Saturday, March 31, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Forty – Rufus, weight training

The whole day was spent shopping, cooking and cleaning in preparation for Flo’s birthday dinner - a girly evening with about fifteen friends, so I’m writing this to a backdrop of shrieks and giggles and hoots of laughter coming from the other room. At three I took a break with Rufus and Xavier and went up to our favourite spot. Rufus does so love to find the biggest, heaviest stick or small tree trunk to carry on his walk. This one was so heavy that as he strained to lift it with his jaws, and pushed with his front shoulders, his back legs came right up off the ground.

200mm x 135mm pen and water soluble pencil in small sketchbook

Friday, March 30, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine – Pound Farm building

Thank goodness it’s friday evening. Another day where the paid work and catching the postal deadline for my VAT return almost overwhelmed me. This was quickly sketched after popping the letter in the post, walking Rufus up to the bluebell wood and before having to rush back to feed the hordes before they left for Sea Cadets. Today is my darling Flo’s seventeenth birthday. One of her presents (well it’s for me as well) is tickets for the West End production of Equus. Although she can’t help getting the giggles at the thought of seeing fellow seventeen year old, Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) without any clothes on, I know she’ll appreciate the play as much as I did when I first saw it in London, when I was about the same age as she is now.

195mm x 125mm watersoluble pencil in moleskine

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Eight – Pound Farm stables

Lots of deadlines and aagh when I turned up at afternoon nursery it was closed!! So a desperate attempt to do design work in the few hours I thought I would be Xavier-free. Followed by a visit from John, James and Thomas, Xavier’s triplet friends. Once Robin got home I rushed out for an evening walk up to the bluebell wood and drew the stables on the way.

200mm x 145mm water soluble pencil in moleskine

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Seven – Hugo skateboarding

After spending almost the entire day hunched over the computer catching up with work whilst Robin did all the Xavier errands, I walked up to the bluebell wood in the evening, in the small window between doing work for clients and making supper for the family and going out for my last life drawing session. My second son Hugo had gone out earlier to practice his skateboarding and these little stick men were my effort to capture him. All these drawings, trying to capture the their essence before they change. I’ll now always remember this moment – Hugo in typical Hugo fashion still wearing his school uniform jacket, tie and trousers, not worrying about the possibility of rips or tears.

200mm x 145mm pen in small sketchbook

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Six – The view from Grace’s bench

It really feels as though spring has sprung. A warm hazy day and the bonus of being able to walk in the evening with our extra hour of daylight.

200mm x 125mm watercolour and ink in large moleskine

Monday, March 26, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Five – Mediterranean Sandridge

It was a lovely sunny day and I had planned to sketch the long evening shadows over the fields by the bluebell wood. However when I saw that our shopkeeper has bought four chairs and a couple of tables so that we can sit outside and enjoy coffee bought at the shop, I couldn’t resist recording this historic moment in the village. The evening before the binmen come to pick up all the rubbish probably wasn’t the best day to launch café al fresco, but I don’t suppose that has ever stopped the opening of a new Starbucks.
200mm x 145mm pen and watercolour in small sketchbook

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Four – Xavier in the bluebell wood

Tom baked cakes with Xavier while I tried to work and then I took Xavier to the bluebell wood while Tom caught up with homework. When Xavier needs the toilet and help with cleaning himself he usually says ‘Mummy, I want to whisper something in your ear’ – even if there’s no-one around. As I only had a couple of tissues, stained with watercolour, in my pocket, I was relieved when this turned out to be a false alarm. The wood was full of wood anemones and even a few very early bluebells could be seen. Last year, I see in this blog, it was late April before the flowers were at this stage, all that mild weather over winter I assume.
Pen and watercolour in small sketchbook

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Three – Bus window

I did walk more than a couple of miles into town with Xavier, but burdened with heavy bags of fruit and vegetables I caught the bus back and this was my only opportunity to draw. She looks as though she’s having as much fun as I am.

205mm x 145mm in small sketchbook.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-Two – Bluebell wood path

I had such a lot to do for the day job today. Fortunately Robin was also working from home so I was able to leave him to pick up Xavier while I quickly walked round the bluebell wood. It won’t be much of a weekend for me as I will be carless, Robinless and Hugoless, whilst also needing to try and fit in work in the odd moment that I can persuade Xavier that he really wants to watch children’s television. However the great thing is that the clocks go back an hour – which really makes me feel as though spring is here.
125mm x 195mm pen in large watercolour moleskine

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty-One – School Assembly

The return part of my walk was disrupted by the boys’ school ringing to say I needed to take Hugo home as he was ill. With my car a mile away, and thoughts of appendicitis occupying my mind, I was grateful to my friend Sharron for a lift to the car in the emergency. I picked up Hugo, only to find it was a complete over-reaction by the school. He came home, had a glass of water and then wanted to go back as there was a class outing planned. After returning Hugo to school, I then had to rush back to see Xavier’s first school assembly – which was a delight and also the only opportunity I had today to sketch. He then went to tea with John, James and Thomas (yes – triplets) after having a complete change of clothes because of a temper tantrum with a full yoghurt pot in the car. All this and I have three publications to produce and the launch leaflet for a dear friend’s new business. I received scant sympathy for my stressful day from my nearest and dearest. But he had an equally difficult day as budget day imposes a whole lot of extra work onto his shoulders, so I’m just going to look forward to a an easier day tomorrow, and as I won’t have use of a car at the weekend I can mak up the miles then.
60mm x 90mm ink doodle in small sketchbook

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirty – My Dad

My Dad came down for the day and accompanied me on the walk over the woodland park. I’m trying to persuade him to make visiting us part of his weekly routine – it’s nice to have him in the house doing the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword puzzle while I work in the office, and then joining me for coffee, lunch, walk and the nursery pick up.

125mm x 195mm pen in watercolour moleskine – whoops, forgot to pack the paints

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Nine – New path

A bitterly cold day with sharp shards of hail pricking my face as I walked home from leaving Xavier at nursery. Then, as I walked back to pick him up, I picked the one hour in the day when the snow fell thickly and (because of the wind) in almost horizontal lines. Only this one mile challenge could have dragged me out in such weather. The good news is that I won’t have to slip and slide all the way across the woodland park when it’s wet and muddy as these stone paths are being made around the edge of the park. The poor workmen were out all day in the freezing cold.

200mm x 145mm brushpen in small sketchbook

Monday, March 19, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Eight – Clouds before the snow


What a lot of weather today! Bright sunshine and clear skies this morning. The clouds started to build up and at lunch time, when I sketched this, at the woodland park, the wind was blowing at quite a pace. Then in the afternoon we had a hail downpour, followed by a period of relative calm and then a flurry of snow as dusk fell. And you wonder why English people spend so much of their time talking about the weather.

410mm x 130mm watercolour in moleskine watercolour sketchbook

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Seven – Sheep

I haven’t walked this way before because it’s a bit of a boring route past the Jersey Farm housing estate, however as this is the nearest place to show Xavier the spring lambs I thought I would go this way today. There was fierce icy wind, a brief shower of hail and a wonderful display of clouds, from bright white cumulus to huge towering slate grey clouds with visible streaks of precipitation. We are so lucky with our skies in this country. You can live in the middle of a huge city, but you can still enjoy the beauty and variety of nature by simply looking up. The wind, cold and Xavier were not conducive to creating pictures so just a few little scribbles in my large moleskine. Xavier entertained me pointing out the similarities of Robin to Homer Simpson.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Six – I wandered lonely as a cloud...

Exhausted after a day of food and linen shopping in the company of Xavier, so a very loose rendition of the bank of daffodils by the scout hut en route to the bluebell wood.

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

Friday, March 16, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Five – Pound Farm tractor

An evening walk up to the bluebell wood and I knew I needed to rush back to feed the hordes before all their evening activities so I restricted myself to ten minutes for drawing.

200mm x 140mm pen in small sketchbook

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Four – Jersey Lane

Today (after Alison’s comment in the previous post) I timed myself whilst producing this picture of the edge of the village and Jersey Lane. I intended to try to be quick as I had lots to do. Speed is always a bit of a problem when it includes difficult things like architecture. Anyway from beginning to end this took twenty-five minutes. Yes I know, I am slow and this is a slapdash picture. So the ones that are more carefully observed take even longer!

190mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in moleskine

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Three – Ayres End House

I was a bit naughty today and walked a route that did not appear as a public footpath on the Ordnance Survey map. However what prompted my considering a route off the path were some signs put up by the farmer forbidding horses and riders from using the grass verges around the edges of the fields. So I reasoned that if he was outlawing horses and riders then presumably he doesn’t mind one careful walker with an obedient dog. It meant that I would see some of the places I’m so familiar with from a different angle. The right corner of the field in the background is where I sat to draw the railway line the other day.
Robin is busy at the moment making up flatpack bunk beds for Flo and Xavier. A bit of a milestone as this will be Xavier’s first bed and last night was definitely the last time I would ever have a child in a cot, sniff.

195mm x 125mm pen and watercolour in large moleskine

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-Two – Woodcock Hill view

I love this ribbon of road with its steep banks leading down Woodcock Hill to the village. I think if I ever took the time to paint a large ‘proper’ painting of one of the views of the village, this might be the spot I would choose.

185mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large Moleskine

Monday, March 12, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty-One – The Field

I was all fired up with enthusiasm for using masking fluid after yesterday’s painting, but discovered today that it really isn’t a good idea to use it when you’re short of time. As I dragged my kolinsky sable paintbrush over the previously applied masking fluid I discovered to my horror that I hadn’t waited long enough and my beautiful brush was clogged up with lumps of masking fluid. Panic-struck I left the painting to do its own thing and poured all available water over the brush to keep it wet as I pulled each of the sable hairs through my fingernails (an exercise reminiscent of the numerous occasions I’ve had to deal with yet another round of school-spread head-lice — which by the by, for me, has to be the best reason to seriously consider homeschooling). Anyway the brush seems to have been saved. And I’ve learned to leave that little bottle at home unless I have loads of time.

245mm x 170mm pen and watercolour on Arches paper

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twenty – Oak tree

Another lovely day and another long walk. I just sat down on the path to paint while Rufus basked in the sunshine.

170mm x 245mm watercolour on Arches paper

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Nineteen – The railway line at Ayres End

To make up for the very short walk yesterday I went on a long circular walk way past the Bluebell wood to Ayres End and back. Spring seems to be so early this year. I saw purple and white violets, celandines, speedwell and lots of daffodils, but as there once was a time that I trained as a natural history illustrator, I find it quite difficult to consider drawing these lovely flowers as I always think I need to put in every detail and thus spend weeks on one illustration. It is so liberating to loosen up and be able to create something in a few minutes.

195mm x 120mm ink and watercolour in large watercolour Moleskine

Friday, March 09, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Eighteen – Nightfall over Spencer playing field

Today the walk and drawing were all a bit rushed and curtailed as Robin and I had a rare evening out and we also had to squeeze in an unexpected Doctor’s visit for Xavier when I was hoping to walk. I’ll make up for lack of walking distance I promise. I chose this spot because I was able to stand under another street light to draw and paint. The building is the Sandridge sports and social club – the sort of damp, cheerless venue that most English villages seem to have. Funnily enough our evening out for our friend’s 50th birthday party, was at another sports and social club which was the complete opposite – a very smart building with balconies overlooking the Albanian Rugby club playing fields.

185mm x 110mm pen and watercolour in watercolour Moleskine

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Seventeen – Rufus impersonating a cow

As you can see it was a beautiful day for my walk over the Woodland Park, I even sat down on the still damp grass, it felt so summery.

195mm x 120mm ink and watercolour in large Moleskine

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Sixteen – Evening sky

I couldn’t walk at lunch as Rufus had a vet’s appointment to check out an eye problem which was diagnosed as Horner’s syndrome. The vet said that it was very difficult to eliminate all the possible causes but he reckoned that in California they wouldn't let your pet leave without being subjected to a battery of expensive tests to find the cause and even then they wouldn't necessarily find it. However in the majority of cases the eye gets better on its own. So we both agreed the best thing was to leave it for a couple of weeks and see what happened.

I presume that even in the US, California is shorthand for batty indulgent behaviour by people with more money than sense. Years ago when we took Rufus to a dog therapist for a behaviour problem (he liked the ladies a bit too much), the therapist said that up north, where he came from, they thought that dog therapy was only for soft southerners, whereas over in California it was almost compulsory. So if there are any Californians reading, and you come over to England, you'll probably find you’ll feel most at home near to London surrounded by ’Soft Southerners’.

The usual Bluebell wood walk at about five in the evening – thank goodness the evenings are getting lighter.

195mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large moleskine

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Fifteen – A bit of culture

A meeting with clients in London, all morning and after lunch. With Robin being the responsible adult at home, I felt I could indulge myself a bit afterwards and see this portrait that Katherine Tyrell wrote about in her blog. It was, in my opinion, the best piece in the exhibition, by far. Why didn’t it win one of the prizes?* Anyway thanks to Katherine for directing me there. And hello to delightful Fenella and baby Darina who were also enjoying the exhibition. Oh and I did lots of walking around Paddington, the City of London, St Pauls, across the Millenium Bridge, down the Embankment and back over the river to Blackfriars.

* Edited to add: If you look in the comments below it turns out Sue’s painting did win a well deserved first prize

200mm x 145 mm pen in small sketchbook

Monday, March 05, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Fourteen – Grace’s bench

Grace’s bench is at the far end of the bluebell wood. I didn’t know Grace Parker – we only moved to the village at the end of 1999 – but I like to think that maybe she was a kindred spirit who loved the bluebell wood as much as I do.

195mm x 120mm pen and watercolour in large moleskine

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Thirteen – Rose and Crown

I delayed walking as the day started dismally, with a constant drizzle, but it never stopped, so I forced myself out in the afternoon. Now if you, my lovely readers were not there, I really don’t think I would have bothered. I’d have bribed one of the children to give Rufus a quick run around Spencer playing field. Anyway I stopped in a doorway to draw, before trudging up the hill, round the Bluebell Wood, slipping and getting covered in mud, and coming home.
My son Hugo tells me that the make of the car on the right, for sale at the next-door business, is perfectly recognisable – which rather pleases me as I am rather pathetic when it comes to vehicles.

200mm x 145mm pen in small sketchbook

And for fun

The picture below with colour added in Painter using my new Wacom pad.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Twelve – Horses and sausages

A gorgeous day of beautiful clouds, blue skies, showers and rainbows. Sandridgebury stables is on the left and the butcher’s is the tiny building on the right. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

410mm x 125mm ink and watercolour in large watercolour Moleskine

Friday, March 02, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Eleven – Blossom time

Even in the dullest and most pedestrian of suburban streets it’s possible to find something of beauty. Several of these beautifully twisted tiny trees can be found in the residential roads around Xavier’s nursery. It seemed like one day they were bare and the next they were in flower.
125mm x 195mm pen and watercolour in watercolour moleskine

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Walk Three Hundred and Ten – No name wood in the distance

A quickie, standing up, small sketchbook and small watercolour set in one hand. I would never have attempted this when I was a young student – I was far too perfectionist and as a result I never filled a sketchbook in eight years of being an art student. My poor son Tom (the one who likes art the most) gets his ear bent constantly by me – keep a tiny sketchbook with you – just draw whenever you have five minutes. So of course he’s taken the mobile phone and the MP3 player out of his pocket and replaced it with a sketchbook – yeah right!

185mm x 135mm walnut ink and watercolour