How do you eat your orange?

Winter; time for loads of vitamin C. Kiwi’s, clementines, mandarins, oranges, clemenvillas, grapefruit, pomelo’s; each asking for their own way of eating. To practice working with the Schmincke paints some more, I used some oranges, cut in all the different ways I eat them.

When in a hurry, I roll an orange under my foot, cut a hole in the top and suck the juice loudly and slurpingly, until the opening cracks and forces you to tear it open completely and attack the remaining flesh with your teeth. Aftwards you have to lock yourself in the batroom with lengths of floss and a stack of toothpicks. I struggled with this sketch and I can’t even blame it on the paint…pure lack of skill! I can’t get away from having it look like a chamber pot. Done in pencil, pen and Schmincke WC and still using my handmade sketchbook from Marta.

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An orange cut into quarters takes me back to my netball years, when a tray of orange quarters were passed around during halftime. I always played goal attack, which allowed me three quarters of the court to run and also shooting goals. Man, I was good!…except for those days when my goal shooting failed… Done in pencil, pen and Yarka WC in my handmade sketchbook.

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My mother always peeled the orange with her sharp little knife and with me on her lap, she would cut round slices from the top…one for me, one for her, one for me… We would have a go at about four to six oranges this way. Hartman also peels an orange and when I move closer with some puppy-eyes, he might just hand me some broken off segments. Done in pencil, pen and Yarka WC in my handmade sketchbook.

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And lastly, when I’m fancy and making a salad or dessert, I’ll cut them with my big knife – first slice off both top and bottom, then place the orange on one cut side and slice the peel off from top to bottom by following the contour of the orange,  turning it after each slice, making sure that you also slice off all the white pith. Take the peeled orange in your left hand and cut out each segment between the “skins”. Messy, but pretty. Done in pencil, pen and W&N WC in my handmade sketchbook.

EDIT: I received this comment from Desiree and want to share it with you:

“I used to roll them and suck out the juice too. When my kids were little I even had a contraption that fit inside the hole and was a straw to make it easier. I have eaten oranges in so many ways but there was this one time. It was after work, I was tired and hungry and all of us piled onto the train that took us home faster, passing all the traffic on the freeway. As I sat just zoning, being lulled into a commuter trance there was a women in the seat across from me, eating an orange. I found it really interesting, her style of eating this orange. It was cut into neat segments with the skin attached. She carefully ate the orange flesh and then proceeded to eat all of the white part next to the skin. She first nibbled at it then dragged it across her bottom teeth until the orange skin was the only thing left. It was so thin, it was almost transparent. She was neat, very careful but determined to not let one bit of that orange go to waste. She made me so hungry for an orange. I always eat the white part now, she made it look too good to pass up. This is also a good lesson on “We don’t really know all the people we influence!”

…So, how do you eat your orange?

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Stockholm sketches 3

When I woke for our last day in Stockholm, I was welcomed by a bitter cold wind and rain when I stepped outside. Luckily this was my “national museum” day, so I would be inside most of the time. I was way too early for opening time, so I tried some sketches of statues, standing in the shelter of the museum…well, I only did two, the others were done on other days.

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Pen and Schmincke WC in handmade sketchbook(handmade by Marta)

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Pen and Schmincke WC in handmade sketchbook

The second sketch is of the old water “pump” in the old town, Gamla Stan, which dates back to the middle ages, then the only supply of water availbale.

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Pen and W&N WC in handmade sketchbook.

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Pen and W&N WC in handmade sketchbook

The national museum had an exhibition on design (Dreadful delight), covering interior design and trends in design from the early 18th century to our modern society….exquisite antiques to wonderfully kitch, it is all there. And a huge exhibition on art work with a special exhibition of Alexander Roslin. I went through the whole museum which took me far over two hours and by some stage I couldn’t care less about Roslin and which royal face he captured when. All his portraits started looking the same. By that time, my back was killing me and my head was pounding and I was thirsty, not to mention ravishingly hungry. I couldn’t get out of the museum fast enough! Into the rain. Searching for food and water. Into the mall. I hate malls. Nevertheless, I found food and sheler there.

And then I decided I was also done with culture and history and sightseeing. I felt only like sitting. Doing nothing, except maybe shamelessly stare at people. So I stayed in the mall and only moved from seat to seat. At the same time making it my mission to discover the best carrot cake in the mall. Which I did. Fantastic! It seems like tradition to decorate a slice of carrot cake with a Cape gooseberry in Sweden, just in case you’re wondering what is sitting on top of this carrot cake in the next sketch. It is accompanied by hot chocolate, which unfortunately seems to look more like Coke!

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Pen and W&N WC in handmade sketchbook

While I was feasting on my third trial of carrot cake and waiting to go to the airport, I captured a little of the optimistic and enthusiastic spirit of the young Swedish mothers and babies …..everywhere…. lots of them! Only in the coffee shop I was sitting, I counted 6 pretty mothers with their cute babies! Could it be the long dark days, all the candles and the cold weather?

These two strollers turned out real wonky and definitely wouldn’t keep any baby safe, but thankfully as a sketch it doesn’t have to be safe.

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Pen and Yarka  WC in handmade sketchbook

Stockholm sketches 2

After meeting Nina in Stockholm the Sunday evening, I took to the streets the next day. Unfortunately she couldn’t join me, since she had students waiting for her…why does work always interfere with pleasure? But she did give me directions to art stores which I had a ball visiting and buying some paints and “stuff”. I love small art shops, where you dig for everything. It is a little like treasure hunting. Because Nina’s work looks so beautiful with Schmincke and lately Laura and Bec had done marvelous work with them, I also wanted to try them. And so in this little treasure store I was given free reigns to the Schmincke drawers by the cute store owner. So cute that he even had me pay “old-method-swipe-credit-card-machine-way” because I didn’t have enough cash AND he even threw in a very nice colour catalogue.

Here are some architecture drawings of Stockholm, inspired by Nina’s love for her city. The day was too short to my liking and evening draped itself around me too suddenly but quite pleasantly, as is the case in Stockholm with all its tea lights and candles burning.

I gave these sketches watercolour washes back at the hotel, while waiting for Hartman to go out for dinner – a HIGHLIGHT every evening; I love having people serve me!

If ever I felt stupid in life, this would be one of those times; the first sketch is done in Schmincke and the other two in Winsor and Newton, which I mostly use in sketching. I have been comparing up and down, but don’t see (or feel) the difference between Schmincke and W&N. If anything, my first sketch looks messy and opaque(with Schmincke). Or maybe I was over zealous in playing around with it, which is probably closer to the truth. I’ll have to experiment a little more.

If you’re interested in knowing about these buildings and history and architecture and all things nice about Stockholm, you can google it. I am enjoying my glass of Bordeaux wine too much now to be accurate in factual recounting. What I can tell you, is that Stockholm is a magical city, I love it and my memories are magical.

All my sketches in Stockholm were done in my special WC sketchbook, with Fabriano WC paper; handmade by Marta. I am inspired to try my hand at making my own, I never knew working in a handmade book could give so much satisfation and delight, not to mention pride.

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See Nina’s very different approach to this second sketch.

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Sketching in Stockholm with Nina

I just came back from Stockholm and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Nina, someone’s whose art I’ve been admiring for a long time.

We took off in the cold, into the old town and found a warm spot to have a cuppacino. The coffee shops and bars are so full of atmosphere late afternoon and they have candles burning everywhere from early afternoon. It is here where you would meet up and have long discussions and debates and romantic glances over the flickering candle light and tell whatever story you wish to tell, without worrying too much about the truth or the sense of it all. It is made for a slow sipping of your cuppacino or hot cocolate or wine or beer, stretching those good moments to last a little longer. It isn’t made for sketching though….or maybe the dim light is exactly what we need to silence the critic inside of us.

Nina and I did succeed in doing a sketch or two while sipping our cuppacino’s. She is a lovely person and it was a delight getting to know a little about her! She had dreamed of living in Stockholm since she was 15 years old and after all this time, she is still inspired by it. Her love for Stockholm is portrayed in her sketchbooks. I feel so honoured seeing her sketchbook, recognising some of the sketches from her blog, and they are FAR more impressive on the page! She is an amazing artist and her sketchbooks deserve to be published or exhibited. They are handmade by her and each page is just beautiful in its composition. I was also in awe of the ease with which she works! She simply took her pen and started drawing and a few minutes later, she had this beautiful sketch, while I was talking to myself and erasing and running off the page and starting over and trying to focus in the dark and wondering if I wouldn’t want another coffee…..Meeting Nina was a highlight for me and the next couple of days I criss-crossed Stockholm on foot, seeing its beauty through her eyes.

Both sketches in moleskine, done with pen, pencil and watercolor.

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Figure sketches

We had our “rentree” of figure drwing class this past week. After not doing any life drawing for about 5 months, I felt rusty and slow and struggled to gather my focus. There was quite a bit of talking going on, I would like it to be more work and less talk. I was hesitant to post these, since they feel so without emotion, so lifeless and rigid, but then I remembered…it isn’t about perfection!

See Casey’s drawings from the same class.

Have a  look a Susan’s creative figure sketches, especially her “figure extravaganza ” and “muse of the vineyards”. I wish I could be next to her in life class.

Moving from 2 minute sketches, to 5 minutes and then to 15 minutes. All done on paper with vine charcoal.

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Sketching with a coffee and a good friend.

A good day is when you get that unexpected call from a very good friend from far away. And after a long conversation, without “pretense and expectation”(quoting her words), you can put down the phone, feel inspired, have a wonderful cup of coffee and draw closer the sketching tools. 

Colette and I have shared many coffees over many years. We have shared abundance and empty purses, shopped on impulse as well as on budget. We rode challenging waves and sailed calm waters, we ate fish and chips at three in the morning and elegant strawberries at midday, we wore hats and bought hats and laughed at our own reflections, we drank champagne in strangers’ empty homes and dug up kitchen floors in search of gold. We shared freshly caught lobster on the beach and we licked our fingers from barbecues under the African moon.  And we talked. Listened. We still talk and we still listen.

This is for you, Colette. Thank you for lifting my spirits this morning; for having me cry my heart out and for leaving me with joy.

While enjoying my coffee this morning after the call, I felt The Urge. It has been a long time since I felt The Urge.  You can also call it that hit of inspiration, working of the muse, the bulb moment, the end of the tunnel, the light in the distance….You can even call it panick attack; for feverishly grabbing the paper and pencil and water and brushes, before it leaves! So I did actually produce four sketches. None of them turned out as I planned which I accept, seeing how few things in life do turn out according to plan.

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I have about 3 cups of coffee a day. Starting off in the morning with a big bowl of coffee in which I can dip a chunk of bread or a biscotti as we bake them in South Africa…called beskuit(rusks). Pen and WC in moleskine.

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Then moving through the day I’ll have a cuppacino in just a mug.. Pen and WC-pencils in moleskine.

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Maybe enjoying sitting back after dinner with a small espresso… Pen and WC in moleskine

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Leaving just enough room for that extra special cup around a fire, when the coffee is no good, but the atmosphere and stories fill the enamel mug with bursting aroma and flavour, making it the best cup of the day. Pencil and WC in moleskine.

Meeting Marta in Paris

Casey and I met Marta in Paris for a one day adventure….it turned out somewhat of a “death march”. We met early morning at a cafe at the hotel de ville, had a coffee, and admired our beautiful little gifts, handmade by Marta.  Marta is as graceful and loving, vibrant and radiant as she comes across on her blog and she is never without her wide, beautiful smile! See some photos.

We then took to the streets. Dropped in at Shakespeare and Company. I cheated here…sketched them from a photo later at home…it is far too small inside and I had far too few hands and far too many books to browse.

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Stopped at Sennelier art shop and stepped out just before they locked up for lunch, which put us on the hunt for dejeuner as well. Found a bistrot, took off the scarfs and the gloves, almost started ordering the wine, had a change of mind,  put the gloves and scarves back on and continued the hunt.  After what seemed an eternity, passing the same shop quite a few times, we ended up at the little resto Bergamote, next to the marché of St-Germain.  Warm and cosy, with the best traditional baked baguette, great food, friendly service and a very complicated ladies room, where washing hands rested on the per-chance discovery of a well disguised little knob…

The sunny afternoon brought us to the Jardin du Luxembourg just around the corner, and as we found a spot to do at least a sketch or two, a dark grey cloud was moving in fast. Without warning, the rain came cascading down unforgivingly and  had people stampeding for the nearest shelter, trying to keep their dignity intact. Our California girl calmly took out her umbrella and offered us two “Frenchies” generously a dry spot…

The rain stopped as suddenly as it showed up and the sun took us further on our march, into Le cimetière du Montparnasse. By now, the sun had made way for the approaching evening and it was time for a body warming chocolat chaud. For me, this is the finest hour to be in Paris on a cold, wet winter’s day; the bars are filled with atmosphere, warmth and people meeting up to warm their hands around a hot chocolat chaud, the coats and scarves wrapped around chairs, the garcons  serving up drinks in a chatty mood, the lights outside are playing on the wet streets, people are heading home from work with baguettes under the arms, pinching off a piece of crust every now and then.

The end of a long awaited day.  Crossing Paris on foot, experiencing both bright sunlight and pouring rain, enjoying wine and food and song, sharing stories, painting and writing some memories, saying warm hearted goodbyes with promises for futures that may just happen…Life is a gift.

Sketches done in moleskine with pen and WC.

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An urn overflowing with autumn chrysanthemum in Jardin du Luxembourg.

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La reine Clotilde, resting on a pillar – Jardin du Luxembourg

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Another statue, then the rain came pouring down…