Monday, April 30, 2007

A french guesthouse

I'm doing some paintings for a lovely Irish lady with a lovely Irish accent! She has a beautiful guesthouse in the countryside, not far from here. These paintings were done in the beginning of spring, so I'll have to redo them when her roses are all in full bloom. I'd like to do another painting of the house too, since I think I've done this one a bit gray? The house dates from the seventeenth century with lovely little turrets which were used by monks. For more information on the guesthouse click on the images to enlarge. Both were done in pen and watercolor on Fabriano HP paper. 30.5 x 45.5 cm.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bottles big and small

My painting of the week...bottles. Some of the old bottles I buy at "brocantes". I set up the still life, then Tokala knocked over the small bottle with the twig, so I left it just like that.
This was hard...these bottles with all their transparencies drove me to coffee...after which my body pumped so much caffeiene, I even did an oil. See also Casey's still life with bottles
Pen and watercolor on Fabriano HP.
30.5 x 45.5 cm
Oil on canvas
22 x 27cm.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Watering cans and dainty shoes

In art class this afternoon, Casey set up a still life outside...after we enjoyed a delicious lunch of Courgette soup with sesame seeds, followed by a wonderful tomato, coriander and pine nut quiche and ended with strawberries and blood orange dessert and madeleines...I hope you are all drooling now..

It was tough getting into drawing afterwards, but we did the best we could. We had a friend there whose shoes we all admired, so she unceremoniously stacked her shoes as part of the still life....

I wanted to try a different medium today. The first one is done in a walnut stain wash and then finished off with pen and conte in different colors on Arches HP. Although not the right medium for those dainty shoes, I did it nonetheless, since I haven't worked with it before. I do like the medium and will definitely experiment more.
I thought I owed it to those shoes to make them look kind of pretty, so the second is done in pen and watercolor on Arches HP. The composition is a bit off in both cases, among other things, but let's say I felt like watching the world go by rather than joining it. (See what Judi says about this "watching the world buzz by"...

Monday, April 23, 2007

All kinds of hope in a shopping cart.

Every time I fill a shopping cart, I have good hopes....

At the food store, where all good intentions fly at first entry, I always hope that the food in it will last longer than the previous time, so I won't have to go soon again!
The season also has its influence. In winter I hope that what's in this cart will make the blues go away. In summer I have good hopes that my cart will help me fit into that skirt I bought 10 years ago.
Then there is the constant hope that I haven't forgotten anything....

Going to the hardware store produces hope of another kind. Whatever I put in the cart, always raises the hope that maybe there is an angel looking down on me and this load who will volunteer to do the work..the bigger the cart, the bigger the hope...

The garden center has all the bright hopes of the good and beautiful in life...hope that these little plants will brighten up that dark corner, hopes of abundant flowerings in spring, hopes of bigger fruit next year, hopes that summer will last forever...

Lets not forget the hope which this sketch is all adorable bearer of our hopes in a cart....well, that is simply necessary practicality! Pen and wash in moleskine (and photo)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ice cream versus salad

How I love painting. And tennis. And I do love my garden, my house. Shopping. What else. Oh yes, and I love eating! Good food, healthy food, bad food, ordinary food, new food, traditional food, adventurous food...all food.

I am sitting here right now, licking a huge Magnum ice cream. A double caramel! Sweet and nerve rackingly rich, deliciously creamy, luscious, sticky, voluptuous and sensual...and far too small. While I am indulging in my ice cream I have a healthy menu for you, a great one for a long, lingering lunch on a hot summers afternoon around a huge table with great friends!

To start off: make a tomato mozzarella salad, using nice small vine tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella torn into bite size pieces... stuff some in your mouth while you're at it. Tear some basil leaves and lastly, sprinkle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and mill some fresh pepper and then add a sprinkling of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes.To finish off, mix gently with your hands and then lick off those fingers, serve on a pretty plate and enjoy with crusty bread.
For the main meal you dig your beautiful platter out of the back of the cupboard, give it a rinse and then fill it with...crispy green leaves of your choice, mesclun, spinach, rocket and other herbs and don't forget some crunchy red cabbage sliced finely for great color and crunch....

In the middle you stack some cooked quinoa, first sauteed in coconut oil with some red onions and then cooked until just done.

On top of that, beet cut into chunks, hand fulls of organic grated carrot and around the rim, little bundles of steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or parma ham. And finish off with a little sweetness; a handful of golden raisins and pumpkin seeds and a Calamata olive or two. I like some green peppercorns sprinkled too. Finish off with a vinaigrette of your choice, some more crusty bread, a bottle of good Rose and you're off to hear all the Oohs and Aahs from your hungry, anticipating guests waiting at the table! And do enter with flare...why else have you gone to so much trouble! Dessert. No can't do without dessert. To keep to the theme of health, you take lots and lots of the usual, and cut them roughly into chunks. Using a large fork, you crush them until pulpy but not to a puree. Then you add a large handful of chopped mint, which you ventured into your garden for early morning, with your hat and herbs scissors and gloves...and of course you pulled out some weeds while you were there. OK, the add this generous handful of mint to your strawberries and follow up with some balsamic vinegar and if you like your strawberries a bit sweeter, add some honey. Just before you put this beautiful dessert in the fridge, take a big spoonful to should be able to just sigh with pleasure, if not, then start over. Serve it in some beautiful glasses where its beauty can be seen. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, drizzle with some honey, a swirl of syrupy reduced balsamic vinegar, a dash of milled black pepper and of course, a small mint leaf...and please, don't plant a tree!

So, off I go to fetch another Magnum...enjoy your lunch!

Pen and Watercolor on Arches paper HP 23 x 31cm (9 x 12")

The details of a Wisteria

The wisterias are magnificent now, their beauty cascading over walls and pergolas and trees and gates, windows and towers, roofs and even pathways. I just had to take on a painting or two, try and capture a little of their glory.

I tried twice again, not being too happy with the first try. I took on another corner, more "architectural", more detailed, brighter colors, with which I am quite feels like "me".

And I just can't get away from it- detail- I need detail. Without it, I can't stress. I can't be obsessive compulsive. Without detail in my life, I can't experience beauty. I can't create beauty. Without detail, life is very foggy and leaves only an impression of what might be out there...very much like the first painting of these wisterias.

Watercolor and ink on Arches HP
23 x 31cm (9" x 12")

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Three apples and the rest.

Voila my painting of the week - a bowl with fruit.

It took 3 apples to get to the "right" half eaten one.
The first one was so crunchy and sweet and just too delicious, I ate the whole thing. That made me full. I then asked Hartman to eat the second one with specific orders...he just gave 3 huge gulps and only the stem was left...a little bit of deliberation there. There was only one left, so I had to eat the third apple carefully, measuring it against the other three after each bite. And then we went to play tennis. When I got back, the apple turned all brown. I had no apples left. So I played guessing game on the color.

The bowl is made by the artist Carrol Boyes from SA. Using pewter and other materials she makes beautiful bowls and cutlery and office stuff and...and.... to see
her work, which can also be ordered online -

I love expressionism. I find I can achieve that in oil, a little more challenging in watercolor though. I have a fear of losing the transparency of watercolor....but I think this one isn't that far off?
Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three times different

These are the results of my drawing afternoon with Casey yesterday. I tried something different to get out of my rut and ran into all kinds of trouble. Not that I can define "something different"...

The first one is just plain ugly and I've deleted it a few times from the blog, but decided finally to keep it. I wanted so many things fitted in and I chose the smallest format. I didn't even complete it, just grabbed a brush pen and filled in some rough lines. Don't click to enlarge, not worth it.
After Casey had left, I gave it another try, obstinate to get this scene in my pocket! I don't feel much for this sketch...proportions are completely wrong, some ugly darks, even more cramped, in spite of a bigger format. Overall just a bad, disturbing painting that makes me want to come up for air.
The third one I did this afternoon and decided it would be now or never. The plants need to get into the ground. I was still obstinate, so I kept to the same scene. I used an even larger format and this time I did use all the space. There is still too much detail and finicky pieces and not enough depth, but this it! I still can't say what it is I wanted to do differently. I at least hope this last one broke my spell. This looks better enlarged. Watercolor on Fabriano HP. See Casey's painting from yesterday, she also tried something different...take a look

Monday, April 16, 2007

Carole said: "Come on, just do it!"

Five things from my bathroom. Carole said so. ( I could only get to four. I struggled almost the whole day, but I've done it and I feel good. Great they are not, but I'm happy. Wonderful feeling of achievement! It was so great having someone tell me: "This is what you need to do, do it" Not thinking or planning or finding something...I just did it. Next time it will be better. Thank you, Carole.

I dedicate this to all of you who were encouraging and supportive, may I do the same to you when you need it.

Pen and watercolor, Arches HP. Click on images to enlarge.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Because I have no inspiration!

I am in no mood for drawing or painting....can't find any inspiration! My pencil goes its own way, the brush refuses to cooperate, the ink won't flow from the pen and no subject steps forward with enthusiasm. How did I arrive here? No idea. But I believe I'm not alone in experiencing these dry spells and from past experience, I've learnt not to push it(not TOO hard, that is), not too stress(well, THAT is so easy!) not to give up(will NEVER do that?) and not to feel inadequate(complete silence..).

Since I couldn't produce anything for the last few days, I went back to some previous sketches and chose to post these, just for the sake of making myself feel a bit better.

When we were in SA on holiday, we visited my husband's brother, who just bought a huge property out in the country, beautiful, but with lots of work to restore it to its former beauty. There is an old tennis court, overrun by weeds and what not.
We are a family of tennis players and to see a tennis court, however overgrown by forestry, is to tease a lion with a lamb. My husband grabbed a shovel and started clearing the court for some great tennis! I grabbed my paper and pen to help. Soon, Dora and Solly, who are in charge of all the work in and around the house, closed in, each grabbing a tool and long before sundown, the first ball was hit...I won the point(hie hie..) barefoot no less, since I had only sandals for my sunny holiday in SA! We played tennis non-stop, for the next three days, barefoot, like when we were kids, except our feet weren't those of kids anymore...

Please be forgiving when you look at these sketches - I was sitting in direct sun with a 40 degrees C heat coming down on my head and they were moving with the speed of lightning; my husband in eagerness to hit that first ball and Dora and Solomon anxious to get out of the heat, and lastly I am not that apt at sketching people.

Pen, watercolor and moleskine.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ugly, but couldn't do without...

I have found "ugly" to be an emotional concept, at least for me...
When you know the story behind it, "ugly!", turns into "oohh how sweet!"
On a bad mood day, I see more ugly people than usual; my car is ugly, which is usually not a problem, since I couldn't care less about a beautiful car; the dry winter scenes, which are normally architectural masterpieces, are just plain ugly and my bedroom mirror, which is most days a sweet and kind soul, shows its mean side.

Today isn't a bad day, so I couldn't find anything ugly around me. Even the dishwasher and washing machine, fridge...all those machine-things have their beauty today, maybe because they still do their job so dutifully?

I decided that garbage bins are my love-hate passion in life. Every day. They are not emotion-related. They are a cruel reality of life on earth. I hate every form of waste... energy, time, food, water, garbage...A Garbage bin to me, signifies the ugly side of life. But I couldn't do without it. In shame I hang my head and I embrace my bins, glad I only have to fill them and someone else, more courageous then me, will take care of the problem elsewhere! So, here I give you the ugly side of my life and unfortunately, yours as well....

I wanted to depict these bins as ugly, so I gave only 5 minutes to myself to do each, wash included and I kept to it. I used Pentel brush pen and watercolor pencils; black....and red and green for a touch of beauty, since this isn't a bad mood day....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The green corners of an April garden

April is gardening month. From middle March to middle April I have no nails, no soft hands, a broken back, tennis elbows in both arms, arthritis in my thumbs, I shuffle like an old woman and I smell of compost. All because of the love for a garden.

I have only white and blue/purple in my garden and of course green.Then I have one stubborn red tulip. For three years I've had that tulip showing up every April. For three years I've cut it off as soon as it flowered, put the flower in a vase, dug up the bulb and gave it to a friend. Just to repeat the process the following year. I've accepted the red tulip in my garden now. It is in a vase in my bedroom, I've dug up the bulb to give to a friend and I'll wait for it next year.

I struggled with these sketches. I can't get all these nuances of green down in a flattering manner. It all looks messy. Maybe it is too much green on one go...I do actually feel a little sick. SoI'll take my leave now.

Pen and watercolor on Arches hp.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The elegant fences of the countryside

The countryside provides a wealth of "elegant" fences...
I took Robyn( ), up on her suggestion a previous time, and did these sketches on site with a water soluble pen and 2 waterbrushes and my moleskin, along with nerves of steel(for standing right on the edge of the narrow French countryroads) and a pretence(so I would at least give the impression that I know what I'm doing) and chewing gum - that is for the nerves and the pretence...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Out with the stale, in with the fresh on a Friday

Every Friday is a day of freshness and I have only three important goals for this day.

The beds get a fresh set of sheets. I love linen, white linen. The fresh bedroom is finished off with a pillow spray of rosewater or a sprig of herbs, tucked in between the pillows, for a fresh smell, something like mint or lemon verbena. What can I say, I'm a romantic.

Fresh flowers is a must on a Friday. A vase with a bouquet, old bottles with blooms, a bowl with petals, an old teapot with a empty container and a fresh flower.

Last on a Friday is a fresh salad for dinner. Only that and maybe a fresh crusty bread. That is to make room for the rest of the weekend. A huge, scrumptious salad with all the fresh goodness found at the market, good for the body and good for the guilty conscience. Then I may have my chocolate on Saturday and my cake on Sunday.

Monday, April 2, 2007

In a perfect world, I would simply have to snap my finger and...

.... strawberries would always be in season... ....chocolates would never make you fat...
....aspararagus would be available all year round....

.... onions wouldn't give you a smelly breath... would be considered a health food... purse would always have money in it... house could self-clean by the push of a button...
....I would have a chauffeur to drive me where I want....
....I would never again have to fly economy class...
In a perfect world, I suppose I would never have to snap my finger...