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ROSAMUND THUNDER: FINE ART

Colour therapy that will brighten up your day.

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do,” was allegedly first coined by Edward Degas. But that message is not the impression you get from Rosamund Thunder’s art class on Friday afternoons at Drovers. For starters Holloway resident Ros, 63, first shows the newest recruits to her watercolour session how to draw using a pencil.  “The secret is observation: I want them to learn how to draw with a paintbrush,” says Ros, a former Head of Art at Central Foundation.

There’s a sense of excitement as the first keen artists arrive. Then as Classic FM is switched on the atmosphere changes – now we’re in a calm, focused and creative studio.

Ros encourages the more experienced watercolourists to pick pink radish, green runner beans, purple aubergine and handsome yellow-splashed pumpkins for their still life arrangement on a bright piece of cloth. Meanwhile the newbies start to develop their pencil drawing skills with some unusual exercises.

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First they copy a repeating shape with their right, and then their left, hand. Next they copy a picture of a person – the first time it’s upside down and then it’s restored to the right position. After about two sessions of this, and maybe some practice at home, they’ll be ready to paint.

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“It makes your brain work,” explains right-handed Ros. “When you always do something with one hand, the other is rather useless. I found that out when I was in hospital in intensive care and had to use my left hand. If your brain knows the activities, like driving a car or riding a bike, it will automatically do it. So when you’ve finished these exercises your brain will have built up more data and will become more proficient.”

Ros, who was taught art by Snowman author Raymond Briggs, moves around her class praising well-executed shadows and colour choices. There’s advice too for everyone, wherever they are in their picture: “Don’t get too watery, so the paper doesn’t go bobbly. Remember to leave it to dry. Look for shades, dark and light.”

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It’s clear that at Ros’ watercolour class, painting isn’t written off as either easy or difficult, instead it’s an enjoyable way to rekindle, or even meet, your artistic side. What could be nicer?

LET’S PAINT

Master watercolour techniques at Ros’s class every Friday from 1-3pm at Drovers in the Art Room.

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First timer Rita and old hand Carmen share their feelings about joining an art class and brushing up on their painting skills

Q. How many times have you been to the watercolour class?

Carmen: I’m here every Friday.

Rita: It’s my first time today.

Q. What made you come along?

Carmen: My daughter got me involved. She lives with me, or I live with her. I was home doing nothing, so to get me out of the house and be involved with other people I came to Drovers. I’m now doing different art things on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Rita: I wanted to get out of the house. It’s depressing being on my tod inside all day. Or you’ll find me in Morrisons, checking prices. I thought I’m getting bored, I’ve got to get out of this place, so I went to Manor Gardens a month ago, and life changed immediately. I’ve been on a tour round the Arsenal stadium and Arsenal museum and found things to do. I’m going to a jazz show this evening.

Q. Where do you put your watercolours?

Carmen: I’ve got a folder. Some of my work is on the wall in the Art Room at Drovers. I gave my sister a couple of pictures and they are stuck up on the wall at home in the corridor, sitting room and bedroom.

Rita: It’s my first day… I’ve drawn with my right hand and my left hand. I’ve also drawn the face of a captain of a ship. He was upside down, but I’d book a cruise on his ship! It’s difficult but practice makes perfect.

Q. Would you recommend it?

Carmen: I really enjoy it and the class is friendly. And I’ve been to so many different places on trips. I’ve seen different styles of art at the Tate going way back. Now I paint at home to keep me busy.

Rita: Yes. I’m not that good yet. I’ll keep practicing. There’s plenty of paper at home so tonight I’ll look at something and draw it. And I’ll make a little portfolio to compare them as I go along, as I’m a stickler for filing things.

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