Saturday, March 31, 2007

Figure drawings

The model we had last week was, once again, beautiful, almost too beautiful. She was so slender and slim and her head seemed too round and big for her slender frame, that I struggled to get her proportions down. And she must be some kind of a contortionist - she pulled out some poses that was just undoable for a normal human being. See image 4, where she literally lifted her pelvis from the ground with her legs in the air and kept the pose for about 4 minutes! I was so captivated by this ability, it completely distracted my attention from drawing her! These poses are mostly 2, to 4 minutes for some and 15 minute pose(see last 2 images, I think). I used monolith, 9B throughout. Some of the poses are cut off...too big for the scanner, sorry for that. See also Casey's drawings from the same class at

Thursday, March 29, 2007

People in Amboise, and one window

Tuesday Casey and I had our weekly art afternoon, this time at her place and since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to go out into Amboise and sketch some people. It was sunny and bright, we enjoyed a coffee, moved to new spots every so often, searched for a new pen she wants to try out, got sunkissed and lastly, looked for a birthday gift for a mutual friend, which we couldn't find...some people are just hard to buy a gift for. I hope I'm not one, I adore gifts! Once again a great day, although the sketching truggled a bit. Here are my results. See Casey's as well at

Sunday, March 25, 2007

How many differences do you spy?

Play along and spot the differences between the two pictures. Click on the images to enlarge.
Stand on your head to read the answer at the bottom.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fresh from the sea

A drawing in ink and wash. I started out, planning this to be a painting, but somehow it ended up as a sketch with a wash. I chose the wrong day to do a painting...a bit low on energy that day. I used one of my photographs I took on my recent trip and it can clearly be seen in this sketch - it is lifeless and without feeling, without energy. I find that I cannot do a sketch from a photograph, somehow I don't have the ability to give it ...oomph..
Click on the image for a larger view ( hope it works this time, since I have been having problems with this clicking-thing.))
This sketch is pen and wash on Fabriano hotpressed paper.

In the limelight

I finally finished this oilpainting. It took my some time though. I can't say how long...too embarressing. I have been sidetracked by unimportant things for a while there, hopefully I'm back on track now. (Click on the image to enlarge)
I love working in oil and I enjoy using it "dramatically". It is not a medium where I wish to be delicate and thoughtful and now I don't mean being disrespectful to it either by being sloppy and messy. Since oil is such a wonderful medium to push around with your brush, or knife as in this case, I enjoy going for extremes, where the endresults aren't always "pretty" or even pleasing to the eye, but where a lot of telling and emotion is conveyed to the viewer.
This was done from a series of photographs I took at a dance one evening.

oil with painting knives on canvas.
65 cm x 81 cm

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A doorknob is a thing of art

I love the doorknobs in my home. There are many. All the rooms have french doors that open onto a balcony. I counted all the doors - 12 of them. So I decided to draw them. I also enjoy hanging stuff on to the doors, as you'll see and that changes with every whim.
In the guestroom, always a flower glass with something from the garden, in this case a daffodil.
In the bathroom, an old star made from recycled tin, which I bought from an old retired farmer, when we lived in South Carolina...I can still hear him say with a long, southern drawl: "Oh, lordiee, lordiee.." What a fun old man he was!
Then the market basket is always on the ready at the living room door.
And here comes a little cheating as well...a door yes, but not really a doorknob, only a huge, beautiful old key. I used an old door I found at the back in one of our caves and made a bulletin board out of it, on which I hung this key and a wooden "Bonheur" heart, which really does give "Happiness" above my desk.
OK, so maybe they aren't all doorknobs, but purely for my enjoyment here, I depict them as such...a pretty porcelain handle to the bathroom and last but not least, the heavy brass handle from the large green painted wooden gates. It is always tarnished but looks glorious once it is cleaned. Which happens only when I need to get rid of bad energy. Then I'm stuck with a tennis elbow for the next 6 weeks.
There are still more doorknobs and handles and levers and keys, but I'm done now with doorknobs being a thing of art.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Casey, bunnies and lots of chocolate.

Casey and I had our weekly drawing session this afternoon. It was at my house and it was another cold, windy, grim day here in France. So I went out to the store, bought one of all the Easter egg chocolates available and set that up for us to draw. I wanted everything that is good and colorful and comforting around us for this session....that was what I needed and Casey as well, since she had a rude woman at her throat yesterday....Along with all these chocolates, I got all sorts of flowers, all the cloches I had around, colorful fruit and vegetables and tea and cookies(the latter for our drinking and eating). So on the table we had all that was good and beautiful in life! Even Tokala and Ayiani found life was exciting in this drawing area.

Casey did, true to her wonderful artistic abilities, great justice to the objects she chose to do.
to see what I mean.

I, on the other hand, did everything but!
Instead of enjoying the color I so craved, I went for a grey graphite drawing; dark and heavy, not even doing justice to the medium either. I did everything wrong from the word go. Maybe the choice was too big, or maybe I just simply ate too much chocolate.
Anyway, I'm posting it as is.

Afterwards, I felt very gloomy about this drawing, so I decided to at least end the day on a colorful note and I did a uick sketch, light wash with ink...its a camelia for those wondering, since this one isn't a Monet either!! The after effect of those chocolates, you see...

All said and done - I had a wonderful session with Casey among the chocolate bunnies, chatting alot, laughing did me a world of good and I am grateful for having this great, fun friend in my life. Thanks, Casey...

Monday, March 19, 2007

A bowl is a a bowl..

According to most dictionaries a bowl is a round container, wider than it is deep and holds foods or fluids....That is apart from all the other meanings...shapes, sports, etc. So I took to searching my house for bowls. There are many. But then I also found other "containers" which I find have no boundaries in terms of their function.

I often use this big platter for meat dishes, salads, but I have also used it as a bowl, since it is just deep enough to prevent sauces from dripping over the sides...platter...or bowl?

Next I thought of, was my mother's silver sugar container, I now use as a spoonholder. Since I grew up never asking :" Please pass the sugarpot/caddy/bowl", but simply: "Pass the sugar", I still don't know what it really is, and should I now maybe ask to be passed the spoonbowl?

The third find in my home was the bird bath. Although it is frequented now by the birds for bathing and our cats for drinking, it did in its newly bought years serve us humans of the house well as a fruit bowl al fresco style.

Birdbath, spoonholder, platter, is all in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mood in a flame

After having glorious days last week, the rain settled back in yesterday, with a daring chill after the warmth of those perfect days. That drove me to a long, luxurious bath last night. As I watched my candle's flame flickering mysterious images against the wall, I thought I'd post a drawing of this mood in a candle...
Ink and wash on Arches water color paper.
I made so many mistakes in this one - once again misjudged the size of my paper, tried to correct an off-centre line by putting in more line, thus accentuating the problem(left side above), keep on fiddling with the flame so it became completely without ambiance, and left too few "lost edges" by continuing coming back and doing more lines. The learning process is an uphill journey all the time....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Picking grapes

These are my last sketches on the vineyards and grape picking in Stellenbsoch. They were done in pen and wash. I plan on using all these sketches to put together a series of paintings...hopefully it will move beyond planning!

This was much more difficult than sketching the "pickers" when they were taking a break. They really picked so fast and their heads were constantly bobbing up and down in the vineyard. Just as I thought I could capture one, he would disappear. In the end I stood further back to only capture glimpses of color in the vineyards.

The first sketch is of one of the many women pickers. This woman had such a presence about her and after a few hopeless attempts to sketch her picking, I asked her if she would keep still for maybe just one minute? The minute turned out to be much shorter than I know a minute to be, but I did manage to get her down.

The last sketch of the pressing machine was very boring for me to draw. I don't like machines of any kind, except of course my coffee machine...I didn't succeed in capturing it's function, so it is hard to see what happens where, but at least you have an where the grapes fall into the shaft...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Napping in the shade of the vines.

Here is the second batch of sketches of my trip to Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The first two sketches - pencil and watercolor on hotpressed Fabriano paper.
The last three - ink and wash on rough Canson paper, which I am quite happy with - it gives a feel of the roughness of the day and the job...grape picking isn't so romantic when the heat comes down on your shoulders at about 35 degrees C.
I did the sketching on the spot and the washes later that afternoon. I was mostly interested in catching their actions and gestures and since they were clothed in all the colors of the rainbow, I could only run through my whole color palette afterwards to depict that.
As for the light - it was in the middle of the day and far too white to be spectacular.
I really enjoyed this day of drawing. The Cape folk are so easy to get along with - they take life in their stride, aren't afraid to laugh, to joke, to talk, to differ and their wit has no equal! They were on lunch break and didn't mind at all that I sketched them while they were taking naps. In fact, they ganged up behind me, looking to see who the next one was to be sketched, making suggestions, made jokes, even gave advice. I shared in their lunches and drinks, but unfortunately couldn't share in the napping...would've liked to though!!
I had such fun.
I hope I did capture some romance in these napping in the shade of the vines....

Friday, March 9, 2007

Holiday in SA

Being back in France for 3 days after a holiday of almost 3 weeks, leaves me a bit off balance. I'm in slow motion and struggle to pick up the pace. I think my spirit is still lingering in the sun somewhere in the Cape, South Africa. I feel inspired, but at the same time, sad. Having had the most glorious time with friends and family, being spoilt is hard to be back and just pick up where we left off 3 weeks ago.

I did do a lot of sketching, took close to a 2000 photographs, soaked up the sun in the vineyards by picking grapes(and sketching and eating and taking pictures, all at the same time) and had close conversation with some elephants (all in good spirit...!), heard a lot of good life stories filled with great humor, ate a lot, drank a lot(I was in the wine lands after all...), laughed a lot, in fact indulged way too much in everything of all sorts, which is a good thing every now and then, no?I'll post some sketches in batches, starting off with CdG- airport, where we had to change planes because of a technical problem and could therefore only depart 3 hours later. So, here are some sketches of people wandering around...waiting, watching the clock, reading, chatting on their mobile phones, some extremely bored, others not showing any emotion....strangely enough, I couldn't find anyone sleeping...maybe in fear of being left behind?
I'm still not comfortable sketching people in public....I still have a lot of practicing to do, before I'll feel competent and at ease doing people in public, but I do enjoy it once it is done, until the next time! These were all done in the small moleskine, which I sometimes find a bit restricting.
So, here they are - all those waiting people at the airport.......