Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If all else fails, try vegetables

I've seen a few people on EDM struggling with being in a slump. I guess it is my turn. I can't seem to get a hold on inspiration.
There is a whole wide world out there to paint, to draw and I can't find anything. I have the pencil and brush in my hand, like a knife and fork, waiting for the perfect meal to come from the kitchen. Unfortunately I am the "cook" in the I literally took my pencil and brush to the kitchen and tried to cook up something...I painted the first things my eyes fell on. Just earlier today I bought fresh produce which were on the table and so here are my carrots and aubergines...interestingly, the striped one is called a Graffiti. I struggled through 6 sketches, going from bad to worse. So I threw away the rest and kept the first attempts.
Both these sketches were done in WC on Fabriano HP.
Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Touches of yellow

I have nothing yellow in my garden. But I have white flowers with touches of yellow.
Two vignettes from the garden done in their setting, in bright sunlight.
A white Hemerocallis, the only one in flower.
Done in WC in moleskine. Click to enlarge.

I also have Feverfew(Chrysantemum parthenium), a small camomile-like white daisy with bright yellow centre. They make a wonderful display in the herb garden, and work wonders on a migraine, they self sow profusely and look beautiful picked by the armsful.
My goal with both these paintings was to keep them light and fresh by incorporating the white paper as part of the composition. With the feverfew, I used more "dabbing" of color, since that is how I perceive them in the garden.
Done in WC in moleskine. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Monday night's dinner

Monday nights are detox nights. Actually, the whole of Monday is a detox day.. I have a bad habit of overeating on the weekends....everything I love and even sometimes don't love. What can I say, I live to eat. I live to love. I live to paint, to draw, to have fun, to be naughty, to dream, to laugh, to cry, so...I live to eat.
And on a Monday I detox. I drink water all day and for variety, I drink rooibos tea, without caffeiene and stacked with anti oxidants. I can even go without coffee on a Monday. But only on a Monday.
Here is my menu for a Monday night's dinner. OK. So it may not be completely detox, but I did say earlier I drink water all day long! We'll start off by tying our aprons and pouring a glass of Perrier. Would it be weekend, we would've had a glass of red wine, or maybe a beautifully chilled rose, seeing that we're in summer. But now we'll stick to our sparkling water.
We'll go out into the vegetable garden and pick some glorious, succulent tomatoes of all colors and sizes, leave some on the vine, rinse them uncontrollably outside and bring them inside in your favorite tomato basket, worn and stained from years' harvesting of tomatoes. On the way you'll pass by the herb corner and go wild on the basil, and don't foget to pull some spring onions . Chew some parsley for good breath and rosy cheeks, since you're not having any wine to see to that. Now into the kitchen we go. Have you remembered to pick the cherries for dessert...great for detoxing!
Now, doesn't this sound idyllic? If you don't have all these freshness in your garden, then do what I do...take your basket, and go to the market.
For the how to on this dinner, you can go to my foodblog here.
The following sketch was done in WC on Fabriano HP and then I had to "Fix" it again with pen!!

This sketch was done in WC on Fabriano HP....and no pen this time!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Unknown faces on the train

Some faces on the train to Paris. All done in pen in moleskine and given a wash later at home.

Bells in watercolor

A glass bell in the garden.
Watercolor on Fabriano HP extra white.
A glass bell in the kitchen.
Watercolor on Fabriano HP extra white.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer guests

Every summer our Bed and Breakfast is fully booked. Mostly by regulars who visit year after year, finding our meals unsurpassed, our hospitality most gracious and our facilities nothing but quality; in short, five star accommodation at a reasonable price.
Mr Frog arrived later than usual this year and is still awaiting the lady of this affair to arrive. Every evening he protests his discontentment at her not being here yet, in his distinguished baritone voice. I hope she arrives soon, I don't like seeing my guests unhappy.
Once again we had the honor of assisting in the arrival of Mr and Mr Swallow's young ones. What a lovely couple they are, so caring and loving and protective of the live they have created. the happy event happened only 5 days ago and it was a grand event here. We opened up a bottle of bubbly and all the guests attended to celebrate the wonder of new life and admire the 5 adorable infants.

Miss White butterfly brought many more of her friends along this year and I really had to be inventive to accommodate all these teenagers. But I love every minute of their delightful company! We have come into the habit of sharing an hour or so together every afternoon, where I learn from them all about being a delicate and beautiful and delightful adolescent again. Along with the ever roaming dark and handsome bees, they enjoy energetic parties until late night, Fortunately the neighbors haven't complained yet. I suspect they know and understand all about the habits of these young people...
We are also very honored to accommodate very well-known international models in our B&B every year, miss Dragonfly and company. They keep mostly to themselves, are very discreet and love their privacy. But when the moment shows itself, I'll stare at them shamelessly, wishing I had their elegance and beauty. Soon they will all be moving on to make room for the next half of the summer guests, leaving me just enough time to tidy up, restock the pantry and put out fresh flowers. The arrival of our summer guests, is a highlight in the season, something we look forward to year after year.
All these sketches were done in pen and WC in moleskine.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Urns and tennis

I have a passion for urns...Medici, cast iron, soapstone, old stone...I love their shape and touch and smell, their poise and nobility. While I watched the tennis today, my hands looked for something to do. Since I've been longing to do a few urns for some time now, I thought I should start right away with the first one, an old French cast iron urn. The first painting is oil on linen which I did a few years ago. It is close to my heart.
This next one is one of three watercolors I did while watching the ladies final at Roland Garos this afternoon. I wanted to go for the same composition as the oil just for comparison.
This was the last of my attempts and probably the one closest to what I intended. Maybe because by this time the tennis result was a clear cut thing, no doubt who the winner would be, so my attention was mostly on the paper.The shape is awkward though, but that doesn't bother me too much. I'm never too fixed on realism. My watercolors are a bit sloppy lately, but my goal is to bring more expressionism into them, to accentuate color more and the big one fiddle less!!

This sketch comes in second. I'm not happy with it, although there is something that makes me look at it again. It is very wild and uncontrolled, dark a with lot of confusing leaves....that actually sounds very much like my mind.... or it could be the tennis. By this stage in the match, it was a very one-sided game.
And finally, my first attempt right at the beginning of the match, when I still thought it was going to be a tough battle and my attention was eagerly turned more to the game. There is really no interest in this one, very flat and floating with no excitement. After these attempts I had enough of this urn, however much I love it. I'll try some others for next time.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

From shade to shade in summer

In summer we travel from shade to shade.

Early mornings, cup of coffee in hand, are spent on the terrace, sitting on a rock at the entrance to one of our caves and contemplating. The shade of the huge cliff at your back is a welcome relief after a hot night's suffering. These stairs, leading up to the terrace, were done in pen and watercolor, on Fabriano WC paperHP(extra white). click to enlarge.
After all that meditating and musing, while watching the sun brightening the skies, it is time to move out of the shade and into the working shoes, which are ready on the go at the kitchen door. These are actually the working boots of Hartman, mine wasn't to be found, but they aren't as characterful as his anyway. But, pretending they are mine, they will prune and dig and weed and water, while the sun still has a gentle caress. This was done in pen and watercolor on Fabriano CP paper. click to enlarge

All the prunings and snippings of early morning will go into some vase somewhere in the house as well as an empty container in the garden in a shady spot, like the mint in this old kettle on a crooked, rusty chair. This corner was sketched in pen and watercolor on Fabriano HP(extra white) click to enlarge.

Finally the day will end in the welcoming shade of our summer kitchen right at the back of the garden, where we enjoy the most wonderful alfresco meals, prepared by Hartman. (The door right at the back goes into a cave, which accounts for the wonderful coolness in summer)This is his kingdom, where he cooks and fries and experiments and flips and flops, with me in the role of sous-chef and lighting candles and lanterns, picking herbs, fiddling here and meddling there. We play guitar and sing and eat and while away the beautiful summer evenings, ending it all with some more contemplating and musing. Tomorrow we'll start the day again, moving from shade tot shade. This was done in watercolor on Fabriano HP. Click to enlarge.