4.00pm-6.00pm GMT, 3 places left), and the good news is that if you buy either of those two second terms before tomorrow (for the Monday class) and Tuesday (for the Wednesday class), you can avail of the special offer, whereby you get a class for free – a saving of €25. My students give me wonderful feedback through comments that humble me every time I read them (which is quite a feat).
Join me on the most beautiful path you will ever tread, one of glorious colour, beautiful line and endless creativity. I look forward to meeting you!