In a sketching phase.

I am in a sketching phase. And especially scenes, not things or objects. Scenes like buildings and architecture, streets, les places, small shops. I don’t think I’m particularly good at these type of “scenes”, but I’m having fun!   I sometimes feel I will never be a proper artist. I  feel too much  like a changeling for I have too many phases. Maybe it is the winter.  Or the atmosphere in the streets, the lights coming from buildings, the reflection of streetlamps…how can I work alone in my atelier when there is the smell of coffee and hot chocolate in the bars, the intimate talks around candles, the festivity of people with shopping bags in the streets, the  creeping deeper into your woolen hat and coat…

Some last sketches from Paris: The first from le jardin du luxembourg with its hordes of trees and chairs.

…trees in jardin du luxembourg…

…a corner of st Sulpice and a sentier off rue des archives

la fontaine de st. sulpice

All sketches done in pen/pencil and watercolour in sketchbook (15.3x25cm)

Sketches from Paris in November

Visiting our eldest daughter Marinell in Paris this past week….

Paris was sunny and stunningly beautiful! Our weather is still very mild and everybody is out and in good spirits. The waiters are witty, the cars are their usual impatient selves, the women typically autumnal chic and elegant and the children street wise. It is always an experience for me to go into Paris. Once I get used to the traffic, the street hustle and bustle and and Paris noise, I fall into the rhythm of the city, revel in taking on my new pretend-role of la Parisienne.

…place de la sorbonne…

I have my few secret corners that I drop by every time (you’ll have to visit me to know what they are!) and for the rest, I walk and walk and walk, discover new quaint little shops and petits chemins, drop in to buy my regular edible gold leaf and to see what other delicacies are new. Discover bars and bistros and boulangeries and chocolateries, roam the markets, linger in the bookstores and art stores, enjoy lunch with Marinell at my one of my favourite bars outside the centre of Paris, L’usine Charonne. Tea at l’heure du gouter at Le Fumoir, meet Hartman at night on our romantic spot on Pont neuf,  read for hours in my favourite jardin de luxembourg where something happens every minute and each stroller is living his/her story. And always, always  held captive by the  incredibly beautiful architecture of Paris.

How I love Paris. How I love France!

See photos here:  Travel at Myfrenchkitchen

…st amandé – place de la mairie…

My sketches are all a bit tight, but maybe I am a bit uptight lately! I have done some more sketches which will follow in the next post and they are a bit looser and messier…the way I like it.

…le marais…

…place de la nation – statue…

All sketches done in sketchbook with graphite and watercolour.

Sketching equipment

I decided to update all my sketching equipment. To renew a bit. There is nothing like a bit of fresh air.

…sketching stool and bag in one…

sketching bag and stool 3

…closed up…

sketching bag and stool 2

I came across this little fishing stool and bag, which only cost 13 euros and works PERFECTLY. It can be carried by hand or as a backpack an your bag fits right next to you with everything right there at hand. Nothing falling over in the mud or calming it between you feet, and you can have your bag to you left or right.  There ar two compartments on the sides and two on the front and it can carry large sketchbooks.  It carries  high enough on the back, not to put strain on my lower back and all is waterproof. I’ve sketched in the mud arrived at home and gave it a wipe and the underneath of the bag was clean. There are even more fancy bags, but they cost a fancier price as well. To me, this is a perfect sketching “outfit” – ligthweight a bag and stool in one, econimical and functional.

I bought it a Decathlon, a big sports store here in France. It is also available on some fishing equipment sites on internet, but not at that price. I would suggest you visit some fishing stores close by, or google fishing bag and stool.

Some sketches – done in pen, graphite  and watercolour in sketchbook.

…strolling by the Loire…

au bord de la loire

…la loire filling up puddles……

loire puddle0001

…le sentier…

un chemin de la loire 2

Food sketches and a book on dining and painting

I’ve said this before…if all else fails, paint food. It really works. Whether it is the sensuality of food, or the colours or the health aspect or hunger or satisfaction or all of it together…painting food is a delight. It has been so for ages as you will see further down below. I had some poivrons cornes de boeuf and some pak choy. Both greens which is good practice in the greens once again.

…green peppers…

green peppers

…pak choy…

Pak shoy

…Sketches done in moleskine with rotring pen and watercolour….

When Katherine visited in October, she and her sister and niece came over for dinner on their last night in France. (See both her sites at Travels with a sketchbook and Making a mark – where she has some interesting facts in her latest post on Technorati.)

Apart from the bottle of champagne they brought which we décapitée (beheaded) Napolean style, they brought me this beautiful book too  – Boire et Manger, which they bought at Chateau Chenonceau. I have read it from front to back and back to front again. I love symbols and mythology and traditions and of course everything that has to do with food and art and this little book has it all.

It is all about the traditions and symbols showing up in old works of art, throughout the ages; how artists chose to paint certain food and scenes, involving food  for their symbolism, to depict the traditions and cultures and habits – in short, life during their time.

I want to share some of it with you. Different examples can be seen at Myfrenchkitchen.


.. bacchus adolescente:Le caravage(1596-1597)…

boire et manger

…la chanteuse des rues; édouard manet (1862)…

la chanteuseCherries – meaning: Passion of Christ, fruit of paradise

  1. One of the first portraits of Victorine Meurent, who was one of Manet’s favourite models until 1875.
  2. The cherry was a symbol of love, becasue of its deep red colour and round voluptiousness that reminded of the curves of the feminine body.
  3. All the sensuality in this scenes evolves around the woman bringing the sweet cherries to her mouth.

…la céne: Jacopo Bassano ( 1546-1548)…

la céne

Lamb – meaning: sacrificial victim.

  1. The lamb signifies the sacrifice of Christ.
  2. A fruit, resembling the apple, signifies the original sin.
  3. Next to Judas lies the knife, symbol of the treason which would follow.
  4. With his left hand, Jesus Christ himself points to the lamb which is a symbol of his own sacrifice.

…le jambon: édouard manet  (1875-1878)…

le jambon - eduard manet

Meat ; conserved/dried: ham taken from the porc, signifies gluttony sin.

  1. French dried ham had a strong international culinary meaning for Manet, because of its ancient gallic imports and long French tradions.
  2. In the 19th century the ham became a commercial product and thus also made its appearance in the city bourgeoise home after being traditionally country fare.
  3. In the rich Parisien home the ham would be served on nothing less than silver plattters, giving the ham a “worthiness”.

…scéne de cuisine: Frans Snyders (1630-1640)…

scene de cuisine

Porc and wild boar: sin of the flesh.

  1. Frans Snyders was a student of Rubens and specialized in refined commissios, usually overladen scenes of buffet tables with exquisite  food.
  2. The head of the boar was very sought after and seen in this “hunting” painting could be evidence of a commission by  some articrat.
  3. The lobster was already at that stage seen as one for the more rare sea foods, giving it an importance on the refined table.
  4. The little detail of the dog only sniffing the game, hints on aspects of respect.
  5. The presence of the artichokes is an indication of the choice of the painter to include only exquisite foods.

Just some sketches….and a vendange in Vouvray.

Every year I paint these clementines from la Corse. See last year’s sketches at CLementines.

…clementines from Corsica…

clementines in watercolourSketch done in moleskine with pen and watercolour

The next two sketches were done a while ago. I just sketched some things around me – a container in the living room with brushes and pens and stuff and part of a bookshelf. I try very hard to keep the bookshelf, neat, but I am starting to think we will never have neat bookshelves.

..brushes and pens…

brush holder


books on the bookshelf

Sketches done in Moleskine with rotring artist pen and water wash.

On Myfrenckitchen, I have posted some photo’s of a vendange in Vouvray that we did in Octobre. Good freinds have a bio vineyard where the harvesting is still done by hand. On one Saturday during the harvest period in October, all their family and friends get together for a day of grape harvesting. It was hard work, but a fun day, with a delicious lunch,  many laughs and jokes and a messy grape fight towards the end of the day. I only took photos, because I didn’t want to hide from the work behind my sketchbook! you can see some photo’s here at Pears in red wine and a wine harvest.


Carnets de voyage

I am a collector of Carnets de voyage (travel sketchbooks).  They are scattered throughout my home, atelier and Coin Perdu in Correze and I enjoy them all over and over again! The problem is that I can get so caught up in them that I stay there and revel in their beauty and travels and strokes and stories and not get onto my own page. Here are a few of my favourites…

At the bottom you can find a list of links to some of the artists.

…carnets de voyage…


Patrice Hyver, Denis clavreul

…rochefort – denis clavreul…

Rochefort - Denis clavreul

…iles de bretagne – Patrick Camus

Iles de Bretagne - hilde Cayeux, Patrick Camus

…patrick camus…

Patrick camus

…onze peintre de la marine ..

onze peintres de noirmoutier

…ronan olier…

Ronan Olier

…le mexique – didier lisetti…

Le Mexique -Didier Lisetti

…didier lisetti…

Didier Lisetti

…aveyron – alain marc…

Aveyron - Alain Marc

…alain marc…

Alain Marc

…le jardin de l’ile de Batz – denis clavreul…

Le jardin de l'ile de Batz - Denis clavreul

…denis clavreul…

Denis clavreul



…mali secret – stefano faravelli…

Mali secret - stefano faravelli

…stefano faravelli…

Stefano Faravelli 1

…balades a montrichard – yves de st. jean…

Balades a Montrichard - Yves de St Jean

…yves de st. jean…

Yves de St Jean

Available at Edition Equinoxe.

Trying to sketch myself out of a slump

How to sketch/paint/draw/do any kind of art, when you’re in a slump.

I don’t know. I had such good plans when coming back from Hawaii and just suddenly, the pencil or brush refuses to do what I ask it to do. Not to mention the motivation that just disappeared into thin air. Why does this happen. How can it happen almost overnight? Why does it take so long to get back into it? And how to get back on track? Million dollar questions.

Loire sketces 1Oct

I walked up and down the Loire this morning. In the wind. With only a sketchbook and pen. Oh, and a coffee. Stopped at a little bench to finish the coffee and veil myself from the wind. But determined to get at least one or two sketches, I took the wooden steps down to the river.

Loire sketches 2 Oct

I sat on a sand bank  here and there and only scribbled down some small puddles with stones and grass and debris. The wind drove me home earlier than I desired and I gathered  leaves to take along. At home I indulged in a hot chocolate and gave a wash to the ink sketches, which I shouln’t have done. They definitely looked a bit better only in ink. I “overwashed”  them all and now I feel like I’ve been doing colouring in; I couldn’t stop…SIGH…but at least I didn’t scratch them out like I have been doing with all my artwork lately!

Loire sketches 3 Oct