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



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.


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.


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.


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.


Chocolate truffles and a corner of the Christmas tree

Sharon suggested we sketch our holiday cookies/baking. I made these chocolate truffles yesterday… for the weekend…for our daughter who’s coming home for the weekend. Recipe here.

Done in micro pen no 8, WC and gold ink for the gold leaf on the truffle and the “glitter”.


Everybody is so full of cheer and Christmas spirit…it is contagious. So here is a “corner” of our Christmas tree this year, which is a dry tree full of moss, that Hartman went to “pick up” for me by the Loire river. All the decorations are in shades of grey, white and silver.

Done in micro pen,WC,  silver gouache(for the angels hair and glitter) and silver leaf for the decorations.


The first image is a photograph, of which my lighting wasn’t good enough and I didn’t compensate for the colour reflection, therefore the “blue look”, but it shows the silver better than the scan (second image), where the colours are more true and the paper nice and white.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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


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.