Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life drawing resumes

The Monday evening life drawing group has started up again after a summer break.

Often at the end of the evening, I am unhappy with everything I have done and toss it all into the fire, but I try to restrain myself because sometimes after a few days (and some distance from actually observing and trying to draw the model), a drawing or painting just takes on an independent life, and dare I say... charm...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moulin de Cougnaguet

The weather was a bit iffy so I was worried about where the class could paint in case of a downpour, and then suddenly in the middle of the night I thought of the Moulin de Cougnaguet, a fortified mill on the l'Ouysse river, built in the fourteenth century by Cistercian monks. It milled flour commercially until 1959, and it is still fully functioning. You can see the interior here.

The weather cleared as the day passed, so we were able to enjoy a lovely picnic on the island, enhanced by generous servings of prune, the local firewater made from plums, dolled out by the guardian.

My painting is below.
Just before we packed up to leave, one member of the group noticed the reflection of the mill in the water. It would have made an interesting composition, if we had remembered to bring our waders.


Last year it was tomatoes, this year I have nothing but pumpkins in my vegetable patch- about forty of the little suckers. Some are too heavy to heave into my wheelbarrow. They make delicious soup however if you braise chunks in olive oil, butter, onions, garlic, sweet curry powder and fresh ginger. When tender add chicken stock and season and blend with one of those contraptions you stick in the pot. Garnish with a dash of cream and some freshly chopped chives. Delicious (though I don't think I will be able to swallow another spoonful this season...sigh.)

Friday, September 24, 2010


I always feel a little guilty when I eat the subject of a painting.

This is a still life I set up for my watercolour painting class two weeks ago. I chose the eggplant for the tonal contrast, the pumpkin because of the interesting seed pattern and warm colour, and the radishes because of their red-white colour gradation and also their long white tails are a good example of when to use drawing gum.

My finished demonstration is below.

The next day we started lunch with radishes eaten with butter and sea salt (the French way), and ginger-pumpkin soup.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Great week

Enthusiastic and interesting watercolour students from three continents, fresh local produce at meals, good weather = a great workshop.

One of the best things about my workshop is just the opportunity for people to meet and converse with each other. This was a particularly successful group and a good time was had by all, especially me.

Next week, everyone having mastered the watercolour technique... we eschew the barn/studio to work en plein air.

Friday, September 03, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I looked for a favourite necklace of old large blue glass trade beads strung either side of an antique silver Arabian amulet. It was an indulgent purchase acquired in Nairobi, where I had just spent a week teaching at the International School

Then last week I hunted high and low for my GPS system before setting off for a few days camping on the beach.

When I got home, irritated by my untidy habits which I deemed responsible, I decided to do a thorough spring clean. I didn't expect to find the GPS system which I am pretty sure was knicked out of my car which I never lock, but I did expect to find the necklace.

Twelve years ago, I was expelled from class after my yoga teacher couldn't find some jewelry in her apartment, the class venue. At first I was devastated, but after a few sleeplesss nights, became enraged by the teacher's certainty that I was the culprit. I wrote her a dramatic note claiming that she had accused, tried and convicted an innocent person who had no recourse to prove her innocence, and that the experience had served to confirm my abhorrence of the death penalty! She eventually found the missing pieces and apologised.

I think I know who took my necklace and it's my turn to feel violated by a stranger that I briefly housed. I am forcing myself to remember that I might be wrong, that I might suddenly open a drawer looking for a hankerchief and see it curled amongst rolled up leg warmers. But somehow life isn't quite that neat.

Not sure what the lesson is here, if there is one. Attachment? Bourgeois pettiness? Naivité? Who knows. You just gotta roll with the punches and move on sometimes.

Thursday, September 02, 2010