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Archive for April, 2010

Pears on a tartan cloth – a painting a day

April 22, 2010 Leave a comment

  4.5”x6”, 11cmx15cm, watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

That completes the first four weeks of painting a day, its hard somedays and then others it just happens and flows and works.

Today’s picture is quite a fast wet watercolour the mad thing was trying to somehow express the chequered fabric without getting into masking fluid. Not that I don’t approve of masking fluid, I just don’t have any right now. The cloth is a scrap from a favourite pair of my son’s pyjamas. I also worked on another picture which is SO bad I will restart it another day. It too has a sentimental background, a handkerchief of my grandmothers. It will be better when I try again I’m sure. Paintings often are better second attempt, but mostly for the blog I have gone with my first effort.

I did one of the dullish jobs in the garden today, compost management, swopping bins over and sieving the old stuff. Dull but necessary and gets you to the useful bit the black gold. There’s just never enough so I will need to cough up the money for a load of manure this year.

There are several trees coming out now my favourite is the cherry which weeps slightly, it opens pink and fades to white against lime green foliage. Lots of bits of the lilac tree here and next door have died in the winter, it’s only now that one can tell.

Alison

#29 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Figure on purple cushions – a painting a day

April 21, 2010 Leave a comment

  11 inches by 6 inches, 27cmx15cm, watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

I looked groggily at my mug of tea in bed this morning against a blue sheet and wondered if it could be arranged into something pleasing for a still life …then realised that what would be pleasing was the hot stuff inside the cup. Oh! that’s what it’s for!

Moving on swiftly so as not to dwell on the breakfast time that followed, it is an absolutely stunning day again and the sky that I can see from here is as pure as we will ever see it. Nothing is there but quiet blueness.

Outside the garden has reached that exit velocity stage it is leaving the orbit of my complete control. I am flattering myself here I have only partial control at the very best of times.

Earlier in the spring the gardener looks from one tiny pocket of treasure to the next as the carefully placed daffodils come up and the nurtured winter flowering shrubs do their best in appalling conditions. Now however the strength of the sun is giving all the life out there the power to be spontaneous. Tiny dog violets arise and flower in the uncut grass, goosegrass seedlings turn from something small and ambiguous to something reaching lustily for the sky in a few days. Weeds that were kept down by the winter have managed to germinate, grow and flower already…bittercress is one of the ones I most loathe it’s so fast off the mark, I have also found a speedwell under a bush which has already set seed. Then there are the accursed dandelions which I enjoyed seeing in the verges on the way to Shropshire, I dig them, top them, generally give them the worst time but up they come as cheerful and rude as ever.

The briony is growing too this one is almost as bad as greater bindweed it is very persistent and the birds spread the seed which sets liberally on the school’s chainlink fence across the road. Its favourite place to germinate and thrive is in a thicket containing roses and or berberis, somewhere you just do not want to go, there it quietly builds a tuber underground and settles in lacing its tendrils through the backgrowth so that you don’t see it until it reaches the light on top of the bush.

Today I have done something different, instead of a picture from life I have worked from one of my life drawings. This was one where I worked from the background shapes forward to the figure. In other words instead of drawing the shapes of the figure, you draw or paint the shapes you can see behind leaving a silhouette of the figure. It does work and is good for getting over assumptions about what a body looks like.

Alison

#28 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Scarlet and yellow tulips on the bedroom window sill – a painting a day

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

  11 inches by 6 inches, 27cmx15cm, watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

This is one of those, let’s get a fast impression of what the colours and the light are doing, paintings.

I always like to get these flame coloured tulips and sit them against a turquoise painted wall. The colours really start to zing. They are not quite opposites but close to the opposite. Then when the evening sun shines on them….

The jug came from my aunt’s house, it may have come from her mother’s it’s a little eccentric- like all of us who have not been cloned for average features and personalities.

I got called into the school and told that the GCSE course work was being worked on all the time my son and I thought it had disappeared; apologies were proffered for the distress and the delay that was admitted to…mmm I’m thinking.

The ground in the garden is already hard and baked in the worst beds, in fact one has already cracked. I am half way down the water butt and there seems to be no possibility of rain until the weekend.

However there are bits of the garden which are taking off the red leaves on the pieris have suddenly eclipsed its flowers.

Alison

#27 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear – a painting a day

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

SOLD  6 inches by 6 inches, 15cmx15cm, watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

On a handkerchief with madras pattern, i.e. the pattern is woven in. It’s a very old hankie, as you can see it has been ironed and I haven’t touched an iron in fifty years I swear. It looks like a gardeners hankie to me, bought for a chap who used an old spade sharpened until it was stubby- with an ash handle of course.

The teenagers returned to their school today. No.1 son came back to tell me that his Geography teacher says he doesn’t need to write in full sentences or punctuate his work. Excuse me, isn’t it supposed to be intelligible? What’s the point of learning to construct a sentence in English if, in other subjects, any old text message type garbage goes?

Alison

#26 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Two red camellias – a painting a day

April 18, 2010 Leave a comment

sold  6″ x6″, 15cmx15cm, watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

This is the last of my mother’s camellias; they do not last very long in water.

Today was when I added more things to the new bed, I put in some aconitums which will be tall and purplish blue, I think I will move the delphiniums that are not happy over and I put in an ordinary day lily, it’s an orangey colour. I dug up the white Hedychium a ginger lily, which smell of fresh edible ginger, at least I knew I had dug up the right thing. The red one which came from Wilkinson’s (home of very cheap garden stuff) also had a growing point so may well have survived the winter. I don’t quite understand how it happens but I have tigridias that have survived three years in the soil outdoors, yet I know we have had temperatures down to minus 15 degrees centigrade. May be shelter from wind is key and dryish winters.

The whole bed will be a bit of a Great Dixter homage as it will have the banana plant or rather the Ensete, a foliage banana, which has to come inside over winter. The plasterers got so fond of it they asked where it was when they came back a second time. I will list all the contents of this bed another day and then take a picture later in the year when it starts to riot with annual climbers and all the big foliage things.

I should also go and get some more canna lilies.

Managed to get sun burn on my back today, although I was not out all day.

Alison

#25 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Blue sky without vapour trails, birch tree in Ashdown Forest – a painting a day

April 17, 2010 Leave a comment

11”x9″ 27cm x 22.5cm pen and wash on heavyweight Fabriano paper

The most beautiful day, well it was until we had the “what are we doing today, children?” conversation.

However from the morass of argument, sulks, fines for swearing and general teenage nihilism we hit upon a trip to Tunbridge Wells, buying of new bigger climbing shoes, lunch and then a climb on the sandstone rocks nearby.

As I do not climb rocks for pleasure it left me free to do a sketch, I did better I did two, one in charcoal and one in pen and wash.

Rounded the day off with Doctor Who and I have to say it’s high time the Daleks came in pink.

The birch tree was even taller and thinner than in the picture it continued down, but the best bit was this bit against the sky. There are so many tiny branches on trees like this that it would be madness to try and paint them all so I have tried to get an impression of busyness.

Alison

#24 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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Two Pears on Blue Table Cloth – a painting a day

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

4.5″x6″ 11cm x 15cm watercolour on heavyweight Fabriano paper

I am having another go at that beautiful camellia of mothers. Then again there are some pears in the fruit bowl and I haven’t done any pears yet.

Yesterday was too busy to paint there were so many plants to rescue from the lack of water; it did not rain on me while I was away which was lovely, but then it was torture for the recently transplanted or potted plants.

I spent today trying to reduce the number of plants in pots by getting them into the ground. I then ruined all my good work by discovering a pot with some cuttings from last summer. Hoorah they had worked…some of them…now where are those pots I just emptied…..better find some fresh compost.

There really are situations in real life where you run as fast as you can and find yourself back where you started, Alice found it perplexing and so to a degree do I.

On the other hand the cuttings will be useful , two are Siberian wallflowers and all the ones in the ground gave up the ghost over winter including the variegated one I bought new last year. I grow a very strange cultivar the flowers open yellow and change to purple or the other way round, it’s possibly called Chelsea Jacket but there’s no real way of knowing as the original cuttings were labelled with two names. They came from a church plant sale. It sounds vile but in a mixed border is really very pretty.

Yesterdays print comes from a photo I took when we camped at Kubu Island in Botswana, it’s not a real island as there is neither a lake or a sea, but all the land around it is grey flat salty mud which sometimes holds water if the rains have been good. It’s one of the most atmospheric places I have ever stayed. The trees are very old and very contorted; in the sand around the island you can find old bushman beads made of ostrich egg shell and tiny stone tools made from moss agate. The only reptile I ever saw there was a tortoise but other people said the place was alive with black mambas….certainly Motibedi thought it a very uncomfortable place to stay and he has the Motswana sense of where is safest.

We camped in small tents taking our own firewood and water, there is as far as I know still no other way to stay there. It’s quite a well known place, and sometimes strangers would drive into the prospecting camp looking for the track to Kubu. The instructions run something like travel along DeBeers calcrete road towards Matshumo, once you pass Garnet salt pan turn right, follow the track until you emerge onto the salt pan so big it stretches to the horizon and then bear left until you reach the gate in the vetinary fence, be nice to the guys guarding the gate they have a hard and boring job. Turn north until you reach the stick with the beer cans on it and then turn east, continue cautiously across the salt pan making sure you do not sink through the surface. You will see Kubu, it stands on higher ground. They seemed aghast that there were no sign posts, no maps just a pattern traced in the sand that needed to be committed to memory.

Incidentally I just cannot wait until the whole do it yourself ethos is released onto our public services (as long as I can go and live somewhere else of course).

My mind goes back to voluntary management committees peopled with worthy people so varied in their outlook that the only common factor was they were certain to disagree. There was the religious man who picked his nose and ears in meetings(and if you are wondering what he did with it…what would a three year old do with it?), he was fanatically opposed to political correctness because of SOMETHING THAT HAD HAPPENED IN UXBRIDGE, there was the active pensioner who had brought the local tenants association to physical blows( they were all over 65!) his skill at producing dissent was unerring, there was the woman who never felt a meeting was complete unless she had regaled us with something smutty that had happened at her work and there people who said little until they decided that they did not agree with what we had agreed in detail a month before. There were people who did not turn up for six months on end and then were offended that they had not been recommended for higher office. There were people who were there to promote their professional interests and then there were one or two brave kind souls who believed in their duty to make something useful happen and did it. Those few were few then and I imagine will be fewer now as jobs become more stressful and pensions less likely to provide a living.

We could have schools for the kids who only really enjoy sport, the schools for the kids who like the social side of it but not the learning, the schools for the children who are academic and want to learn from professional teachers…Oh wait a minute Michael Gove (shadow education minister) says that’s a grammar school and not allowed, DEFINITLY not allowed.

Alison

#23 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog

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