Thursday, May 31, 2007

Xavier eating an ice-lolly

What a terrible mother, hand the child an ice lolly when they’ve fallen over and then get out the sketch book!

175mm x 200mm pencil and watercolour

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boy with blue hair

Tom reading Saturday’s Guardian newspaper.
360mm x 525mm ink and watercolour on W&N paper

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pom pom slippers

A quickie of Flo before bed. And she does in reality have normal length legs. I’m so lucky having all these people who don’t give a damn how much I unintentionally insult them.

200mm x 140mm pen in sketchbook

Labels: , , , ,

The gorgeous village of Harrold

Robin wanted to go to Harrold Bridge in Bedfordshire for the day because he’d been told it would be a good place to go canoeing. So we went with Hugo and Xavier. It turned out to be the most lovely English village, on the bank of the river Ouse and surrounded by water meadows. In the centre of the village, there was a village green, with a circular stone 19th century lock-up (no longer in use) and a building with a roof, but open to the elements, that is known as the Buttermarket. Whilst Robin and Hugo battled it out in the swollen river, by the millhouse, Xavier, Rufus and I explored the village. In one street, there was a stream running down the side of the road and all the houses had little stone bridges over the stream to their front doors. The style of church spire in the village and surrounding area is very lovely, a tall, sharp elegant shape (as different as it is possible to be, from the dumpy little tower of our own St Leonard’s in Sandridge). These lovely spires that can be seen for miles around are pierced by windows that become smaller and smaller as they go up the spire.
At one point Xavier suggested we sit down on the bench in front of the Harrold community centre, so as I could see The Oakley Arms pub right in front of us I grabbed the opportunity to quickly sketch the view. Soon after, having rolled over several times in the river, Robin and Hugo had had their fill of canoeing, so I suggested lunch at the Muntjac pub just round the corner of the view in the picture. After a tasty lunch we headed home, but I’m sure we’ll be back as it seemed to offer a perfect combination of canoeing, walking and sketching opportunities.

205mm x 145mm pen and watercolour in delicious Roberson watercolour sketchbook

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pirate watching TV

In an effort to try to make the best of a bank holiday weekend we hauled ourselves over to Ely, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. But gosh the weather has been so foul today – rain pouring heavily all day. I can see that Ely is beautiful but as we spent the entire time trying to keep out of the rain, it wasn’t the most successful day out. All that wet and cold is just so exhausting, and my poor model did all the driving. Anyway we did have a delicious cream tea at Peacock’s Tearoom, so that was enjoyable.
200mm x 150mm, pen in sketchbook

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hugo after washing his hair

Whilst I was engrossed in this drawing, Tom was doing something unspeakable to his hair. It is now a permanent dark shade of navy blue. Ho hum, well it only takes a month for your hair to grow half an inch, so in a month or so it’ll be back to normal (if his school haven’t already sent him home to change it back to a more natural looking colour!)

330mm x 430mm ink and watercolour on W&N watercolour paper

Saturday, May 26, 2007

By the bluebell wood

After a morning buying fruit and veg from the market, I walked Rufus up past the bluebell wood. Now I know that most of the time the only people that really look at these sketchbloggy things are other sketchbloggers, so it was rather nice to have a passing walker ask if I was ‘that artist with the website’.

200mm x 145mm pen and watercolour

Portrait of Rufus

This was a bit of a struggle, he moved even more than Xavier does. Try as I might, I can’t get him hooked on television – which would make my life a lot easier.
185mm x 175mm pencil in sketchbook

Friday, May 25, 2007

Spiderman watching TV before nursery

A parcel arrived in the post yesterday. An e-bay find for Xavier. He loves all his dressing up clothes, so Spiderman with all the muscles sewn in has really thrilled him. Now I have to persuade him to change for nursery – which is going to take all my powers of persuasion.
190mm x 200mm pencil in sketchbook

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tom and Hugo on the settee

Posting one I made earlier on this week as I have an urgent deadline. I took time out to go to Xavier’s nursery assembly where I was hoping to draw him, but even though he’s one of the smaller ones they put him behind a larger child so I couldn't see him to draw him.

270mm x 120mm brush pen in lumpy sketchbook

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Flo doing maths homework

Flo busy with her favourite subject – which by the way is now what she wants to do at university – veterinary medicine and medicine having fallen by the wayside. It was such lovely warm weather today that she was able to work outside after supper.

260mm x 260mm pencil in sketchbook

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tom watching TV


After his first day of work experience. The schools give them a list of options to put down in order of preference. Even if they sound interesting, most of the one week work placements are fairly dull as the pupils are very rarely allowed to do anything (understandably – who is going to let their business go down the pan while a fifteen year old makes a hash of things). Anyway as a bit of a jokey wild card Tom put down a hairdressers as his third choice. Guess which of his options came up!

Anyway as of today he knows quite a lot about making tea and coffee, sweeping up hair and how to wash and condition hair.

Later on, after singing Xavier his bedtime songs, he gave me another invisible present – a ‘boinger’. When I asked what a boinger was, he explained that it was a little thing that had a spring and when you pressed it, it went ‘boing’ and jumped up – so now you know!

210mm x 220mm pencil in sketchbook

Monday, May 21, 2007

Me, reluctantly posing for ten minutes


Busy day, with the day job, and only one choice of subject as by the time I was ready to draw a portrait, everyone had gone to bed. And that’s where I’m going now!

190mm x 235mm pencil in large sketchbook

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Robin reluctantly giving me a ten minute pose

This afternoon I went canoeing with Robin and Xavier. Robin did all the work carrying the canoe when we came to the locks in the canal, but then as I’d never choose canoeing as my ideal date, and as he has one of those sporty/masochist streaks in him, it was fine. He was also very sweet offering rides to children walking along the side. It did make me giggle, the nervous urban orthodox Jewish dad out for a day in the country, constantly chiding his four children to keep away from the edge of the canal. However as soon as a perfect stranger offers a ride in a canoe to his children, he is delighted to let them climb into the wobbly boat and set off leaving him happily waving on the bank. After supper Robin reluctantly sort of sat still for me. I must remember not to do what I did with the Hugo drawing (blithely spraying spray mount all over the surface, rather than fixative).
190mm x 205mm pencil in large sketchbook

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Symondshyde track

After the morning market shop I thought I’d take Xavier for a long walk to burn off some energy. I took the pushchair in case he couldn’t manage the five miles or so. It turns out that I did most of the energy burning as he decided to sit back and enjoy the ride, and goodness me he is getting heavy.
The rape flowers are gone now and most of the trees are fully clothed in their summer greenery, so everywhere you look now is shades of green.

310mm x 220mm pen and watercolour

Hugo watching TV


After a whole day on my own with Xavier, I could only muster up the energy to draw a portrait at the end of the day, Hugo was allowed to watch something I’d never choose to watch and so kept very still (for him). This one is quite a good likeness.

210mm x 205mm, pencil in large sketchbook

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 18, 2007

Waiting at the dentist

Xavier playing on the floor with the toys provided by the dentist. A breakthrough – this was the first time he was prepared to lie back on the chair and let Milan, our lovely dentist, look inside his mouth.

190mm x 130mm pen and walnut ink in small sketchbook

Labels: , , ,

2007–2008 art project

I’ve started the blog for my new art project. The first post doesn’t count as it’s an old picture, but from tomorrow…

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My next challenge

For those of you who followed my one mile from home blog, you’ll be glad to know that apart from when ill, I’ve kept up with daily walking and/or tandem cycling and fully intend to do so. Today I took my art materials with me as I’ve found that without the daily art challenge, I have felt slightly at a loss. So despite the fact that I have a lot of work on I am going to launch my next year-long art challenge.

This is probably going to be the last year that all of the members of our family will be living in the same house, as my eldest child Flo, will probably be off to university in September 2008. So, every day for the next year – while I still have the chance – I am going to celebrate our family by creating ‘portraits’ of each member of the family. I intend to interpret the brief very, very loosely and may sometimes create pieces that take longer than a day. However, you can expect about seven posts a week.

I’m in the process of starting up a blog for my new project, but I’ve decided that all the chat is going to happen on this blog. Last year I found it a bit complicated writing for two blogs, so all the portrait posts will be copied onto this blog, so that any associated stories and comments can all happen here.

165mm x 245mm watercolour on Arches CP

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sketching in the rain

A quickie as I ran across the woodland park. I’m much better, but Robin has now caught the lurgy. I jokingly told him he had to pick up Xavier at lunch time. But we all know it’s only mothers that have to leave their sick beds to look after children.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Horse chestnut tree

I am annoyed. We had to miss the charity cycle ride yesterday, because although I struggled out of bed at 6:30 in the morning and put on all the cycling gear I just felt too ill to go through with it, nauseous and achey. I still feel ill today but managed to sketch a tree while waiting for Robin in the car. I think there’s another charity cycle ride coming up in about a month, so I’ll have to plan for that.

Pen and ink in small sketchbook, colour added digitally

Friday, May 11, 2007

This is what Xavier thought!

Xavier and I were cuddled up in bed half asleep this morning as the radio played Radio 4. I always thought that the mixture of news and current affairs went straight over his head, but he suddenly got very excited, ‘Did you hear that Mummy? The radio said that Blair was going to visit Fran’s!’.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The stickywhacker

The last few evenings when I’ve put Xavier to bed, he’s added something new to the bed time ritual. After changing and using the bathroom we read a story on my big bed. Then we go to his room and I tuck him up and sing him ‘Rock a bye baby’, ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’, ‘One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive’ and finally ‘Golden slumbers’. No deviation is permitted from this strict routine. However, now, as I leave, Xavier insists on giving me a tiny invisible present of some kind that I have to carefully cup in my hands and take away with me. The night before last it was three diamonds covered in long golden hair, last night the same sans the hair, and tonight a very special present that I have to share with Robin. Click on the picture to see a bigger version of the picture and read Xavier’s explanation of a stickywhacker.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Late night drawing

As I was about to go to bed last night, I realised I hadn’t drawn all day, so a quickie using ‘Painter’ from one of my reference photos – no I didn’t sneak out in the middle of the night to draw. I realise if you don’t draw on a daily basis you get out of the habit and then one day you realise twenty years have gone by, since you last picked up a pencil.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sneak preview

In moments between bouts of the paid work, I’m working on the layout of ‘the book’ – trying to get the balance right between including lots of pictures, and some words, and making it visually appealing and making it a price that won’t break the bank. All very complicated, but interesting.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Towpath on the Grand Union Canal, Frogmore

Robin and Xavier went kayaking and Rufus and I walked alongside on the towpath. This is the home of Frogmore Mill and Apsley Mill – the birthplace of paper’s industrial revolution, where the world’s first mechanised paper mill was made. On this stretch of the canal, there’s a notoriously grumpy swan who flies at the canoeists. He didn’t let us down today, to Xavier’s delight. The walk from the canoe club to the first lock is a mile long, which is where we turned round and walked/kayaked back. I then painted this whilst the other two messed about for a bit longer on the water.

255mm x 325mm pen and watercolour on Arches HP

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Long walk

I’m still keeping up with the daily exercise, though some days it’s on the back of a tandem. Today Robin wanted to go kayaking so I went on a relatively long walk – about five miles. The lovely thing about our small fields and crop rotation is that the landscape is different from year to year, so last year the fields to the right were bright yellow rape, but today they were green – I think wheat, so a lovely gold to look forward to.

Crosshatching in lumpy sketchbook

Sometimes an odd sketchbook can drive you to do more, in a desperate attempt to fill the pages and start another one.

My daughter in a wedding dress

Don’t worry – it isn’t a shot-gun wedding, Flo played Elfine Starkadder in the Company of Ten production of Cold Comfort Farm and this was my attempt to draw her in the darkened theatre. A wonderful production, and I was so proud of my daughter, who did a great job.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Borat again

I hated the film just as much as I thought I would, but son Tom wanted to watch the DVD so I drew instead.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More pictures while I keep up my walking



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Our friend Mario's wedding

As someone who bought her own wedding dress the Saturday before her wedding on the following Friday (and who had to put her foot down and insist that prospective hubby bought a new suit!), I’m not accustomed to attending lavish weddings. However I would be surprised if all of you out there who regularly go to this sort of thing wouldn’t have thought this was a pretty amazing wedding. The service was held at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral in North London. It was very long and much of it was in Greek, but we had very helpful orders of service explaining what was happening and the significance of each part of the service. Then we all made our way to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The bride and groom were driven in an uncle’s lovingly maintained immaculate antique chevrolet convertible. As Elena, the bride, was photographed coming out of the car in front of the Opera House, passers by stopped to photograph her, she looked so beautiful and the setting was so perfect , I’m sure they all thought they were watching a Vogue bride’s special fashion shoot. The photographer then took some more photographs of the couple on the merry-go-round in the Covent Garden Plaza. Inside the Opera house, drinks and canapés were served at the bar – which has an outside balcony overlooking the plaza. It also has the most stunning view high up over the attached Floral Hall where the meal and and the rest of the reception were to take place. The Floral Hall is of course the building where the flowers were sold decades ago when Covent Garden was the wholesale flower market. As we drank our aperitifs we were serenaded by opera-singing waiters. The tables (all named after operas) had the five foot high flower arrangements of palest pink roses and cherry blossom in long stemmed vases that formed canopies over the tables, and the light poured in through the glass walls of the building. I’ve been to a few corporate functions in the past where a couple of hundred people need to be catered for and because it’s so difficult to cater for so many, you can predict that the starter will be cold, the main course will be chicken and the food will be fairly indifferent. But this was the exception – really delicious food. By the time we’d finished eating, dusk was falling and the building took on a different kind of beauty with the blackness of the night, surrouding us. We had the usual speeches which were all very entertaining. My only gripe is that I think we should dispense with the tradition that the bride doesn’t make a speech. I would have loved to have heard Elena’s version of Mario’s courtship. And then the dancing began. When we came to the traditional Greek wedding money dance Elena and Mario had crowns made of paper money placed on their heads and long scarves of money wrapped round them. I have never seen so many £50 notes in my life. We stayed on ’til after midnight but had to get back to our children, so I don’t know when it finished. The wedding was fit for a princess – Audrey Hepburn, as the transformed Eliza Doolittle, would not have been out of place there.

Robin commented afterwards to our children. ‘Mummy and I have at last found something that we both equally enjoy doing together – going to posh Greek weddings’, so if you see a couple of people, that nobody seems to know, at a wedding service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, you’ll know who it is.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One Mile from Home year completed

After completing my challenge for 2006-2007 I spent one day without taking a sketchbook with me as I exercised, but I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms by Sunday so I took along this funny little Indian-made sketchbook with me on my walk. The paper is truly awful – like painting on lumpy toilet paper. I must stop being tempted by these odd sketchbooks.
We then went to the most fairy-tale wedding in the afternoon. Unfortunately I took the lumpy sketchbook and a scratchy half dried up pen with me so the drawings I managed to do are a poor reflection of a wonderful day. However I’ll have to share them with you, because the wedding was so incredible, so await the next post.