Sunday, December 31, 2006

I’ve won an award!

Katherine Tyrrell on her wonderful blog has written
Ladies and gentlemen - I'd like to introduce you to "The 2006 Making A Mark Awards" for excellence in blogging art and about art in 2006 - according to me. Absolutely no consultation or voting has been involved! Get your hot drink of choice and find a comfy seat - this is a long one and comes in two parts!

and to my delight I’ve won an award!
In this first year Katherine hasn’t got round to producing badges or widgets to put on your blog, but do you think I’m going to hide my light under a bushel? Does it rain in Sandridge? Is the Pope a … etc. etc. So a very productive half an hour or so has been spent producing my own ‘Get off your Blogging Bottom and Sketch Award’ brass plate to stick in the sidebar.

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty – Fairshot Court


Another dismal, windy, wet day so I took simple tools and a tiny sketchbook as I didn’t want to be out for long. Fairshot Court is a large, grand house on the edge of the village. The house has been divided up into flats and there are communal gardens around the building. I’m interested in the history of the house but I wonder whether it has changed name as I can’t find anything on the internet. On one of my walking encounters somebody told me that it used to be a youth hostel – and that is the full extent of what I know about its previous life. If anyone does know a bit more – its age, whether it was ever lived in by one family, whether it had a different name, do please add a comment – I’d be very interested.

195mm x 145mm sepia ink and watercolour

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Nine – Hill End Farm

The day started with beautiful blue skies – that light cheers me up so much. I arranged to meet Robin and Xavier at Nomansland and en route I stopped to draw the farm. The clouds progressively built up and eventually the skies were as overcast as they were yesterday. I continued my walk after playing with Xavier on his like bike. All the drizzle and rain we’ve had meant that I arrived home with half of Hertfordshire stuck to my hiking boots. I’m sure I must be exercising more strenuously when I’m squelching through sticky mud.

400mm x 115mm pencil and watercolour in large moleskine

Friday, December 29, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Eight – Horses in coats

Another overcast dismal day. However I made myself go out and get some fresh air. The best part of the walk was seeing the cloud of blackbirds clattering overhead – so I wouldn’t have seen that without my daily walk.

200mm x 145mm pen in small cartridge sketchbook

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Seven – London

Today all of my walking was in London as Tom has a school art project, and we thought it would be fun to do some of the research at the British Museum and the V&A. It was a miserable time in the ten years or so that the museums and galleries used to charge for entry, because after paying the entry fee you felt burdened by the need to get your fill of the entire museum. Today, however, with free entry, we could happily ignore large sections of both museums in our quest for images of dragons. At the end of the day we rewarded ourselves with one special exhibition (which did command an entry fee). In the vain hope that some of the magic might rub off, I drew some of the drawings I could see in front of me.
360mm x 230mm pen on cartridge

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Six – Dinner at Jenny’s

The first chance I had to walk today was in the evening, so I left everyone else to pile into the car while I walked to Jenny’s. After a lovely dinner we drank coffee, ate chocolate and watched ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ in one room while the boys watched something else in another room. That’s Flo on the settee and Jenny on the floor.

410mm x 125mm pencil and watercolour in large watercolour moleskine

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Five – Infidelity

I drove off in the car to enjoy walking in a different wood today. For some unknown reason we always have a walk in Cuffley Great Wood (several miles away) around Christmas or New Year, rather than visiting our nearby Bluebell Wood. It only seems to happen once a year, so I’m obviously not the straying type. The drawings are really little more than note-taking as I was accompanied by Robin wearing the Christmas paper hat (which by the way reminds me of Xavier’s great comment yesterday when we put our hats on after pulling the crackers ‘Why is everyone putting wrapping paper on their heads?’). You seem to get a more eccentric class of walker in this wood – there was of course Robin, then there was the girl facing the cold with the serious hiking boots and the incongruous bright red sleeveless top, and the family of Mum, Dad and four children walking in a wood beloved of dog-walkers, cowering in terror until we’d put Rufus on the lead.

130mm x 190mm ink on paper sample swatches

Monday, December 25, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Four – Christmas Day

Our dear friends joined us for lunch. We all walked up to the bluebell wood after the main course, to allow room for the Christmas pudding. However I was so engrossed in conversation that this memory painting of the farm track had to be created late at night, long after everyone had gone.

225mm x 160mm watercolour on Arches cold pressed paper

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Three – Possibly the smallest house in the village

This house forms part of the perimeter wall of the grounds of the church. It’s so impossibly small that at some point the owners have added a one-storey flat roof extension to the front of the house, but I thought that you all might like to imagine what it must have been like to live and in all likelihood raise a family in what was probably two rooms downstairs and one room upstairs.
After drawing this I walked up to the Bluebell wood and back and attempted to get through the mountain of things that need to be done.

240mm x 190mm pencil and watercolour on cartridge

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-Two – Spencer playing field footballers

Amongst all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, a quick break to draw and walk. The air was blue with effing and blinding by the players and supporters – not a game for sensitive souls. I then walked through the horses’ fields – where a horse determinedly approached me, so Rufus and I ran in terror to the stile. I’m sure they’re perfectly well intentioned – probably just looking for apples or polo mints, but they’re so big and I’m frightened that their hooves will crush Rufus or my feet. Then round the bluebell wood and home. Tonight I’m being very organised and will make two kinds of stuffing, cranberry sauce, stock for gravy and brandy butter. Robin, I hope, will work out how on earth we turn a table that seats six into a table that seats nine.

230mm x 150mm pencil and watercolour on Arches HP

Friday, December 22, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty-One – More fog

The bluebell woods and even less visibility than yesterday. I really feel for the fogbound passengers at Heathrow, I hope the weather and the airport manage to get them all home by Christmas.

110mm x 185mm pencil on cartridge

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Forty – Foggy day

After the bright light of yesterday, today we are enveloped in soft, damp mist. After drawing the cows, behind the Green Man pub, I walked up to Langley wood. If it wasn’t for this daily challenge, I would never have ventured out. However the flattened, softened, almost monochrome tree trunks were very beautiful – the only sounds were the occasional caw of a blackbird, the flap of a bird’s wings and the drip, drip of the wetness falling from the trees.

200mm x 125mm pencil on cartridge

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Nine – Shadows

Flo’s school holidays have started, and so she accompanied me on my walk where we also delivered all our village Christmas cards. We talked about what she can do to stand out from all the other candidates when she applies to university to do veterinary medicine (which is what she thinks she wants to do). I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but here in the UK it is much more difficult to become a vet than it is to become a doctor. There are very few places and they are all heavily over-subscribed, so apart from it being essential to get top grades in all of your subjects, you need to have something extra to distinguish you from the other candidates. Work experience in the field seems to be one important way to show commitment, but goodness knows what else. It’s all a bit of a surprise to have produced this scientifically talented daughter. When I was at convent boarding school, they didn’t think that girls needed to learn sciences at all. Once when I inadvertently embarrassed one of the nuns by asking whether any of the girls had gone to Oxbridge (little did I know that barely any of them had had any kind of tertiary education whatsoever) her reply was ‘Your parents haven’t sent you here to gain qualifications, they’ve sent you here to learn good manners!’ So Haunton Hall (really, that was what it was called) did a rather wonderful line in awarding badges for good deportment, but none of us were ever taught physics or chemistry. So if there’s anyone out there who knows something about what really can make the University examiners see how clever, dedicated and generally all round fun to be with, Flo is, then do let me know.

125mm x 200mm watercolour in large watercolour moleskine

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight – Church End Houses

I went out just as the sun was setting having left Xavier with the older children. These are the same houses I drew a few days ago but with the addition of a couple of characters that have clambered onto the roof. Painted standing on the side of the road in the freezing cold. Fingerless gloves are on my Christmas list.

195mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large watercolour moleskine

Monday, December 18, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Seven – Path through the brambles

Another lunchtime walk across Jersey Farm Woodland Park, the grass sodden with moisture. The clear skies are now covered with torn rags of thick cloud cover, flattening out any directional shadow.
200mm x 125mm in large watercolour moleskine

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Walk Two-Hundred and Thirty-Six – Hammonds Lane

The same walk as yesterday as there are some lovely views of Hillend Farm up on the hill. If I ever get the chance to produce some bigger studio pieces I’ll have sketch and photo references. Once again beautiful cold blue skies, with bright sunshine, the roads shiny with rain and puddles.

190mm x 130mm water soluble ink in large watercolour moleskine

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Five – By the church

A lovely crisp day with blue skies.
140mm x 95mm ink pen and waterbrush in the last page of the annoying spiral bound sketchbook

Friday, December 15, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Four – No pushchair

After the last few days, a walk without a pushchair feels like no exercise at all. Up to the bluebell wood after seeing another Nativity play at Xavier’s afternoon nursery.

140mm x 100mm in penultimate page of annoying watercolour sketchbook

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Three

140mm x 95mm in spiral bound sketchbook
125mm x 95mm in same sketchbook
I’ve always liked this view of of Smarty’s Auto’s (which is located in the garage that goes with the house on the left) with the sign including its grocer’s apostrophe and the field rising up behind it. It really merits drawing on a larger piece of paper so that more detail can be included, but I’m determined to finish off my annoying too small, spiral bound sketchbook as soon as possible so you get two tiny pictures today. As you can see my walk doesn’t return home because I was able to pick up my car from Smarty’s nearest competitor, after paying out as much money as you would need to live in luxury for a year in some backpacker’s paradise.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-Two – Panto-time

Much the same walk as yesterday but one less trip back home as I stayed to watch the nursery panto and to watch and draw Xavier rather than walking back home. The car should be ready by the end of tomorrow and my bank balance will be considerably lighter, but only one more day of such a lot of walking – thank goodness.

120mm x 95mm in watercolour sketchpad

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty-One – Better weather


The day started with a frost, but there were patches of blue sky and no rain. Gosh I am so unfit – I am shattered from all the walking, shopping and pushing a heavy pushchair through bridle paths thick with sticky mud – I’ve included a map so you can see all my to-ing and fro-ing.

100mm x 80mm in irritating spiral bound watercolour sketch pad I’m hoping to fill up soon

Monday, December 11, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Thirty – Lots of walking in the rain


On our way back from Dorset last night the car broke down and we had to wait for an hour and a half for a breakdown truck to take us back home. Fortunately Robin was very quick witted and we were able to get off the very fast and very dangerous road as the fan belt was in the process of breaking. However it has meant that most of today I’ve been walking back and forth in the pouring rain where normally I would use the car for part of the journey. And it looks as though it’ll be a couple of days at least before it’s fixed so plenty of exercise tomorrow as well.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Nine – Along the banks of the Stour

A couple of very quick impressions, Lilijan with her pom-pom hat and Hugo hiding behind a tree clinging to the steep bank. If you’re walking by a river with a close friend that you haven’t seen for months, with mud, children, water, overhanging trees and hiding places, then drawing takes a rather low priority.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight – Visit to Blandford St Mary

A visit to my dear friend Shulay (who drew my profile picture many moons ago) this weekend. We had lunch out in Blandford Forum and then went to her daughter, Lilijan’s, school fair. So, in the evening, as Shulay started cooking supper, I ventured out in the freezing cold and dark to draw the bridge connecting the two Blandfords, over the river Stour. I drew very quickly as it was so cold, but what I thought would interest my Australian readership was the cast iron sign bolted to the inner side of the bridge which I noted down and recreated from the comfort of my computer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven – Back into the village

A busy day today, so a very quick sketch of the village High Street as I came back from seeing my little angel in his nativity play. Our house is on the right, slightly set back, hidden by the bush in the foreground.

135mm x 170mm pencil on cartridge

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Six – So lucky

The weather is wet and windy but I managed to catch the one hour of clear skies during the first walk back from Xavier’s nursery. The wind was really fierce on my one mile walk back to the nursery, and I thought with gratitude of Robin uncomplainingly cycling ten miles each way to work in the dark and in this biting wind and rain. Same subject matter as usual.

205mm x 130mm pencil on cartridge paper

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Five – And again

So much to do and not enough time.

You wouldn’t believe the ridiculous ways that a designer can earn their living these days. Quite often you will be given text including a huge number of graphs that the originator has slaved over for hours and hours. Then despite saying that the graphs have not been supplied in usable format (which it is very easy to do) the designer has to spend hours and hours recreating the graphs, copy-typing the text, guessing the percentages on pie charts and the figures on bar charts and all the while (unless they’re as meticulous as this designer) introducing new errors and typos. And then there are all those companies who’ve spent a fortune on a really good corporate identity, but supply their printers and designers with some rough version of their logo that they’ve copied off the web, so that they pay over and over again for their logo to be re-drawn properly, even though somewhere they have a decent version of their logo. All that wasted energy. I don’t know – when you see that some people earn their living by growing food or saving lives or cleaning the streets or making sure the electricity works, it kind of puts the pointlessness and futility of what one does for a living into perspective.

230mm x 180mm ink and watercolour on Hahnemuhle rough watercolour paper

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Four - The Woodland Park again

A quickie as there’s too much art going on in my house and not enough housework. Wonderful to make a dent on the chaos of at least a couple of rooms in the house.

135mm x 140mm watercolour on Arches hot pressed paper

Monday, December 04, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Three – The Woodland Park

I wouldn’t necessarily choose the woodland park over and over again as subject matter, but as the only time I can walk in daylight during term time is across and around the park during the lunch time dash this is what you get most of the time. At least the seasons change.

255mm x 160mm inkpen and watercolour on Arches hot pressed paper

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-Two - In the woods

Freezing cold. I left the house at about three, the sun was beginning to set and by the time I came out of the woods the moon had risen and was the brightest light in the sky.

120mm x 200mm pencil on cartridge

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty-One – Ayres End


I’m such a scatty person. I set out with what I thought were all the bits I needed to do a watercolour painting, however when I opened my bag I discovered I’d forgotten the paints! All I had was my ink pen, some watercolour paper and some waterbrushes. It was probably a good thing as it was freezing and having to make colour choices on top of everything else would have taken longer.

260mm x 180mm on Arches cold pressed paper

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty – Rufus in his flashing collar

You asked for it Katherine – so here it is!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Walk Two Hundred and Twenty – Night walk

I’ve been stuck in the house all day with Xavier, who isn’t very well, so was only able to get out a little while ago for a walk in the rain and the dark. The drawing I’ve done needs a little ‘post-production’, and Robin and I are having a rare night out so today’s picture will have to be posted when I have a little more time.