Continuing my experimentation with large formats, different mediums and free strokes. Still sticking with charcoal, which is an unforgiving medium, but exactly that fact gives me the freedom to “play” freely. You can”t start over every time you make a mistake; so you are forced to work with the mistakes, which can either lead to great discoveries, or total mess ups – not to be seen as a bad thing. I also prefer working with the dark charcoal, and one can see in the images below the really dark black it gives. I don’t use fixatives.. I have the impression it doesn’t work in any case..
…radishes in charcoal, watercolor and watercolor pencils, 42x60cm..
I chose radishes, cut off most of the leaves to expose mostly the stems, thew them out on the table and chose a composition with only a few radishes.
..the start – in charcoal lines and watercolor washes, using lot of water and allowing it to run…
After finishing, I stood back and the watercolor looked too washed out against the dark charcoal, so I added watercolor pencil, washed it to blend and give darker color, and here and there I left some pencil marks to echo the charcoal lines.
…radishes – close up 1..
Far from being a perfect piece and it won’t end up in an exhibition, this was another good exercise in getting rid of “fear”.
….radishes – close up 2…
…radishes – close up 3…
Onto some some more work!!!
An apple a day keeps the horses at bay…at least here at Coin Perdu. Our three adore their apples and know for sure that September means free apples picked from the apple tree.
..An apple a day..
Pen and watercolor on watercolor block, 23X31cm
With my apple-picking-excursion for this sketch, I once again realized the importance of having a sense of humor. I may have few outstanding qualities, but I have an extraordinary sense of humor and it is the one thing in which I have unshakable faith. It has saved me many a time. It has pulled me up when nothing else or no one else could. I know that however bad things may be today, tomorrow or the day after I will find the humor in it. So I always hang on, sometimes by a very thin thread, until that sense of humor kicks in. Like this afternoon. In heavy pouring rain, I slipped on the slopes, got almost fried by the electric fence and couldn’t reach the apples, so I had to shake the branches, which brought down a shower of apples and extra rains, most of them finding my head. The horses got highly excited by this downpour of apples and pushed my tiny frame discourteously out of the way with their extra large behinds. I grabbed my apples and scrambled out of their way, waving my arms and fingers at them, or maybe it was to keep my balance…who knows.
While trying to find the bumps on my head in front of the mirror and instead only finding apple drenched horse saliva, I wished I could be on the beach in the sun somewhere, elegantly sipping something colourful I don’t know the name of.
But here I am, at least with a sketch for this day.
Tomorrow I will laugh about it.
Since we moved a two years or so ago, I got stuck quite a few times in the winter’s mud and snow and slid into ditches and depended on farmers and their trusting tractors. Given that I hate a telephone and rarely have one on me, it takes forever to get out of my predicaments. So we said goodbye to our trusted old friend last year (Goodbye to an old friend )and mon cheri got me new four wheels. I am since then a happy country woman! I already got out of ditches, I wheelie in the snow with flair, and I make small change of our slippery winter road uphill…all without the help of Mr Farmer and his tractor!
Mon cheri of course thinks it is his four wheels! Oh well, I kindly allow him to think so…after all, he is mon chéri!
I cooked the whole day today, but I managed to pack in a doodle sketch during my coffee break. Using only contour lines, most of the objects done in one line, I could sketch quick and without restraint. Adding some watercolour splashes afterwards and voilà, a doodle sketch to show for the day!
I accidentally dipped my brush in my coffee (which happens every tile I paint with a coffee or glass or something by my side). This time I decided to keep it and even added some more coffee splashes. Coffee, wine and tea actually make for great mediums to paint with. Add some aquarelle varnish or finish off by sealing your sketch with aquarelle varnish and it will last as long as watercolour.
..A coffee break doodle..
pen and watercolour in l’atelier du papier aquarelle sketchbook
I am driving up to Paris for the week next week..spending some Valentine time with mon chéri …will show him all my secret corners I love to visit, take him to my favorite Rodin museum and garden, have late afternoon tea at my favorite cafe, stop for our traditional romantic moment on Pont Neuf(he just adores crossing the Seine on Pont Neuf all day long..!!). I hope to come home with some great sketches and photos and …books of course!
I leave you with an old sketch of Paris, done a few years ago…
..Paris-les arbres de Jardin de Luxembourg..
Eggs. Easy to draw. Difficult to paint. but satisfying, because one can play around a lot with painting eggs..or the suggestion of eggs. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.
..three eggs 1..
in watercolour and pen on Fabriano watercolour block, HP, 23×30,5cm
..three eggs 2..
in watercolour and pen onArches watercolour block,CP, 18x26cm
..three eggs 3..
in watercolour and pen on Fabriano watercolour block, HP, 23×30,5cm
Voilà all the reds from fall, the last of my autumn colours.
..the palette for all the autumn reds..
..line drawings in pen and aquarelle added last..
18×25.5cm aquarelle arches block, CP
.. wetting the paper, dripped some aqaurelle pigment, leave to dry and finished with pen line drawing..
23×30.5cm aquarelle Fabriano block, HP
deraing in pan and dripping drops of colour..
18×25.5cm aquarelle arches block, CP
..drawing in pen and aquarelle wash afterwards..
18×25.5cm aquarelle arches block, CP
I’m not a natural in doing abstracts, but I can appreciate abstract art work. And I mean real good abstract art, not bad art which hides under the cover of “abstract art”. What I’ve done here didn’t exactly end up being totally abstract, but I enjoyed the line work and the ink marks. In fact, it is probably still only more of my exercises in line and mark making, and not real abstract efforts..
..J Herbin inks with feather quill on Arches aquarelle paper rough,18x26cm..
…Sennelier inks with feather quill on Arches aquarelle paper rough,18x26cm..
…Black Winsor et Newton Indian inks with feather quill on Arches aquarelle paper rough,18x26cm..
I found some beautiful grays…some more bluish, others more yellowish and greenish and some just simply…gray.
watercolor and J Herbin inks on Hahnemuhle paper CP 15,5x25cm
Doing the above sketch was very quick and dare I say easy, without sounding obnoxious? I’ll tell and you can decide…
- With a goose quill and nib and “gris nuage” ink from J Herbin, I drew the outline of the twig/branch with contour lines.
- I added a wet was over the areas that I wanted to highlight as the greyish moss, in the process flooding some the water soluble ink lines.
- I dabbed in some light dabs of indigo, prussian blue, paynes gray, ochre and raw umber on the wet areas. To finish off the background, I dropped some paint , using the same colours, from a loaded brush to loosely suggest random patches of moss.
- Lastly I finished off with some dark paynes gray(little water, lots of pigment, to give very dark values, suggesting the small dark corners between the moss.
..J Herbin inks and goose quill…
Our first outing was to this lovely spot and we planned on all doing gouache. Except for me – I had a real bad hair day and nothing worked that day…Robyn gave me such encouragement and comfort that day…she’s very special. The gouache you see here, was done here in Correze from the little watercolor I did on the spot. It isn’t quite what would normally make me jump in the air from joy, but seeing that it came from an already hesitant little watercolor, I think I will now yield and validate it as OK.
…vineyard and cherry orchard…
gouache on paper.
…the original watercolor sketch, vineyards and cherry orchard..
…pen and watercolor in sketchbook…
Our first outing all three together and we painted the same spot. Sarah hadn’t arrived yet, so you can see mine and Robyn’s at the bottom with Katherine’s to the right.(mine in watercolor and the other two in gouache…see them on ‘Four go painting in Provence.‘)
Sarah’s painting of the same spot a few days later is on her post Farm and cherry orchard afternoon.
This was very early…6:30 in the morning. Sunrise. But it actually works more as a sunset painting!
watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper
So I tried again here in my gallery to get a more early morning feel, which wasn’t a success either. But I learned in this process and that is important. I learned a LOT on this very short trip…maybe I will share it later…
watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper
And to finish off…a sketch of a terrace in the little village Bédoin, while having a diabolo cassis at the café opposite.
…a terrace in Bédoin…
pencil and watercolor in sketchbook
To follow: Oil and gouache studies.
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
My postcard to Liz in Australia was a challenge and one I really enjoyed. Liz is an avid tea drinker and she is on a quest to try out all the different flavors on the market. I’m not a tea drinker, but I can handle my coffee quite well. So the logical choice for a post card to Liz was of course…an early morning french coffee and a croissant!
…a French coffee and croissant…
Pen and watercolor on watercolor paper.
Pen and gouache on brown envelope
We were in Singapore for a few days recently and apart from devouring sushi, morning noon and night, I managed to pack in a few sketches. I found the climate very tiring for walking and sketching…heavy, hot and humid! But for the rest, I enjoyed every bit of the trip(except the flight there and back of course, but that is only becasue I hate flying by default).
Singapore is rich in culture and history, two things that I thoroughly enjoy. Discovering cultures different than mine and learning about their history truly enriches me. I feel fortunate to have been able to learn a bit more of Singapore…next on my list is Japan towards the end of the year, depending on the circumstances. We were in Singapore when Japan was hit recently and I sadly witnessed many people cry for family they’ve lost or haven’t heard of back in Japan.
Read more about the history of singapore here.
You can see some photos of the trip here at Sushi..and Singapore.
Or on Facebook.
Pen and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15.5×35 cm
…on the esplanade…
pencil and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15.5×35 cm.
.. Lin bo Seng memorial and old supreme court…
pencil and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15.5x35cm
pen and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15,5×35 cm.
Pen and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15.5x35cm.
Pen and watercolor in watecolors sketchbook, 19x20cm
…buddha tooth relic temple in chinatown…
pencil and watercolor in watercolor sketcjbook, 15.5x35cm.
pen and watercolor in watecolor skechbook, 19x20cm
I’ve picked up my pen again. If one stays on a break for too long, you can lose the desire to return. It is like that with everything in life. At some stage you need to apply some discipline to get going again.
For the first time in along while, I have done some sketches while having coffee in a bistro in Tours. My favorite way of doing it, is with contour lines. If I don’t watch it, I’ll do everything in contour fashion. I love it.
Some of the sketches worked, others didn’t. But it is always like that. Not every sketch is a success. I’m happy with the sketch of the three men at the top and I’m happy with the two men to the left in the bottom sketch. Unfortunately the child and man to the right didn’t work out.
I have also received my first postcard from Albrecht in Germany. Please visit A postcard from albrecht in Germany to see the post on his postcard.
I had a few things to do in Beaulieu centre ville and after walking up and down in the sun and heat, I sat down at Les Voyageurs for a coffee and cool glass of water and made a quick sketch of the center of town. I will probably sketch much better if I sketch slower and pay more attention, but I can’t sketch slow. I get bored too quick and want to move on. So my sketches will always be quirky. But now I am off for my painting “sur le motif“, as plein air painting is called here in France.
I used pencil, after fumbling through my whole bag for a pen and only found pencil after pencil. I prefer doing architectural sketches with pen.
…Beaulieu Centre ville…
Sketch done in pencil and wash in watercolor sketchbook, 25×15,3cm.
Work is still continuing here at Coin Perdu. I made a sketch of my future kitchen window from the outside in. It will be one of my most favorite places in our mountain home, that is for sure. From the inside it has the most stunning view and I can already imagine the inspiration on my cooking!
On a late afternoon, while the fire was crackling for our dinner, I stood at a little table with watercolor, black Indian ink and a charcoal stick and just scribbled down an apple tree down below. The paper was far too small for such an exercise but it was the only ones I have here. I’d like to do this again, but with large pieces of paper. the exercise was good though, bringing a bit of freedom to a stiff wrist.
The bottom sketch (to the right, apple tree 2) is upside down. I put down the tree trunk in ink with a big brush, left it to dry, took off to see to the salad and when I came back, the wind took it from the table. I picked it up and watercolored int he foliage, only to realize after a while I did it upside down. Well, it still served the purpose, not needing to be good art.
All sketches done in Indian ink with Japanese brushes, watercolor and charcoal sticks on CP watercolor paper, 29,7x42cm (11 3/4″x16 1/2″)
Poor Africantapestry is in some abandonment. Not completely, but just enough to make her feel a bit lonely. I hope (how many times have I said this already??) to get back to frantic activity soon….one day….hopefully very soon…!! So, to all those who follow in such good spirit, thank you for your patience and loyalty and hang in there, I’ll be back with gusto soon…one day….hopefully very soon!
About two weeks ago, I went sketchersizing by the Loire at our Loire house and stopped only once for this pencil sketch, which I then added some ink lines to with an ever so slightly wash, because the pencil was too hard to get some feeling into the sketch.
…sketchersizing by the Loire…
sketch done in pencil pen and light wash in watercolor sketchbook, 26x18cm
I went sketchersizing here in Beaulieu a few days ago and sat down just when the morning market started packing up for the day. I enjoyed a deca allongé at Les voyageurs with a view on the place and the marché.
If interested in seeing some photos of the medieval town of Beaulieu, you can visit The Charming character of Beaulieu sur dordogne at Myfrenchkitchen.
…sketchersizing in Beaulieu sur dordogne…
sketch done in pen and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 26x18cm..
à la prochaine!..
Having the youngest daughter finishing her studies in Caen.., had us renting a truck and taking off in the directionof Caen to empty her apartement and bring it back home. Another chapter finished. She starts in Paris next week for a long “stage” and then we’ll take on another chapter, who knows where. Always an exciting life when you have kids – it never stops!
Sketch in rotring pen and watercolour in watercolor sketchbook, 15.3x25cm.
When all was packed and we waited for the estate agent to come over for the “etat de lieu” – checking that we didn’t steal the ceiling or the shower etc…I sat on the windowsill of an empty apartment and scribbled a sketch of the building opposite her window, as well as the pigeons of Rue St Martin, trying their best to hide from the pouring rain and the cold. Not much in terms of great sketching, but at least some pen to paper!
sketch in pencil in wartercolor sketchbook, 15,3x25cm.
We were for a quick weekend at Coin Perdu, starting some work again. but it was raining and we didn’t get alot done. Went for some nice walks though. On my sketchercise walk I took my pen and sketchbook and roughly sketched some dry weeds from last season. The fileds are covered in flowers, especially the bright yellow marigolds, but since it was overcast, they were all closed.
Here are dry Scottish thistlel, some goutweed and young Plantain.
All sketches in pen/pencil and watercolor wash in Sketchercise book, 18x25cm.
This morning on my walk here in Montlouis, the weather was as bad, if not worse. It is alwasy a few degrees warmer in Correze than it is here. I went for my walk, having a hanglip becasue of the weather. My bones are asking for good spring and summer weather now! I need to be outside now, in nature and in the sun and by the river and bare arms and walking barefoot!
So here are some frustrated sketches from this morning’s walk in un temps de chien(awful , dog weather)!
A daffodil and hyacinth and tulip encountered on my walk, as also an underground water pipe.
A sunny Forsythia in bloom, and a curb and flowerbed near my home.
Every year I paint these clementines from la Corse. See last year’s sketches at CLementines.
…clementines from Corsica…
The next two sketches were done a while ago. I just sketched some things around me – a container in the living room with brushes and pens and stuff and part of a bookshelf. I try very hard to keep the bookshelf, neat, but I am starting to think we will never have neat bookshelves.
..brushes and pens…
Sketches done in Moleskine with rotring artist pen and water wash.
On Myfrenckitchen, I have posted some photo’s of a vendange in Vouvray that we did in Octobre. Good freinds have a bio vineyard where the harvesting is still done by hand. On one Saturday during the harvest period in October, all their family and friends get together for a day of grape harvesting. It was hard work, but a fun day, with a delicious lunch, many laughs and jokes and a messy grape fight towards the end of the day. I only took photos, because I didn’t want to hide from the work behind my sketchbook! you can see some photo’s here at Pears in red wine and a wine harvest.
In April we joined a promenade with friends in Vernou, a quaint little town across the river. It was all about music and poetry and wine. An enthusiastic french crowd showed up – the French love their music and poetry, not to mention their wine; poems and chorals were orchestrated by our own Mozart on corners of streets, a court jester with his wonky wheelbarrow made fools of life and himself all afternoon, we learnt about bio winemaking in the vineyards, and ended the day with food and wine… how else.
With us leaving for Coin Perdu soon after this promenade, I didn’t have time to post it. Now is as good a time as any.
I’m contributing it to Sketchercise… A Ning group started by Katherine, dedicated to walking/running/cycling, rowing outdoors and sketching!
I can now file this post for futur generations under “A memory of Gramma sketching and walking herself fit…ah, don’t forget the red wine !”
sketches done in moleskine with pen and wash
…on y va…
…notre propre Mozart…
…dans les vignobles…
When one’s mood is a bit off centre, contouring may help. It doesn’t help the mood, but it helps the drawing.
Stalking the cats with a pilot pen, just doing lines, not trying to achieve likeness, keeping the pen on the paper and the eyes on the subject. It helps a lot to loosen up.
Pilot pen, waterbrush in sketchbook.
…contouring the unwilling…
We’re back from Helsinki and what a wonderful city, beautiful people, delicious food. I loved every minute I was there. We landed in the snow and it was a fairytale wonderland. I walked all over, or rather ice skated all over – I can now understand why they are such great skaters…they learn it in winter on the sidewalks! At first, your steps are very careful and hesitant, arms balancing sideways like a tight rope walker, until you get the rhythm and allow your feet to slide forward…and you walk.
I visited the Atheneum museum with Finnish artists and of course loved/love the work of Albert Edelfelt, especially this Children playing on the shore. And apart from walking and taking in the beauty around me and enjoying art, getting completely lost in the dark and the snow, I ate herring and cod and salmon, warmed myself with glögi, giggled and skated even better on the sidewalks thereafter, probed recipe books, waved to Nina in Stockholm, Sweden on the shore, and made only one sketch from the safety and warmth of the Café Engel on Senate square. Done in sketchbook with water soluble pilot pen and wash.
To see some photos, you can go here.
…helsinki cathedral on senate square…
I am filled with nostalgia lately. I’ve already put up my Christmas tree, I remember people from long ago, I recall precious moments, I miss family and friends, I long for the smell of the African bush, I dream of jeeps and khaki hats, I listen to the sounds of the wildlife on CD, I walk around in the house snorting like the rhino, growling in the voice of the lion at nighttime … I feel savage.
Maybe it started when I had to draw my pages in Robyn’s Different strokes in our FPP, and I thought of all the different strokes our lives produce in one lifetime. So I gave her one of my strokes…one of my dreams, one of my loves, one of my yearnings…
Done in charcoal, coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, white conté and a wash here and there.
I love inkwork and there are some beautiful inks around not to mention the artists that do beautiful inkwork.
I took my summer shoes to do some excercises with the inks and pens I have. Excercise 1: Summer sandals done in Gris nuage ink from J. Herbin, drawing the lines with a stylo à plume d’oie(quill pen) and afterwards I bled the lines and washed with some powerful blue Eclat de sapphire ink and a small brush. I just can’t help myself. I have to do a wash somewhere with a brush. It is an addiction. I would so love to do only beautiful lines and leave it. Maybe next time.
Excercise 2: A second pair of summer sandals, this time using a speedball pen and Cafe des iles from J. Herbin. Once again just dragged a wet brush over the lines to get a wash, and finished off with some black india ink hatches.
Excercise3: A pair of Sperry’s…and could I explain the difference in size? Maybe I have one big foot and one small foot…? Or could it simply be bad observation? Done in a reed pen and plume pen with Sanguine 270, from Sennelier. And after dragging a wet brush over the lines to bleed the colour, I decided to add some washes of Lie de the of J. Herbin. Finished off with some scribblings with a rotring pen, 2,5 .
Excercise 4: Since I had now used up all my summer shoes, I had only my shoe blocks left. Linework in rotring artist pen and washed with a wet brush to bleed the lines. Then decided to splash in some colour with Sennelier’s Sanguine 270 and Lie de the, J. Herbin.
In the past, I have done a lot of calligraphy work, so I have many speedball pens and nibs that work wonderful for drawing. Added to that, are some reed pens(which I don’t like much), plumes/goose quill pen, which I love to work with, rotring artist pen(Fine), and rotring rapidograph pen, size 2.5.
I enjoy the inks of J. Herbin. They are rich, make for nice washes as well as lines and dry with a nice sheen. I have only recently started working with the J. Herbin inks and they are really beautiful! Wonderful for linework as well as doing bleeding with a wet brush and they are lightfast, can be sealed beautifully…in short, I have nothing bad to say about them! I haven’t yet found a nice dark burgundy red, but Sennelier’s Sanguine 270 is a nice dark red which comes close to what I’m looking for. All the sketches were done in a spiral watercolour pad, 18x26cm (7″x10″) Fabriano Artistico CP. Below you can see part of my “ink workstation”.