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.

…drawing tools…


25 thoughts on “Back to basics

  1. Oh -to be this “constricted and clumsy” and out of shape ?!? AHHHHH
    I have missed you and your fabulous splashy work!~!! I am glad you are back ‘exercising’ , and like riding a bike – you will be back on track and loving the freedom and unstoppable now!

  2. Ronell!! What a delight – have missed you so much and I love these tentative new strokes of pen/brush/stick/whatever. Enjoy getting back into it – I know exactly that feeling of clenched brush and jaw – it must be banished! So great to hear from you

  3. I’d be very happy with the fennel and onions myself, but I was immediately distracted when you noticed what has happened to my body over this long winter of no walking, no swimming, no exercise. Sigh 😦

    Lovely to find you down by the river though. with your ink and your stick and your talent.

  4. Oh, so good to see you posting again, Ronell! These don’t reflect what you described at all–they’re lovely! I do know what you’re describing, though, as I’ve experienced it many a time myself. Welcome back!

  5. I´m so glad to see you here again, Ronell, I´ve missed you and your lovely paintings! I love this one, I can´t see any sign of your untrained hand here, but 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. 🙂
    I love your drawing tools from the river drawings – isn´t it great what you can do with some simple tools and ink? Great the results, and very inspiring. I can´t wait til spring hits us up here in Stockholm!

  6. It’s so nice to see you back again, Ronell! Like other friends have said… you’ve been truly missed ;))

    I like your idea of using found twigs and aterials as your brushes. The resuls are so interesting and you wouldn’t have to be afraid of ‘losing’ your favourite brush, either.

    Thanks for your wishes for a speedy recovery. It will take time, but it IS only teporary! Yay!!!

  7. Like all the other readers, I’m happy to see you back here again.
    And, yes, too long away from anything can make us sluggish; your exercises are working!

  8. So happy to see you back in the ‘studio’ and posting again! Love the piece you did. For someone that considers their effort a bit rusty, I’m impressed!

    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!!!

  9. Yippee she is back! Can you tell you’ve been missed? Your work, that you think had a “paralyzing impact” is beautiful. The vegetable’s sing … the coloring is inspiring. Oh how nice to see your work again.

  10. WELCOME BACK, CARA!!! And to these eyes, you haven’t lost a bit of spontaneity or creativity or talent — it’s right where it’s always been — just itching to get out!! glorious work, Ronnell — keep it coming, please!! you’ve been sorely missed!

  11. Yeah!!!! Ronnell is back!!!
    Welcome– I’ve missed YOU! — guess you’ve noticed –we all have missed you!
    Your paintings are so much fun– I love seeing what you do and I love the shapes and colors and spatters in your “fennel, pear and onions”.
    the “down by the river” back to basics is so free and spontaneous — I love it, love it , love it!!!!!

  12. Hi Ronnell,
    Good to see you back! Hm, 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 🙂
    I like the fennel a lot, but the ink and stick sketches are fabulous – I’ve only done this once before, but, yes: what a great exercise, simplifying to help one focus – some of the linocutting I’ve done had a similar effect (if approached with a playful mind).

  13. Ronell! Look at how many people have missed you, including me! So nice to have you back, we love everything you do. But painting, like riding a bike, will again come naturally! I am coming to Europe and Paris in May, I would love to see you!

  14. How wonderful to have you back, Ronell. I think we all know
    those feelings that plague us, but I agree with the rest that
    these pictures are lovely. And I love the one in ink. Like sumi-e…

  15. This sketch is fantastic! It seems to hold within an explosion of creativity bursting forth with brilliant light all around. 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. It’s good to have you back!

  16. Ronell, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment on my blog.- I don’t think that you lost much of your wonderful ability to paint- maybe you only f e e l so…the sketch is beautiful, like always.

  17. such a nice painting! I love the fennel. Also the use of a warm color for the shadows, it’s a nice twist from the usual cool colored shadows. I think a break from painting is a good thing and allows us to refocus.

  18. Oh how I adore the raw emotion in this sketch of yours (sticks and stones). I feel the frustration coming through, but in the same time, I feel rock solid knowledge and skill beneath the superficial chaos.

Tthank you for your visit and comment, II appreciate it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s