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!!
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 a tiny picture the leaf is painted at about lifesize.
Summer holidays: life one long round of slogging round Sainsburys and prising children off their electronic boxes. There are nice flowers in the garden but for some reason I am painting the leaves that fall from the little pear tree.
Only two more episodes of the Hour left to run….I could cry. If Hector is to be believed then my dad must have been in MI6 as I swear his raincoat, or gaberdine as he might have called it, looked just like the one worn by the ill-fated Mr Kish. He always seem to wear it with a trilby which is still a good look in my book, but then he was always hopelessly out of date only giving up wearing trourers with turn-ups when Oxford bags came in in the seventies…ie when they revived a look he had finally had enough of it and submitted to modernity…well almost… he wasn’t going to update the shoes or vests you understand.
6in x 7in, 15cm x17cm- watercolour on heavy watercolour paper
Lovely aunt says this looks a bit too pale compared to the original, I have gone back to the original method of taking the picture as I have not got to grips with the new camera.
It also needs a bit of alteration to a curve on the RHS.
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
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…..in 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.
Day One hundred and thirty three
size 5 in x 5 in 13cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
Today I am considering the subject of my blog, I have been asked to do some Morning Glory, I quite fancy doing an outdoor picture but it will probably rain on me, and then again there are flowers and apples in the garden which I like but haven’t put in a blog painting yet…some days to have plenty of choice seems a luxury and on other days it is too much. I have decided upon one of the stored pears ,you can tell its been stored its gone a little crumpled.
I made a big tray of apple sortofshortbread this morning for the weekend, but it smelt so lovely that when my neighbour popped round to look at the builders progress on their house( getting there) we got stuck into it with a cup of coffee. Apparently her daughter K. reads the blog which is lovely to hear.
The shortbreadsortof is an attempt to pass off more apples on the family in an acceptable form. I made a mix half way between shortbread and pastry using butter and stork and plain flour (1lb flour,3/4 shortening,1/2 sugar,1 cup raisins, two large aromatic eaters diced,pinch of salt…I used the Ellison’s Orange, but Cox or anything suitable for a French Tarte au Pommes would do. It’s quite crumbly but tastes good*. There are many opinions on what should go in a real French Tarte au Pommes, something like Calville Blanc d’Hiver apple is classic, it has a very strong flavour and thin slices cook but do not break up, however modern writers including French recipe sites suggest Golden Delicious or Granny Smith ,these will look right but they will not have the intense flavour of the older apples which are used by better restaurants in France. If you tend to think that Tarte au Pommes is OK but a bit insipid I suggest you seek out one made with the sort of apples around which the recipe was created. I wonder how many old recipes we miss the point of as we do not have access to the right varieties of fruit and vegetable to make them special. Ellison’s Orange is actually a cross between a French Calville Blanc d’Ete and an English Cox so it probably is a good candidate for a proper Tarte au Pommes. The apple can seem dry as soon as it starts to overripen , but that I think is the sort of characteristic required.
Last night I put apples in the salad and in the pudding and the night before I made Bolognese sauce with fresh garden tomatoes ( they thought it was marvellous…no of course they didn’t they moaned that it was different from the standard brew).
Method for recipe if you would like to try:
Put the flour and the shortening and the salt into a food processor, blitz until it is mixed and starting to stick together in lumps.
Mix in the raisins and the diced apple, press into a lined tray bake for half an hour in a medium oven or until it is firm and beginning to brown in places. Cut up when nearly cool and eat, but you could guess that bit.
#133 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog