Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Nine – Nashe’s Farm Track

A showery day, so having started the drawing while it was dry, the rain clouds found that open sketchbook too tempting and let rip. But I’m getting quite practiced at rain on my drawings so I abandoned all ideas of adding watercolour. I think I came off quite lightly this time.

195mm x 125mm pen and walnut ink in large watercolour moleskine

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Eight – The old Post Office

There was a constant drizzle all day, I wasn’t going to try and delude myself that the leafless trees in the bluebell wood would be any protection from the rain, so I stopped in the doorway of the village hall to draw, before enjoying the woods in the rain. Just down the road from the zebra crossing is the old post-office. Sadly with the emphasis on financial profitability, rather than community services, and thus a lack of government support for sub post-offices we no longer have one in the village. Reg Auckland, the last postmaster, retired some time ago and his widow Peggy still lives in the house. I think there was a door between the two bay windows when it was still a business. To see how it looked in its heyday look here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Seven – The front garden

After walking through the Woodland Park, nothing attracted my eye. I ended up taking a detour down some residential roads in the village to find something that I felt like drawing. In the end I decided to emulate Alison as it rather delighted me that she is enjoying autumn crocuses, while we are enjoying the spring version.

160mm x 100mm pen and watercolour in large moleskine

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Six – Picnic on Grace’s bench

I was abandoned by everyone apart from Xavier today. Robin and Hugo off sailing, Flo working and Tom on a Sea Cadets weekend. I tried to tackle various bits of tidying up, however Xavier can mess things up at a faster rate than I can tidy up, so as it was getting progressively worse I thought it was time to get out of the house. Despite the downpour I made a picnic lunch of smoked salmon sandwiches (today was the use by date on the packet). Only a mad person would have set out in such weather, a mad person or a mother of a four year old. Luckily after about half an hour the rain abated and we were blessed with some patches of blue sky and a rainbow. Xavier thoroughly enjoyed the puddles and mud. He also enjoyed the smoked salmon sandwiches, which has now increased the number of sandwich fillings that he is prepared to eat by 100%. So milord perhaps we should try caviar next weekend?

200mm x 140mm pen and watercolour in small sketchbook

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Five – The view from House Lane

A quickie, as I’m still in the throes of trying to turn my office into a pleasant working space. The final touch is to coax Robin to move his office into the attic room. Wish me luck.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Four – Carpenter’s Field

The walk across the Woodland park. A very quick rendition of trees, hedge and acid green field on a blustery day. I edited out the semi-detached houses on the edge of the Woodland park, because I’m beginning to think architecture is not something to draw in a hurry.

190mm x 140mm brushpen and watercolour in small sketchbook

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Three – Further down the road

I have had such a busy day cleaning the house and getting my office into a usable state. I’m normally quite a cheerful person, but everything surrounding my mother’s death last summer has had quite an effect on my mood for the past six months. Fortunately the cloud of depression seems to at last be lifting, I feel energised and ready to deal with all the chaotic areas of my life. So a huge amount of de-cluttering and hard physical graft today. Then Xavier had two friends to tea, so very little time to walk and draw. After playing trains with the boys for half an hour I left the older children in charge, drew for a few minutes and walked up to the Bluebell wood as quickly as possible and came back to make supper for the toddlers and then supper for the rest of the family. Phew!

85mm x 125mm pen in moleskine

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Two – Gorgeous clouds

Lovely, lovely day – blue skies, daffodils and crocuses, oh the joy of feeling as though winter is over. Very quick sketch near Pound Farm on the way to the Bluebell wood, as I’m indulging myself in two hours of life-drawing this evening.

195mm x 145mm pen and watercolour in small cartridge sketchbook

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and One – Drips

This drawing wasn’t so bad until I decided that it needed a background tone to try to bring out the bright white light in the drips of water. And it was supposed to be a quickie. I think my irritation and boredom shines through. And no time to do something else. Xavier is back at nursery so this was drawn as I crossed the woodland park.

190mm x 130mm pen in A5 sketchbook

Monday, February 19, 2007

Walk Three Hundred – Overcast again

This is the walk up to the Bluebell Wood again.
Our weather is so changeable in England there’s no chance of me cheating on this challenge. Katherine in London is close enough to be having pretty much the same weather, so I can’t just dig out an old drawing as she’d know if I got the weather wrong.

Over the year I’ve started to feel very affectionate towards elements of the landscape around here. There are trees that feel to me like old friends because I’ve spent time looking at them in a way I probably would never have done without this challenge. And it’s funny to think that these old friends of mine could well be around hundreds of years after I die. Although some of them could be chopped down, like the silver birch trees I drew here.

170mm x 250mm watercolour and pen on Arches CP paper

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Nine – Path from No Name Wood

While most of the family were having a lie-in I walked Rufus and painted this. The tree on the right has some kind of disease which creates the lumps in the branches – which made a pretty pattern against the sky. As you can see – not the best of weather at the moment, but thankfully no rain. I now have to cook a special meal to celebrate Tom passing his RYA day skipper theory exam. The first meal together for the whole family for a week,.

245mm x 170mm watercolour on Arches cold pressed paper

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Eight – Snowdrops by the scout hut

A very quick walk and sketch today. Apart from this walk my whole day seems to have been shopping for food. I’ve just finished a novel where a recently divorced woman felt uncomfortable going into the butchers and buying one or two chops. I wonder whether I’ll feel like that when the children have all left home – I can’t imagine I will. I think I’ll just be grateful that I can shop quickly and carry home light shopping bags.

90mm x 130mm watercolour in cartridge sketchbook

Friday, February 16, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Seven – Hugo texting the chauffeur

Hugo has been spending half-term week in Plymouth on a seamanship course and I needed to meet him at Paddington station. I had originally planned to get into London early enough to walk, visit a couple of art shops, sit down somewhere and paint something in London and then meet him. However time ran out and I had to head straight to Paddington after the art shops. So this was quickly painted on the twenty minute train journey from Kings Cross to St Albans.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Six – Hill End Farm and Childwickbury cheese


Mild, windy and some clouds. Flo was back early today from her work experience, so was able to look after Xavier who was fast asleep after a night of being sick. He’s well now, but exhausted.

Flo is spending the half-term week working at Childwickbury goat farm, milking goats, vaccinating them, helping them when they give birth. She’s also helped out with making their delicious cheese (Childwickbury and Verulamium). The Childwickbury is a delicious, delicate fresh tasting cheese (goat’s milk cheese for people who don’t generally like goat’s milk cheese) and the Verulamium is a lovely soft matured goat’s milk cheese. I generally buy at least one of these cheeses once a week at the cheese stall at St Albans Saturday market. They can also be bought at Neal’s Yard Dairy and I think, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. It’s a joy to be able to buy a really superb local product and have it put into a paper bag by Elizabeth – the master cheesemaker, herself. If you live in St Albans and haven’t tried these cheeses yet – you must!

250mm x 150mm watercolour on Arches CP

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Five – The scout hut

A quick walk to the Bluebell Wood. Today is the only day of childcare I’m getting this week so I need to use the time for the day job. This is about half way up the track. I think Xavier will love it when he’s old enough to join.

240mm x 170mm sepia pen and graphitint pencil on watercolour paper

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Four – Rhubarb

I had to walk back from the garage after dropping the car off for a health check this morning. I stopped off at Carpenter’s (a local market garden that sells fruit and vegetables and garden supplies) to pick up some fruit and vegetables and brought home this lovely pink Yorkshire rhubarb. In case you didn’t know, it’s grown in the dark and picked by candlelight to retain the colour. I had planned to draw when I went to pick up the car, but by the time it was ready it was dark, so I reckoned that as the rhubarb was bought on the daylight part of the walk it would be an OK subject.

275mm x 175mm soft pastels on grey pastel paper

Monday, February 12, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Three – Jumping in puddles

Rain, rain, rain all day. I tempted Xavier out for a walk with the prospect of all those puddles to jump in. So up to the Bluebell Wood and back. The water running down the track was like a miniature river with whirlpools, eddies, falls and backwaters. Xavier was a giant striding through the water and a walking bridge straddling the river.

Earlier in the day, before our walk, we were taking Tom to the cinema and Xavier excitedly pointed out a ‘car shop’. He then thought a little and said ‘Mummy when you buy a car from a car shop, how do you take it home?’

200mm x 140mm several inkpens and a lot of rain in cartridge sketchbook

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-Two – Next door

As I stood over the road painting this before I set off, Mark, my neighbour shouted out to me – ‘that’s not a mile from home’ – well as you can see, the walk afterwards was. I was considering drawing the house on the other side of our house (as it’s the owner’s birthday today – happy birthday, Patrick) but I couldn’t face all those windows today. I love this sort of road – the houses are all different sizes and range from modern to very old. In reality you can see a bit of my house on the left of the house next door, but you’ll have to wait ’till the last day of the challenge to see where I live.

90mm x 180mm pen and watercolour

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety-One – No name woods

This is the view across the valley from the track up to the Bluebell Woods. I don’t know the name of the woods you can see here – there’s nothing on the ordnance survey map. From my walks through it I could call it ‘Lost Camera Woods’ or ‘Falling Tree Woods’, though I rather like ‘No Name Woods’.

175mm x 85mm watercolour in large watercolour moleskine

Friday, February 09, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Ninety – Snowy track

The snow is beginning to melt – it has dripped off the trees and houses and in the village there’s black slush on the pavements and in the gutters, but it still looks pristine out on the fields. Apart from the remnants of snowmen I think it’ll all have gone by Sunday. This is the track up to the Bluebell Wood.

195mm x 125mm pen and watercolour in watercolour moleskine

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Nine – Tellytubby in the snow

We woke up this morning to a thick layer of snow. School and work were cancelled so we slowly drove to Nomansland to go tobogganing. Tom and I decided to walk back while Robin drove everyone else home. Tom is wearing Hugo’s strange hat with ear flaps and a spike out of the top. There was a constant spray of fine wet snow so nature contributed as much to this painting as I did.

195mm x 120mm pen, watercolour and snow in watercolour moleskine

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Eight – Contrails over the Woodland Park

Very busy day as it’s my lovely son Hugo’s thirteenth birthday. When it’s the children’s birthdays I always cook their favourite meal, (Hugo’s was roast chicken with all the trimmings including lots of home-made stuffing followed by chocolate and pistachio birthday cake with raspberries) so there was shopping and cooking to be done around everything else. On my walk back, as I neared the road by the school I heard the sickening crunch of car against car. I ran to the road to make sure no-one was hurt. Fortunately it was just a shunt of one car driving into the back of another, without much damage – but you’ll never guess who was the poor unfortunate who was driven into – it was Sarah from yesterday! We walked up the path to the nursery together as she resolved to give up driving and take up walking.

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

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Seven – After the prang

I still can’t shake off this cold and today with a head that felt as though cottonwool had been forcibly injected into every orifice, I picked up Xavier to take him to Nursery. Outside the school I had to park on the road whilst I waited for someone to move out of the much safer layby. Then when it was free I reversed – straight into the car parked behind me. We probably would have barely touched if it wasn’t for the tow bar that Robin has recently fixed to the back of the car. So now my car and the car behind were like a pair of unwillingly conjoined twins. Sarah, the other mother and car owner, was remarkably kind and understanding, but neither of us could separate. Not only that but neither of us had phones that worked. Another mother had a phone that worked but my garage has a name that defies all attempts to find it by directory enquiries (it’s either Autotech or Auto-Tech or Auto Tech). In the end the third mother drove me round to the garage to plead for their help. They were great – Sarah and I felt like a couple of pathetic girls, so grateful and relieved when our male knight in shining armour came to sort it out. There was no damage to my car and the damage to Sarah’s was very minor – but you know cars – the mechanic said there’s hardly anything to be fixed, it shouldn’t cost more than about £400 to sort it all out! I walked round and round the Woodland park afterwards and drew this in a few minutes.

I’m sorry if anything looks odd, but Blogger forced me to upgrade today even though I was not in the mood for it.

I have a lot to be grateful for, no-one was hurt, Sarah was kind, the other mother whose name I don’t know was very helpful, the garage mechanic came out to help, we have car insurance, Robin was laid back about the incident. Now if I keep repeating that over and over – maybe I can chant my way into a good mood.

200mm x 145mm pencil and watercolour in cartridge sketchbook

Monday, February 05, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Six – School milk

Alison probably remembers free school milk coming in miniature milk bottles. Now it comes in cartons like this and I think is only free at nursery school and for the first year of school. I also order a little carton every day from the milkman so that Xavier has a convenient carton to drink with his lunch. Since Jamie Oliver campaigned for better nutrition in UK schools, the children also get given a piece of fruit or a vegetable once or twice a week to take home, but I must admit the take-up is fairly poor so I often come home with my pockets bulging with unwanted apples or carrots.

The weather was cold and grey and I have quite a lot of work from my lovely clients so I quickly drew this while Xavier ate his lunch, and then walked briskly back over the Woodland Park.

I had a phone call today from a company that made me really appreciate my clients. They wanted a report typeset and laid out together with all the Powerpoint and Excel graphs and diagrams redrawn in Illustrator for £10 per page. All by yesterday. It is possible that it could have been done fairly quickly but I know what a nightmare the re-drawing of graphs and diagrams can be. However, what really set off the alarm bells was when they tried to sell the job to me by impressing on me that I would get my name credited in the book. I think they must have thought I was a very green start-up business, so I just said that the credit didn’t really interest me as in 25 years of being in business I’d never had repeat business from having a credit printed on a piece of work. Then they weren’t prepared to post or e-mail the source files, (so that I could ascertain the complexity of the job) but expected me to drive to the next town to pick them up. Just to give an idea of how that rate relates in other parts of the world, children usually get paid at least £4.50 an hour for babysitting over here and Flo tells me that a McDonalds cheeseburger costs about £2.00. So if it was possible to knock out a page including illustrations in a couple of hours and if the kids helped out with babysitting it sounds as though I’d be able to buy a couple of cheeseburgers a day on the before tax profits. I decided it probably wasn’t worth it!

110mm x 110mm ink on cartridge with colour digitally added later

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Five – Footpath to Ayres End


Thanks to Robin looking after Xavier I was able to spend much more time than usual on my drawing for today. He pushed me out of the door early. There was a slight frost but it was a beautiful day. I had thought it might be better to wait for the frost to melt, but thank goodness I didn't, because two thirds of the way through this – in a matter of moments – a freezing cold mist descended. I finished off, but Rufus and I came home chilled to the bone. It was very enjoyable using a different medium – some pastel pencils I bought in my student days, but carrying a full array of colours creates a much more cumbersome artbag than taking out a small set of watercolours.
350mm x 250mm pastel pencils on Arches HP

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Four – In the woods

Gorgeous day. I was going to paint fields and trees but I made myself attempt the woods. So often a subject seems overwhelmingly difficult, but if I make myself try it, the next time it gets a smidgen easier. I would love to capture the gorgeousness of the woods in the bluebell season, so time to start practicing. This looks a whole lot better than the original – which is not saying a great deal. With my design background, I know how to get the best out of my scanner and how to tweak a bit in Photoshop. Unlike many other sketchbloggers who complain about their scanner and swear that the original has brighter, cleaner, truer colours, I’m afraid the opposite is true with me. What you get here is probably as good as it gets.

245mm x 170mm on Arches cold pressed paper

Friday, February 02, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Three – Same again

I walked in the evening again today. My first drawing was of the garage and was hopeless because I was feeling too under the weather and too girly to manage drawing cars. Then I had very little time to do another drawing as the hungry hordes would not want the roast pork burnt. So a quick go at much the same as yesterday, but in pencil. Then I walked up to the bluebell wood and back.

On the way down I looked up at the sky and couldn’t work out why I couldn’t see the moon – there were lots of gaps between the clouds. And then I looked down the hill and saw the edge of a huge peach-coloured moon just beginning to rise above the dark, velvety fields trees and hedges. With the blue-grey sky and puffs of lilac cloud it was a wonderful sight to watch it slowly rise and gradually change to yellow. Why is this something I hardly ever see? Is it because I’m usually too distracted by the sunset to turn round and see the moon rise?

200mm x 145mm pencil in cartridge sketchbook

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Walk Two Hundred and Eighty-Two – Evening walk to the Bluebell Wood

Robin was working from home, and helped with the ferrying of the little Emperor, so I was able to enjoy a more rural walk than the nursery school walk. I know, I know, it’s pointless even attempting to convey the beauty of an evening sky. Maybe I should stick to drawing poo-bags.

200mm x 145mm watercolour in cartridge sketchbook