Whenever we receive one of these official “Republique Francaise” envelopes, proudly printed with la Liberté Egalité Fraternité, my stomach turns a knot. Even though I love la Republique and la liberté it stands for! But these envelopes always mean trouble. Or most of the time at least. It is either taxes coming your way…and who doesn’t hate/fear those? Or it is something you did which you shouldn’t have done. Like speeding or some other infraction. And so we received one of these proud, but dreaded envelopes a while back. In its usual, very formal and polite but nonetheless slighly accusing tone, it stated that the driver of the vehicle.. bla bla bla….bla bla bla.. ran a red light. That of course meant mon chéri. I started on my tantrum, throwing my hands up at this obscene amount we now have to pay and en plus...lose 4 points on the driving permit for a whole year! Zut!! I, being perfect and all, started lecturing mon chéri about responsible driving, paying attention to the signs and manners of the road. Until he frowned and pointed to the date. Zut!! He was in the States on that date! It meant he was far from that red light. It meant that I was the one who ran this red light. But that is of course impossible. I mean, really… being perfect and all, me? Oh c’mon….impossible!
nib pen and J. Herbin inks in Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2 cm
à demain avec “something with a handle”
Few things are as comforting and warming as an old woodburning stove, or coalstove as we used to call it. during the day it gets stacked with wood and at night with coals which can simmer all night long with closed vent; Coming down to a kitchen, smelling the heat from the coals and just moving the kettle over for an old fashioned coffee,…it is a joy few people know about today and many might remember it form childhood. In winter this is our chef in the kitchen.. For heat, for comfort, for a homely ambiance, for cooking , for keeping the kettle ready, and warming the hands. Of course this thing can push out some mean kilowatts and I have a few scars as evidence. But boy, a tajine or a boeuf bourguignon or a rosemary leg of lamb coming out of that little oven…it gives total a new meaning to the term oven baked. As the thermostat is long gone, I am obliged to step back in time and test the oven temperature by sticking in my hand in the oven and counting….warm, hot or freakin hot!
..kettle and woodburning stove..
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & birn Alpha sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
On this hot note I leave you until tomorrow when I will hopefully be back with “bristles”.
I struggled with this theme today. Not because I don’t like spices, au contraire, it is a delicious theme and I love it. But the ideas didn’t show up today.I couldn’t fix my pen on a cool composition and the brush didn’t work for me either. My wrist was stiff and unforgiving in sketching these bottles. Instead of having a free hand and sketching with some wonk, which is my usual style, my sketches become overworked and controlled. Not me. Not me at all. In this process of struggle today, I paged back through the last few sketches and artwork I did…and there I saw it; Stiffness and control. Slowly but surely during the last few sketches I moved towards controlling the pen and colour, while they should actually have more of a will of their own. That is how I raised my daughters and that is how I like my art.
Sketch 1: a himalayan salt and black pepper mill, totally overworked and in good ole French…“n’importe quoi!”
watercolour and pen in Daler Rowney sketchbook,21X29.7 cm
Sketch 2: without interest, overworked, not funk or peps, actually a bit boring.
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
Sketch 3: this ws my last sketch and almost there, but not quite yet. I think I got tired at this stage, but there is a bit more interest in the dynamics, a bit more wonk and interpretation.But still sloppy. (a loose, free style doesn’t mean sloppy.)
Sketch 4: This was the second last one and I was a bit angry here, trying and trying and not getting what I want (almost went into tantrum mode…). This sketch is downright sloppy.
watercolour and pilot prera pen in Stillman & Birn sketchbook,14X21.6 cm
See you tomorrow with sketch(es) on the theme…something hot!
I still have 2 days left to capture some bulbs. Not that it means we are in spring. On the contrary, with snow forecasts for this weekend en cold to the bone weather and the fire burning high in the fireplace, it is everything but spring. Inside my barn though, I have forced bulbs everywhere and tulips in vases. Nothing can stop me from bringing some spring inside.
I used lots of different mediums and styles, just simply playing around, messing around. I enjoy working with gouache, I don’t do that enough, so it was great to do some sketches with gouache today. the last image is one of the gouache sketches..but I ruined it of course with that enormous name I signed…tried to be too artistic…
..contour lines with black Lamy safari pen on Fabraino watercolor block HP, 18×25.5cm
..watercolor and J. Herbin ink, café des iles in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Epsilon series, 14×21.6cm
..watercolor and in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Alpha series, 22.9x15cm
..gouache and black Lamy safari pen on Fabriano watercolor block, HP, 18X25cm
It’s been a while since I’ve done sketches of my cats. high time to do it again.
Tokala was chosen as the model, because she has a lot of finicky tricks when grooming herself. A good thing she isn’t a human, she would be unbearable! I caught some quick movements which are actually more gestures than anything else and one or two poses that she was willing to keep for longer. Good exercise to focus and concentrate. the colour was added later after all the sketches were done.
..Tokala the cat..
All sketches in watercolor and Prera pilot pen in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, alpha series.
The rain came down by the buckets today. Beautiful of course, the rain, but not when you are on a roll and want to be in plein air, sketching or painting. I drank a cafe at out local café, waited for the rain to stop. Went home, waited for the skies to clear; Had another coffee. Starred out my back door, my only door…and looked into the old worn porcherie, or old pighouse if you will. It will be fixed up one day, but for the moment its dilapidated charm will be immortalized on paper. Not the best sketch ever, but the goal wasn’t a great sketch today, it was all about the paper..so there we have it. Just half of a porcherie. And three cows.
..Stillman and Birn Alpha series, vellum surface, 22.9×15.2cm..
..Close-up of the watercolor on the paper..
I went for the Alpha Stillman & birn sketchbook today, a real charmer! Much happier than yesterday with the Epsilon. It has a Vellum texture which is satiny an beautiful to work with in watercolors…like the HP of Arches and Fabriano. I like the color and yes…beautiful granulation…see the blue sky in the close-up above. (Even though it was a grey rainy day, I wanted to see what the paper does with cerulean blue which is known for having lovely granulation..on the right paper). The book opens nice and flat and I am surprised at how much water it can actually take, because I worked with even more water today than usual, really giving this little book a challenge. The buckling is present, but as already said, buckling in a sketchbook doesn’t bother me. All in all, a nice book for watercolor sketches and saying that only after one try, says a lot for me. I am an Arches and Fabriano HP fan and it takes a lot to convince me of something else better…or as good! Snob!!