Monthly Archives: January 2017

Not just a pretty face -small stone 31

If I’m honest I have to admit I sliced open this watermelon because I thought it might be good to draw, not because I particularly like water melon. Won as a part of a fruit basket raffle prize, it is not a fruit I would normally buy to eat. 

I was not disappointed with the bright pink flesh hidden inside the green skin, but I didn’t find it easy to capture the shape and colour, and the juiciness of the fruit. In fact after I had finished I realised that the slice was sitting in a little puddle of its own juice, and I had missed that altogether on my picture. 

I have spent a month looking and drawing what (I thought) I could see in front of me. It has been an interesting challenge and changed the way I look at things. I have loved exploring the line and shape of my surroundings, and watercolour is such a quick and delicate way to capture shades and tones. 

But when I took a spoon to the melon I discovered it was much juicier and sweeter than I had expected and distinctly fragrant! There’s more to life than what we can see… 

More senses (and artistic mediums/media) needed. 

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‘Twas on a Monday morning – small stone 30

The old nursery rhyme describes the laundry maid as “dashing away with the smoothing iron”, but I have no energy for dashing on this murky grey Monday morning.

However there is something gently soothing about ironing. Although I often procrastinate until the laundry basket is overflowing, the ironing process, the creaking hiss of steam and the warmth of the fabric under my hands, is distinctly pleasurable. And then there is the satisfaction of taking a crumpled, creased garment, and smoothing it. Ironing out the wrinkles and ending up with a flat, evenly pressed material.

I hang my freshly ironed clothes in the wardrobe, and wish that other wrinkles, irritations and frustrations could be as easily ironed out, sorted with just a bit of gentle heat, pressure and steam. But, sadly, life isn’t quite as “neat and nimble-O” as the nursery rhyme might imply…

Happy birthday, William! – small stone 29

My little grandson is two years old today. Sadly he is many miles away, so I attempted to sketch him from a photo. Of course in real life he would not be sitting like this for long!! 

My first attempt at painting a real person makes me appreciate all the more that indefinable unique quality that makes each human being who they are. Impossible to capture and only really experienced in their presence. 

Wish you were here, William! 

Colour in the dark – small stone 28

Not yet enough for a crumble, but sufficient stalks and leaves emerging from the dark earth to give a little thrill. The intense pink and acid yellow colours of the early forced rhubarb provides a jolt of pleasure, and gives me a moment of wonder as to how such bright vivid colour can be produced in a complete absence of light, only revealed when I lift the cover.

However it does it, it always cheers me up! 

Family show – small stone 27

I didn’t really want to draw the TV. But I do watch it, and it is a part of my everyday life. So why not acknowledge it as such? Perhaps because it often brings scenarios into my home which I feel are divorced from my every day reality. In my contemplations I want to focus on what is real and tangible in front of me, and I tend to want to avoid difficult or unpleasant aspects of life. 

This last week the TV news has felt more like a film script, and an unpredictable one at that. Executive orders, pronouncements, court rulings, white papers. Protests, prejudice, resignations, anger and fear. The politicians, celebrities and others I see on my TV screen may seem unreal, specious and false. But they are as real as I am, and driven by similar physical, psychological and emotional needs, even though their circumstances may be vastly different. 

Today I watched and sketched a (rather inept!) picture of the TV, as two ordinary human beings met for the first time, watched by millions of other human beings, all with judgements, hopes and needs of their own. And I was reminded that as I watch them and others, I see myself…

I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.”

Maya Angelou – Human Family

Mediterranean promise – small stone 26

At this time of year I feel sun starved. We have had some sunshine this month, but the chill factor has not encouraged much outdoor activity. Today the recent blanket of fog has lifted, but the clouds are casting a greyness over everything.

So it is amazing to me how the fruit on the lemon tree in our (unheated) conservatory is slowly and quietly ripening. Inspire of the apparent lack of sun, the small green lemons are gradually swelling and changing colour. Even if I feel stuck in a hibernating stupor, the lemon tree is drawing strength from some unseen source and moving on.

My sketch, of necessity, had to be quick. But despite the physical chill to my body,  I feel warmed by the promise of sunnier times and places.

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Long memories – small stone 25

This quirky little trio of elephants stands on the mantle shelf in my living room. Not a family heirloom, they were an impulse car boot purchase a few years ago. They are each cracked, but somehow still charming as they fit snugly together. 

They say elephants have long memories, and with their large brains they have a capacity to remember faces over many years. Sometimes they have been even been known to recognise old friends by their scars

Today I met up with two friends I hadn’t seen for over forty-five years. At school together in our teens, we lost touch. But today the three of us spent an amazing few hours catching up, exchanging memories, happy and sad, and realising just how influential those school days were in forming our attitudes and life experiences since. Thank you for a lovely day, Caroline and Diana. 

Elephants, and old school friends, never forget.