Friday, April 29, 2011

Summer somnambulist

Here's my winter cottage, sporting spring greens, lanterns of white wisteria flowers, and a freshly planted pot of geraniums.

I have three buildings- the winter cottage, summer cottage, and a barn. My first summer here, I would start the night in the winter cottage and after a few hours, move to the summer cottage. I inevitably woke up on a mattress in the barn, accessed by an old wobbly ladder. I think I just loved all three buildings so much I was trying to be in them all at once.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Last night's model was the lovely Marie-Camille who left our village to study theatre design in Paris. She was home for the Easter holidays.

Although I had stretched a large sheet of watercolour paper, I still ran out of room for her hands. Not sure whether to tape on another piece of paper on the bottom to complete the picture from the photograph or just leave it as is.

After working as a professional portraitst for many years, I am relishing the freedom of painting people without having to worry about client approval. I think it's resulting in much better work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Poissons dans le Fôret de Rignac

About fifteen years ago, I bought a tree to plant in front of my barn on communal land. The village cantonnier planted it in winter while I was away, in the wrong spot! After I had a hissy fit, they allowed me to plant another one in the right spot, and the two are colloquially referred to as Le Fôret de Rignac.

People have long been complaining that they can't find my gallery, La Sirène du Causse (translates roughly to The Mermaid of the Ancient Seabed. We have fossils everwhere in the sandstone rock.) So with the help of Ron and his jigsaw, I have now hung painted fish in Le Fôret's trees where they are twirling happily in the breeze: sort of rural French 17th century strobe lighting.

In addition to catching the eye of passers by, they will hopefully prevent the myriad of shade seeking cars from cluttering up the forest.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Manifestation (and feast too)

Ron and I went down to the big protest in Cahors on Sunday against the proposed fracking of natural gas in our beautiful area of France. Fillon, the president, has momentarily canceled all contracts for the immensely damaging extraction which took some of the wind out of our sails, though I'm not complaining. I was surprised to find a good percentage of the demonstrators English!

We went early, thinking the traffic might be terrible, and discovered a fabulous small restaurant, Le Bergougnoux in the center of town where for 15 euros we had a magnificent meal: Coquilles St Jacques, noisette d'agneau and chocolate hazelnut cake with strawberries.

So we returned home with replete spirits and tummies...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eye to hand

My most original and best work results from when my eye and hand liaise directly without the interference of the brain. That's when magic happens. That's why I am trying to get further away from illustration, when my brain is in hyperactivity, and to just paint.

I love the ear in this quick sketch!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I used to call my life drawings "boudoir haiku" because they were usually very simple line drawings with light watercolour washes. But mixing white into the colours has enriched my palate so I am calling the current series of sketches "odalisques", in reference to the 19th century school of painting Orientalism.

The Monday night drawing group will be having our annual show on Friday, May 27th. If you are in vicinity, please mark that date into your calendar. So far it has always fallen on a beautiful early summer evening and turned into something of a party.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Too much ash!

Last year the only produce that thrived in my vegetable patch were pumpkins- masses of pumpkins.

This year a bit of research into soil revealed that I have been destroying my compost by mixing in way too much wood ash which makes the soil very alkaline. Ash is a good natural deterrent to slugs and snails so I also spread the ash all around the edges my potagé. I heat my barn with a wood stove and have masses of wood ash.

So now for days I have been digging up old compost heaps and working it into the soil, along with fresh grass clippings to try and get more nitrates into the earth.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Spring began in the beginning of February this year, and summer started in the beginning of April. The temperature has been in the 80's for the past two weeks and we have begun to have dinner outdoors already.

Last night, at about 11, I heard the nightingales for the first time. Such lonely and forlorn trills and quavers...