Archive for October, 2010

Apple, Cherry and Pear Leaf – a painting a day

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

This painting has been framed and is for sale

size 6 in x 6 in, 15cm x 15cm

I had said on Twitter that I was going to stop myself from doing another picture with an apple in it…sort of, these three leaves have all undergone a selective process of winding down for winter, the tree has been extracting and storing in the roots what will be useful in the spring and neatly sealing off and jettisoning what will not be needed. All deciduous plants do this, they just each do it in a slightly different way. The apple leaf is slightly dotty, the cherry is beyond over the top and the pear is dark and a little deathly. Some of the best colour in the garden is quite unexpected, the brightest reds are on the blueberry bushes, the subtlest tones on the Forsythia and bright lacy yellows on a tall Thalitricum. The spurge Fireglow or Amberglow is yellow and orange and looks as though its unravelling in a nice way.

DIY Dad is sanding as I write, he has been at it all day, he has taken to running a thin straight piece of oak over the surface to check that he has got it perfectly smooth and flat. We have had a few conversations about the concept of perfection. That part of the day did not go smoothly…the children have been removed by the grandparents for their own protection, this was never going to be nice. My belief is that if you have to search flat on your belly for a fault, it really isn’t worth bothering with. I also believe that eventually when you’ve sanded off the obvious, then sanded some more for the undetectable to normal human beings fault and then sanded some more to make the first two sandings match up and then gone over it again for some ghostly grey marks that could be anything …how thick will the floorboard end up? How deaf will you have become from the noise? ear protectors or not…how ratty will your wife be?

Yesterday I went to Middle Farm, it was the best deal on juicing in the vicinity although it is a way off. I missed the local man who has built his own press (he’d packed it all away) and I asked Wobblegate but they were in the middle of changing over their pressing equipment. Other places were asking so much per litre to juice it was not viable for me.

In the end it cost slightly under 87p/litre and would have been less if I had taken more recycled bottles.

I took apples from the community orchard, my own cookers and some pears from the orchard. The pears were washed windfalls as the tree is pretty tall, too tall to pick without a ladder.

The pear juice is very mild but extremely pleasant; adding a few pears from our tree would probably give it a bit more zing as ours are very strongly flavoured. A giant’ Bag for Life’ full of fruit gave nearly six litres, the small spicy apples are aromatic and dry they gave six litres for the big bag, the cookers Newton Wonder gave 11 litres per bag and the mixed orchard apples yielded 10 litres per bag.

The apple juices range from fruity and sharp (the mixed bag) to sweet and very mellow for the spicy apples. The cookers are in between. I have made a solid layer in the base of the freezer. Lots of people stop and watch at Middle Farm ,it was very busy with families due to half term, so it was a sociable event even if the guy pressing had very little to say. Other people arrived before my apples were finished, they were carrying two great baskets of apples, some possibly cookers and some deep red skinned sweet apples with a bloom on the skin like a grape. Inside I had a look at their huge range of apples for sale, there were more than ten different English apples for sale. I looked at their Peasgood Nonsuch and their Charles Ross to see if it would help me decide which of the two apples the latest query apple is. The problem is they are quite similar, Peasgood being the parent of Ross. The biggest apple in the sample was 9cm across (I say was because I ate it), which makes me think it could be the parent and not the son. I would love to grow an apple with such a brilliant name Peasgood Nonsuch sounds Shakespearean almost. There is no more space for trees however.

In between the departure of the children and the arrival of the hired sanding machines we were trying to decide what to do with the walls of this room. It was done up for sale five or six years ago and as a result is as neutral and boring as semolina and a less attractive colour. The carpet was cream, the ceiling white and the walls sort of magnolia, well they are now the colour magnolia goes after a while, it seems to get a slightly fleshy pink tinge like vintage corsets that have been washed for years. I hate it and I’ve been hoping that it won’t scrub up. Equally I’ve been hoping that it will scrub up as the decorator is only booked for a week and it will take him that to erase all the grot and build damage on the hall and landing. We both loath painting, in my case as a result of doing too much in the past, in DIY ‘s case because he’s not big on fiddly stuff which doesn’t even merit a large noisy machine. I must have decorated half the rental accommodation in the Thames Valley in my youth. I painted places I only lived in for six months, in some I did murals, now I find it all a bit too much. Then of course I was generally getting rid of garish tasteless wallpaper or lime green walls or a whole northfacing flat painted powder blue (shiver) now things have changed and the problem is uniformity and lack of colour, the tyranny of neutral and pale. I say tyranny because it never lasts more than a few years without looking dirty and scuffed, but there is also a tyranny which says only neutral will do as it sells. I decorate to enjoy myself not with a view to saleability, neutral can be stifling.

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

Maths and apple peel – a painting a day

October 26, 2010 6 comments

Click here to bid   size 6 in x 9 in, 15cm x 24cm

There was a classic shepherds warning this morning lighting up the bathroom with a coral glow. By ten it had begun to rain and has continued on and off all day.

I was very lazy today the children got just what they wanted, pizza at lunch and fish and chips in the evening. The only homemade thing they had all day was an apple crumble which was cooked with the pizza.

Maths continued on the kitchen table, in fact a sheet of it appears in todays painting.

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

Sunrise over next doors building project, they are getting ready to roof this bit I think, but the scaffolders

had to be told to take the scaffolding poles off the new fence. The sky was actually several shades brighter

 than this, honest.

Storing apples for winter- a painting a day

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

 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… 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.

Sheffield park – a painting a day

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

 size 6 in x 8 in 15cm x 21cm artists soft pastels on cartridge paper

Today I looked at the devastation the frost had produced in the garden and the devastation that the boys had produced in the kitchen and in disgust I went out with a neighbour to Sheffield Park. No way to run a household I know but sometimes you need to get out. There was morning glory in the sunshine but morning misery hung resentfully on the house wall it had been – 3 degrees centigrade.

The frost had clearly caught the gardeners out at Sheffield Park too, the Gunnera was not ready for winter, the giant stems stood still but the enormous leaves hung like umbrellas broken and half melted. At first in a frost when the temperature is still low the tender plants look fine, then the sun gets to them or it warms up and the frozen leaves turn to seaweed and darken like so much wilted spinach.

I took a small sketch pad and did a pastel of one corner of the top lake. It was a mess but it held the memory of the scene long enough for me to make this version when I got home. I also sketched my neighbour and that sketch was pitiful. The patches of colour on the water were great rafts of brightly coloured leaves which had fallen with the frost. Many trees had dropped a carpet of leaves the Ginko had not got its full autumn colour but many of the leaves were down on the path.

When I got back I rescued a few more plants and checked to see what we are due tonight, nothing quite so dreadful, the dahlias can wait a day or two. We have got used to damp mild autumns that stretch beyond Bonfire Night but this is not going to be one of them. Luckily DIY Dad has finished the heating.

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

Autumn flowers- a painting a day

October 20, 2010 1 comment


This painting has been framed and is for sale at Burgess Hill Open Houses see blog for June 4th

size 6 in x 10 in 15cm x 20cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Life or the ongoing maths test that masquerades as life is changing. There was frost on the windscreen back and front this morning. The plants do not seem to be affected so far. Just to be on the safe side I brought in the most tender fuchsia “Thalia” and some Echeverias and the Baster Kobus which comes from Namibia and will probably cope with quite bit of cold but not damp cold. The Kalahari is surprisingly cold at night in the winter, seven or eight blankets and a husband were not enough. We used to wedge the baby between us on the coldest nights, for his sake- not ours obviously.

For todays painting I have changed the background by using a yellow pillowcase; I wanted the daffodil sky look. It’s not there yet but the colours Gauguin used are clearly findable in my world. It is very easy as a Northern European to get bogged down in drabness. I remember a painter in Cyprus, Neocles whose painting were the essence of a sun drenched day on the beach and looking at my painting realising that I was still on a non- Mediterranean dull palette. It took a conscious effort to do a painting in a better colour set for the climate. I was working in oils there as I had the space in a barn of a rented house on the Green line. Being on the line reduced the rent a bit (not enough to compensate for the Turkish Commandos crawling through the back garden one night after the Cypriots had nicked the Turkish flag on a stormy night for a laugh….well they were only kids, teenagers with large guns ….probably only a year older than No1 son, which is a very scary thought.) A full international incident was avoided because Panikos who was very short and very goofy was on guard that night, I asked him what he had done when the commandos climbed out of the dry riverbed into my garden, “ Shit I was scared” he said” I put down my gun quietly and I hid, they crawled off that way” he pointed downstream. Thinking about the spending cuts he could probably teach the British Army a thing or two about how to get by without using any of that over expensive ammo stuff.

I think the Government should simplify and declutter…stuff all the complicated spending cuts that pick on the employed middle class parents and the sick and unemployed, the coalition has already shown they can break promises with aplomb, just put up Income Tax and keep it dead simple, but put the resources into checking up on the people who hide income and dodge tax (like the occaisional MP ). No, we haven’t forgotten.

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

Mrs Oakley Fisher,Study of late tea rose – a painting a day

October 19, 2010 1 comment

 size 6 in x 5.5 in 15cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

The sky looks like a Gauguin painting this afternoon, orange and brooding purple with patches of pale yellow over suburbia , it is not quite le Poldu but then they probably don’t have a station there.

As the colours Gauguin used are ones I hesitate to put in a picture I have to ask why and why not. This is a study of a rose where I have chosen to show all the possible colours of the background and there are the puces and oranges and the glowing pale green in the bags and folders of everyday life. Its not entirely comfortable but it has a nice exotic feel, fifties Cuba or Florida.

Well that was last night, today I don’t like it at all but it is my painting a day so…blog it anyway; it’s not for sale as I think it’s a bit unhinged. Like the economy it’s gone over the edge and that is just about to speed up it seems.

Oh..did I mention I went to the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate Modern?…and I got to hold a ceramic sunflower seed for …at least 30 seconds, it was like being seven again and bead swopping. Actually I think they should do that- you go to the exhibition with some thing you feel is equivalent in value (first define your value) and see if the curator will swop it for a seed.

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

Red Onion slice – a painting a day

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

  size 6 in x 7 in 15cm x 17cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper

Today was colder than it has been for a while , we finished clearing the room for the plasterer and tried to revise Physics with No1 son who is rapidly developing a bad case of the wobbles.

I also rang Homebase to tell them that they had sent a parcel meant for someone else to this house. It’s quite a nice bathroom light, but possibly not that energy efficient (the first thing I check with lights these days). I was kept waiting on an 0845 number for over 15 minutes, the number was on the delivery note. Once someone finally answered they said I had the wrong number and put me back on hold to listen to some woman strangling a sub Lloyd- Webber anthem yet again.

They say they will come and take the box away tomorrow….realising that they had cost me quite a bit on the phone and finding that they share profits on these lines with the telecom company, I complained ….she offered me a voucher!

I finished this painting off while waiting for them to answer the phone. Red onions have an interesting colour they are quite grey but it’s really just the purple tones shining through the white flesh.

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