February is a month in which many stores, restaurants and cafés close for a fortnight, taking their break before spring arrives with all its liveliness. Not much is happening in the mostly grey month of February. Everybody is cocooning and taking Prozac in front of their daylight lamps. Schools are also closed for a fortnight and the whole world goes skiing in February. Tradition. Except…this year is not a great skiing year with snow only on the highest peaks.
In the one café that is open during this month, I enjoyed my coffee and croissant. It is better than Prozac at least. It was stock full of people, being the only bar open in town, with everybody looking for a counter to lean on with their petit noir. I am not a counter girl, I prefer a table and a large one at that for all my clutter.
It is actually great sketching wise, when there are so many people in a bar. Nobody notices you giving him/her the infernal sketching glare, so drawing people is much more relaxed.
Streetview opposite café de la Poste in Bretenoux…Just a building across from Cafe de la Poste. I had my young German shepherd, Lindiwe with me who got impatient and I had to speed up the sketching.
Watercolor and Pilot Prera pen in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 22X14.5cm
Café life 1, 2 3: In PMU, we all call it Cécile’s bar, life was busy and noisy and sketching went great. The only problem was that my pen got empty and it got more and more difficult to make nice dark lines.
Pilot Prera pen in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 22×14.5cm
I had the opportunity to sit down for a coffee today on the terrace and had some men close-by to sketch. Some people don’t mind to be sketched, but the majority feel uncomfortable with being the subject. Fortunately today’s subjects were so busy with their own thing, they didn’t notice me who was hiding behind a big plant…sort of. I am very rusty on sketching people…there was a time I did it almost every day and now it happens once a year, for exactly the reason I mentioned…getting rebuked by people who don’t want the attention. Nonetheless..I present to you…the three men.all done in moleskin book(which is a little too light for my watery brushstrokes and the colour bled through to the back of the page. I don’t mind bucking pages, but I fiercely dislike colour going seeping through the paper.
pen and watercolour washes in moleskine, 22.5X13.5cm
Still digging deep to jiggle my art back up, I sat in the coffee shop this cold and miserably grey morning, squiggling lines left and right. After a while I gave up, closed the Stillman & Birn and rove to the garden center, where I loaded my cart with shrubs and trees and perennials. Everybody else was buying forced bulbs for their homes. I was probably the single person in France out in the cold rain, behaving only as one should in the midst of spring…going out on the planting. Well. It helped. I feel I can take on some more sketching this evening…make my hands work while my head is in spring, planting.
chairs and coffee table in coffee shop
pencil in Stillman 1 Birn sketchbook, 14.5X22.5cm
Potplants in coffee bar
Watercolour washes and Pentel brush pen in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 14.5X22.5cm
My mojo has left me since October/November last year with absolutely just no desire to put pen to paper or a brush to the canvas. The intention was there, many a time, but the execution didn’t happen. It was that typical staring at a blank page, at a blank canvas and realizing that even the mind was blank. So what does that say about ignoring inspiration or mood and just get on with it, regarding art as a job that needs to be done. I don’t have the answer. I can only say that if it were my job and I worked for a boss, I would’ve probably been fired.
Rutabagas, turnips and beetroot.
sketches in watercolor and pen in Arches watercolorbook HP, 18x26cm
I even went to see a Picasso exhibit, trying to find the desire to paint, but to no avail. No desire. No wanting it. I had a faint glimpse of my old desire today when I picked up a rutabaga(swede) for dinner tonight. I looked at it and thought by myself that it was a vegetable I haven’t sketched yet and I wondered why… a trigger as simple as that. Not that I am now suddenly overcome with desire to splash the paints, not at all. On the contrary. I wonder what o do tomorrow. But I am grateful for at least having a sketch done today, before January runs out. Tomorrow’s day will have to see to itself.
I am struggling enormously with my sketching lately. The whole process of art doing in my atelier is actually on the struggle. My art has taken a dive for the worse, but hopefully it will resurface with vigor soon. In the meantime I just follow the giant Nike’s advice: “Don’t think, just do it”. All in all, I felt better after doing these sketches.
All sketches done in the Stillman & Birn, Epsilon series, 14×21.6cm with watercolor and pilot prera pen.
I sat in the square in Beaulieu, first doing the Wednesday morning market and afterwards the view down the street.
I also did some people sketches while having a coffee. I find I have lately been moving into feathering again when drawing and I absolutely hate feathering. It always happens to me when I feel insecure in my art making. What I call feathering : I don’t draw a line in one go, I feather- feather in the direction I want a line to go, a lot of fiddling with shape and line…awful! It was good to get back into one line drawing, or rather sketching, by doing these people. they are wonky, but I feel good about the line work. More and more people don’t want to be the object of observation and I really try to respect that by being so discreet and unobtrusive as possible, making my observation a somewhat off the mark. I have to train my eye again to get to that discreet-drawing-level.
We have more measuring tools in our home than we have food. Fascinating stuff..all these rulers, square edges, the laser beams, the ultrasonic beams, I even have tiny pocket tapes for a handbag. An unending array of measuring tools, never to be found when needed
dip pen and Sennelier ink in S&B sketchbook, 14X21.6 cm
Lipstick. What does your lipstick, or lip balm say about you. Our good friend, Google, says the following:
- sharp angled tip: opinionated, high spirited, hates schedules, outgoing, selective of friends, likes attention, argumentative…
- flat top: high morals, dependable, to the point, quick-minded, loves a challenge, careful about appearances…
- sharp angles on both sides: spiritual, seeks attention, curious, mysterious, loves life, big ego..
- flat top, concave : great detective, make friends easily, inquisitive, adventurous…
- round, smooth tip: easy going, peacemaker, even-tempered, steady, likeable, generous..
..5 lipsticks for 5 personalities..
dip pen and Sennelier ink in S&B sketchbook, 14X21.6 cm
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm