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!!
A ten minute sketch done to a chorus of “we are hungry can you hurry up?”.
It’s Mont St Michel last summer.
size 6″ x 9″ approx. 15cm x 22 cm
Apologies for the (former) silly little postage stamp image it’s a problem which seems to occur at random , of course all that means is that there is some little detail on the uploading process which I miss out without realising I have done so. Then I do it all over again and it still goes wrong until finally on a new day I do it all over again again and it goes right and I still have no idea what it was I did wrong the first four times.
One of my sons was sitting an exam as an external candidate near Reading this is what I did while he was furiously ( I hope ) writing. I used to walk in those far off woods and hunt for edible fungi. Pangbourne is to the left and Mapledurham to the right on the other side of the railway and the river Thames (which is hidden).
I am also putting time into getting ready for an open house exhibition in Burgess Hill where I will be in a house with five other women. Our host artist is Suzanne Bench and she is opening up her Art Deco house as a huge gallery- upstairs and downstairs. We will be doing tea and homemade cakes with squash for children. I have had more work framed than ever before which is slightly scary. I went to a framer in Worthing who had already cut mounts for me , she was very quick and the prices are good. She also has racks and racks of frames already made up at sale prices ( left behind by the previous framer possibly) . It would be possible to spend a whole afternoon there hunting through the precut mounts and frames and finding ones which work , as plenty of my work is square it makes it easy to find something.
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!
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 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.
This is the sketch I completed yesterday at Oakleigh Cottage near Heathfield. Well I almost completed it in situ. I filled in some of the gaps when I got home.
The garden is one acre and in several different parts. It has a new highly impressive irrigation system run from a borehole, DIY Dad was in his element. He likes drills of the handheld and the lorry load variety and boreholes are modest sized drilling projects. The horticultural interest is varied; pretty drifts of daffodils and frittillaries , startling yellow marsh marigolds and some giant bamboo which is competing on almost equal terms with an oak tree.
I have had to go onto my third file for the blog as this picture is 201 (100 paintings per file). It is also about two years since I started blogging so I have obviously not managed a painting a day more like one every four days on average. Still, to stop would seem wrong.
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.