The London Plein Air Group was recently launched by joint founders Tushar Sabale and Carol Owen. It is an open-to-all painting group which meets on the first Saturday of the month at a pre-decided location for a painting session with like minded individuals. I happened to hear about the group on Instagram just before the first meet-up and decided to join. Before lockdown I used to regularly paint in London – with my day job as a graphic designer being based in Elephant and Castle and easy access with an annual train pass it made sense to paint the capital at every opportunity. But my lifestyle has changed since working from home post March 2020 and I’ve missed painting London scenes, so this monthly meet-up got me very excited!

Saturday 4 September – St James’s Park
Our inaugural event was held at St James’s Park. We met as a group at one of the cafes in the park at 10am and despite never having met in person it was easy to spot the artists from the other park users – paint splatted clothes and grubby looking painting boxes helped confirm I was in the right place. It was agreed we’d get together as a group at 3pm to have a look at each others work. I wandered off to find a spot to paint and together with new friends Mary and Lizzy found a suitable location. I worked on a 10 x 12 inch board to begin with but really didn’t like the outcome so later did a quick 6 x 8 inch painting of an ice cream van. Three o’clock arrived and we got together. It always fascinates me how diverse the response that a group of artists produce when tasked with the same or similar subject matter. (This is especially obvious in life drawing sessions). It was a great day despite not liking one of my works which I’ve since painted over!

Saturday 2 October – Southbank
On a grey, gloomy, wet Saturday there was a good turn out for the second meet-up. I love this part of London and have painted around the area many times before. I found a spot looking towards St Paul’s and took shelter under a tree. The weather presented challenges but it also made for some nice reflections and a sort of endearing grey tone to the view. Like before I managed two paintings before the 3pm gathering but this time I preferred the larger 10 x 12 inch effort compared with my quicker 6 x 8 inch painting. One of the things I love about a group like this is I would have been put off by the weather had it not been for the other artists making the effort to get together and in the end I was so pleased to have day painting on the Southbank. It also inspired me to sort my cold weather gear out which means I’m now the proud owner of a lovely warm pair of Ugg boots!

Saturday 6 November – Putney
Equipped with gloves, thermals and my new super-cosy boots I left the house heading for Putney. I hadn’t allowed enough time to make the train though so ended up running to Staines station with my painting gear clanging about and far too many layers for a gentle jog! It took the half hour train journey to cool down before walking from Putney overground station to the meeting point on the other side of Putney Bridge. On the walk there I spotted a load of construction work going on right on the Thames with some juicy looking subjects. That’s where I headed after catching up with now familiar faces and many new people too as word about the group seems to be spreading. There is a special energy about painting in an area where 40-50 other artists doing the same. I was reasonably pleased with the outcome of my one painting from the day but unfortunately I had another commitment in the evening so had to leave before meeting up with the rest of the group at 3pm. However, it has been great to see everyone’s work on the group’s Whatsapp messages. Roll on the next gathering at Bankside in December.

Huge thanks to Tushar and Carol for organising these sessions and launching the London Plein Air Group.