Friday, October 31, 2008

The train back to St Albans

Tom and I went into London to the Institute of Engineering and Technology at Savoy Place this afternoon for the presentation ceremony to the winners of Arkwright scholarships. I’m so pleased that he has been given this opportunity. However I was rather shocked to see in the brochure that the proportion of private school pupils that received the scholarship (which consists of financial support for both pupil and school, mentoring and other opportunities) was about 50% and the proportion of girls was negligible. So I hope Tom’s new school (a State school for girls with a handful of boys in the sixth form), now that Tom has joined the school bringing the Arkwright funding with him from his previous school, will do their bit to see that their very bright pupils will in future be put forward for this scholarship.
Gosh I’m getting dull.
Sorry to bore you all, this post is more of a post-it note to myself to remind me to speak to Tom’s school.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blowing his own trumpet

To be fair to Tom, he had been making me laugh with his rather brilliant Scottish accent mimicry and he only said this after I bemoaned the fact that his schools had never appreciated his dramatic talents by giving him meaty parts in school plays.
Sepia pen in sketchbook

Heartwood Forest

I was on pain of death not to release the new name of the forest-to-be on our doorstep before launch day today, but I couldn’t resist playing a little before the press launch in my previous post. The Woodland Trust have explained the choice of name:

The Trust chose the name Heartwood Forest from a list of suggestions because of its appropriate associations with the new forest:

  • Heart playfully combines ‘Hert’, for the location in Hertfordshire, and ‘Hart’ an old English word for stag – the symbol of Hertfordshire.
  • Small-leafed lime trees, such as those found in Heartwood Forest, have heart-shaped leaves. Small-leaved lime trees are increasingly rare and a sure indicator of ancient woodland.
  • Heartwood is a central hardwood core found in many broadleaved trees. As the tree ages, it is this hollowing heartwood which often supports hundreds of rare and threatened species of wildlife, and helps it to survive for many years by recycling nutrients as it decays.
  • The heart is a life-giving organ and trees are the life force of this planet. This new forest will be a much needed lifeline for the UK’s diminished native woodland. It will also be a great outdoor space in which people can experience all the benefits of exercise and getting closer to nature.
  • The Trust hopes the new forest will be a green heart at the centre of its woodland creation work - a thriving new habitat for wildlife for everyone to enjoy.

The name doesn't trip off the tongue yet for me, I can see the marketing potential of such a name, but time will tell whether we all embrace it. In the meantime I think I'll suggest to Robin that he might like a little business sideline of carving wooden heart paperweights, ornaments and other knick-knackery – we’re going to have to think of ways to get through this recession.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just playing

Watercolour sketch while watching television – what does it mean?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Faces at the indoor playground

When it was Tom’s turn to play with Xavier I tried to capture the faces. The woman at the bottom right looks like the way I feel if I have to spend too long in one of these places.
Sepia pen in sketchbook

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy birthday Tom!

My lovely eldest son, so very nearly grown up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Xavier drawing in St Albans Museum

Pen and ink in sketchbook

Friday, October 24, 2008

Robin in pajamas

Pen in sketchbook

Thursday, October 23, 2008

After judo class

Despite our best efforts Xavier would much rather eat his food with his fingers. However I have to admit that I have a sneaking envy of his pleasure. Having been made to use cutlery for as long as I can remember, I know that deep down that those of us who’d rather have their food speared onto the end of a piece of metal are missing out on one of life’s sensual pleasures. Uh-oh those last two words are going to attract a whole new class of visitors to this blog!
Pen and ink in sketchbook

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flo drinking tea

Another oldie from a month or so ago.
Ink and water

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another failed attempt to capture Flo

Too much on to do much in the way of drawing so you’ll have to put up with yet another picture that bears not the slightest resemblance to my daughter.
Pen and ink in sketchbook

Monday, October 20, 2008

It’s Monday so it must be swimming

These lovely teenagers get in the pool and help all the children that need help whilst us mothers sit in the warm fug of the swimming pool hall chatting, reading or drawing while we watch.
Brushpen in sketchbook

Year long challenges

My friend Fiona has started a year-long challenge blog, which I’ve only just discovered. She’s challenged herself to create a stitch picture a day for year and so far it’s absolutely gorgeous. She’s kindly let me use one of her pictures here so that you can see what I mean, but do go over to her blog to see some of her other pictures and while you’re there make sure you read the October 18th entry.
My own ‘One Mile from Home’ art challenge was, I found, quite a commitment but I felt it was hugely beneficial to my creativity and is something I’m really glad I did. My ‘Family Portrait’ challenge has suffered a bit from ‘stickability’ on my part. However I know that I will always treasure drawings of my family. So I’ve decided that although my Family Portrait year is over I’m just going to continue posting pictures of my family to the Family Portrait blog. I think I’m going to have to seriously think about another challenge…

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Clarence Park bandstand

Gorgeous weather – and Xavier wanted to visit Clarence park in St Albans. We played in the children’s playground and had ice-creams. I gave Xavier a taste of my ice-cream and he liked it so much he said that next time he’s going to ask for a ‘moustachio’ ice-cream.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Emmanuella standing

I’m looking forward to the private view tonight of the ‘Boys in Blue’ exhibition. If you’re thinking of buying art this is a great way to do it because you know that at least £25 of the £100 you’ll be paying for your painting will be going to a good cause and the rest will be going to the artist. One of the rare occasions that the usual hefty 40 - 60% commission for the gallery will not apply.
15" x 19" watercolour, ten minute pose

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Portrait of Emmanuella

18" x 24" watercolour

Emmanuella kicks off the life drawing season

19" x 15" watercolour

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Woodland park tree

It was such glorious weather, Xavier and I stopped at a bench in the woodland park so that I could listen to his reading and sketch. He seems to have cracked reading pretty much. There was that long uphill struggle last year, helped hugely by conscientious teachers, and then suddenly with hardly any practice over the summer holidays he seemed to be able to read.
Pen in small sketchbook

Look at me! look at me! look at me!

This milestone probably happened some time ago because it took me a few months of blogging before I discovered that I could feverishly spend my time checking whether anybody ever looked at my blog. You’d think a woman with a job, four children and a dog would have better things to do with her life!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tom preparing his Amy Winehouse costume

Luckily none of Tom’s friends read this blog so I won’t be spoiling the treat he has in store for them at the ‘Come as a celebrity’ party. As my blogging friend Hashi has said ‘Tom’s no shrinking violet’!
Pen in sketchbook

Monday, October 06, 2008

Last lunch with Flo

Yesterday we took Flo to start university. We booked a restaurant table at the nearby Trout Inn. For those of you who live further afield but have enjoyed the Inspector Morse series it’s the pub by the weir that is seen in several of the episodes. Now it’s been tarted up and although a pleasant enough restaurant, barely passes muster as a pub. Flo was so excited to be going at last that quite frankly we might as well have eaten at the local McDonald’s. And of course as soon as we had deposited her at her college, discovered that in fact she did need a duvet and pillow, bought requisite duvet and pillow and returned items to college she was shooing us out, desperate to get on with her new life. I’m so happy for her, I’m sure she is going to have a wonderful three or four years.
Today, despite the trainwreck of her bedroom, I missed Flo’s presence round the house and worst of all I missed my perfect companion for our weekly dose of University Challenge. I rather pathetically looked around her college website so that I could imagine what she was doing today. If she’s missing me she can also look there because to my surprise I discovered me here in the sixth photo down quaffing champagne on the left of the picture.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Storytelling magazine cover

A recent paid job.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The journey back from Southampton

Nothing like an in-car dvd player for giving the parents a bit of peace.

Frinton house

I am so bored with this coloured pencil piece, which I started aeons ago. If I don’t finish something in one fit of enthusiasm I find it very difficult to go back to it. This is based on some photographs I took in Frinton-on-sea, which has a few lovely examples of art deco architecture. Though I damn the replacement window companies for what they’ve done to some of the houses there.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tessie and Robin

Pen and watercolour in sketchbook

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some of the family on board 'Aurora'


Tom, Papa, Hugo, Flo, Annie and Emily

Leaving Southampton