A few months ago, a freelance cameraman phoned me to ask if I'd take part in a local film project about the environmental heritage of North Northumberland. Well, I've met Jimmy before, through promotional work for Alnwick Garden, and thought, 'Hey, why not?' There would be, I knew, an opportunity to showcase my painting, and the project sounded worthwhile; a lot of the work included children at a local school and I think it is important to feel good about the area you live in, and feel proud. The media works to convince people that the party's always somewhere else in order to sell ideas. If you feel good about yourself, and where you live, you can take or leave the barrage of advertising angled at pressing the self-doubt buttons. Kids growing up in rural locations can be made to feel they are missing out on a shinier, more sophisticated 'lifestyle' and will be very negative about their patch. Having felt that myself, I'm very happy to see projects that celebrate the area...ANYWAY, off the soapbox, I was on the beach on Thursday afternoon, madly mixing far too much cobalt blue and alizarin crimson, fretting about painting an en plein air oil in front of camera and two programme presenters. I may have chopped every comment with a hideous self-depreciating statement as my Lindisfarne seemed less castle-like and more a table jelly, the sea was so flat it was practically concave, I ran out of 'sand colour' and dropped brush after brush into the sand. What a palaver I made, what a fuss. The idea had been that the couple interviewing me would happen upon me as I was taken by the muse, exchange a few pleasantries and say their goodbyes. This was to be linked with a piece already completed, in my home, featuring some more talk and views of the paintings. It all sounded so easy, so professional; no doubt Jimmy will edit the bumbling (on my part, both Nina and Bob were relaxed and focussed) fool to appear (briefly) cohesive and interesting.
I made reference to using the finished article to light my fire, later, so neurotic was I, by the time the filming ended. Jimmy suggested we raffle the offending (my term) article at the showing of the film, and during Seahouses festival to raise money for a local charity. I stepped back from the painting and the four of us contemplated as a low black cloud hid the last rays of warm spring sun from us. 'It needs distance.' said Bob.
'About three miles?' I thought.
Then I took my s**t-tinted spectacles off. Yes, the painting's fine.
'You need to stop saying such negative things about yourself, you aren't doing yourself any good.' The wise, good-looking, twenty-year-old Nina proffered as we said our goodbyes in the car park.
Thank you, Nina.