I was really excited about today. I wanted to really spoil myself, and it was something I had been talking about all summer. I took myself up to London, and spent all day in the National Gallery.
The National Gallery is home to a few of my favourite paintings, and many more wonderful pieces. It overlooks Trafalgar Square in London, and has the fabulous entry price of “free”.
I had some particular stops in mind, but also took some time to go around the whole place. I’ve been to the National Gallery many times, but always with other people. I love doing that, because then you can talk about the art and it’s a great way to discover things you have never seen or noticed before. Sometimes it is nice to go alone, because then you don’t have to worry that you’ve stopped too long in one place and that the other person might be bored.
As it was I spent over an hour sat in front of this beautiful painting. It is one of my favourites, despite the naive execution. It has been a favourite since my first visit to the gallery, roughly 15 years ago. One of the reasons I wanted to spend some time with this painting was that I don’t really know why I like it so much.
Maybe I’m not supposed to know, but I thought I’d try anyway. I made some notes and did some doodles, watched people’s reactions to the painting.
My favourite reaction by far, was how many people gesture at the rain in the painting. It’s quite faint, almost a wash, and in a diagonal direction. The diagonals of the painting are important as they give it energy and show the wind, even though otherwise it is rather flat. People kept bringing other people up and pointing it out. I loved that, it made me love it even more.
The painting is wild, it’s unreal. The lack of detail and bizarre positioning of the tiger’s back leg reminds me of a dream. The simple shapes in the painting are repeated and kind of remind me of a vector rather than a jpg (design!).
The most intricate part of the painting is the tiger’s face and I think that’s important. The surrounding is important, it gives you the context, but the face really tells you what’s going on.
I still don’t know why I love it so much, but I think it will always be a favourite.
I have other notes, like “why didn’t Van Gough feel shadows?” and the names of some paintings I hadn’t particularly noticed before, which may be useful for my projects. I’m looking forward to going through them. I also stopped in the Portrait Gallery, I had no idea they had so many of the old monarch paintings, very interesting.
I did freak out slightly when I discovered my favourite John Constable wasn’t there! But have since learnt that the Tate Britain bought it to stop it leaving the country (yay!), so I will have to go and see it there, sometime soon.
I took myself for dinner to a Bill’s in Covent Garden. I’ve never eaten alone in a restaurant before, but thought it would be worth a go. I had a really nice meal (as always) and wasn’t the only solo diner. I started reading William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience while I was there, mostly reading The Tiger.
I walked over 20,000 steps and almost beat my top amount. I went down to Westminster for a bit to look at Big Ben, and then came home to read.
The other thing I did yesterday was sign up for Editorially and start writing a story. It’s a silly story, but I wanted something to focus on in the mornings. I like the app because you can see the edits easily, and I was looking for something other than Google Docs to use. So far so good, liking it!
All in all a fantastic day.