An umbrella is easy to draw..right? DING! Wrong!
So many things to consider: Convex, concave, round, shadows, transparency, folds, foreshortening, colour, patterns…
A good challenge!
..two half open umbrellas..
pen and watercolor on Fabriano artistico watercolor block, HP, 23×30,5cm
..wide open umbrella..
pen and watercolor on Fabriano artistico watercolor block, HP, 23×30,5cm
..two closed umbrellas..
pen and watercolor on Fabriano artistico watercolor block, HP, 23×30,5cm
I have moved on from autumn colours to still lifes, done in the atelier. Working in thin washes, laying wet washes over dry ones. not my usual way of working, but I am quite chuffed and will do a series of these watercolors.
I need to bring in a bit darker values and I want to have more informal compositions. I think my inspiration comes here from Cézanne, whose watercolours I love. There is currently an exhibit of Cézanne in the Musee de Luxembourg in Paris until 26 February 2012, for those who want to jump in their private jets for a visit…and a lunch afterwards, maybe at the Mini palais restaurant?
…Still life with quince…
watercolor and pencil on Fabriano artistico CP, 30,5×45,5cm
I’m posting a close up to show the layering of thin washes.
Until the next post where I’ll be back with another still life…hopefully a better one with darker values, more expressive compositions…and one where my patience has reigned!
I took today off…apart from making my bed, I decide I am doing nothing else today. In terms of working that is. So I dressed myself pretty, put on some make up, which I haven’t done in ages. A dash of perfume…well OK, that I do every day, even when feeding the horses. But you know what I mean. A day where I ignore all kinds of “must do” lists and let the day run free. Yes, I know, I’m fortunate to be able to do it.
…market day in Beaulieu sur Dordogne…
pen and watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper, HP, 18x24cm
So I took off to Beaulieu, not to open my gallery, on the contrary, I hung a notice…”gone painting” on the door. which is of course not the truth. I had many coffees, chatted with friend and foe, shopped at the market, ate a delicious “flamiche au saumon”, I paged through the cote Sud and cote Est and Cote Ouest, found inspiration and new ideas, and yes. I caught a sketch. Of the market. While sipping my third coffee.
My week in Provence ended far too soon and it went by far too quick. I managed to do a few, not nearly as much as I planned, because typically Ronell, I forgot half of my art stuff at home. I left my very important oil canvases, boards and large watercolor pads by the door to pack them last and that’s where they still were while I as in Provence. Finding an art store proved to be harder than imagined and so I ended up borrowing two canvas papers from Katherine…can one borrow a paper/canvas…?
To start off with: all of the following are sketches done around Les Couguieux, where we stayed.
…the blue shutters of les couguieux…
watercolor and pen on watercolor paper
…hameau des couguieux…
pen and wash on watercolor paper
…the terrace at les couguieux…
pen and wash on watercolor paper
…still life with cups and lemon…
pen and wash on watercolor paper
To follow: landscapes in watercolor and gouache
Is it fair to say in April that it is too hot to work? We have a blistering afternoon here at Coin Perdu and it REALLY is hot in the sun. No complaints from me though. I took a break to do some sketches of the olive trees and a few other nick-nacks waiting to be planted in the garden…on a cooler day!
...gardening at Coin Perdu…
watercolor and pen on Fabriano artistico watercolor block HP, 18x26cm.
When we went to Hawaii last year, I took hundreds of photos of the koi ponds. It is one of the MOST relaxing pastimes…just sitting and watching those koi’s play. I did only one sketch of them in the time we were there, but I took hundreds of photos and for the rest of the time, I just stared at them.
I’m on the “search” lately, not knowing exactly where I should go art wise. There so many different directions that give me joy and I’d like to continue doing them all, but I would also like to accelerate in a specific field…not be so all over the place as I am currently. As the weather is a bit bad lately and it is raining a lot, chances to go and do plein air are scarce. I was looking through my Hawaii albummorning and came across these koi photos and the joy of sitting there and watching them(in the SUN!!) had me take them all to the atelier. This is my latest. I want to do some koi paintings, eventually in oil, but first some studies in watercolor, which to me is a far more difficult medium than oil.
Also posted on Watermarks.
All these studies done in pen and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper, CP, 18x26cm.
…koi study in watercolor 7…
A prerequisite for the koi paintings, is that I want movement in the paintings. So I tried in all of the watercolor studies to get movement. These studies are of course done from photographs, something I strurggle with doing, because I get caught up in a tight clenching mode and lose all spontaneity. So I decided to put my earphones on and I listened to Beethovens piano concerto nos 4 and 5 and Piano a la Roque d’Antheron with works by Lizt, Chopin Rachmaninoff…to keep me “allegretto and crecsendo“. I think it did work, because looking at these studies, they almost come across as messy and I certainly hope not “tight”, except maybe for number three(koi watercolor 2) which was before I started listening to the music. You’ll clearly see that I still drew and painted “fishy by fishy”. I did 7 studies, and like with everything else…I started getting better. but now I’m tired of watercolor and going to start doing the koi in oil…let’s say a little serie of koi in oils.
…koi study in watercolor 4…
…koi study in watercolor 2…
Now I also need to find a place where I can really study them…their movements( a year ago is too long to remember those kinds of details), their behavior, their mischief and play and capture that onto live sketches. then come back to the studio and NOT procrastinate again, like I’m SO famous for, but paint them immediately.
So, if you’re interested in seeing these koi develop..remember to stop by again!
Joyeux Noël 2010!
Watercolor and pencil on Fabriano watercolor paper, 31×23 cm.
Saying goodbye is always hard. And even harder, when you’re the one staying behind. We said goodbye to very good friends last week who returned to their home country after many years here in France. For now I’m sad, but tomorrow or the day after or next week, all will be OK again and I will start planning our visit to Australia. A friendship with such deep roots, cannot be pulled out.
…may the road always rise up to meet you…
Sometimes people come into our lives who leave a distinct impression, who change our lives for the better and we only realize it much later.
Joanna came into mine years ago and added so much richness to my life, which I only fully realize now. We were so different, yet shared so much. We were tolerant und understanding of those differences and appreciated the uniqueness of each of our personalities. Those differences even started rubbing off, making us enjoy what we’ve previously disliked. We were frequently off to les brocantes, searching for rose coloured glass for her and old stuff for me. We would stroll through nursery gardens and rescue half dead plants to see them bloom in our gardens the next season. We had lunches in little hamlets and drove all the wayout for a chocolate dessert. We “coffieed and caked” whenever the opportunity showed itself. We disagreed on movies and cracked up with Mamma mia. I tagged along in her search for clothing and she told me to wear brighter colours. I listened patiently when she ranted about Air France and she got me out of bed when I was depressed. I supported her in her cardmaking and she constantly encouraged me in my art. We baked tarte tatin and searched for new pressed veggie juice recipes.
She saw me when I was happy and gay and handed me the tissues when the world was all wrong. She saw my house when it was sparkling and smelling of roses and she washed my dishes when it started crawling out the door. I saw her when she was beautifully coiffed and I saw her when she was digging up the garden. I saw her when she went through chemo and I saw her when we celebrated her first clear check up and we laughingly celebrated with a coffee and cupcake. She pulled weeds from my garden while she was sick and I prepared dinners for those difficult chemo times. I took photos of her without her hair and we played around with wigs and bandanas. I took photos of her after her hair had grown back and we laughed about the impact of time.
Thinking of Joanna makes me smile. She talks a lot, she jokes a lot, she teases a lot, she laughs alot. She turns passivity into action. She can’t grow old for her spirit is too young. Like her, I want to laugh a lot and joke a lot and tease and I also don’t want to grow old, because my spirit will be too young.
Invigorated by spring and salads and fruit and spring vegetables and all the great art I see everywhere, I feel myself bursting with ideas and inspiration. Apart from loving painting, I also love writing and I’m getting more and more a feel for illustration. Writing and illustration make a good combo, so; for my writing which I’ve started with a while back, I’m considering doing some illustrations for as well. I have tried my hand at one or tow before which can be seen here:
…shut the gate!…
illustration done in rotring pen and watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP.
We have a friend who’s a farmer. His pride is his huge selection of animals, and especially his bulls. But he also has vineyards. And his biggest struggle is to get the farmhands to remember to close the farm gates behind them, so the cows and bulls don’t roam about in the vineyards. After stripping his temper once too often, he promptly planted a post on the gate on which, in no uncertain terms, he forcefully sergeant-majors them to keep the gates shut. The punchline on the illustration is written in my mother tongue, but it roughly comes down to: “Keep the @&*#@.. gates shut… the cows are in the vineyard!!”
I’m still frantically struggling artwise. It may not seem so, but I am.
I’ve spent some ample time sketching and drawing, doing contour work, splashing paint and it still feels as if I’m slopping through mud. I suppose I am in the low part of the creative cycle and will need patience and perseverance to rise again. Patience doesn’t come easy for me, especially when I have a new book of artists in hand and see what amazing talent and excitement and original creativity are happening in the art world! Then I “intensely dislike” the slushing here in my mud pool!
…a little colour in mud…
Watercolour on Fabriano artistico paper HP, 30x23cm (11,8″x9″)
A while back Lindsay posted some of her comments which I found a great idea; sometimes there is such valuable info and support in the comments which we miss out on. I’m going to follow her lead and post some comments of my previous post. From these comments it is clear how many/all artists relate to these feelings of frustration, understand the creative struggle and recognize their own share of lows with personal experience and bits of advice here and there. These are the things I learn from on my daily creative journey…
…..”the nice thing about things forgotten is that they come back again quickly, and one has the chance to change a thing or two about them”… said Gesah.
…”Sometimes when work shows a little struggle in the birthing it only makes it more pleasurable to see. I learned that from a painting I did that when I looked at it I could only see the struggle. A viewer told me they loved it BECAUSE they could see the struggle which gave it much more drama and excitement than the ordinary pretty picture it might have been without the struggle”…said Jana.
…”sometimes those ‘tough love’ approaches do us the most favours…” said Cathy
…”like anything else you have to warm up first. If I’ve not been on my bike for 2 months, I am shaky and breathless just going down the road – but after a couple of rides, I’m back in the saddle. The same with drawing for me – if I’ve not drawn for a while, I do the most clumsy, embarassing drawings until I get my eye back in again”… said Carole
…”sometimes our brains get in the way of our making”…said Maureen
…”I really learn when an artist shares the process she has gone through. We can all sympathize with those times when the creative juices seem frozen”…said Annie
…”I have a tutor who echoes in my head in the same way :>) when going through a bad patch on the degree and being very nervous of him (he was very acid and didn’t suffer fools gladly) I was was overworking the paint. Each time he walked by he said ‘put it down (the paint) and leave it ALONE’, ’round the class …. back to me …. and he’d say it again and again! It worked”…said Vivien
…As far as I can tell, for a certain type of artist (of which I am one and I think you are, too), it’s always a process of learning, losing the way for a time, relearning, picking up new materials, re- finding old ones, circling back to old themes and concerns, recalibrating, rethinking, refocusing. It’s a lifetime thing. Or so I think. I try to be accepting of the process, as dispiriting as it sometimes seems”…said Laura
…Art doesn’t come out in an even stream, but we go backward and forward and through all kinds of loops and spins”…said Bill Fulton
…I guess those things work like when you have a bad hair day – YOU see it very well in the mirror, but everybody else thinks you just look like you always do”…said Nina.
…”Sometimes what seem to be harsh words sink deeper and do good even if they can feel soul destroying when they are spoken”…said Jeanette
…”I can empathize with what you said. I know when I have not painted or drawn for an extended period of time, there’s a little reluctant anticipation….kind of like the sensation of jumping into cold water…but once in…. it feels good”…said D Prizzi.
…”But painting, like riding a bike, will again come naturally”…said Desirée.
(a recent comment)…”these things definitely do come and go in cycles, don’t they? One of the things that is always hard for me to remember is that the cycle moves more quickly if I still show up and work every day. (There’s a good book about this that I should probably re-read — “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield.)”…said Turningturning
Painting this “fennel salad” yesterday made me realize how easy it is to lose some skills when they are not constantly excercised. Like our bodies, they become soft and flabby, sluggish and lazy and it takes work and discipline to get them back into shape. Such is the state of my current painting skills.
Painting done in watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP extra white, 30x23cm (11.8″x9″)
…fennel, pear and onions…
Not actively painting or drawing for more of two months had a paralyzing impact on my creativity, self confience and hand-eye coordination. I could clearly feel en see it in this little painting above. My wrist feels stiff and my hand feels disconnected from my brain. Or maybe it is the opposite; my hand being too connected to my brain, restricted by reason and not able to take its free course. I clutch my paintbrush in an iron grip and lock my jaw in frowned concentration. I zoom in on details and am afraid of taking risks. I hesitate on choice of colour and paint hesitantly with the tip instead of the stroking the whole brush.
Trying to do a waterscene painting, resulted in a complete catastrophe. It made me think of my professor years ago, who told me in first year graphichs, I couldn’t draw. So, remembering his “cruel-to-be-kind” teaching, I took some cheap pilot black ink and drawing paper and my chair and took off to the river this morning. It was time to once again, heed the professor’s words of years ago and get back to basics. Here is one of the drawings I did by the river this morning.
If interested, the rest can be read and seen over at Watermarks.
…with sticks and stones…
pilot black ink on drawing paper, with natural materials, found on the ground.
We had snow yesterday. Not very normal for us to have snow and so much of it, so it’s a big thing. Even bigger for me…what does a South African know about snow? I know when an elephant is going to charge… Last night at nine I even drove to the train station in the snow, forgot a little bit about brakes and speed when I got to the roundabout and slid “gently” into the curb. No problems, I was the only fruitcake out there. Off to the train station again early this morning, better equipped with common sense and humility and even dared turning off to buy a fish or two. I wanted to paint fish on this beautiful snowy day, inspired by Jeanette’s fish and then Katherine’s fish a while ago. I skidded home (safely) and took out those fish.
From top to bottom: Dorade grise, Truite rose, Sardine bretonne. Done in watercolour and pen on Fabriano artistico HP.
…found in the snow…
The swans were back this year after 3 years of absence – a quick sketch in the moleskine done in pencil and back home worked over with gouache. I have never worked with gouache and after buying a beautiful sketchbook (Baie de Somme by Laurent Somon – Ronan Olier) done in gouache, I wanted to try it too. See some of Ronan Olier’s work, which I love! I find it a strange medium and feel very stupid with it, which resulted in a completely overworked effort.
The Watermarks project stirred up a desire I’ve had for a long time, but which always got pushed to the back of my list. Discovering and researching the Loire.
Living right next to it, it forms a big part of our every day life. In summer I stress about the extreme low level of the water and in winter I stress about being flooded away rooftop and all. In winters, it welcomes the gray and embraces the cold and I want to run from it, but it’s hypnotic powers keep drawing me to it, to the mystery that envelops it. In summer, I revel in its blue water and noisy birds and green foliage and crazy busyness.
One of my projects(I still have to run into the others..) will be to trace the Loire back to it its origin, snaking alongside it down to where it finally joins the Atlantic ocean in the west.
When I look back on the road I have followed, life had forced me on many occasions to make difficult choices. (Do easy choices exist?) True to my nature of reflecting on the past, I often wonder where and what I would have been had I chosen the opposite direction. I don’t believe we make wrong decisions (given of course that we make a decision for the right reason) , only different ones: some leading us into learning curves, some leading us down the path of pure joy, some into unwanted hardships… But in spite of all my wondering where the other road would’ve taken me, I am content with where I am now. Is it perfect? I have no idea. How can we ever be sure of perfection? Something can always be worse and it can always be better. And tomorrow perfection might even be different. Art. Motherhood. Love. Sadness. Happiness… Today, my happiness of 26 years is perfect.
I’m taking a break for the rest of the season to spend some time with my family and do deliciously illegal things which only this season allows – eating cookies and foie gras and chocolate, champagne, lazing by the fireplace…
Sorry for being so slack in visiting and commenting, I’ll make up for it! I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with tins full of cookies!
I have an exciting event happening in Corréze on Saturday, which I’ll talk about later. And on Monday I’m leaving for Helsinki for 3 days. I’ll be in contact when I’m back end of next week.
I captured (tried to!) a corner of the Loire just after we had floods coming past this way a week ago, sweeping the trees and branches and all kinds of debris across the river, leaving us with gray and turmoil water. This is a corner under the overhanging trees. I never try to catch the realism in a scene, but rather the motion and emotion. The water is much calmer than it is portrayed here and much darker. More sinister. My contrasts could’ve been stronger and my shapes more linear. This was done from a few photos I took. I’ll have another go at it again sometime, probably rather on the spot, which gives a painting so much more spontaneity, and the atmosphere does get carried over onto the paper. Not that it is so much fun sitting there in the mud, in the cold, in the wet next to the water…but I’ve been complaining so much lately about missing nature, being wild and free with the animals, that I should zip my mouth now and sit my sit…
Yesterday I had a crazy craving for pineapple. I bought whichever ones I could find…the sweet small Victoria pineapple from South Africa, the big fat watery one, produced in Costa Rica, coming from Miami???… and lastly the heavy, juicy one from the Ivory coast. Of course I had to paint them. My light pencil drawing was fine and I started putting in washes. Arriving at the spiky leaves, all went horribly wrong. And from there it on it was downhill all the way. Finally I threw the paintbrush out the door, flew out of my atelier, jammed a cup of coffee together, grabbed a canvas and plastered it with modeling paste and a painting knife. Halfway through the oil painting, and eventually simmered down, I turned to my watercolour and thought I might as well finish it by simply pulling out all the stops, I have nothing to lose. So here is the final messy watercolour….. the oil painting is still drying.
Watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP extra white block, 30,5×45,5cm (12″x18″)
Afterwards I even had some time to put a recipe together…and eat it all. Interested in Pineapple carpaccio with saffron syrup and roasted pinenuts?
I’ve had the exciting opportunity recently to go hot air ballooning in Fontainebleau. We took off on the grounds of the chateau and landed some hours later in a farmer’s field. We were treated to champagne by candlelight after landing which couldn’t have been more perfect!
I did two sketches from photos afterwards. I didn’t even consider sketching there, I was too afraid of being left behind, because once the balloon was up and billowing, there was no time for fancy stuff. It was grab your legs and climb that basket. Besides it is far more exciting watching the balloon lift and blow and bulge.
If you’re interested in seeing some pictures you can go to Myfrenchkitchen, where I’ve put up some pics of the whole process and the trip, the amazing sunset, smooth landing and our great crew.
Both these sketches were done on Fabriano artistico block(30x23cm) with pen and watercolour.
…stretching the toile…
Our international sketchbook exchange is nearing its end with only two more laps to go. I hate endings…unless I know there is something new to fill its place. Any suggestions? Anyone out th..e..ere..???
Here is/was my contribution to Nina’s(Ninajohansen.se) book. See her Polychromatic behaviour, where you can have a look at her cover and how it looks right after turning over that cover. It feels like yesterday that our FPP(Flying pictures project) took off, but it has already been almost 5 months. I decided to add scenes from le Jardin du Luxembourg in Nina’s book, a regular stop of mine to relax with a book whenever I’m in Paris. It’s one of my favourite places, with its colours, it’s water, its children, its sailboats, its shadows, and…its chairs. I’m fascinated by their chairs, standing in a “polychromatic” disorder all over. So I took my camera to Paris one day and just shot scenes all over the garden. Back home I printed them in black and white, pasted them onto Fabriano artistico and stretched the black and white scenes in colour over onto my paper. I thought that could be called polychromatic behaviour?
…the whole 21/2 pages…
September/October is time for Foire aux vins in France. Time to refill those empty spaces in the wine cellar. Try out new wines, restock on old favourites. I enjoy a good red wine. But most of all, I enjoy the grapes. My favourites being Muscat(dark) and Chasselas(green). So I’ll have the grapes now and save the wine for later.
…let there be wine…
Sabre à champagne – a tradition dating from the Napolean empire. Coming back from a battle, the cavalry would pay tribute to victory, vigour, virility and of course…women, by opening up bottles of champagne with theatrical flaunt and flare. The cold bottle is held at the bottom and with a swift movement of the sable from bottom to the neck, the “cork is popped” right under the rim. A clean chop, leaving no shattered glass.
(Edit: I just realized how crooked this sword looks with the completely “off” shadow under the blade! Yes, I confess. I held the sword in my hand and thus cheated on “seeing” the shadow on the surface…now that says a lot for competence…and I didn’t have a single sip!)
Some fancy bottle openers are available today. The most efficient and quickest still remains the “couteau de sommelier“, which is the all-in-one every “garcon” (waiter) walks around with in his pocket.
And how about a decanter for aged wines to separate from their deposits, or a carafe for a young wine to “breathe”
…”1 2 3 breathe!, 1 2 3 breathe”…
I did intend to do more sketches showing the fun of the Foire aux vins, but laziness got the better of me. I think I’ll just stick to finishing the grapes I’ve sketched and open a Pomerol with dinner tonight.
Sketches done in pen and watercolour on Fabriano artistico block, 22×29, 5cm.
The hydrangeas in my garden are supposed to be blue, but the soil doesn’t play along. They start out with tints of blue and then turn a dark, bright pink, almost red. It makes for a very pinkish/reddish painting, but at least I had fun doing it.
This was done with watercolour on Fabriano artistico, HP extra white, 23×30,5 cm.
…hydrangeas, red and blue…
Like everybody else, I also would like to pass it on to so many people and since I feel I can’t stop at five names, I decided that I would this time like to pass it on to Cathy G at Asketchintime, who does beautiful art, experiments with all kinds of media, who often tries new directions, new techiniques, new approaches. She is an inspiration as well as a supportive friend. No obligations Cathy!