Few things are as comforting and warming as an old woodburning stove, or coalstove as we used to call it. during the day it gets stacked with wood and at night with coals which can simmer all night long with closed vent; Coming down to a kitchen, smelling the heat from the coals and just moving the kettle over for an old fashioned coffee,…it is a joy few people know about today and many might remember it form childhood. In winter this is our chef in the kitchen.. For heat, for comfort, for a homely ambiance, for cooking , for keeping the kettle ready, and warming the hands. Of course this thing can push out some mean kilowatts and I have a few scars as evidence. But boy, a tajine or a boeuf bourguignon or a rosemary leg of lamb coming out of that little oven…it gives total a new meaning to the term oven baked. As the thermostat is long gone, I am obliged to step back in time and test the oven temperature by sticking in my hand in the oven and counting….warm, hot or freakin hot!
..kettle and woodburning stove..
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & birn Alpha sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
I struggled with this theme today. Not because I don’t like spices, au contraire, it is a delicious theme and I love it. But the ideas didn’t show up today.I couldn’t fix my pen on a cool composition and the brush didn’t work for me either. My wrist was stiff and unforgiving in sketching these bottles. Instead of having a free hand and sketching with some wonk, which is my usual style, my sketches become overworked and controlled. Not me. Not me at all. In this process of struggle today, I paged back through the last few sketches and artwork I did…and there I saw it; Stiffness and control. Slowly but surely during the last few sketches I moved towards controlling the pen and colour, while they should actually have more of a will of their own. That is how I raised my daughters and that is how I like my art.
Sketch 1: a himalayan salt and black pepper mill, totally overworked and in good ole French…“n’importe quoi!”
watercolour and pen in Daler Rowney sketchbook,21X29.7 cm
Sketch 2: without interest, overworked, not funk or peps, actually a bit boring.
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
Sketch 3: this ws my last sketch and almost there, but not quite yet. I think I got tired at this stage, but there is a bit more interest in the dynamics, a bit more wonk and interpretation.But still sloppy. (a loose, free style doesn’t mean sloppy.)
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & Birn sketchbook,14X21.6 cm
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm
While waiting for a delivery…and everybody knows how that can turn into a long wait…I sat beside the pansies. I couldn’t help myself. The urge for capturing in a sketchbook was too strong for me. I finished the pansies. I checked my watch…still waiting. I moved on to a boxwood with a little statue. Then the delivery showed up.
watercolor and pilot prera fountain pen in Epsilon Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 14X21.6 cm
watercolor and pilot prera fountain pen in Alpha Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
I sat on the terrace of Café Douceur this afternoon and while sipping my coffee, I sketched the street. My pen ran dry on my halfway through the sketch, which resulted in some thin, scratchy lines. I hope the colourful splashes watercolor make up for it..
..street in Beulieu sur dordogne – close up 1..
Pen and watercolor in Stillman & Birn, alpha series sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
..street in Beulieu sur dordogne – close up 2..
..street in Beaulieu sur dordogne..
And lastly some people sketching..done on Fabriano artistico watercolor block, 27X18cm
à la prochaine.
The potted bulbs all have some flowers and today the little Iris reticulata had its turn. Some quick line work in inks and blotches of watercolor was all that I was in the mood for.
..Iris reticulata 1..
..watercolor and J. Herbin ink(bleu myosotis and lie de the) on Fabriano HPwatercolor block..
The top sketch was done on Fabriano hot press watercolor paper, my favorite and the inks just work beautifully with the nibs and inks. The bottom sketch on cold press was a different story. The nibs get stuck on the paper with its rough texture and I just don’t like any other paper than hot pressed. you can just look at my signed name to see how I struggled to get a fluid line down.
..Iris reticulata 2..
..watercolor and Sennelier ink(sanguine 270) on Fabriano CP watercolor block..
The reds in nature are now at their peak and are quickly fading away as the leaves start to fall. As much as the reds and nature are/were inspiring, I couldn’t succeed in really “getting into it”. the reds tricked me, my sketching was off and my wist was stiff as Sylvester Stallone’s biceps….fit for many other things, but not for drawing. It is nonetheless part of my series for November colours..so here are they…the reds of November.
The palette for a mix of all the reds:
- Golden pink
- Potter’s pink
- Cadmuim red
- Rose madder
- Venetian red
- Burnt sienna
- Alizaron crimson
- Ultramarine violet
* On Myfrenchkitchen, I have posted a recipe and photos..all in the spirit of November reds..