A breather in spring.

I have been taking a long break. I’m doing things I have been neglecting for some time, I’m enjoying spring and everything that goes along with it. I have been waiting a long time for summer to show up and now that it is here, I have to make every minute count, for it passes quickly. I’m basking in the fruits of the season. I have had an attack of fatigue and I am paying attention to my health. And I’m playing around on Myfrenchkitchen, which I’ve allowed to slip from me over the last few months. I’m stopping by here at Africantapestry just for a quick breather before I continue on my road of indulgence. And pretty soon I’ll be back here with full gusto.

Enjoy the season!

Watercolour and pen in sketchbook

…mangoes for spring…

Something that needs fixing

The ironing is always behind.

I have to iron. I have to see sharp folds and straight flat edges on shirts and linen and skirts and yes, T-shirts. Except of course jeans. No straight folds there. That makes them look nerdy. I learnt that from my daughters.

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

Like with a desperate diet, I start off every Monday with the determination to iron immediately when something comes off the line. Just to see my diligence fade into submission by Wednesday. The result is a growing mountain of washing and a leaking cup of courage. So I let the mountain run its course… after all, it is already there….and wait for the magical day when my cupeth runneth over again.

I’ll probably always have this habit that needs fixing.

Onions and garlic

Between the tissues and Fervex and Strepsils and Tokala and Aiyani, I did manage to find a spot for my watercolour palette. These are two vegetables our house is never without. Actually, that is almost all there is , except for some cheese and a drop of milk in the fridge…I’m alone for the week, so it comes down to cereal for dinner tonight.

Pencil and watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP, 23×30,5cm

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Sketch book and palette

My palette has arrived, I have finished making my first sketchbook and I painted my “homepage”.

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The brass palette is handmade and engraved by Craig Young in England. Not cheap, so it meant saving seriously for a few months, which I did religiously. It folds open to hold 16 colours, with mixing pans on either side and at the bottom(not seen), is a ring to hook your thumb through. A brass container to hold water hooks onto the side.

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My colours I put in there for now are(from left to right) Naples yellow, Cadmium yellow, yellow ochre(apology, I painted raw umber instead of yellow ochre in the picture!),  raw umber, alizaron crimson, cadmium red, burnt sienna, burnt umber, olive green, hooker’s green, ceruleam blue, kobalt blue, french ultramarine, prussian blue, payne’s gray, ivory black. I do play with other colours which I’ll just drop onto the mixing pan. I don’t need a big mixing area, since I prefer mixing directly on paper.

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My sketchbook is 19x25cm, which I find ideal for me…big enough to do landscape and architectural sketches and I can do a few quick smaller sketches all on one page and it fits perfectly into my bag(see photo above). I also decided not to cut the paper, but to tear them(See photo below) – I like the ruffle edges they make, it  resembles watercolour sheets. I love the rustic, handmade look for a sketchbook.

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Along with my palette, I have in my sketchbag a pencil, a rotring pen(.25) a tiny spraybottle to wet the paint, and a travel petit gris brush, size 0. I also got a great idea from Mel Stabin(my favourite watercolour artist)..and started using an old kitchen spatula, with the handle broken off to lift out some whites, which works great, along with an exacto knife which does the same thing, just much sharper highlights.

 

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And here is my “homepage”. I covered my hard outcover on the inside with watercolour paper(Arches CP,185g) as well and painted my “homepage” over the whole of the two first pages. The scene is the back of our home and part of the neighbours, painted from the terrace. I thought it would be a fitting opening in my sketchbook. Now off to start making the rest of my books, with an alteration here and there…maybe embossing my name on the cover and adding an elastic that folds over from the back(like the moleskine)

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Clementines

Encouraged by Jana and Robyn, I took up the oil brush again. Not to do paintings, but oil sketches. Went to my cute little art store, solved the world’s problems along with the owner, got a lovely compliment from a french guy buying paper and walked out with more brushes and some oil paper in blocks, which I’ve never used before. They worked out perfectly for the oil sketches! Another alternative would be to prime drawing paper with acrylic paint as an undercoat. I prefer the blocked canvas paper which is sturdy. I really enjoyed getting back to oils… missed the smell and sensuality and drama of oil paint. Now that my tubes have been opened again, I hope to do much more oil work again, sketching as well as painting. I used clementines as subject for both watercolour and oil sketches.

The watercolour was done in molekine, using a .25 rotring(which I love for the brilliance of the ink and its fine point), watercolours and a petit gris brush, no 0.

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For this oil sketch, I started by laying a thin wash(oil and turpentine) roughly over an area, let it dry and directly sketched the clementines with brush and oil and a drop of Venetian turpentine as medium.

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I had some oil paint left on my palette and attempted a second clementine sketch, changed the composition and lay a contrasting colour background which is once again a thinned wash, using plenty of turpentine with a big brush.

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La galette des rois

We are eating again. It is tradition here in early January. Galette des rois, literally cake of kings.. It is eaten as the twelth night cake. I got the féve (lucky charm) in my slice, so the crown that accompanies the cake, belongs to me. I am queen. And I have chosen my king. And I have to buy the next cake.Traditionally the youngest member around the table has to direct to whom each slice has to go, but since we were only two (and I’m the youngest), I just simply divided the cake in two(!!). Read more about the tradition of Galette des Rois. Different regions have different cakes. Towards the South it is more a brioche with a sugar topping and towards the north it is puff pastry with an almond paste filling. Now we are REALLY done with eating.

Watercolour and ink in moleskine.

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