Saturday, 18 October 2014

Into the woods ...

Well it has been another busy week with a couple of particularly crazy days, but more of that later. 

In the meantime, as it was yet another lovely shorts day - ie warm enough for me to be wearing shorts in mid October (!) Charlie and I went for a walk in the woods opposite the cottage and I took my sketchbook and watercolour box along.

And this is the result:

I always find when I'm painting from life that at the moment I am doing it I am very critical of what is appearing on the paper, but actually when I look back an hour later I'm quite pleased with the result.  It's almost as if one has to gain some objectivity by stepping back from the image and revisiting it when you are no longer in the throes of creating it. This one took about 30 minutes, could have done with a thicker pen (I never use pencil, I like the fact that pen means you can't retract the line once you've made it so you just have to work with it) and I'm a bit low on my indigo pan colour (I never use black paint, black pen yes but never black paint, old habit from art school and I am a natural colourist - ooh Ken Kiff RA said that to me many years ago, I was so thrilled) but it's not bad.

For many years I did no drawing from life until I did a part-time MA in children's book illustration at Cambridge School of Art from 2009-12.  In fact my interest in children's books wained but what did blossom was my love of drawing in the landscape, in particular trees and buildings. So I have embarked on a series of watercolours of chateaux and treescapes in France over the last year.  You can see some of these on my website at

As Turner and Constable, the trailblazers in painting en plein air discovered, it is so important to actually be in the landscape, to experience the atmosphere and one feelings and emotions of being in the place at the particular time, engaging with the elements around one and the scene before you. Can't beat that even if it is a bit windy and rainy sometimes.

I did this painting, Les Noyers prés de Sorges at Easter this year on a very blustery morning in early April, with rain spitting at me as I sat by the road up from the cottage where I now live. The day might have been grey, but the little walnut trees stretched across the field just waiting to burst into life looked to me like little ladies, taking their positions on a ballroom floor ready to commence the dance.

Monday, 13 October 2014

First painting - La Vierge Noir

Well, a slight pause in my blog entry, but a lot has been going on but I felt I had to post today that I finished my first painting since I've been here!  After all that is the reason I moved to France - to concentrate on my painting full time.

The gallery that represents me in the UK, Byard Art has this year asked its artists for submissions for Christmas cards and for the last few years I have been painting Madonnas.

A Black Madonna might not be the most obvious choice of subject for my recent arrival in the Dordogne, but in fact there are at least two Black Virgins in the region, most notably at Rocamadour

And the little black virgin at the church of St Leon de Vezere

The story goes from what I remember (an anecdote told to me by a friend) that some 50 years ago the village suffered a bad flood, but the local priest acted valiantly in assisting the villagers in their crisis.  As a result, one lady villager visited Rocamadour to give thanks for the saving of the village and returned with a little figure of a black virgin which now resides in the church in the village.  Apparently there have been benevolent happenings associated with even this little lady and her little son since placement in the church dressed in sky blue. And in particular Our Lady at Rocamadour is associated with miracles relating to water.  Need to do a bit more research into that.

More black virgins to come later this week, going a bit more West Indies this time but still French ....

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bon voyage et bonne chance!

Been here nearly a week now, and still feeling pretty exhausted by the move, and frustrated by the fact that so many of my precious things are in my shipment which doesn't arrive until Tuesday :(  but just wanted to thank all my lovely friends and work colleagues for all the cards and gifts to send me on my way with luck and welcome me to my new home. All the cards are up in pride of place on the dining table, to remind me of home. 

I particularly like the one with the bichon strapped to the back of the car - well it wasn't quite like that in reality but Charlie does have his own seatbelt! 

Here he is in his bed in the front seat, waiting to cross the Channel, last Friday ....

I've had a lovely piece of custard tart today, and as its afternoon now time for a nap.  Any sign of work in sight yet Mme Merry?  Not likely .... 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


So, this is a new look blog for my new look life!  Its been so exhausting with the various moves I have had over the last six weeks or so that now I am here in the Dordogne (yay) with Charlie to start my life as a full time painter, I have not much energy at the moment to write a longer piece about our arrival in France.

But for those of you who don't know much about me and my work, I thought I would start with a film which my dear friend Lorna Easterbrook who is a talented writer and filmmaker made about me last year.

Dark Into Light from Lorna Easterbrook on Vimeo.

You can see more of Lorna's films at

We are off to the market in Perigueux this morning, if I can get out of bed ... such a comfy place to be to write my first entry!

a toute a l'heure mes amies .... !