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
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.
This is a detail from a painting which I started as a demo. at an exhibition, I did finish it at some point but everything was overshadowed by what happened in the 36 hours following the exhibition.
Lovely aunt came to the exhibition with her visiting carer, they had a look round and some coffee and cake and off they went, quite jolly really. By the next day my aunt was keeling over sideways in a chair so I called the paramedics who bundled her protesting into an ambulance, I was with her until 02.30am in A&E she was probably six hours on a trolley but we were at least in a cubicle. She had pneumonia but scans revealed more serious problems that were not going to get better. Its never going to end well when they look concerned and say was your aunt a heavy smoker? No she wasn’t but… that conversation stemmed from an initial misinterpretation of a scan and what was wrong was not related directly to cigarettes, rather old age.
She recovered well enough to get back out of hospital and her triumphant grin when she got over here for Sunday roast was worth a fortune. She enjoyed Christmas, especially the halibut I bought for Christmas Eve. What do you do when you are standing in the fishmongers just before closing on Christmas Eve and there is very little left? I panicked and bought a magnificent slab of halibut and then some sea bass in case that was not enough…it cost as much as the goose for Christmas day! There was too much but it was utterly delicious and mother and lovely aunt both enjoyed it. I made a sauce with cream, lemon and capers from the pan juices. She had lots of visitors during the winter and her live in carers worked very hard, so did I in fairness as I provided almost all the breaks for the carers. Lovely aunt had always given money to various charities but the only organisation that helped in this period in a practical way was the hospice to which she had never donated. Social services? give me strength…it can take two solid days to phone them, if you speak to someone they may promise to phone you back….they don’t get back reliably…they tell you that you have made a mistake and that there is a social worker attached to the Memory Clinic who will deal with you…there isn’t….it takes two solid days to get someone on the phone to tell them what they should know and they then promise to get back to you and of course they don’t. Many charities ask for donations showing happy clients being supported at home by the charity…but don’t make it obvious how one accesses that help or only offer a service in other districts, advice lines are helpful but not the answer to everything.
There is a great deal wrong with our system of care for the elderly….there is not really a coherent system for starters…visiting the hospital every day made it abundantly clear that there were terrible things happening to many elderly people.
My aunt died of cancer last month and there was a lovely funeral beneath the Downs on one of the first dry days we have had this winter of storms. The snowdrops were just opening then but now they are almost over and life must keep moving forward. I am belatedly pruning the cooking apple tree and splitting logs- its therapeutic.
This is the whole picture:
size 15cm x 30cm, 6″ x 12″ approx.
There was to be a mornings painting of fruit with lovely aunt but she, not being able to concentrate as well as before, ate the still life!!
This is 6in x 8.5in approx 15cm x 20cm approx
I get this orchid to flower once every few years it is scented and rather strange; there is something of the night about it. I found it for sale in, of all places to buy interesting plants, ASDA( or Walmart in the UK for international readers)! I bought two to decorate the house I was selling, the other orchid, a pretty coral pink, died years ago. This one seems to manage on the benign neglect I bestow on the rather more common moth orchid. The painting is drawn at about life size.
I am too nerdy for my own good , of course it felt silly to own an orchid and not know its name….so I googled “maroon green and purple orchid” and came up with: Zygopetalum Louisendorf from the images or rather I picked up a slightly similar Zygopetalum and then regoogled it. Oh the joys of infinite information…or rather information tending to infinity.
Saw the wren today looking busy…something I should be!
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).
6in x 6in 15cm x 15cm approx.
Now I seem to have lost my bloom and gained definition on the spots or is that just the natural aging process…of the plums,dear, of the plums, I can hear Frankie Howerd saying this.
The difference between these two pictures is that the first painted the spots in negative ie by painting a dark background round them and in this one I used masking fluid to keep the pale spots pale. Or you could say I painted them in positive with masking fluid which is removed later.
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.
FOR SALE ON:
7.75″x6″ 19cm x 15cm watercolour on heavyweight rag paper
This is the middle plant of three hellebores which came as a free offer with a plant order, it is a lovely pink with a hint of peach. Actually I nearly did not get them, the company tried to fob me off with a substitute ….begonias corms…..excuse me but where do begonias come equal to hybrid hellebores? I complained and they said that if I reminded them the following year I would get my hellebores….I don’t know quite how but I did remember and have a glorious row of three which have now self sown for the first time. One is tall and white, one is green and double and this one is as you see. It flops in water a bit. Another theme to try again. There is also the big job of teasing the seedlings out of the ground and potting them up so that they all get a chance.
#8 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog