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Archive for September, 2010

The Perfect Apple – a painting a day

September 30, 2010 2 comments

 size 4.5 in x 4.5 in 12cm x 12cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Last night we had a power cut right in the middle of a box shifting fit. I found myself in a maze of unfamiliar objects with no lights.

Blog went out of the window and sons and DIY Dad, robbed of electicity dependant activity, went to our bed and  were read Tolkein aloud by candlelight. I decided to continue with my bonfire in the dark on my own, it sort of worked for a while.

Anyway I did this quick sketch of a perfect Ellison’s Orange from high up on the tree, no sorry I was not high up on the tree, the apple came from there. It’s done with a charcoal pencil and wash

#137 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

How Autumnal is this?

And finally the Cobea Scandens decided to flower.

Morning Glory in a pot – a painting a day

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

NFS size 6 in x 5 in 15cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

The morning came wet and dull; I took my boys to the station and to school and parped the in-laws on their way down to the station.

Then I had a very mixed day of cooking and shopping for food, trying to light my bonfire again and cutting down Berberis bushes which are getting too crowded. This isn’t as therapeutic as it could have been as it revealed a lot of scrawny brambles that had been sheltering underneath. I also started pruning out grotty branches on the pear tree. More air for next years crop.

I  painted some fresh morning glory as yesterday’s had shrivelled up, and had a look at some other painting a day blogs. I started to key the apple I was sure was a Cox and it came out as a Christmas Pearmain, I think. Or a Manningtons Pearmain whatever that is. It tastes very nice quite sharp and Coxish.

Tonight after some protracted arguments with No2 son about the exact meaning of current and resistance and whether the central heating analogy was worth thinking about (plumbing is still on DIY Dads mind),we decided to bite the bullet and start moving stuff from the room where everything went during the build project. I found among other things an Art Nouveau vase from my grandmothers (I remember her bringing it back from a jumble sale coated in black muck) and four sable brushes along with a steel rule, a boxwood rule and some Indian ink. I consolidated DIY Dads kimberlite collection (as in a bit of every kimberlite pipe he ever found). This released two big cardboard boxes but the place still looks like a bomb hit it. It needs to be clear so that the ceiling can be skimmed. Although the builders did not work in that room they managed to trash the ceiling, mainly by falling through it, and we are sick of looking at the patch.

#136 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Two more mystery apples

Morning Glory, pink and purple – a painting a day

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

 Morning glory  -  

NFS size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

I went back to look again at the trees in the community orchard to choose five significant trees to concentrate my efforts upon.

I starred five trees to look at. Today I tried to key out a knobbly looking green apple. It has the look of a Codlin or a Catshead and in fact it has the internal structure as well. I also worked on a pretty red eater which seemed to come out as either a Lady Hollendale (very obscure) or Ingrid Marie, I am inclined to the Ingrid Marie which is a Cox descendant  which was used to breed Elstar. I begin to realise that apples are like thoroughbred horses they can all trace their lineage from a handful of famous forbears. Ribston’s Pippin begat Cox’s Pippin, which begat Ingrid Marie, which begat Elstar. Ribston’s pip which was grown into the tree was brought from France ( Cox’s Orange Pippin is really at least half French !! Its lucky the Mail doesn’t know about this, I can sense everlasting damage to patriotic pride would result)

On a different subject, there has been a beautiful full moon, I was waiting for some bad nights as last full moon some big moths got into the house and then as the moon shone on the window at night they bashed themselves against it trying to reach the light. Now, after I let them out, what did they do? I have to presume that they would continue flying towards the light source, the moon; as they got higher and higher at what point did they stop? Do they fly upwards until the cold air saps their energy? Does it do them any good? Hmm.

The tomatoes which came in from outside were beginning to show signs of blight. The recommendation in a magazine was to heat them to 40 degrees centigrade for twelve hours. I tried to do this in the dessicator. The temperature control was not perfect; however I have to report a partial success. Rather than seeing the healthy looking green tomatoes fill with blight just before they ripen, the tomatoes are mostly ripening. Where there is some blight development it has clearly been contained in patches and is not romping through the fruit. This gives one hope for the method.

My painting today is of the morning glory, it will not be for sale yet as it may have a taker already. The morning glory plants are now in full flower (they were sown very late). There are three colours and they are great every morning as long as the night has not been too cold. I have also found that the buds will open for several days if a stem is put in a vase.

#135 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Ellison’s Orange Apples – a painting a day

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Trying to key apples, they have to be cut up.

 size 6 in x 4.5 in 15cm x 12cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Yesterday I went to collect my aunt so that she could visit us and then the intrepid soul is off for a week on the Norfolk Broads with my mother and sister. They will be hiring a motor boat , she has packed more thick jumpers than I own.My mother has made a Fleetwood cake which was the cake which went with us on any journey when we were children. When we went to the Broads as children the standard was an 8”x8” cake and a catering tray of homemade bread pudding donated by my grandmother. We also took all our Easter eggs as it was always just after Easter that we went. Sometimes it was lovely the reedbeds were coming alive after winter and the primroses were out. Some years it snowed. I remember being in a dinghy when the snow started falling and the wind dropped to nothing , the belly of the sail filled with goosefeathers of snow as we watched and grew colder and colder. I think we got back in the end by using the sail as a great bit flapping wing. Hot tea and slabs of cake restored us.

I had a very frustrating attempt to get the apples from the community orchard identified. I tried to spread the apples out over the day and had got one identified positively when I queued again. I finally got to where it seemed to be my turn and a woman from Storrington pushed in with ten samples of apple and I couldn’t keep my aunt and the rest of the family waiting any longer.

So it now requires another visit to another apple day or some tentative guesses with the online apple key. Slow work,an expert will recognise features which short cut the process.

#134 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Pear Precoce de Trevoux -a painting a day

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Day One hundred and thirty three  

   size 5 in x 5 in 13cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Today I am considering the subject of my blog, I have been asked to do some Morning Glory, I quite fancy doing an outdoor picture but it will probably rain on me, and then again there are flowers and apples in the garden which I like but haven’t put in a blog painting yet…some days to have plenty of choice seems a luxury and on other days it is too much. I have decided upon one of the stored pears ,you can tell its been stored its gone a little crumpled.

I made a big tray of apple sortofshortbread this morning for the weekend, but it smelt so lovely that when my neighbour popped round to look at the builders progress on their house( getting there) we got stuck into it with a cup of coffee. Apparently her daughter K. reads the blog which is lovely to hear.

The shortbreadsortof is an attempt to pass off more apples on the family in an acceptable form. I made a mix half way between shortbread and pastry using butter and stork and plain flour (1lb flour,3/4 shortening,1/2 sugar,1 cup raisins, two large aromatic eaters diced,pinch of salt…I used the Ellison’s Orange, but Cox or anything suitable for a French Tarte au Pommes would do. It’s quite crumbly but tastes good*. There are many opinions on what should go in a real French Tarte au Pommes, something like Calville Blanc d’Hiver apple is classic, it has a very strong flavour and thin slices cook but do not break up, however modern writers including French recipe sites suggest Golden Delicious or Granny Smith ,these will look right but they will not have the intense flavour of the older apples which are used by better restaurants in France. If you tend to think that Tarte au Pommes is OK but a bit insipid I suggest you seek out one made with the sort of apples around which the recipe was created. I wonder how many old recipes we miss the point of as we do not have access to the right varieties of fruit and vegetable to make them special. Ellison’s Orange is actually a cross between a French Calville Blanc d’Ete and an English Cox so it probably is a good candidate for a proper Tarte au Pommes. The apple can seem dry as soon as it starts to overripen , but that I think is the sort of characteristic required.

Last night I put apples in the salad and in the pudding and the night before I made Bolognese sauce with fresh garden tomatoes ( they thought it was marvellous…no of course they didn’t they moaned that it was different from the standard brew).

Method for recipe if you would like to try:

Put the flour and the shortening and the salt into a food processor, blitz until it is mixed and starting to stick together in lumps.

Mix in the raisins and the diced apple, press into a lined tray bake for half an hour in a medium oven or until it is firm and beginning to brown in places. Cut up when nearly cool and eat, but you could guess that bit.

#133 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Pear leaves in autumn, or the galling bit – a painting a day

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

 

   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

 I appear to have a Likedin account that I am unaware of as people are asking to be professionally associated on it. This is worrying as I don’t wish to be rude to them but I don’t want another site to look after either, neither does it seem that I can check what’s going on without making an account which is what I don’t want to do. Oh frets and worries of the electronic age.

I forgot to mention a memorable bonfire last week. It was the day that things became horrible at No1 sons new school. I was very annoyed so consoled myself by lighting a fire to get rid of all the diseased stuff I have been extracting from the garden, and a little of my own bile perhaps. I was really enjoying myself when I noticed that I had set the fence on fire. The fire had travelled under the cover of some dead leaves two metres along to where there were piles of holly leaves against the bottom of the fence. Once there they had ignited a soft rotting log and the bottom of the fence. My panic was that the fire would leapfrog along the base of the hedge and kill it or the rotting boards on the fence. Luckily I got to the water butt and back in time. Holly leaves do burn well live or dead; I always looked from them when we were doing the” light a fire with two matches and no newspaper” test in Guides, I forget which badge that was for. I think it must have been the Arsonists Badge; there was definitely a badge that featured flames.

The rain finally got here as I was heating up some spaghetti puttanesca for my lunch, well it was the easier than the original version as no cooking is required: put a little virgin olive oil in the bottom of a heatproof dish add thinly sliced garlic, olives stuffed with anchovy chopped, a teaspoonful of drained capers, any fresh herb in reach +/-, tomatoes tinned or fresh Place a blob of left over spaghetti on top and microwave until the pasta is hot, stir, eat. It beats a cheese sandwich. I’m not sure I’d serve to anyone but really close friends, i.e. those who know better than to complain.

Apologies to those blog readers who like beautiful things, today I have painted dying leaves it’s a bit of a thing with me at this time of the year. I think they are lovely but they are also decaying. They are decaying after a job well done. Think Whistlers mother.

The bright red patches on the pear leaves occur every year, they are some sort of gall, on the back of the leaf there are lots of little spikes behind the red patch.

#132 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Amanita – a painting a day

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 4.5 in 15cm x 12cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

The day started groggy and foggy, the fog was outside the groggy was in me.

I don’t think the smell of plumbing solder agrees with me for one thing.

The installation of a better radiator in this room has meant that some of the junk has been moved out the way which is nice and I have a better view into the side garden. This is the time of year for that patch as it had masses of Sedum ‘Autumn Glory’, which is a very simple undemanding plant but it peaks quietly now when lots of other stuff is heading for Tatty Town. There is also a large shaggy white dahlia which survived the winter in the ground; it’s remarkable what did survive, in fact I am almost sure that I have lost more things to the drought this year than to the hard frost in January.

I spent the morning collecting apples from the trees in the community orchard to identify. There are an awful lot more trees there than seemed possible when the undergrowth of nettles and brambles was untamed. An old pear is dripping with hard green fruit and there are some trees that have shed their crop. We found what we thought must be there, a Cox, almost hidden under ash trees which have grown up in the area since the orchard was abandoned, it has barely fruited. I think there is a D’Arcy Spice apple and a Reverend Wilkes (named for the horticultural stalwart who bred the Shirley poppy, see earlier blogs). There is also honey fungus fruiting on the roots of several trees which is very bad news indeed.

We went for a different walk today, if we had been there a couple of days ago there had been some very fine ceps, as it was they were huge and home to millions of tiny maggots.. In fact on the way back from the community orchard I saw a cep by the pavement only a few minutes walk from here. They really are everywhere. Instead of edible fungi we picked paintable fungi and here is my first effort. I don’t think I have drawn one of these since I was at school. Amanita’s are classics of the fungi world, tall, well formed and successful they are in the main poisonous or very dubious, some will kill you, this could make you pretty ill with the possibility of some hallucinations depending on the weather…..the suggestion is that the toxin/hallucinogen varies in strength according to the type of year it has been.

#131 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Fly Agarics in Ashdown Forest

Three very rude tomatoes – a painting a day

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

 

   size 6 in x 12 in 15cm x 30cm charcoal and wash on heavy weight rag paper

Today and for the last few days DIY dad has been playing musical chairs with the radiators downstairs, this is a rush job as soon we will need functioning radiators- we will have reached the equinox in the morning. First of all a new rad. appeared in the dining room, and then one disappeared in the downstairs loo, then another went in this room and its replacement which used to be in the dining room can’t be put on the wall because the screws are wrong, or the rawl plugs, some small but vital widget is not what it seemed at first and its absence then derails the whole process.

What with that and a rather unsuccessful woody walk I got a little late in the picture painting but here are the maddest of the tomatoes. One looks like a teapot and the others are just rude.

Yes, it seems that the unending supply of ceps has ended.

Yesterday we uprooted all the tomato plants and brought the fruit inside. I will burn the haulms as there is a little blight on them. The tomatoes were bred to have some resistance to blight which may be how they have survived so long outside.

I set up the dessicator to heat the green tomatoes to 40 degrees for twelve hours, if this helps there will be a huge supply of ripening tomatoes. The idea is that the heat does not damage the fruit but finishes off the blight so that it doesn’t infect all the ripening fruit. See article in The Organic way issue 200. www.gardeningorganic.org.uk/tow

 #130 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

Three very red apples – a painting a day

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 12 in 15cm x 30cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

These are the last of the early apples they have turned yellow and shiny red. I think they are past their best in terms of eating but the next tree is ready so that doesn’t matter. They are very pretty for a painting however. It’s a pretty rough and ready painting but I like the colours.

There was a mini apple day today at the back of the Mayflower pub, this all went very well as a mixture of people came to look and try the apples and juice. The organisers were not allowed to use fruit from the community orchard site as the council have not yet tested it ….for landfill contamination. As the apples are growing on what was a farm (according to some) and next to a nature reserve this seems quite farfetched.

I started this sketch in between helping set up a juice maker and the official opening time. Trying to juice apples with a press but no apple crusher was hard going, I did improve our yield by half freezing and then defrosting some ripe fruit and cutting it up.

There are still ceps to be found but the cold nights are going to discourage them. I am bored with the same old wood and want to go and check some different places. That’s not to say that I don’t get a thrill when I see a neat and prim baby cep sitting in the moss where there was nothing yesterday. When they are young they are very upright and straight-laced, as they age they get more wild and blowsy…no parallels there then. I have been watching a round ball slowly emerge from the woodland floor by a path, I had decided that it was not likely to be a cep, now it has sprung up and it stinks. See the photo below, the stinkhorn- it does what it says on the can.

#129 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

 

Turkish figs with Serrano ham – a painting a day

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment

   size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Day One hundred and twenty eight  -   a painting a day

The figs are very pretty cut in half and lovely with some Serrano ham.

A few leaves of curly endive or fancy lettuce in a strong but slightly sweet dressing would be perfect with this. Not that I can get the endive easily here. I should try and grow it.

The ceps are moving around the woodland or rather the pattern of fruiting is changing. The best area previously was very sparse but we found another which was in full production. The drying routine is getting to be just that, a night-time routine, an easy mindless chore.

The quality of the ceps is phenomenal some days. They dry a pale creamy white and are good enough to eat like that, also the thin dry slices will crumble into scrambled egg and soften without soaking to make the most delicious scrambled egg imaginable.

I looked at the Tigridia plant and it is doing what they almost always do- producing a second flower, I will try and get a picture of this next time.

#128 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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