The Art of Derek Dohren
October 2010 - The Rain in Spain
I readily admit to an obsession with the weather. I am after all, British. In fact I was almost as amused as my language students were to hear them snigger during one class I gave which was based rather sadly around meteorological matters. They found it funny that their English teacher ticked all the boxes when it came to this unfortunate national stereotype. In turn I was oddly proud to be the one confirming that very thing to them.
I must be honest with myself though: it may have been ok to talk about the fact we have a lot of rain in the UK but clearly it was not cool to wax lyrical over the various types of rainfall one may experience on a hike across Striding Edge in the Lake District during the month of April.
Thing is, I just can’t help myself.
Hopefully you’ll understand me when I say I did not assume spectacular things of the weather here in Granada when I arrived in the new year. Sure, I knew it would be hot in the summer and I guessed things would be cooler in winter but it wasn’t until I rather foolishly traipsed to the shops one cold day in February, without a hat or umbrella, that I learned how much I had misjudged the situation. That walk back from the shops resulted in me looking like a snowman by the time I reached my apartment. In truth, me and the Granada weather have never really got on with each other since.
This year we’ve also had rain, sleet, hail and of course plenty of very hot sunshine. Wind too seems to be a player here, and I recall one night during the World Cup when a mini tornado whipped through the pueblos around La Zubia and laid waste to a bus shelter and several trees. Yep, I take it all back Granada - the weather here does indeed have its moments and frankly, I had not expected there to be so much of it about.
All the more reason then you’d think for me to be cautious when taking my art students out to paint landscapes along the rio genil. Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you? The problem is the weather forecasts here are not the greatest and the city being so close to the mountains throws in a degree of uncertainty at the best of times. So like most people, I look out of the window each morning and I take it from there.
Hence last week my trio of earnest landscape painters and myself were exposed to what can only be described as a deluge of Noah’s ark proportions. My attempts to laugh it off (‘ignore it, it’s only a shower...’) were a bit limp, as were the canvasses, brushes and students within minutes. Funds don’t yet run to full wet weather gear, parasols, wind breaks, fleeces or sun hats, so if you come out on one of my excursions you have to make your own arrangements to cope with the elements (it says so in the small print).
No matter though. In the end the shared trauma welded us into a tightly knit group and I like to think the standard of work produced showed a higher than usual quality. In addition, a rain spattered canvas shows the world your commitment to your art doesn’t it? No pain, no gain as they say and a little bit of deluge and local flooding isn’t going to stop us. It made a change from being fried and boiled. Bring on the winter and do your worst. We shall not be moved.
It all reminds me of the time I got very wet up the Trossachs, but as they say, that’s another story.
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