Iíve been on lots of coach holidays. I know this is nightmarish stuff for some people (being trapped in a big bread box with 40+ people) but I like to observe/get to know people. I go alone and it doesnít take long to work out who is also travelling alone. City trips attract the younger travellers but others mostly attract the older generation. I observe people who are also alone, especially when theyíre in cafes and found they can be put into two categories:-
Insiders seem to go inside their mind, hardly looking up, lost of thought, barely aware of their surroundings and their eyes are focused on some mental mid-distance.
Outsiders are observing others people, reading newspapers, looking out through the window, playing with their mobile phone.
This painting relates to the former. I keep coming across these widows and widowers who look at bit lost without their life-long companion.
Iím still in touch with Jed who was a widower holidaying alone (real name Gerald but ĎSmokyí to me on account of his smoking the second we alighted from the coach.) I spotted him on the first stop at the motorway services: sat alone at an outside table, in his seventies, slightly bent over like an old vulture, looking into the bowl of his mind - an insider type for sure. He didnít look right on his own somehow. I could almost hear the deafening silence from the space his wife would have occupied. Poor lad.
Over the next few days I got to know him (these coach holidays are all the same - for the first day you donít know anyone then, the odd ďhelloĒ progresses to conversations and by the time the coach is dropping off people you feel youíve inherited a new acquaintance.) As we were the only single men on the coach I soon got coupled up with him for all meals and outings. We even stay together on the odd drop-off at Stratford and Oxford.
His forlorn expression was rooted in the death of his wife 5 years early. He said he still missed her especially on holidays and ďdidnít want to wait too long to meet up with her.Ē Iíve met up with him on another holiday or two and hope those conversations over those meals and coffees turned him from an insider to an outsider.
So here is a woman sat at a table for one, head bowed, lost in thought. Even the flowers donít seem to be able to lift her spirits. Itís a small canvas so hardly any paint was used and it was finished quickly.
I saw this saddened widow while on a holiday in St Helier, Jersey. She chose to sit alone in a shaded private alcove for her meals. I've shown her sat in half light/shade as this is as I remember her. The lamp light seem to cut her profile in halves and I remember thinking this was apt she was probably only half as happy since the loss of her husband.
Sorry itís a bit of a gloomy picture but I'm not one for painting kittens playing with woolly balls.