Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winston Churchill - Plein Air Painter

When Winston Churchill, during World War I, took the fall for the Gallipoli fiasco and resigned his post as the youngest ever First Lord of the Admiralty, he went to the trenches in France in 1915 and took a paint box with him. Thus began his painting career at age 40. Over the next 40+ years he painted over 500 very creditable paintings. Among his memorable quotes on the subject of painting is “When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting.”

Recognized for his “bold and joyous brush”, he quickly transcended amateur status and became an accomplished painter. He frequently painted large format plein air paintings as a break from his stressful life. His compelling essay “Painting as a Pastime,” in which he extols the contemplative virtues of painting for the overworked, is a classic. He is reputed to have entered art exhibits of some note anonymously and taken prizes.

An extensive collection of his work is to be found at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where he gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946. A visit to the Churchill museum at Westminster College will be rewarded by the additional bonus of a fully restored Christopher Wren church moved from London after the war.

– Carl Judson

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