Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Paintings for the Diamond Jubilee

David Pilgrim painting on the Millennium Bridge - looking downstream
with the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in the background
This is a post about art created to make a record of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and covers those who:

River Thames - artists painting on the Millennium Bridge

Painted by Haidee-Jo Summers in the midst of the action and the thick of the weather!
The canvas is wet through and the oil paint will no longer 'stick'!
The BBC invited artists to apply to paint on the Millennium Bridge during the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.  The artists were selected to ensure a range of artistic mediums and styles were represented.  Artists participating ranged in age between 19 and 70 and were professionals, semi-professional, students and amateurs.

This is the BBC's recording of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee - The Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant which has interviews with three of the artists starting at 3:06:55 - in the middle of the torrential rain which started partway through the afternoon.

Here's the artists I've been able to identify who were invited by the BBC to take part - plus some of their paintings
As well as a challenge of painting a flotilla of boats and hence a constantly moving subject, the artists also had a huge weather challenge.  The day started as predicted - grey and cold - with the strong wind which I'd experienced the previous day with rain predicted.  I decided to stay home! The weather then deteriorated quite alarmingly during the afternoon as the flotilla progressed down the river to the point where the rain was absolutely torrential.

I thought the artists did amazingly well - particularly those like David Pilgrim and Haidee-Jo who managed to stay on the bridge and continue to paint in the rain and produce paintings of the boats in the flotilla in their paintings of the scene from either side of the Bridge.

This is the essence of British plein air painting spirit!

Haidee-Jo Summers painting on the Millenium Bridge - looking west towards Blackfriars Bridge
  • Haidee-Jo Summers (Haide-Jo Summers Artist - ma vie en couleurs) - two paintings.  Haidee-Jo was one of the artists chosen by the BBC to paint on the Millenium Bridge.  She had bought a very patriotic and smart red, blue and white dress for the occasion before realising she was going to have to wrap up warm in waterproof gear on Sunday - and went for the plastic mac and red bobble hat look instead!  She was the first artist to be interviewed by Anneka Rice for the BBC  
    • Tower Bridge with jubilee bunting was painted during her recce of the area on Saturday
    • Diamond Jubilee River Pageant includes her account of what it was like trying to paint on what started off as cold and then became a very wet day - and the value of her Jullian umbrella (in Jubilee colours!).  Above and below are her paintings, a photo of her painting before the boats arrived. and an extract from her blog post which indicates the weather the artists were having to contend with.  It's a RECOMMENDED READ
The rain was coming in sideways and underneath my umbrella and my palette was getting wetter and wetter! The canvas was getting a fine spraying, and water was swirling around my feet! Some of the artists started to leave as their work, anything on paper particularly, was suffering too much. Easels started to fall over. I held my umbrella as close and as low as I could!
Painting of the crowds before the boats
by Haidee Jo Summers
  • David Pilgrim (David Pilgrim AROI) Like Haidee, David produced two paintings, one before and the other during the flotilla passing.  I thought David did really well to get as many boats in as he did more or less in correct proportion to each other.  He describes his technique for fast painting and also has lots of photos of the day in his post As (not) seen on TV!  Another RECOMMENDED READ
I had some trouble with the easel given to us (the lower ledge was at a fixed height) so I ended up bending forwards all day and trying to stop the wind blowing my board into the palette with bits of masking tape. I was also trying to hold up my broken easel umbrella which was practically useless in the wind. Tricky! By the end of the day I wasn't sure whether it was medium or water in my dippers. I regularly had to drip water off the palette and by 5pm the paint refused to stick to anything.
Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant by David Pilgrim AROI
8x16in, oil on board
The weather forecast had been for rain in the afternoon and it was pretty much bang on! I'd remembered the weather channel saying 1/2 inch of rain would fall and by the end of the day when I emptied my plastic pot with clean brushes in there was at least 1/2 inch in there!
  • Ali Cockrean - who was the second artist to be interviewed (see slideshow)
Last photo of my work before it got washed away! Will be working on it today while memory is fresh...pic.twitter.com/UfGvJiYy
If you want to have a go for yourself, you can try watching shorter version - the highlights programme of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (Highlights) in iPlayer

Avenue of Sail 2nd June 2012
Thames Sailing Barges and Jubilee Bunting
in front of the Shard - from Old Billingsgate

11" x 16", pencil and coloured pencils
in Large Moleskine Sketchbook
This is my sketch - done on Saturday afternoon when it was windy and sunny - of part of the Avenue of Sail: Thames Sailing Barges & The Shard.  (You can see my Avenue of Sail photos on Flickr)

The Thames sailing barges were moored next to Old Billingsgate Market as part of the The Avenue of Sail part of the Pageant.  I had guessed correctly that they'd be in place before the pageant proper started on Sunday.  It was low tide (hence the top half only being sketched).  I had thought the barges were more or less stationery but in fact they moved the whole time due to the wash from other boats going up and down the Thames!

Here are some other paintings generated over the Diamond Jubilee weekend

I invited artists to take part in The Big Diamond Jubilee Art Challenge with some considerable flexibility as to what they produced.  I think maybe the three days notice over what was a busy weekend for many turned out to be a bigger challenge than I'd expected!  However it was great to receive an entry from the USA!

Portraits of the Queen
  • Lesley Humphrey (Lesley Humpreys Getting Started) created a red painting of the Queen in mixed media- Red Queen (27.5 X 39.25ins - mixed media).  (Lesley had to create a new blog so she could take part!)
Red Queen by Lesley Humphrey
Self Portrait as Queen Elizabeth II
by Olha Prymakk
Other Coronation / Jubilee inspired paintings

  • Kristina U (Decor-Art) produced her drawing while watching the Diamond Jubilee Concert - see Diamond Jubilee Art Challenge. Her particular challenge has been to try to come up with 60 things which were both very British and reminded her of the Queen. I think she did very well to get as far as 39!  Her post also identified other art she found by other artists.
Royal Britain 2012 by Kristina
Many thanks to all who participated in the various Challenges and let me post their paintings to my blog!


  1. Hi Katherine, would love to see the artists painting on the bridge but regrettably BBC iView is only accessible within your country. The rest of the world* is blocked for some reason (censored?). Cheers, Gary
    *Australia is still part of the Commonwealth

  2. Hi Katherine, I really enjoyed reading all about it in the dry and warm, thank you! :-)

  3. Thanks Katherine! It's really good to see all the Jubilee efforts together in one post. I do like your drawing...very interesting use of lines and those look like the same cranes I painted in the distance in my first study! You're so right about the weather. At about 4pm it became almost unworkable...possibly the worst I've ever painted in. I just hope seeing scenes like that doesn't put people off from heading outdoors with their easels! For me it's the most rewarding way of working, whatever nature decides to throw at us :) Great post as ever!

  4. Hi Katherine, Thank's for posting the links to my blog. I notice David has a link to the bbc site with the artist work on which I've also added to my blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-18330492

    1. I've already included it in the post - it's embedded in "This is a link to a BBC slideshow of the paintings they produced - In pictures: Millennium artists at the Jubilee pageant."

  5. Hi Katherine and thank you for including this Yank! I am in awe of the hardy Millenium Bridge artists who endured such (I think you would say) filthy weather! Thank you for linking to their blogs about the experience - Brits are tough and what a party! Katy

  6. Le travail de chacun est magnifique et vraiment je vous fĂ©licite car peindre dans de telles conditions ce ne devait pas ĂȘtre simple !...
    Je vous envoie de gros bisous.

    1. This translates as "Everyone's work is beautiful and I really commend you for painting in such conditions it would not be easy! ... I send you big kisses."


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