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.
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
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.
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:
I will say first that there is something very irritating about these …..too stiff or something, too scratchy?
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).
This is a quick watercolour sketch that I love, it is of a bend on the Canal du Midi which was built to provide a short cut from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea 1666-1681. It was lined with plane trees to consolidate the banks making it shady and majestic. Tragically an American disease is now slowly but surely killing the plane trees and whole stretches of the canal are left bare. The colours in this really nail the warmth of the day and the feeling of endless summer. The section in the painting has pine trees on the bank, here a photo of some plane trees:
We went to a christening in London yesterday and this is what I did for the little girl who was being christened. The name is quite well camouflaged in the picture. As luck would have it the weather was perfect and the capital was in bloom already. Pear trees,cherry trees, plums and great swathes of Clematis armandii. The trains were rubbish however with multiple engineering works, we threaded our way out to the Brighton line in the oddest way and not even in the same way we had got through getting into Victoria.
This is the view from the Belvedere high up above the village looking over the hillside where all the castles are . The previous sketch was from the café by the stream in the centre of the village where I waited for the boys. It was so hot the masking fluid which I had off loaded from the bag to lighten it exploded in the car…at first I cursed as I thought it had leaked under pressure but actually it had blown a pea sized lump of glass from the shoulder of the bottle. Awful mess which stank but then dried into peelable rubber and neatly cleaned out the little crevices in the dashboard of dust and general grot……latex can be useful.
The weather in France was extreme, there were days of intense heat, sudden swirling winds like desert dust devils and then on the way home a ferocious thunder storm which we drove through for at least 40 kilometres. The other cars were sheltering under the motorway bridges and last weekend I found out why; that day friends of relatives had two windscreens and their roof tiles smashed by tennis ball sized hail stones only 10-20 km away from the motorway we were on. Perhaps the sheltering cars were listening to their traffic news and following advice.
After driving through the terrible storm for some time I learnt a new word “Orages”, it was on the motorway signs but I had to look it up in the dictionary, duh! you don’t need to tell drivers they are in a thunderstorm when its hammering the car roof with ice and the lightening strikes every 10 seconds all around.
6″ x 6″ approx
This one is recent; rambutans- I bought them on a whim because they looked so bonkers.They are the weirdest of weird tropical fruit as well as coming up on “Pointless” as quite a good answer. The only exotic fruit that beat them was akee which you pretty much have to be Caribbean to know. Akee also looks and tastes a little like scrambled egg when it is cooked which is why it is served with salt cod, not entirely fruity really.
For those as yet unhooked by Pointless, it is a BBC quiz where you have to try and get the answers that are least known in the general population. That’s why I love it when food and plants come up because I know those subjects. If, as is normal, there is a question on cricket, football or F1 I am stumped. I get a lot of pleasure from wondering who would be the ideal partner for this quiz, someone whose knowledge filled in the gaps in mine.
Going back to the rambutans they tasted a little like muscat grapes or a cross between that and lychee.