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″
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).
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 painting has been framed and is for sale at Burgess Hill Open Houses see blog for June 4th
This is a more pleasing composition …but not right…I feel like I need to deconstruct all my equipment , clean it , buy some new brushes, get new glasses or something …not sure what.
Collected a large quantity of silver chard from the allotment today and rhubarb again, there were two little shoots of asparagus. last weekend I cleared the bed of all shoots small and large so that it could be cultivated. I made a vat of asparagus soup as they were mostly short or misshapen.
I was very put out to find that the planning officer does not consider the loss of sunlight to our house and garden important…if the new neighbour builds what he wants we will lose so much light and warmth from the winter sun and our view will be decimated. We will literally be overshadowed by their monster extension front and back. getting sun into this garden has been the biggest challenge as it was circled with overgrown trees and hedges when we moved here now something permanant and ugly may sit between us and the sun. Worse the people who want to take the light say they intend to be our new neighbours…how will that work in practice? I prefer to get on with neighbours even ones who are different to us but what does one do when the new people have taken something precious and beautiful about ones home before they even move in? It is always best to avoid neighbourhood disputes but it is very easy to see how they can take hold.
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 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.