To my immense surprise, today (Sunday. September 7th) has been a good day so far. After several weeks in which my few opportunities to get out on my bike have been frustrated by rain, or the imminent threat of rain, and attempts to practise my other hobby, oil painting, have been undermined by very poor light, at last today we have enjoyed dry weather and some reasonable daylight.
When I woke up this morning the weather didn’t look promising. Although there was little wind, the heavy cloud was of the sort that could have produced a sharp shower at ten minute intervals, or persistent rain, and the cloud cover was almost complete. Despite this, by late morning it felt as if it might stay dry. This was confirmed by the weather forecast for Cardiff so I decided to take a chance on a short ride after lunch.
It had to be a short ride because I hadn’t been out for a few weeks and had no idea how unfit I had become. Besides, I wanted to do some painting in the afternoon while there was some daylight still. So I chose a familiar route of just about two miles, most of it being uphill, and with a couple of short, sharp descents towards the end. It is a great feeling when the confidence returns as soon as the wheels start turning. The curious thing about this ride was that my legs seemed more than happy to cope with the hills. Instead, the limiting factor was my breathing. Quite early on the first long hill, breathing was becoming hard work. When I arrived at the highest point on the route I was struggling although the legs felt fine. Only a couple of minutes later I arrived at home feeling neither out of breath nor even overheated. At least I had maintained my previous average speed, 10mph. I know it’s not much, and Chris Hoy, Nicole Cooke and co. are not likely to worry about the competition, but it suits me.
Now I could think about painting. Although I have played with various artists’ media over several years I actually postponed any serious effort to explore painting with oils until my retirement. Unfortunately my retirement was delayed for two years and it is only now, almost a year-and-a-half further on still, that time is becoming available for some consistent effort. To ensure that available time is not wasted, I have become rather well organised. For example I have a work space which is permanently set up for painting. I also have a firm rule to attempt painting during hours of good daylight only. Various attempts to paint by artificial light, including using so-called daylight bulbs, have ended in exasperating failure when, by the real daylight of the following morning, the resulting picture was nothing like what I thought I had been painting the previous evening.
So this afternoon I managed a couple of hours of painting before 5pm, when it had become so dull that I couldn’t distinguish some colours on my palette. It has been worse – there were days in August when we had the house lights on at noon.
Although I have made two previous attempts to start a separate art blog, I have abandoned that idea. Perhaps if I post pictures and my various thoughts about painting here, other painters might feel inclined to comment. That would be marvellous. Watch this space in a few days. Just one thing: Having seen my paintings, don’t tell me not to give up the day job.