We spent the day in Malvern Worcestershire , and although it's only 30 odd miles from Birmingham it's a million more in atmosphere and feel. We stopped initially to investigate what appeared to be an old fashioned department store called Bray's, but on closer inspection it turned out to be merely a men's and women outfitters along side each other. Our mood of disappointment improved slightly when walking further down the road we found a wholefood veggie shop called the Bran Tub.
It had a pleasant brown rice sort of vibe, and although there were no joss sticks on the go, the section of locally produced soaps gave off a gently soothing aroma of something I couldn't quite put my finger on, but suggested a life of quiet contemplation and subtle pleasure, a bit like a Gregorian chant mashed with a slice of Debussy ( studio..... quick, run that past the engineer if we get it out on time we could sell as a antidote to both the Olympic theme and Keith Allen's alternative).
I left my wife sourcing some buckwheat flour and paddled downstream. I washed up in a gallery come
framing shop and after chatting about the cost of doing up some of my paintings. I spotted a view of the hills in oil which looked a bit like a David Prentice (here) . It turned out to be by Chris Howells and after getting directions duly puffed up St Ann's Rd to his studio (Here).
Chris has been at it for 30 odd years and it shows. His studio was a model of endeavour and amazing talent , and was as unlike the cluttered and totally disorganised studio (shed) where I paint as it could possibly be. He had an array of some 50 clean brushes, in a specially designed tray, at the ready and piles of oil paint arranged in chromatic sequence like a paint manufacturers wet dream. We chatted for about 20 minutes and then I made my excuses.
Walking down the hill to my car I resolved to try harder.