Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-one – Track up to Sirdane Kennels

This is the sole building on the Woodland Park which I walked across at lunch as usual. A very quick little painting because of work pressures. Beautiful day.

200mm x 145mm in small cartridge sketchbook

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty – Feeling ill

Last night I started a rotten cold, sore throat and fluey symptoms, so I picked this up on my walk back and forth over the woodland park and drew it in the comfort and warmth of home.

200mm x 145mm sepia pen in cartridge sketchbook

Monday, January 29, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Nine – The Bluebell Wood in the distance

My walk across the Woodland Park and back was lovely today. The weather was mild, sunny and felt quite spring-like. I still have lots of design work to do, so I was also rather pleased at how quickly I produced this little painting. I suppose after a couple of years of sketch-blogging I ought to be getting to grips with being quick and decisive. Practice really makes a difference.

200mm x 145mm sepia pen and watercolour in small cartridge sketchbook

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Eight – Caps Cottages

I didn’t really want to go out in the cold and wind but I dragged myself out. As happens so often with pleine aire, well laid plans went awry. I was planning a bigger painting in a watercolour block, but when I lifted the covering sheet I discovered that I hadn’t got round to taking out the previous painting and I had no scalpel, knife or credit card to slit the sheet, remove it and work on the next sheet. Fortunately this little sketchbook was also in my bag. It seems to me that adapatability is one of the important aspects of pleine aire work – either that or better organisation than I have.
200mm x 145mm pene and watercolour in small cartridge sketchbook

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Seven – Grey day

All the men in the family, apart from Xavier, were off getting themselves a VHF radio operating licence today. Flo was doing homework and so to give her a bit of peace, Xavier and I went off for a walk and had fun clambering over the newly- fallen trees in the Bluebell Wood.

200mm x 145mm in pencil and watercolour in cartridge sketchbook

Friday, January 26, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Six – Two fields

I was too busy with work to walk at lunch-time. Due to a client call I only had five minutes to make Xavier’s packed lunch of tuna-mayonnaise and cucumber sandwiches and natural yoghurt mixed with a little strawberry jam (together with the home-made strawberry yoghurt label that he likes me to draw and stick on the top!). We’ve re-arranged his timetable so he can take his lunchbox and go to lunch club once a week. So I was able to take a much shorter than usual lunch break, drop him off, get home, continue work and save my walk for the evening before making supper. Robin’s Auntie Di has been magnificent, helping out with driving broken-footed Hugo back and forth. Quite honestly I think this mile from home project has been great because the one way I can guarantee being able to draw without interruptions or demands from husband or one of the four children, is to get myself a mile away from home, out of earshot.
This was my second drawing en route to the bluebell wood. The first was a fairly dire attempt at one of the ‘pigs’ grazing in the fields.

200mm x 145mm pen in small cartridge sketchbook

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Five – Rufus on the move

It was freezing cold today – after enjoying crunching through the layers of ice over the puddles in Pound Farm, Rufus and I had a quick walk up the track and round the Bluebell Wood while Robin picked up Xavier from nursery. Work pressures, time constraints and the extreme cold meant that these little sketches were done with a brushpen as we walked.

Brushpen in A5 sketchbook

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Four – What Xavier does at nursery

Click on the picture if you want to see a bigger version. A real quickie as my workload this month is bigger than normal, and I’m having to do even more driving back and forth with my broken-footed son Hugo. I drew Xavier before the walk back home from the nursery. We woke up to a thin layer of snow this morning, which thrilled Xavier. He was very cross that he’d forgotten to take a carrot (for a nose) with him to nursery, but by lunch time the snow had disappeared so there were no snowmen to be seen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Three – Michelangelo couldn’t have done this

You may think I’m getting a little big-headed when you read the title of this post, however as I took five minutes (yes that’s right five minutes – oh OK maybe seven minutes) to draw this with a pen, a waterbrush and a tiny set of watercolours, I reflected on how fortunate we are nowadays with the fantastic portable colour media that we have nowadays. To think that the great masters could only use colour for the fresco or the final painting, whereas I produced this as I walked down the path from the nursery, with an impatient Xavier and a conveniently black pair of trousers that I could wipe my waterbrush on as I changed colour. Think about that the next time you feel miserable about some aspect of living in the 21st century!

200mm x 145mm pen and watercolour in small cartridge sketchbook

Monday, January 22, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-Two – Freezing night

Due to the complicated arrangements around Hugo (my second son) breaking a bone in his foot yesterday it was impossible to walk during the day. I really wasn’t looking forward to walking a mile there and a mile back in the dark and freezing cold (the weather website I use say it’s -2°c and feels like -6°c). Anyway the first thing I did was very quickly sketch this detail of brickwork – and the first person who can tell me the location wins a prize.
Then up the farm track to beyond the Bluebell Wood. With the drawing out of the way I surprised myself by enjoying the walk. Alone in the dark, well wrapped up, looking at the stars. At the one mile point I looked back at the village lights and wondered how on earth my blogging friends Alison and Jana do such a good job of drawing night-time scenes, so for fun I blindly sketched and took notes of what I could see.
Then home, and as I walked through Pound Farm I saw out of the corner of my eye a zebra tethered up. A quick double-take and I realised it was a horse wearing a stripy coat. But I think I’m onto a great idea here. What do you think Penny? Wouldn’t it be a glorious sight to see a field of horses wearing zebra-striped coats rather than the dull green or brown ones they normally wear here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy-One – Chilly day


This was going to be a bigger more detailed panorama, but the cold was really biting so I didn't carry the drawing over to the right-hand page. I do love this view back to the village with the Bluebell Wood in the distance.

195mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large moleskine

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Seventy – Lovely window

Robin dropped me off to spend a delightful couple of hours chatting at my friend Jenny’s sickbed. I then whipped out my sketchbook to draw the lovely window (that spans two floors) at the front of her house and walked home.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Nine – Aftermath of the storm

A very quick five minute drawing as I walked through the woods that fringe the Woodland Park. Fallen branches everywhere. Lots of work so no time to indulge in drawing.

This evening Xavier made us struggle to keep our faces straight because of his inability and unwillingness to apologise to Hugo for a misdemeanour. He has always struggled to say sorry even if it could mean missing out on a treat. Amazing that even a year ago he couldn’t glibly say sorry – which I suppose at least means that he understands the power of admitting a wrongdoing. He desperately wanted his jelly dessert but couldn’t bring himself to apologise and so was resorting to threats. Finally, Flo and I were totally unable to stifle our giggles when after threatening to hide his school library toy/book bag he looked at us sternly and said ‘You have no choice!’. Funny that he worked out that I would suffer if the school bag disappeared.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Eight – 80mph winds

Clouds scudding across the sky over Pound Farm. I walked up to and past the Bluebell Wood – I didn’t want to risk a branch falling on my head. Sadly Robin’s Christmas present of a mystery date tonight has been cancelled as the performer has been stuck somewhere because of the havoc caused by the gales. I worked out some time ago that he’d bought tickets for an Elvis impersonator and I wanted to see in the intervening time how many Elvis lyrics I could slip into conversation before he realised I’d guessed. I thought I was coming close to getting caught out last night when I left my shoes in front of the bedroom doorway and said as he came in – ‘Don’t tread on my blue suede shoes and would you mind moving them out of the way’.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Seven – Xavier in the car

I didn’t have the excuse of rain for drawing in the car, but as time is at a premium I was trying to multitask, so I was drawing and telling Xavier a story as he ate his lunch in the car seat, parked next to nursery. Then I dropped him off and skated back and forth over the sea of mud, that is the Woodland Park.

The story I told him was prompted by Alison’s enquiry as to whether Rufus can swim.

Two or three years before Xavier was born I was walking Rufus in Verulamium Park, with Flo. The foot and mouth crisis meant that most of the countryside was out of bounds. It was February, there had been a lot of rain and the lake and River Ver were full to bursting point and some water was sloshing over the path between the two bodies of water. As we walked, Flo asked whether one should jump in and rescue anyone who fell into the lake. So I used this as an opportunity to explain the dangers of putting yourself in a dangerous situation. I pointed out the life rings and explained how much safer it was to try to rescue someone from the banks rather than risk drowning yourself. As I spoke, a moorhen flapped its way from the lake on the right, across our path, to the river on the left. The commotion was irresistible to Rufus who chased the flapping bird – and – you’ve guessed it – fell into the river. I peered into the water and could see Rufus walking along the bed of the river, no sign of floating whatsoever – and – you’ve guessed it – quick as a flash I jumped in and scooped up the solid lump of muscle that is our dog and heaved him onto the side. So Alison I think we can conclude that Rufus can’t swim. I then had the joy of having to walk to the other side of the park in completely soaked winter clothes and having to explain to Flo that just because I jumped in to rescue Rufus, that didn’t mean it was necessarily the most sensible thing to do.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Six – Rufus in the car

It was pouring with rain at lunchtime so, while Xavier munched his sandwiches, I quickly sketched Rufus who, like me, was not looking forward to the skate back and forth over the mud of the Woodland Park.

200mm x 145mm brushpen in cartridge sketchbook

Monday, January 15, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Five – Tops of trees

This was my walk across Jersey Farm Woodland Park and back for the nursery pick-up and collection. Back-lit clouds and silhouetted trees near the nursery school. Over the next few days I’ll be trying to create images as quickly as possible as the usual bottleneck of paid design work has started.
200mm x 145mm ink and watercolour in cartridge sketchbook

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Four – Ivy-covered tree

Patches of blue and sunshine in between the clouds scudding across the sky. The maps are making more of an appearance (even if those of you who have been here from the start are a bit bored with the same routes), because I met a mother at nursery collection time a few days ago who wants to be able to take her children on countryside walks and I said she would find some routes here.

190mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large watercolour Moleskine

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Three – Daffodils in January!

A very quick drawing as Flo was walking with me and impatience is her middle name. I only had a black brush pen with me, so as daffodils demand the colour yellow I added some watercolour when I returned home. Extraordinary to see daffodils at this time – but that’s what you get for the mildest winter on record.
100mm x 140mm ink and watercolour in small cartridge sketchbook

Friday, January 12, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-Two – Shire horse – I think


I know you probably think I’m au fait with the terminology for flora, fauna and anything else related to the English countryside but I’m not — I’m a complete idiot, but nevertheless prepared to learn if only it would stay in my head. Anyway having already been challenged ornithologically, I’m not going to stick my neck out when Penny one of the other one milers is an equine expert. Let’s just say it was fairly big, and it had big hairy feet, so the words ‘cart’ and ‘shire’ came to mind.
This was a very quick walk and sketch late in the day as the most of the day I was tending to a sick Xavier and washing vomit out of my hair and all the bedding on both his cot and our bed. After being unable to keep even water down for all of the morning, at about one o’ clock he announced that he was better and ready to eat breakfast. He had a tantrum when I reluctantly gave him a tiny portion of cereal, insisting he had to have the usual big bowl. I eventually caved in and wouldn’t you know it, he was quite right. The food revived him and a couple of hours later he was tucking into eggs on toast, followed by a supper a bit later on of sausages and the usual rejected vegetables.

100mm x 145mm brushpen in cartridge sketchbook

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty-One – Abandoned mug

Sometimes you can have it up to your eyeballs drawing trees, fields, clouds and nature in all its glory. So whatever drove someone to bring their mug of tea or coffee into the woodland park and then leave it propped against a tree, I’m grateful for the change of subject matter.
The usual charge across the woodland park from nursey to home, but as I was literally dragged through a hedge backwards as I slipped on the mud slalom that constitutes a path, I decided to return for the pick up by walking around the park using the road.

200mm x 145mm ink in cartridge sketchbook

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Sixty – The start of the walk

This is the view down the road as I head off on most of my walks. Hopkins Crescent opposite running parallel to the High Street, the village hall, car park, phone box and zebra crossing further down the road. The day started with pouring rain, so the minute it stopped I dashed up to the Bluebell wood and back. There was no time to draw as I had to rush off straight away to pick up Xavier, but I drew this when I got back. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

410mm x 130mm ink and watercolour in large watercolour Moleskine

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Nine – Tantrum

Once again it was a constant drizzle of rain outside and I’m getting tired of ruining good sketchbook pages trying to draw in the wet. So before I dropped Xavier at nursery and setting off over the woodland park I drew my sweet-tempered darling child inside the car. I had his lunch in his new Superman birthday lunchbox which I was sure would delight him. However it turns out that he’s been badgering me for a lunchbox because he thinks having a lunchbox means joining the lunch club (which we can’t do because logistically we can’t get there at the start and the school understandably won’t let you join if you are always going to be twenty minutes late because it’s disruptive to the other children). The one on the top right was the first one I drew and really captures his fury.

Thank you for all the good wishes on my health – I feel a lot better, my throat still hurts but that fluey muscle-aching feeling has gone.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight – Log, the woodland park

Today was Xavier’s fourth birthday (same day as Elvis!). I was so glad that this year (feeling under the weather) I had decided to opt out of the traditional party at home and instead book an indoor playground after nursery that sorted out the food and entertainment. These places are pretty soulless and I never think the parties are particularly memorable, but the kids don’t complain and it’s sooo much less work for me. Playgroup and nursery started again today for Xavier, so my walk (or rather, skate, over the mud) was coming home from nursery over Jersey Farm Woodland Park and returning to collect Xavier. As any mother knows, feeling ill is beside the point when your children need picking up and dropping off and being fed. As far as I can recall the only kind of illness that has allowed me to get out of these parental responsibilities has been going into hospital to have a baby! It rained all day, so this sketch was produced very quickly in a five minute pause in the downpour.

145mm x 210mm sepia ink in cream cartridge sketchbook

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Seven – Stable at Pound Farm

Feeling awful today, swollen tonsils and aching muscles, so just the minimum walk up and beyond the Bluebell wood, after pausing at Pound Farm to draw this.

200mm x 145mm pen on cartridge

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Six – ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’

The truth of the matter is that when I tried to draw the hut in the woods (mentioned in the previous post) this was the best I could manage. The constant rain all day has meant that walking up to the woods was like walking in a river bed (though my feet were dry and warm as toast in my new fur-lined boots) and when I attempted to draw on the increasingly sodden paper I had to abandon each drawing tool in my pencil case until at last some of the marks from the inkpen stuck to the page.
Note to self: How about a bus-shelter series?

200mm x 145mm, pencil, sepia pen, ink pen and rain in small cartridge sketchbook

Friday, January 05, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Five – Coat of many colours

Xavier brightened up the otherwise dull day, in this lovely coat that was given to him about a year ago. This is one of those items of clothing that I’m sure will always remind me of Xavier’s toddlerhood, much like a little knitted waistcoat that I’ll always associate with Tom when he was a little chubby chap tending to his woodlouse farm at the bottom of the garden.

En route to the bluebell wood we bumped into a fellow dog-walker, Tim, who I had last exchanged words with about the same time four years ago just before I was about to go into hospital to have Xavier. It turns out Tim is also a self-employed graphic designer and I was extolling the joys of daily sketching and blogging to him, however I think I probably put him off when I said how low my tax bill was this year! The walk took a long time because with Xavier we had to explore every little bit of the woods. We ran up and down the ‘dip’. We sat astride the big ‘horse’ and the little ‘horse’. We found a rather magnificent log and leaf-covered shelter that had been built by the scouts so we went inside for Xavier to make me cups of tea and pasta and pesto. We finally clambered over fallen trees that made the ‘climbing frame’ in the ‘garden’ of our house in the woods.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Four – Morning shadows

I walked fairly early today as I wanted to catch the blue skies while we had them. I was rather surprised when the weather forecaster last night on the TV said that the forecast today was good news for SAD sufferers as it would be a bright sunny day. I’m grateful for and pleased by the pollen count being included in the weather forecast, but I’m not sure that it helps enormously to say that a day is going to be good or bad for SAD sufferers. I mean you feel depressed, you can’t face getting out of bed, and the weather forecaster has told you that it’s going to be dark and miserable outside, so why bother. Surely it’s even more important to get out and soak up whatever light there is on a dark, overcast day?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Three – Shop Repair

Work has started today on the repairs to the village shop*. I stood on the side of the road and quickly documented this before going up the hill to beyond the Bluebell Wood and back. Sadly the day work calls so little time to indulge in painting, drawing and blogging.
* See this post if you want to know why it needs repairing.

295mm x 180mm ink and water in cartridge sketchbook

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-Two – Dismal day

I had a busy day, putting away Christmas decorations, taking down the tree, queuing up for ages to have it reduced to woodchips. My walk was therefore late in the day – almost dark, so a very quick sketch of a horse in the field behind Pound Farm. The dismal day relates not so much to the weather but sadness for others. A lady who lives in the same road lost two grown up sons a couple of days ago in a car accident and a local publican died suddenly on Christmas Eve. Although I don’t know any of the bereaved families, my walk up to the Bluebell wood and back was spent reflecting on their terrible pain and praying the prayers of the almost atheist for God to ease their suffering. I’m going now to hug my children.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Fifty-One – First painting of the year


What a beautiful morning to start 2007! It’s overcast now but it was wonderful to get out before the clouds covered the sky. I did choose what must have been the windiest spot possible (a completely unprotected top of the hill) on my walk, so a couple of passing walkers probably thought I’d taken leave of my sanity. And dear Rufus was as patient as ever while I painted.

255mm x 170mm watercolour on Arches HP paper