size 12in x 6in, 30cm x 15cm approx. copyright alison warner
This is a stick of rhubarb, it looks a lot like a strange tree with a pink trunk.
It was delicious and pretty to eat, forcing seemed to bring out the redness. It is hard to classify rhubarb, it is treated as a fruit in the kitchen, but is a stem so it is really a vegetable; not only that, it is a vegetable with poisonous leaves which have to be removed before cooking. I wonder what would happen if you sliced it into thin pieces and stir fried it with other vegetables….in a savoury dish would it be tasty or inedible?
Hm ( I just googled for recipes) there are savoury recipes out there for rhubarb but mostly it looks like they are using it to replace orange or apple or plum as a combination to offset the fattiness of mackerell,duck or pork. Wikipedia also points out that it was not used as fruit until sugar became cheap enough to cook with on an everyday basis. In the middle ages it was exported along the silk road and very valuable as a medicine ( they must have set great store by its laxative properties apparently- it was more valuable than opium or cinnamon).
size 8in x 6in 20cm x 15cm
Wonders will never cease to flow across the barren landscape of my existence…lovely aunt has a good report from the doctor, DIY dad has done a tip run, the town councillors don’t like the sound of new neighbours monster house development, and the thin practice nurse’s dire predictions for me turn out to be unfounded as yet, in other words I am not particually unhealthy just rather tubby.
size 6″ x 6″ 15cm x 15cm approx
There, I finally did another painting, I started it yesterday evening and luckily got straight back onto it after breakfast this morning which would not usually be possible. The rest of the day has been swallowed up in other peoples trips and visits and unexpected double bookings. Then just as I was actually doing something useful getting stuck into a bramble root, the new neighbours walked through to the back of the house and stood there calling me over as though we actually knew each other. I say the new neighbours, they could be the developers who wish to double the next door house in size taking masses of our sunlight. There was rather a lot of emphasis on their neighbourly status which has made me wonder why they feel the need to stress it. They have not moved in and tell me they will not do so until after the summer……he presented a card and tells me he is a builder. As most of the builders I have met since we moved here have lied to me in an accomplished and persistant way I am feeling very nervous indeed.
Spots on a spherical object are a challenge. I feel they are too prominant in this picture but the idea was to get both the spots and the bloom, which dark plums so often have, on the page. Its a bit technicolour, I am having a really bad run of not liking my paintings. I did one in oils and, while I enjoyed the smell, I was outraged by the result- too horrific for the blog.
I do think this is a painting which is flattered by the scan and the screen. Honestly it is worse in real life.
The garden is on a roll, the Daphne bhuloa is nearly finished, the D. odora is opening, the small daffodils are all out and some big ones too. There are hyacinth, the honey smelling Osmanthus blooms , and even the first forget-me-not. The little camellia which I bought is still tiny but this year it is covered in blooms…single small white blooms with a whiff of pink. There are flower buds on a tree paeony which has never managed a flower yet, I can live in hope on some fronts. Dogstooth violet and foxtail lilies are poking through the ground so its possible they will reflower and flower respectively and establish themselves in the shady part of the garden.
The corner of the garden planted up two years ago( I think )is now a tangled mass of self sown Verbena bonariensis, Geum and bronze fennel; but look inbetween and underneath…. there are brambles germinating, twitch grass lacing and ivy creeping. There are also masses of Hypericum seedlings which I pull out on sight but am losing the battle with at the moment.
Talking of lacy effects I was passing a municipal bed on a slightly misty but bright day and there was a bed with wonderful spires of creamy lace erupting everywhere…winter ornamental cabbage going to seed - it looks fantastic.
This is a tiny picture the leaf is painted at about lifesize.
Summer holidays: life one long round of slogging round Sainsburys and prising children off their electronic boxes. There are nice flowers in the garden but for some reason I am painting the leaves that fall from the little pear tree.
Only two more episodes of the Hour left to run….I could cry. If Hector is to be believed then my dad must have been in MI6 as I swear his raincoat, or gaberdine as he might have called it, looked just like the one worn by the ill-fated Mr Kish. He always seem to wear it with a trilby which is still a good look in my book, but then he was always hopelessly out of date only giving up wearing trourers with turn-ups when Oxford bags came in in the seventies…ie when they revived a look he had finally had enough of it and submitted to modernity…well almost… he wasn’t going to update the shoes or vests you understand.
These are the best blueberries I have ever grown. The secret is to keep the perishing birds off without netting the birds and perishing them.
this painting can be bought from ( apologies for photo on ETSY page there is a glitch):
Beetroot in a bunch
22cm x 15cm, 9″ x 6″
There is very little time in the day when there are so many plants to water and crops to pick, I do not try and grow beetroot as I am the only person besides lovely aunt who really likes it, so these are bought and no less pretty for it.
The allotment has peas and beans in astonishing variety at the moment, diy dad has dug out his early carrots and the maincrop carrots are coming up. I have a forest of flat leaved parsley in the salad bed and the first tomatoes are ripening. The first autumn cyclamen is out as well….excuse me but the proms are only just begun, cyclamen???
Day One hundred and seventy two
Click here to bid size 8 in x 6 in, 20cm x 15cm
Written last night :
There’s nothing like being rung up and told that your child was due in school after a bleary breakfast when you dragged yourself out of bed only to be convinced half way through ( too late to enjoy going back to bed of course) that it was actually an inset day. We were sceptical and checked the school website…it was an inset day….I retrieved dinner money and set a revision paper….but the noble souls who teach my son were working through their inset day ( as well as doing the training presumably), in order to sort out the knotty bits that need to be fixed before the exams, they phoned to complain after the event. Damn, blast and double blast. All revision that occurs outside home and doesn’t involve major complaint sessions within earshot is worth real money in my book and today the money just rolled down the drain. I was humiliated and bound to apolagise abjectly , as the I lowered the receiver I turned to the snivelling brat responsible…….
Last night and the night before we had a barbeque…as it was glorious again today a hat-trick was suggested…it’s that dreaded call, ” I’m on the TRAIN and I think we should have a BARBEQUE!”. I’d run out of ideas and cholesterol capacity so got trout from the supermarket and put them in a fish gadget which holds them together. They looked very enticing with the skins scorched and curled, bread, lemons and salad were all that were needed. The day time temperature on a north facing wall has been up to and above twenty -three days running so it has been warm enough to sit out until dusk.
Last night I saw a pair of bats chasing each other, today I saw an orange tip butterfly the first in a few years. I am trying really hard to catch up on weeding and planting…I made some grim rotting corpse type discoveries in the shed, improper storage/extreme cold has cost me a very fine dahlia and some so so ones and a Colocasia .I will leave the final excavation until I am feeling braver.
There are quite a few losses in the garden from this time last year, the raspberry scented Salvia is all gone, the Dryas colony has died ( calls itself an alpine too), a pretty delicate Hebe is toast or rather kindling and a delicate south African Rhodoxis? has turned to dust ( I am almost sure). I’ve lost all the Siberian wallflowers including a good looking cutting. I also lost most of the seedling Hellebores from last year but that was drought last summer not the cold. More hedge is succumbing to the honey fungus and so are the potentillas…however they are producing insane numbers of seedlings. I can’t believe it when they were so hard to grow from seed originally.
Lovely aunt is enjoying the good weather and the barbeques at which she claims to be an almost complete novice…I can’t believe she has missed everyone of the barbies we have transported to my mothers house in the past and cooked for the extended family; she was always at weekend gatherings there until my cousins whisked her off in a hurry to the cleaner air in Hampshire. Her description of this to the G.P. had the G.P. ‘s eyes doing that “ you are kidding me “ thing at me. I ended up muttering “don’t go there” as it is all very distressing for her still. I can’t tell their side of the story as they refuse to discuss it.
I have tucked some sprigs of rosemary and Siberian Wallflower (taken from mothers magnificent plant…how come…oh never mind) into the cuttings pot to try and get some new plants. The seedlings of Tiarella which I put out in the shady area last year are looking fantastic, fresh green plants which are starting to merge into effective ground cover (effective free groundcover). The apples are starting to come into flower Owen Thomas two days ago and Katy today.
Onwards to the next barbeque day….
#172 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
These apples are for cooking with in winter I think that they may be Calville Blanc d’Hiver.
Today I reheated the Oxtail stew I started yesterday, it was lush, lovely aunt ate until she was full. We have heard nothing from Social Services about setting up a meeting which is annoying.
Click here to bid size 7 in x 9 in 17cm x 22cm, charcoal and wash on Fabriano paper
On Friday I started to investigate the problem of what happens to the GCSE curriculum as it seems possible to me that local schools are only teaching a part of the syllabus; they may not be alone in this.
I started with OFSTED as they have given the school, where only part of the GCSE syllabus was taught to my son, a good report. They have not heard of the problem and tell me that it is not really within their remit. They suggested the Department of Education. The D. of E. said that they were not aware of a problem and it was not the sort of thing they dealt with. They suggested two more organisations, OFQUAL and QCDA, the people I spoke to here had casually heard of teaching to the exam but they saw it as something the media went on about. They finally said that it could only be dealt with in writing, so now I must wait up to two weeks for a reply.
Meanwhile I am contacting an academic who has said something about this in the press and I will try and find a journalist who can shed some light on the matter. No1 son thinks I am nuts; if a GCSE can be got by doing half the work he believes that can only be a good thing…..in the short term son, in the short term.
I was waiting for the paint to dry on my painting of the day and shaking out some clean washing when something started buzzing in it…it was the biggest hornet I have seen this year it must be a queen. I got it into a wine glass in the end and took it out to take it’s chance in the cold wintery night out there.See picture below:-
Recently painting of the ceiling has been more to the forefront of our minds than watercolour but we ran out of brilliant white and what with the twittering and the lumpen teenagers on half term I didn’t remember to get another pot. Anyway DIY Dad has retired to bed early with a cold after a miserable day negotiating time sheets with colleagues who want to bill 31+ days a month……
I have finished putting apples away now and just have the remainder left to get juiced on Thursday. The picture is charcoal and wash of fruit nearly ready to store, I just wrap each good fruit in newspaper and put it in the shed which is cool( but not very cool yet on sunny days like today). The garden is full of jobs that need doing lots of things need rescuing from the cold before it does for them.
#147 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
The body as thick, no thicker than my drawing pencil…shudder.
size 6 in x 7 in 15cm x 17cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
Today and yesterday were wet on and off, wind and rain, horrid inside and out. It would have been fine inside as the house is warm without being heated due to the insulation being so very good. However we were engaged in a mammoth circulation of our possessions to clear space for a plasterer to mend the hole where Matt, the builder’s labourer, fell through the ceiling. Having established that he didn’t need an ambulance I considered finishing the job and kicking him through to down stairs but relented. After all there’s nothing about a load of fibreglass, muck, plaster and sawdust on your bed to make one upset, is there? The problem with bad builders is they are bad in so many different ways. By the time Matt went through the ceiling I was ready to believe he had done it deliberately. I was aware by this stage that the owner of the company was not asking us for money in a sensible systematic way and then panicking that he didn’t have money to cover wages and asking for it at short notice and then if it wasn’t obtainable in time blaming us for the short wages that I am sure the men suffered from time to time.
We also need the new cupboards plastering so nothing can be stored there, the hall and landing need painting shortly so nothing can stay there, our new bedroom needs the floor sanding so…sorry where is all this going …in the studio?…and you think I will be able to use a press in there and work round it all?…ah yes I could throw it all away but….I don’t really want to. There is a view upheld by tutors at college that an artist collects and that this somehow vindicates their body of work. They were encouraging collection in other words, I cannot imagine being in a position where I needed encouraging hoarding, sorry collecting things, it is a great failing of mine, but I am not sure that it makes one artistic.
At one point I came to the baskets where my best jumpers were stored and the woolly walking socks for Christmas stockings. These had been fine at Christmas but since then some devastating American form of clothes moth had got in and gone through a shawl that was so fine I had not known it was wool and all the jumpers were full of gaping holes. I thought the socks looked rescueable and microwaved them to kill any living creature…how was I to know they weren’t 100% ? After less than two minutes small patches were turning into melted black ooze and smelling utterly dreadful. I am not popular with anyone. After extensive airing and cleaning the smell is still lingering in draws and cupboards.
The community orchard apples have been to West Dean (with someone else) and back and some of the identifications agree with ones we got by using an online key…Carlyle Codlin and Laxtons Reward. One each to DIY Dad and I. We are in disagreement with the experts on a number of other apples but I think I have one of the pears; Packhams Triumph is an Australian pear but was planted in the UK. It makes a decent crumble and I suspect it would juice rather well and eat well later on.
The grapes came from the market and once the boys had recovered from the shock of” PIPS!?” they disappeared very fast.
I also insisted that we picked the cooking apple tree today as the wind was starting to knock the apples off in bulk. No1 and No2 son refused to put on their shoes for a long time until harsh words and threats got them outside. Before we had finished it began to rain and still we picked. In the end No2 was enjoying the rain and being up a tree until me on the ladder and him in the branches were getting along famously. We have nearly cleared the tree and have a giant stack of apples which now need sorting and wrapping for storage in the shed. I think I will get about five trays of top quality apples and plenty for now and then some for juicing.
The best part of today was visiting a lovely open studio in a village with old friends. There were paintings, sculptures/cabinets and quilts which were really restoring, the artist Heather told me she had planned for a year to make it all work well. Her studio looks over their garden to the Downs.
#138 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
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