20 May 2013
Soon, if the stealthy slugs don't win and our bad ass cat doesn't dig all of them up, there will be sweet peas winding their way up twigs in our teeny garden. Even a few straggly sweet pea flowers smell so very fab, so much like proper summer. For now, I get to draw the shoots while they are still tame and safe.
Marker pen and pen and ink.
18 April 2013
Playing around with my new drawing tablet and pen and ink a bit, tons more I could do here but a person has design work to do too. I do so love a tiger and a jungle. And a Henri Rosseau painting, distantly remembered too of course comes into play.
28 March 2013
Sometimes as a child, I used to paint watercolour directly onto blown out eggs and I remember being very taken with the results indeed. Not sure how my mum felt about the dwindling egg supply...
This time, I figured watercolour on paper would work just fine too and we wouldn't have to eat scrambled eggs for days. Easter decorations are not a major thing in our house anyway - chocolate eggs and a vase of daffodils and we're pretty much good to go.
Have a lovely weekend, and may spring and the sun hurry along in these parts. We're ready for you, you know.
20 March 2013
The sun has been a stranger around these parts again. Damnation!
But the daffodils are out.
Cheap as chips in the shops, and slowly, sleepily beginning to flower in the parks and the churchyard near where I live.
Happiness on a stem, said a lady next to me at the flower stand in Tesco's.
Yep. Happiness on a stem is about right. Might as well buy a couple of bunches at a time.
08 March 2013
I'm not really that much into sweet things, but working on this has given me sugar lust.
I'd go for the jam tart maybe, if the pastry is nice and buttery and the jam home made, or else the madelaine, just fresh out of the oven.
In the end though, the custard tart with an espresso wins. When we were in Cape Town for our wedding, a Portuguese friend of my dad's brought a whole box fresh from the bakery while the marquee was going up, and we had coffee and the tarts out on the shady verandah to take a break from being stressed erics.
Love how food and memories intertwine.
Which is your favourite for tea?
28 February 2013
The sun has been a stranger this February, maybe we'll see more of it in March. I'd like that. Though I do like a good misty morning walk, even if it is freezy cold. This was taken a few days ago along the Lee Navigation canal in Hackney, my breathing space fifteen minutes walk away.
At our meeting earlier in the month, my illustrator friends could barely contain their mirth when I said I was painting cabbage leaves. Rude companions one and all!
Sprout tops not cabbage leaves, to be precise but still. To practice my greens you see. Laugh if you will, yes yes.
I learned a lot, not sure I totally love any of these, but it's nice to see development and progression from 1 - 4. I painted slowly, building up layers of translucent washes for precision. I do find it pretty damn tedious, this way of working, really, having to wait for each layer to dry properly and planning the colours. At least the greens and I are on speaking terms now - mixing them from scratch and adding a bit of cadmium red is the thing.
And just as well I got cosy with greens, since I was asked if I do planting plans recently. Well, I do now.
From that happy result to... a more um, digital looking sketch on my new drawing tablet below. Obviously still a long way to go, but I'm looking to integrating all of my working methods by experimenting, having fun and keeping an open mind.
Goodbye February, I'm a bit glad to see the back of you.
07 February 2013
I seldom leave anywhere remotely historic without scratching around in the dirt, hoping for a shard of pottery of glass to add to my collection.
I love how these are tiny clues to stories of dinners and teas, arguments and celebrations. I wonder who washed them and who filled them with tea or hot food, lovingly cooked or otherwise.
Did anyone take comfort and delight in the finely painted leaves embellishing their saucer as much as I loved discovering the remaining piece?
I found the green leaf shard half buried under a thorn tree near a modest old farm ruin, once very remote, in what is now a rest camp in the Karoo National Park.
What thoughts did the bearer of the red feathery painted cup have over early morning tea in the Welsh mining village situated meters away from a blast furnace and a stinking ironworks? Did the delicacy of the porcelain offend them, or was it a relief to have something pretty in the hand?
I'll never know, but I love finding these fragments and wondering.
20 December 2012
17 December 2012
I love the long stemmed boxes of half-asleep Amaryllis that appear in flower shops here around Christmas time.
They aren't a feature of Christmas in South Africa, where I'd be more likely to raid some lipstick red flowering gums along the road(on a hot Summer's day of course) for a table centrepiece at Christmas.
Still, proper Christmas is of course a winter thing to most people. These guys are made to flower in the winter months, and I can see how the exquisite red brings warmth and cheer indoors.
04 December 2012
Here's one that got away before we left for South Africa. Thought I'd post it anyway, and it'd be a pity to let that go to waste as a lost little jpeg icon on my desktop. So, in celebration of experiments and tentative sketches, here she is. Belatedly for Illustration Friday 'shy'.
30 November 2012
Back in Hackney this week, where the mercury dipped below zero this morning and the windows are streaked with fat droplets of condensation as they slide down the panes.
This was painted somewhere in the Karoo outside Laingsburg. Wonderfully hot and dry and vast and ancient, those scenes unfolding along the road.
It all seems more than a million miles away, though I painted this last Wednesday. In the car, heading home after a trip to the Baviaanskloof and little Karoo via the Breede River.
Oh, places of my heart.
28 October 2012
Winter arrived yesterday, before I could find my mittens. How rude.
I collected this handful of fiery leaves last week. They looked even more incredible on the white of the drawing table. Roast pumpkin for lunch on the same day - perfect autumfest.
Perhaps it's just that I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, where autumn colours are less of a big deal, but I can't believe that anyone could not go absolutely wild for fallen leaves.
Which are crunchy when raked into piles in the park, deliciously earthy smelling yes yes I know. I can't resist kicking around in them.
But the best bit, the bit I can't get over, is how each one is a such a miraculous jewel of startling, extraordinary colour.
15 October 2012
I picked these on Hackney marshes a few weeks ago and brought a few tangled, hairy sprays into my studio.
Who knew rose hips smelled so good, they have a kind of orangey apple freshness going on. Partly explains why they are used dried in tea, I guess. And jelly, and, in Sweden so I read, in soup.
And as a treat for pet chinchillas. It says so in Wikipedia, it must be true folks.
Still working on leaf painting, but for now, this is how my leaves look.
I looked through a most worrying selection of how-to books online on greens and leaves, books on botanical illustration and the like, and there certainly are some authoritative publications around. Do this, don't do that, never mix these and so on. Like I said, worrying!
Might be better to keep looking at flower painters I love, like Elizabeth Blackadder's work.
Still, in the end, the only way to improve leaf painting is most likely to um, keep painting leaves. What say you, any ideas?
03 October 2012
A quick drawing done at the kitchen table while I was waiting for lemon and millet muffins to bake. The recipe is super quick, with ingredients that are usually around already. Which means something warm, a bit healthy and lemony crunchy can be ready for tea in half an hour to cheer up a drizzly Monday afternoon.
Hey, you have to make working from home fun sometimes too, right?
Colourwise,I thought that was deep blue I was stroking out into the shadow areas, but it was Windsor Purple pretending to be French Ultramarine. Heh. It needs replacing!
17 September 2012
Sometimes it's good to play with a theme. Stripes.
This time in watercolour and cut paper strips, inspired by an Ikat robe from Uzbekistan that I saw at an exhibition at the V&A ages ago (more of my experiments with stripes live here). I do love an Ikat weave a lot, always the subtle blending of colours and the mystery of the rhythms in the warp and weft.