Painting al fresco

It is the time of year in England when you know where Wordsworth got his material. "Clouds of golden Daffodils" brighten the verges of the roads, sweep across meadows, and pop up in our gardens. I wonder who started planting them in the first place, if an army of ladies in tweed skirts and men in tweed hats crawled over the whole of England sticking bulbs in the ground, or if they started with just a few bulbs which then multiplied like bacteria in a petri dish.  . Whichever it was, there are a startling number of them. The past few days of sunshine o pened them, suddenly it seems, although the slender buds were swelling by the da.

It has been such bright weather that some of us in art class decided to go and paint "al fresco". My friends, long-time residents of Shere, knew of a spot overlooking a hamlet nestled at the edge of a broad field. A stream runs through it, but not a daffodil is  in sight.

I choose my viewpoint, then set about trying to capture the essence of what I see. Well, I had to set up my brilliant portable painting kit first. It's a rectangular wooden box with three legs which fold neatly up and fasten onto the box. It has a drawer with separations in it for your tubes of paint and your brushes, and even a palette which fits on top of the paint drawer, and of course an easel which pulls up to the height you want.  . Folded up, it is tidy and efficient.

I start with the first leg, pulling it down from the hollow in the bottom of the box. The lower part of the leg slips down before I get the screws tightened, so I try the other two legs, both of which resist my efforts to pull them out of the slot they are wedged into. They collapse at different heights, so now I have a box on 3 legs listing precariously. Finally, though, I get the legs at the same level and the screws tightened. Then I have to find the right brass-headed wing-nut so I can pull the easel up, open the drawer, take out the palette, put the paints on it, find a place to put the white spirit. The sun is hot. I am sweating.

Meanwhile, Anne is calmly drawing a tree in preparation for a water-color. I am ready to get out my flask of coffee, wishing it were something stronger, but by then I'm afraid the sun will change its angle and I will have to take the damn thing down again and go home, never having laid brush to canvas. Charlene Chaplin, that's how I feel.

It all turned out well, though. Once I got started slathering on the paint ("roughly the right colors in roughly the right places", says Hoshi), I didn't want to stop. Anne and I chatted, Pat came by to help me with the perspective, and the fresh air swept away winter cobwebs in my brain.

The miracle is that when I got home and looked at the photograph Pat took for me, the feeling stayed with me, the feeling that life and peace are precious, fleeting, and worth it.. That is what I want this painting to be about.