Last week my wife and I with two friends spent a few days in Suffolk. I had intended to paint at Pin Mill but the weather forecast, prior to going, was so bad with rain predicted every day that I only took a couple of sketchbooks with me.
The Tide Mill
On the way to our B & B we stopped off at Woodbridge, a delightful small town just off the A12, a few miles North of Ipswich. This is another great painting location on the River Deben and has a famous Tide Mill. On this occasion the Tide Mill was under repair and swathed in what looked like pink plastic sheeting. A short distance before you reach it is a building that is the home of the Woodbridge Art Club, who run regular exhibitions and indeed one was current. I spoke to one of the ladies there, explaining my interest, and she told me they had 200 members with a waiting list. This includes 25 potters and I was shown a small room with a kiln. The building is superb and on enquiring I was told it was owned by the council. It is actually quite big with one large room, a slightly smaller one and the potter's annex of two small rooms. The standard of paintings was mixed, as is usually the case with amateur exhibitions, but there were some good works and a variety of media including watercolour. I wondered how on earth an art club, even one with 200 members could afford such a relatively palatial home. Apparently the group maintain the building, with no cost to the council, and pay a peppercorn rent as they are regarded, with continous exhibitions, as a tourist attraction. They have regular weekly painting sessions, workshops and longer courses with well-known artists tutoring. It is a hive of activity. To cap it all the annual fee is only £35! I took a number of photographs on the front here for possible future paintings.
Woodbridge Art Club Exhibition
Taken just outside the Art Group building
Two days later we went to Pin Mill. Where is Pin Mill? It is on the River Orwell, near the village of Chelmondiston which is approximately six miles South-East of Ipswich. Pin Mill is a fabled location where many famous artists like Edward Seago painted, and in recent times John Yardley. Charles Reid made a video here for Town House Films in 2009. I believe on any decent day you will find artists at work from the well-known professional to the humble amateur.
Pin Mill. The famous Butt & Oyster 17th Century pub in the right background
On the day we visited I indeed spotted some artists at work and wandered down to where they were. I was careful not to interrupt but one particular man actually spoke first and said he was happy to talk. It turned out he was from a group known as `The Maritime Art Group' www.maritimeartgroup.co.uk and he was there with two others. I think he said it was his eighth visit. It appears they are a group of 17, holding regular exhibitions at various locations.
One of the Maritime members at work
Unfortunately it isn't ideal to go on holiday, intending to paint, when you have friends who don't. My wife is fine as she will read a book for a couple of hours but it is different with others, even good friends. It just doesn't work well especially somewhere like this. As a result of this and the weather being very unsettled (to put it mildly) I only made a couple of rudimentary sketches but took lots of photographs and hope to use some of this material in coming months. Plein air is great but if you want to paint regularly then photographs play a large part.