Feature: Reporter Hannah Crouch tries out Art Afloat

Feature: Reporter Hannah Crouch tries out Art Afloat

Hannah Crouch

Feature: Reporter Hannah Crouch tries out Art Afloat

Sessions encouraging people to paint are being held on board a vintage Dutch barge that travels up and down the Thames from Bisham Abbey.

The Art Afloat initiative is also involved with the Bucks Open Studios initative. HANNAH CROUCH spent a morning on board to see if she could create her own masterpiece.

A morning doing art while sailing down the Thames seems like the perfect way to spend a day.

However I set off towards Bisham Abbey Sailing and Navigation School with low expectations of becoming the next Monet.

I was assured that Art Afloat was a unique creative experience for any level of artist.

Now in its third season, budding artists can cruise down the River Thames between May and September on a vintage Dutch barge named 'Le Coq' and learn how to sketch.

I arrived at 10am sharp on a sunny Friday morning and was greeted by Roy May, the skipper who runs the art sessions.

Despite pointing out several times that I was not good, I was assured that this did not matter in the slightest and that it is meant to be an enjoyable experience.

I clambered onto the boat and was met by three others, including the art tutor Susie Kennett-Brown.

As the boat set off down the river, Susie was keen to find out how often I practised art.

I was truthful and explained that I hadn't picked up a paintbrush in about 10 years.

After spending several minutes explaining the mild panic that sets in whenever I attempt to draw, she suggested that perhaps one of my main problems was that I was looking at objects in the wrong way.

She broke down how she goes about drawing, explaining that it is best to adopt the mindset of a child and simply draw what shapes you see.

As the boat pulled up at the riverbank by the church I took Susie's advice and started drawing.

After attempting some sketches I was finally able to start water painting and again Susie was on hand to help.

I put my masterpiece to one side for a few moments to allow my painting to dry and went outside on deck where I found Ray and fellow skipper Roger Flitter.

The pair, both amateur artists wanted to start the sessions to help fuel people's passion for art, whatever level of skill they are.

When asked about why he set up Art Afloat, Ray said: "Because it's my hobby and it's a nice way to spend a day.

"Also we had a barge at the school and it's the ideal platform for art."

The floating art vessel is one of the many participants in this year's Bucks Open Studio and the barge will set off from Bisham Abbey throughout June.

The open studios initiative is designed to promote interest in art and will also see studios across the region open their doors.

Ray added: "Come and enjoy cruising the beautiful Thames and learn how to sketch."

Even though I was not transformed into Monet, I did enjoy the experience and definitely my sketching skills had improved (slightly).

Call Ray on 01628 474960 for more information about Art Afloat.

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