Sketching with greens

A post for Sketchercise:

This morning’s walk provided me with greens.I have to admit that I don’t enjoy drawing/painting/rendering leaves. Maybe it is the greens in them I shy away from. I find green a difficult colour to paint in watercolour as well as oil, or any other medium. Beautiful in nautre, difficult to render. Too much green can make me feel quite ill. The wrong greens can look very artificial. Green can easily look flat and lifeless. Like white, green isn’t just ..green. It absorbs and reflects its environment and by looking closer you’ll see browns and reds, yellows and blues…a whole spectrum of colour. And then we get transparent greens and saturated greens, which you can’t paint with only green from a tube or pan. Even oils are difficult and mix differently than watercolour, for one – we have a white which can be added to green in oils, then making it less transparent of course.  Which explains why I rarely paint with green, but prefer mixing a green. And I love to mix it directly it on my paper or canvas to have the colours flow into one another, giving dimension and vibrancy and life, even if the green isn’t the “perfect” green. I sometimes add olive green(Schmincke) and the very different olive green(W&N).

Please do tell how you paint greens?!

…apple branch…

branch with apples

In these three sketches, I have used more or less the same palette:

Cobalt yellow pale(W&N), cobalt yellow deep(W&N), yellow ochre light(Schmincke), lemon yellow(W&N),french ultramarine(Sennelier), cobalt blue(Sennelier), Prussian blue(Sennelier), Cerulean blue(W&N), Paynes gray(W&N), burnt sienna(W&N), raw umber(Sennelier), olive green(Scmincke).

…walnut branch…

branch with walnut

…acorn branch…

branch with acorns

All sketchesdone with  rotring pen and watercolour in watercolour moleskine

Walk and sketch 1

A post for Sketchercise.

With a little bit of time on my hands I put on my heavy hiking boots..urgh.. and took off for a walk. All the flowers on shrubs have made room for berries of all colours. Since I am in the process of noting all the fauna and flora in this area, I dragged along my  sketching palette, which is boringly still the same as you’ll see in this link, except that my sketchbook might be the small moleskine or the normal one…watercolour of course. I like the paper of the watercolour moleskine.

Tokala and Aiyani tailed along, until they realized to their horror that we were going further than normal. That had them plonk down under the apple tree, all the while complaining about my imbecility. On my promise to give them joghurt back home, they sulkily agreed to wait under the apple tree. I kept my promise.

…prunellier and aubepine…

berries 1

…bramble, stinging nettle and dock leaves…

berries 2

All sketches done in rotring pen and watercolour in watercolour moleskine.

Now isn’t that special..

This writing is all about ME. So, if you can’t stand self-indulgence, then you should move on immediately.

I was used to intense birthday celebrations since childhood.  Making a fuss of a birthday was a milieu I grew up in. My mom went to a lot of trouble to make it special, to make the birthday boy/girl feel special, whoever it was. She also made her friends feel special. Somehow she felt special too by seeing everybody else  feel special. She had a good friend from childhood. They both got married at different stages, had their families and ended up living far away from each other, which resulted in less contact. But they religiously called each other every year on their birthdays until my mother died at 84 years old.  And on these birthday calls they chatted away, catching up on the year’s news, and time and distance fell away. Isn’t that special...

…l’orage approche…

oil on canvas, 30x30cm

l'orage approche

After leaving home, my birthday celebration years continued. With my family. With a small but close circle of friends. And a few traditions. I have a friend celebrating the same day as mine. Every year on our birthday, Naomi baked(and still does) this incredible black forest cake. Only this one time a year. And it was tradition that I would go over to her house  for a quick coffee(before all the visits started) and the two of us would feast on a slice each. With another friend I shared another kind of tradition; I baked her a cake on her birthday and she bake me one on my birthday…I once got a  sticky marsh-mellow cake from her and on her birthday she got a giant pink and white cake smothered in rose petals from me. We laughed. This very same friend, Colette, booked an airoplane ticket  a few years later to share  my 40th  birthday with me in South Carolina, US. Isn’t that special…

I had a surprise one year, organized by Mariaan, one crazy, deliciously fun friend. Nobody called me on my birthday that year. It was a strange phenomena.  It just didn’t happen. I was always spoiled with phone calls and drop-ins and cards from very early morning on every birthday. That year…nothing! Nada! Except of course for my family living far away. By the evening I was in such a bad state of depression that I decided to leave town the next day, never to return. I would go live with the animals in the bush. On our way out to “dinner” that evening(my last meal in civilization, I decided…), I opened the door and stared into the laughing faces of my whole circle of friends.  Each with a huge dish of food and drinks and coloured gifts with huge bows and even huger smiles. We ate and drank and danced, they washed dishes and we kept the neighbourhood up until early hours. Isn’t that special…

Then we left South Africa. Celebrating birthdays changed face very suddenly. The next birthday was only the four of us and our good friends Cecily and family in Felixstowe, who were there for one year.  I tried very hard to be original, making us a meal in grandiose style..so many courses, wearing  evening attire with french perfumes, sat down to a pristine set table…just to have an over the top, overcooked meal with the dessert literally running off the meringue! But the memory of laughter and jokes and joy of sharing with family and two good friends in a foreign country stays firmly on the plate. Isn’t that special…

Since then, birthdays have been quiet and I’ve been spoiled by my family with love,  gifts early morning in bed, breakfasts, and intimate dinners in chateaux, dinners by die fire and a far away call here and there. Isn’t that special…

...le forêt…

oil on canvas, 24x33cm

le forêt

This week I was surprised with facebook wishes from all over the planet, with Marta being the leader of the pack..starting it off already a day early! I was bowled over by the wishes from people I have just recently met, or never met yet , or only seen photos of, or only exchanged emails with and even people I never thought would care to send me wishes! I received a mail from a friend who is away on holiday in Corsica, who cared enough to take some time from precious sunny days to send me good wishes. I received an international  mobile phone call from a good friend in SA who couldn’t reach me at home in Montlouis, who will have a horrendously expensive bill to pay very soon!! There is a gift waiting for me in the mail and by opening it, my house will be strewn with glitter stars and I will find a star on the floor somewhere until next year when her next gift will show up, decorated with glittery stars! After all the quiet years with only my small family here in France and  a call here and there from my family and friends far away. Now isn’t that special…!

Maybe you receive a lot of special attention on your  special day in the year and might think this is peanuts to the attention you receive! It is possible. Maybe you’re reading here and thinking peeved how lucky I am for you don’t even receive a single note or call! It is possible. Which makes this writing then not so selfindulgent any more. Because at some stage or another, we all have the need to feel special. To have  a memory of one day in a year that belonged only to you, a day that you can look back onto and say: “Now wasn’t that special..!”

Sketching some things..

Maree passed the Kreative blogger award on this way a few weeks ago…THANKS! – and now I have to tell seven things about myself. I don’t have seven interesting things to tell, but I can name hundreds of things that I love  that give me joy in this lifetime. So I’ll name a few of them.

Apart from loving my family, I adore my cats, Tokala and Ayiani. They are highly intelligent, as you’ll see from the sketch,  and they teach me how to be humble and considerate andhow to respect others’ time and place. I know they see me as a very intelligent creature and recognise my superiority to them. They laugh at all my funny talk and come immediately when I call. I never feel like a fool around them. They hasten to fulfill my every will. I am royalty in their presence.

cats cartoon

I adore being a plein air painter. I never really loved landscapes, until I went out and did my first one, which was a complete blooper by the way. But the process of plein air means much more to me than the result. Sic. Of course I’m lying! I love an awesome result! I don’t want to do it just for fun. I want to be extraordinary! I want to be gooood! That is why I go out there again and again. In search of that high that comes with the process . In search of  the experience.  In search of that complete knock-out that will one day come with a stunning result…hopefully.

plein air painter

I love my bicycle. I look quaint and adorable. My backside rests small and dainty on the saddle. I don’t wobble and I don’t bobble. The uphills are SOO easy and the downhills have people fleeing from me. It says that I am in command. I feel powerful. When I was 5 years old, I ran away from home with my bicycle and a clean cotton panty in my little suitcase. I decided the corner of my street was far enough away from home. Not much has changed. I still wear cotton and my bicycle still takes me away from home. To every corner I choose.

riding bicycle

In my next lifetime I am going to be a professional photographer. They make a lot of money and never have to work. They never go hungry. And they are always well dressed. They always travel in style and see the world. And it is all fun. For that they  get money again. And they look professional with all their equipment. Everybody has respect for someone who carries a lot of stuff. They immediately think that person must be good. I want to be goood. And it counts in my favour that  I’m trigger happy.  So I will be a photographer. After all, I’m not scared of animals. Or people. Sic.

in another lifetime

I can name many more…Africa holds my roots, France holds my heart…travelling to far-off places was invented for me…listening to other people’s stories of their lives enriches me…nature gives me space to breathe…our mountain home sets me free…

Let’s stop here. Life is too short to only name the things we love. Let’s go do it.

I am passing this award on to:

Cathy at Cards and stuff– she is a lovely french Madame, now living in South Africa and does extraordianary African art and just had an exhibition a hwhile ago of stunning African portraits!

Cecily at Butterflyhands – she is a good friend of many many years and her blog is fairly new, but I know her talent and skills from way back and I have always admired it.

Bales of hay in oil

We are so busy at your mountain home, swinging hammers, knocking out beams, digging trenches for drainage under floors…the closest I can get to being creative , is rubbing Aloe vera hot gel on sore muscles and Arnica on purple bruises. I do take my camera out frequently to record the renovation process and then at the same time quickly dash off to snap an insect or pretty flower or some raindrops.

We have also got highspeed internet now at Coin Perdu and this weekend we cuckooed around the computer as if it were a new born baby with blue eyes! We also have a telephone. Not that I’m excited about that. I hat a telephone. But it does signify that slowly but surely things are progressing at Coin Perdu and we are not alone out here!

…bales of hay…

bolle 3

I did manage to paint the bales of hay that had been cut on our land…an interesting process that fascinated me for the whole two weeks it took to cut the land, air it, roll it and then load it to store for the winter. It gave me a huge kick to know our land was giving back to nature.

…painting it…

bolle 2