A little bit of Africa in Sussex

July 29, 2014 Leave a comment

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9″ x 7″ approx
There are things you want to buy when you live somewhere but don’t, things you buy and regret and then there are things you buy later because it would have been nice to have bought them at source. I read recently that we often buy when in the throws of nostalgia. Afterwards you have to find somewhere to put them.

We bought this carving in Sussex in the days when a reasonable middling income didn’t attract higher rate tax but still allowed one some disposable income (that is all reversed now). It was an impulse buy; having gone past our turning we turned round in a driveway and saw among other statues they were selling this carved Shona woman. We have a little one in the same stone inside called “Granny” which was bought in Africa…on impulse- we thought she was £20 but that had been the jet lag doing the calculation…..still no regrets, we love them both.

This flower bed was pretty this year if a little sparse on the lavender…wonder that it survived that wet winter at all. I should take some precautionary cuttings to root and keep in drier conditions over winter. I will do the same for the cotton lavender and see if I can obtain the seeds for the perennial poppy in soft orange that was part of the original planting. Compare with the same bed (June 2010 picture 85 or thereabouts) when I sketched it before-while England lost at football, some things don’t change much.

Just spent Sunday going to most of the open gardens in Burgess Hill we managed 6/8….they vary as much as the people who own them.I was very taken by climbing hardy fuchsia Lady Boothby; bright upper and smouldering lower parts on five foot ruby stems. One small garden had been subdivided about four times making an entrance, a main room, a dining pavilion, and a lounging room off the main, hidden behind the bijou opulent dining pavilion was a greenhouse and water feature…I felt ashamed at the emptiness of my beds only the backdoor pots can compete. The owners of several of the houses seemed to have a real knack of cramming personal references into their garden, they were as gloriously abundant as a Christmas display in Harrods or Selfridges. I am afraid I decorate sparsely – more like a string of token tinsel about the greengrocers vegetables in my case!! Actually I couldn’t garden that intensively as it would be too much work, what a treat to see other people do it well.
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I have however put the old broken cupids back in the pots by the back door (see above). The plants hide the broken bases, my grandmother forced these figures on me one day( “Here,have these you can patch them up!”), and, as I had not wanted them and they were badly broken, they sat in a box unloved and unused for at least twelve years. There was no chance of my mending them not having any handy machinery for cutting the green onyx or alabaster which had fallen off the plaster bases and where to get the hideous stone anyway? I like them waving or drowning in the annuals though.

Nymans 2014

July 14, 2014 Leave a comment

222
size A5, 5″ x 7″ approx

This is a watercolour sketch of one of the gates to the walled garden at Nymans a National Trust garden in Sussex UK.I was sat only 12 metres from the main path but on this side path it was quiet enough that a mouse or vole was carrying her litter of babies across the path one at a time to (presumably) a better home in the long grass to the right of the path. As I say it was very quiet until two German tourists noticed me and decided that the view must be worth a photo if I was sketching it- so he went and stood in front of the gate and she came and stood right in front of me until she had her shot, not a trace of an excuse me! So rude!

The reason I went was because it was the sort of day when it was threatening rain and there was space in the car park. Due to the new charges at Wakehurst Place many people are going to Nymans instead. This is a shame as it is a much smaller garden with a more intimate scale and too many visitors would make it difficult to sit down and sketch or appreciate the garden so well.

Going back to the sketch it has a schoolgirl error in it …can you see? I will need to do some work in the studio on it or make a copy; I also need to get some opaque paint to put in the cream roses growing over the gate….or do a copy. It has a nice feel however.

Social Services

May 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Written mid May:-The most extraordinary thing happened a week ago or rather eight days ago. I had a phone call from Social Services …they rang in answer to my call about my aunt, 31st December 2013. So I was being unfair in saying that they never return calls -they do eventually. However four and a half months to return a call seems pointless. I told them that I had assumed they were simply ignoring us and of course that there was no longer any “us” to ignore ( poor woman seemed shocked but this must happen often the way they are operating). If you are old and ill much can happen in four and a half months, you could fall, get worse, get bored, so could your carers, you could go completely mad-so could your carers or you could simply die.

We are looking at an illusion of a service, in theory there is a service but if they are this short staffed they will spend a disproportionate amount of time fending off work which they are not ever going to able to do and rush the rest, carers will spend a ridiculous amount of time chasing them up and all for no result. Publish a leaflet entitled, “Save our time, save your own time-don’t even ask”. Really it seems logical and honest, it could be used to cover hospital discharge protocols as well.

Third attempt: those primulas again……

April 11, 2014 Leave a comment

221
5″ x 7″
So then I did it again and although I thought that this one was a bit out of control I probably like it best….its a softer version. It’s painted in daylight …back lit which is technically not sensible.

Life is a bit odd at the moment there are lots of things going on but having lost my aunt I find myself a bit adrift mentally. There are no discernable gaps in the day, not usually a sense of freed up time, more an accusing pile of deferred tasks from when I was too pressed to do them-which now I can do them ( in theory) are not appealing to me. I sorted through my purse which was bursting and failed to find what I need ( a receipt ) I did however find all sorts of oddments which needed dealing with. I know, deeply unimpressive use of a woman’s time I also started stitching a seam which had gone.In my defence I seem to have caught a monumental cold at the Viking exhibition on Monday. I wandered into one of my favourite shops near the British Museum, Cornelissen & Son’s colourman in Great Russell Street….its very little changed from the Seventies (and it looked Victorian then); my school art teacher sent me there to buy a portfolio( which is still in use!) I have never bought loose pigment to work with but this is where to get it should you need to.

Yesterday was sunny and glorious and I was stuck in Kent with No.2 son on a course….I spent the day at a National Trust garden sketching. Now that I know would have been impossible before, I would have had to make cover arrangements and have been worrying about how they would work. The sketches are both unfinished and as I took one off the block to start a second, in order to alter it I have to tape it onto a board to prevent it cockling. Cockling is a word that resonates with Cornelissen’s. To see what I mean look at Making a Mark:- http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/Artist-Quality-Pigments-Artists-Colourmen.html

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Second go at the Primula picture

April 10, 2014 1 comment

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This was my second attempt, after dark so the light is from the opposite direction and artificial. I was happy with this to start with until I looked longer and realised the shape of the coffee can is wrong…..it’s what happens with pictures. Sometimes there isn’t one which isn’t wrong in one way or another.
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Spring flowers in a Wedgwood coffee can (1)

April 9, 2014 1 comment

The little cup was delivered by mistake once,we told the supplier- who replaced it with the item ordered, and then said that as it was too expensive to post back we should keep it….at which point customs and excise contacted us for the VAT due on it as an imported item. In reality it had no value to us or to the supplier who did not think it worth the return postage. However the revenue insisted on a notional value and we were obliged to pay tax on that. I put some primulas in it with some forget-me-nots. There are three attempts to paint this all have their merits and all have their faults.

This is what I started with:

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Dry Orange Chillies on the Table

April 7, 2014 2 comments

I will say first that there is something very irritating about these …..too stiff or something, too scratchy?

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Size 6″ x 6″ These have been admired so I have posted them for sale on Etsy my shop is Lemonaday of course.

The peppers came from a market in Shoreham, I bought them from the grower and they were the prettiest thing to be had. This picture (above) is quite recent the next one is a pen and ink with wash of some fresh chillies selected from the box, it actually should come shortly after a similar sort of sketch done last autumn (#211, October 2013).

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6″ x 12″
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