The tulips I brought back from Amsterdam last year are all in bloom, except for 3 Allium bulbs that I lost to greedy rabbits. I picked all white bulbs and got big surprise when a few of the carefully picked white bulbs turned out to be a bright sunny yellow! That is OK. Oh well, I am not too angry. Seeing that we are still wearing winter clothes and waiting for spring weather, I can only imagine the yellow was chosen by fate to uplift my spirit..some very welcome sunshine in a tulip!
As usual, I wait until the very last to get something done..including sketching the tulips. The yellow ones lost all their petals today, except for one lonely one, hanging on a few petals only for my benefit. While mon chéri saw to diner, I took the opportunity to sketch these tulips, before the fat lady had finally sung. I made it just in time…all the yellow petals are gone..
The white tulips are still flowering happily and elegant in their waving. I am not a huge tulip fan and never had many in my gardens, but I have to admit that they do make for a spectacular show en masse!
My first plein air painting in two years..and I chose a rainy and snowy day to do it! Not the best composition ever and with very finicky brushwork (but with a nice stroke here and there!), I succeed in finishing it. And most importantly, I enjoyed it so, so much!!!
So, after all sorts of difficulties, I think this is what they call “breaking the ice”, so now I should start settling back into the process…and the joy plein air painting gives me.
Oil on gessoed board, 41x33cm
With this very first post of 2013, I wish you all a very good new year..may it be all you wish it to be!
I have gotten myself back to the easel and sketchbook..a great achievement here in January. For myself, I hope that 2013 will be a better year than the previous, especially on the art front. But of course, that only depends on one person..me.
Of all the sketches I did today, the following ones are the most successful. The three chickens kept still long enough with their backsides to me, so I could practice my observation skills which got lost during the past year.
..three chickens in a row..
done in watercolor on Aquarelle block, HP, 18x26cm
It is a different story with the birds. The mésanges(tits) are way too quick for me and I could only succeed in blobs of colour which looked more like flying saucers and even that would be an insult to the Martians. So I took closeups and put my own sketch together. According to my own rule, it is then not by definition a sketch, but more of a drawing, using sketching techniques. That is a mouthful! By my definition a sketch is only a sketch when done right in front of the live subject, “sur le motif”, we call it in French. when using the help of otter media..magazines, photos, it becomes drawing. The observation and rendering become totally different. By saying I used “some sketching technique”, I suggest that I used about 4 different photos, composed 2 birds on my paper, referred to the photo’s for colour and lastly added some branches and seeds from direct observation from the tree. So, finally, the whole sketch is my own composition with my branches and seed block being a true sketch with birds drawn onto it…
..Feeding two mésanges..
done in watercolor in Hahnemuhle watercolour sketchbook, 15.3x25cm.
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
This is my favorite time of sketching.. I love all the ochres and umbers. And on days when the weather is a bit chilly or wet, it is nice to bring in leaves and branches and whatever else I found on walk and fiddle in the studio. I don’t work in my atelier enough and I actually love my atelier! My table is in front of the fireplace, my coffee machine just a further to the left..in fact, the whole barn is my atelier and I am in it for another winter.
Both sketches done in pen and aquarelle in Hahnemule watercolor sketchbook, 19X20cm
Sketching a chestnut..not easy.
-pen and watercolor in watercolor sketchbook, 15x25cm-
My very late postcard to Bridget consisted of geraniums, done way back when it was still summer.
-pen and watercolour on watercolour paper-
..summer geraniums in gouache and pen, on handmade paper..
..terracotta pots on garden pot holder..
watercolor and pen in Daler & Rowney aquarelle sketchbook, 254×178 cm.
More experimenting with fall colors…which are quickly changing to grays and blacks and umbers. some of these experiments and playing with line and color simply turn out a mess…as can clearly be seen in “ochres and siennas”, but somehow I actually like this mess, since it is much more loose and spontaneous than the others, which are strict and too precise and stiff. the goal of this experimenting is, after all, not to render, but to interpret. In that sense, “ochres and siennas” are my best effort so far, the one I’m the happiest with.
..ochres and siennas..
watercolor and pen in sketchbook, 15,5x25cm
I used the messy sketch above to do a painting 0n larger scale and extra white abriano artistico paper. I shgould’ve gone for a more yellow tinted paper. Much lighter hand, lighter in color and more diverse in nuances…but still not what I’m after. A lot more work to do. But for this Sunday, it will do. I’m going for a walk in the woods now to find some grays.
..ochre fall branch..
watercolor on extra white Fabriano artistico paper HP,41,5x30cm
watercolor and pen in sketchbook, 15,5x25cm
I have done just some sketches. Nothing in particular. Just taking out a pen and small watercolor tin and putting something on paper.
…two plants on a coffeetable of a shop…
…a third potplant on another coffee table…
…a branch of berries picked on one of my walks…
All sketches done in pen and watercolor wash on Arches paper, 18x26cm
Our July here in France was spent under umbrellas. Rain. Morning, noon and night. Not enough to lift the drought but enough to deprive us of of summer. No, I don’t complain. I’m fully aware that if I were in charge, the apocalypse would be immediate.
But there is still a way to enjoy summer. Of course! Sunflowers!
…front page of card to vivien…
…inside page of card to Vivien…
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.
February was a busy month and I didsn’t get around to doing much art. I did succeed on doing a garden sketch and a drawing of Tartelette ad Omelette, on a reasonably nice February afternoon.
I feel happy with the drawing, which was first done as a sketch and then developed further into a drawing. The cloches were done afterwards, rather lazily and not much effort or desire went into this sketch.
…Tartelette et Omelette…
…sanguine and charcoal drawing on paper, 24×20 cm…
..Two garden cloches…
…charcoal sketch on paper, 24x20cm…
A few sketches of December…a leisurely walk by the Loire, some faces in a bar and a shed in a friends garden.
…a shed in a friend’s garden…
.. sketchbook 15,3×25 cm, watercolor and pen…
…bare tree at the loire…
..sketchbook 15,3×25 cm, watercolor and pen..
…faces in a bar…
..sketchbook 15.3 x25cm, watercolor and rotring pen..
I stuck my nose out in the cold today…just outside the atelier and sketched the Jack Frost plant, whitered from the frost and the dry iris sculptures and a tree and shrub, struggling to hold onto some last colour.
…à la prochaine…
Picking up leaves on my walk by the Loire resulted in autumn sketches number II during our art afternoon earlier today. This is what I did, while Marie-Christine continued working on her cheetah.
All my sketches were done in pencil, pen and watercolor sketchbook, 19x20cm
…yellows in autumn…
…reds in autumn…
With her permission, I photographed Marie-Christine’s painting this afternoon, to show the stage where it is at now…far from finished of course. It is an old painting that she is reworking: keeping the cheetah, and started changing the background, wanting to work towards a warm African feel with heavy skies. Looks good to me already so far!
..Marie-christine’s cheetah in progress…
oil on canvas
I’ve cleaned my garden, prepared it for autumn and the colours are already turning beautiful golds and reds…and old colours, like the hydrangeas.
This afternoon was the first of my art afternoon with MArie-Christine. We do such different work, which is inspiring. I forgot to ask her psrmission to show her piece here today, but she will be continuing next week, and maybe even the week after, so keep an eye open on Thursdays to see how we progress on our pieces.
For today I only did two sketches in pen and watercolor, but from next week on I’ll also do more serious work…I was so fatigued today and didn’t have the energy to do an oil painting..
Sketches of the autumn hydrangeas in the garden just outside my atelier..
both sketches in pen and watercolor in sketchbooks.
…hydrangeas and greens…
…hydrangeas and urn…
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″)
I’ve started my garden at Coin Perdu. We are still working on the house, so I am limited to where I can garden for the moment. A rock garden close by the barn we’re living in for the moment works good. It also serves as a little lay in garden where plants can with for their permanent place in the garden. It was hard work, since it is a little grass covered hill that I had to dig out, remove the grass, lay down big bolders, fill with rocks, treat the soil, add compost and all necessary, leave it to settle and then plant some plants. It still needs work, but for now it is filled with plants loving sun and rocky corners and it has steps that lead up to a little corner on the hill where a bench waits patiently for someone to sit and admire my handiwork…? It is adjacent to the old pigsty, that will soon become my laundry room and the bench will be a welcome repose from all the washing that needs attention on a farm!
The top sketch is of bags with compost and soil and stuff(I don’ t have my own yet!) and some plants from the pepinier(I don’t have my own hothouse yet!). the second sketch is the rock garden, just competed this morning.
Two sketches from a sketchercise walk by the Loire, where I do my usual thing…sketch with a pencil or pen in watercolor sketchbook and adding a wash at home.
A waterpump in the tiny knotted garden by the Maison de la loire .
The narrow tree lined pathway by the Loire.
And lastly a sketch of my “chicken” in the garden.
All sketches with pen/pencil in watercolor sketchbook
Today is earth day. Some garden sketches as my contribution.
All sketches done in moleskine with rotring pen and watercolour.
*Create a garden that is ecologically friendly. Ban pesticides. Plant combinations of plants and herbs and certain weeds for natural pest control. Learn to live with a few weeds and some chewed up leaves. Promote insect life by planting flowers that atttract them – lavenders, feverfews, buddleias, lilas, roses, honeysuckle… Take care of birds with available waterbaths, nesting houses, perches… Keep containers all around the garden to catch the rainwater with which you can water plants. Create a “strong” garden by not over watering your plants, much like you would train a young tree to bend with the wind, thus forcing it to grow strong. Use the water you rince your salads or other foods in the kitchen with, to water your potplants. Plant herbs to use in your cooking, for medicine, for the household. Ban chemicals from the kitchen and visit Gramma for tips on natural household products. There are info and tips all over internet and books galore on how to live as close as ecologically friendly as we can today, without going to extremes and freaking out on “bio”. Just a little effort already helps a lot.
Respect our earth, care for it and enjoy it.
…a resting place for animals..
Like last year, this single red tulip once again made its appearance in my all white and blue garden. And like last year, I accept it and welcome it. It has become quite a game and I’m amused by the tulip’s proudness and dedication to defeat me. It reminds me of a guy I once knew at university who wouldn’t give up either.
He was madly in love with me, completely, head over heels..and yes, he was sort of cute too, I thought at that stage. I was staying in a hostel for girls on campus, fourth floor out of six, overlooking beautifully tended campus gardens. And he was staying in a hostel for boys, way off, on the other side of the campus. That’s how it was those days. No men allowed in the girls’ hostels and vice versa, which made for very exciting experiences! Except of course, for visiting hours in the lounge downstairs.
Very regularly, he would show up at my hostel, long after visiting hours, on nights when the moon was showing off in the sky and the stars were sparkling impatiently with anticipation. With his guitar and a red rose and his best friend, I would be charmed with unashamedly beautiful love songs from the garden under my window. Their strong, deep melodious voices, trained from years of singing, had every girl hanging out their windows along with me, losing ourselves in the charm and romance of “old world courting” from down below. Beautiful beautiful brown eyes, would always be on the list of songs and their voices would fade away in the distance with Goodnight ladies. My red rose, always stolen from an overflowing garden somewhere, would be left on the windowsill downstairs at the front door, for the hostel had already firmly been locked up for the night.
And so it happened that he got caught one night while stealing my red rose. He unfortunately chose the garden of the Professor of engineering, with whom he was very well acquainted…! He was allowed the rose, but had to work the Professor’s compost heap for two weekends. For a while, it was slow on the rose-serenading-scene and we all missed it..all the ladies, that is. Then one night there he was again, with a stolen red rose and guitar and his best friend. The cute guy I once knew. And who I still know. He is my husband.
Every summer our Bed and Breakfast is fully booked. Mostly by regulars who visit year after year, finding our meals unsurpassed, our hospitality most gracious and our facilities nothing but quality; in short, five star accommodation at a reasonable price.
Mr Frog arrived later than usual this year and is still awaiting the lady of this affair to arrive. Every evening he protests his discontentment at her not being here yet, in his distinguished baritone voice. I hope she arrives soon, I don’t like seeing my guests unhappy.
Once again we had the honor of assisting in the arrival of Mr and Mr Swallow’s young ones. What a lovely couple they are, so caring and loving and protective of the live they have created. the happy event happened only 5 days ago and it was a grand event here. We opened up a bottle of bubbly and all the guests attended to celebrate the wonder of new life and admire the 5 adorable infants.
Miss White butterfly brought many more of her friends along this year and I really had to be inventive to accommodate all these teenagers. But I love every minute of their delightful company! We have come into the habit of sharing an hour or so together every afternoon, where I learn from them all about being a delicate and beautiful and delightful adolescent again. Along with the ever roaming dark and handsome bees, they enjoy energetic parties until late night, Fortunately the neighbors haven’t complained yet. I suspect they know and understand all about the habits of these young people.
We are also very honored to accommodate very well-known international models in our B&B every year, miss Dragonfly and company. They keep mostly to themselves, are very discreet and love their privacy. But when the moment shows itself, I’ll stare at them shamelessly, wishing I had their elegance and beauty Soon they will all be moving on to make room for the next half of the summer guests, leaving me just enough time to tidy up, restock the pantry and put out fresh flowers. The arrival of our summer guests, is a highlight in the season, something we look forward to year after year.
All these sketches were done in pen and WC in moleskine.
- Tonniece said…
- It sounds so super there, with all the guests, the night sounds, and the beginnings of new life.
Wonderful wc’s depicting all that activity.
- Jenny said…
- You have such beautiful, interesting guests! Seems they give you infinite pleasure in return for your excellent accommodations. You are wise to appreciate your exciting life.
- Lin said…
- RONELL!!THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL! HUMOROUS, FUN, INGENEOUS, ENTERTAINING, AND SO BEAUTIFULLY PAINTED!! WHAT A DELIGHT!MOVE OVER WEE GUESTS, I, TOO, WANT A ROOM!BRAVA, CARA .. THIS IS FANTASTIC!!
- Andrew said…
- too much fun…couldnt wait to see what you were terming your summer guests…lol
- Anonymous said…
- Love this B&B!hfm
- juj said…
- Your sketches are – as always – simply wonderful, but I especially enjoyed the story. I have a much nicer perspective on the wildlife in my yard now. Thanks for the much needed break in my day.
- Brenda Y said…
- You had me going!! I was thinking, “hmm, I didn’t know Ronell ran a B & B,” only to discover very shortly the true identity of your “guests!” Outstanding story and FABULOUS sketches!! Loved every word and brush stroke.
- bec said…
- you had me going too! so cool, I thought….she runs a b&b! HA! You’ve brought your guests to life for me with your beautiful watercolors! Thank you!
- mARTa said…
- Well, it’s not going to take much more than this to convince me that I MUST come for a night and see what all this magic is about! I’ll have to email you soon so we can work out some dates! Will the dragonfly models be gone by October…so sad that I might miss them! What a midsummer night’s dream you live!
- Nancy said…
- I love it when I click on my digest e-mail and find that you have posted new sketches. It makes my day!
- good with color said…
- These are some of the nicet summer drawings/paintings I have seen in a long time. They will be great to look back to when cold weather returns with its different visitors. Your accompanying notes are a joy to read.
- caseytoussaint said…
- What a treat! These are just delightful, Ronell. It’s so much fun to see all your ‘guests’ close up. I feel honored to have heard Mr. Frog complaining in person. You’ve brightened up this grey day for me – thank you!
- Ujwala said…
- i love all of them! very very nice. i hope mr frog finds his companion soon.
- Lindsay said…
- Ronell! I did not know you ran a B and B for such elegant visitors. I’m very impressed. My compliments to the gardner!This post is the essance of summer!
- Sandy said…
- Love your B&B post with the description of its’ guests. This was so fun Ronell. Paintings are beautiful and delicate as usual. Don’t let those teenagers wear ya out okay…I’m having the same problem with mine…very energetic and raucous…I must subscribe to your emails..I always come late to the party.sandy
- Christeen said…
- What a charming narrative- I felt like I was there, marveling at your guests in person
Your paintings are beautiful!
- Sandy said…
- Ronell, you are just a blast – Lovely work as always! What a treat to be your Guest!!
- Diahn said…
- How lovely! If you ever start accepting human guests, I believe I’ll have to make a flight over and stay a while – such fabulous and interesting company it would be!!
- Carole said…
- Your blog is just a delight to read and look at! You’ve managed to make me smile on a cold, wet day here – thank you.
- Robyn said…
- They are beautiful guests, Ronell, the very best kind, I think. I would adore to have Swallows born in my garden and a cloud of butterflies in the lavender was one of my most magical early memories of a European summer.
Now I’m going to subscribe to your blog so I don’t arrive last with my praise!
- Lynn said…
- What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this part of your life. I love your sketches.
- Dave said…
- You make it look and sound idyllic! Wonderful post.
- martha said…
- Wonderful nature sketches – so loose and colorful!
- phthaloblu said…
- What wonderful sketches and I just love the way you write! It’s what makes your blog so interesting.
- Nancy Van Blaricom said…
- Ok Ronell, here’s the deal. You have a contest offering the winner a weeks all expenses paid vacation to your b & b, then you pretend to honestly pick the winner… but all along it will be me that gets to come. Oh what fun it will be.Oh the other hand…. have you ever given thought of writing an illistrated book of a summer or fall etc in the life of Ronell? I think it would be wonderful to read and look at. You have such a way with words and paints…….. Give it some thought, for us, your fans.
- Africantapestry said…
- Thank you for all the kind comments.
You made an interesting point there, Sandy and Robyn…subscribing to a blog? I don’t know how that works and thought that was for “professional bloggers”…I would also like to subscribe to some work, because I also arrive late with comments…tell me too how to do it!
- Desiree said…
- OH what fun you are! I loved the story and was ready to sign up to visit your B&B, maybe you should think about writing ads for peoples business’! Great work.
- Sandy said…
- oh boy…how to have a subscribe button..I would go to the dashboard and read up from there. Maybe it will talk about it. If not just google how to put email subscription on blog, that ought to do it..but I would definitely sign up. I wanna be in line FIRST…its’ all about me, don’t ya know..hahaha.
- Jana Bouc said…
- This was such a delight to read and see. I’m awed by your creativeness, sense of humor and talent. A little butterfly landed on my knee the other day in my backyard and I got to study it for a quite awhile. It reminded me of how my mother used to give me “butterfly kisses” with her eyelashes as it was so delicate and gentle.
- luci said…
- Love, *love*, the story, Ronell. And of course the beautiful pictures that illustrate it all. Your garden is as magical as the one in Secret Garden.