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Never throw out a practice piece!

Standard advice is always to hold on to all of your practice work in order to:

  • a) chart your progress as a painter

  • b) spark ideas for new paintings for those "lacking inspiration" days

I reaped the reward for this few days before Christmas when I was asked by my village if I could paint a picture for a gem of a man in our community who has been having a tough time. The idea was to present the gift to "Sooty" our local chimney sweep, who has raised many thousands of pounds for the children's ward at our hospital over the last 35 years. Sooty (aka as Father Christmas) and his sleigh visit's every child in the village on Christmas Eve and also collects £££'s for charity. The theme of the picture would ideally be his house ... oh ... and by the way if there was any chance it could be done by Christmas Eve so that a presentation could be made when Father Christmas and his helpers returned to the pub to count their charity collection, then that would be wonderful! Naturally I wanted to help but phew ... I'm quite a slow painter AND I was about to have lots of family arrive for the holiday period. So I turned to my storage drawer and found a practice piece that I had worked on as an idea for a larger more considered watercolour. It still needed some washes and some pen work to make it acceptable and I also added a chimney sweep's brush coming out of a chimney as my own private joke! I had an existing frame and double mount that worked really well and was quite pleased with the final outcome. Sadly I couldn't make the presentation but here's one email comment I received after "Sooty just loved your picture and tears were shed! Your work and generosity were much appreciated by the assembled and it was all a great success. Thanks so much"

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