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  • Writer's pictureHelen English Artist

Where would you travel to paint?

I spend a fair bit of time online looking at all sorts of art produced by lots of different artists in various corners of the world.  Instagram is a particularly good way of viewing what people are up to right now, and this week a find close to my heart were some beautiful landscapes painted by an artist who had travelled around the New Zealand a year or so ago.  It made me think about the amazing opportunities which travel affords to an artist.

Now, obviously, this has changed incredibly over the course of 2020, with travel really not being an option for many people at the moment.  The artist, whose work I was looking at, does not come from here so they are painting from photographs which they took during their trip and planning their next visit to do the same.  So I thought, with their example in mind, I would dream about where I would go!

The places which immediately appear in my mind are Buenos Aires, Prague and the Greek Islands.  I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in each of these places but it’s not the scenery which appeals, although all three have got vistas which would make for beautiful landscape paintings.  It’s actually the faces and the people who I know that I would find in each place.  That’s why most of my art is focused on faces.  I love reading between the lines, real or metaphorical, to see the expression and imagine what the person was thinking as they were painted or as they had the photograph taken from which I am painting.  Where they are brings an added layer to this.

When I think of Buenos Aires, I think of the dancers tangoing in the street and the waiters.  Both have smiles and attitude to deliver to their audience.  The moped delivery folks, instead, have a mind full of the next place they are going.  The fashion of all these people is vibrant and distinctive. 

In Prague, again I see the clothes, but this time it is people dressed with the beautiful quirks and mixture of eastern and western European fashion.  The place I really remember noticing others is in the almost Star Trek-like Metro, with the harsh light and metallic colours reflecting on people’s faces. 

Thinking of the Greek Islands brings to mind older residents with sun-battered faces sitting in front of cafes and houses talking to each other, dressed in a combination of formal and casual clothes.  Women often with hair tied in low buns, half-covered in scarves and men with moustaches.

I would love to get back to these places with a paintbrush, and I guess the current restrictions have deepened the longing and made the forward plans more definite.  With that in mind, my diary entry for 31 December 2020 is to pick a place to visit and paint portraits within the next two years.  Hopefully we will be in a place where that is possible.  If not, I will carry that thought forward until it is but that dream is important for me.  Have you got a dream for when the world physically reconnects?

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