Thursday, 20 April 2017


Time to catch up on my sketchbook 41 nature journal with a few recent drawings of the nature in and around my garden.  These violets are growing in the lawn at the moment since I persuaded Bob to let them grow instead of spraying with weedkiller and what a picture the are, just imagine a green and purple carpet all over the garden.
And just in case you don't believe me, here's a photo!

The Forsythia doesn't last very long but what a delight it is when it's in bloom.

I have a couple of shrubs, one of which is in the shadier part of the garden next to the bank and it really lights up the corner with the bright yellow flowers.
I have interpreted a bunch in one of my needlepaintings too, such a pleasure to have the flowers on my worktable and study them as I stitched.

Many of the trees around here have lichen growing on them in such pretty shades of green.  Apparently it is a sign that the air is very clean, we say here in Brittany that it gets washed by the rain nearly every day!

It's surprising how dry and crispy the lichen feels when you touch it!

The ferns are beginning to unfurl in the garden and down the lane.
Well, that's it for a couple of weeks, we're off to England in the morning so I'll see you later, hopefully with a lot more drawings to share.

Saturday, 15 April 2017


This week's needlepainting is a magnolia inspired by the blooms in the garden at the moment.

The magnolia bush was already in the garden when we bought our house nearly 15 years ago.
We moved it to a sunnier spot when we realised it was in the shade of the bank and soon to disappear underneath it in fact as the ivy was growing across the lawn at quite a rate.

This set of drawings is in my nature journal from 2012 when I drew the same flower on the tree as it opened and died over 3 weeks.

I had wanted to draw the seeds as well but the birds got there first!

With the dark ivy covered bank behind the shrub and the flowers looking like lightbulbs shining in the sun, I couldn't resist drawing them again the following year.

This year again I've drawn the flowers but now as inspiration for my needlepainting.

I love the purple on the underside of the petals and for the picture I used some scraps of a cashmere cardigan that was no longer worn.
And finally here's a photo of one of those beautiful blooms.
Have a happy Easter!


Saturday, 8 April 2017


One of our favourite meals to have on Sunday is oysters and champagne.  Bob gets up early to go to the village where the local producer sets up her stall and he buys 18 size 2 oysters.  We can trust in their freshness as they are grown on the coast only a few kilometres from here in the river Jaudy where we used to sail when we had our boat.

It's a very simple meal, we have the oysters followed by some delicious French cheeses and a green salad washed down with a red wine from the Rhone villages.  We buy our champagne from the producer who comes to Perros every year at a very reasonable price, in fact we are off to the annual wine fair later this morning to get stuck into some serious tasting.

I have a Japonica bush just in front of the dining room window and I love the way the orange flowers bloom all along the stems, right into the centre of the shrub.

The branches have lethal spines which attack my fingers when I try to cut a few stems to draw so I have taken some photos as well because I think this would make an interesting subject for a needlepainting.  I can picture the layers building up and getting stronger in colour as they come nearer to the front.

I have an American friend called Starr who lives in a wonderful forest who posts beautiful photos of her environment which have inspired my drawings in the past.  The latest batch have also been interpreted in brush pen and diluted inks.

She has a lovely collection of silver birches with interesting barks which she has also painted in watercolours. 
The name of Starr's blog is wonderland woods and I'm sure you'll be delighted with her photos too.

Continuing with the woody theme, we have a few tree stumps in our garden where I noticed some interesting growths appearing.  On closer inspection I discovered these colourful fungi so I photographed them straight away as I thought they might get damaged when Bob set out to mow the lawn.  As this blue-green one was about 5 centimetres across I enlarged the photo so I could see the detail more clearly.

This orange-mauve one had been growing slowly through the winter and fortunately I caught it at it's peak as it's now dried up since the weather warmed up for spring.
Spring is warming up and there are lots more beautiful plants to draw in and around my garden so keep an eye out for the next instalment of Sketchbook no 41!

Saturday, 25 March 2017


I've just realised I haven't posted anything from sketchbook no 41 which I started in January with this title page combining some snowdrops from the garden with a simple numeral.
Here is the cover, a pretty batik fabric (thank you Juliet!) and my favourite pen at the moment tucked into the spine.
The pages measure 11 x 17 centimetres.

It's quite a small book made from some watercolour cards I bought last year but never used so they seemed perfect to make into a book, being already folded.

There were few flowers around when I started to fill the book and this page is one of my favourites, some hellebores from a plant given to me by Justine about 10 years ago.  They never fail to pop up in January and brighten up the dark winter days.

I have a few dried Hydrangeas in a vase and one day I noticed how well they co-ordinated with my little Canterbury pottery vase containing a few narcissi.

A few years ago when I cleared out my mother-in-law's patio pots she gave me the old miniature daffodil bulbs to take home and they are still going strong in a corner of the herb garden where I can see them from the kitchen window.

There are always bunches of tulips in the shops at this time of year and I can't resist bringing some home to draw and just enjoy of course! 
You might have seen some of these sketches recently turned into needlepaintings and there are a lot more to come too when I get around to the next batch of drawings.  I hadn't planned to make this a nature journal but that is how it's turning out although it was originally made for our trip to Italy last summer which we had to postpone.
Have a nice weekend, remember to cherish your mothers on Sunday, I'm busy drawing mine at the moment ready for tomorrow when I'll be posting it on Facebook.

Saturday, 18 March 2017


This week I've been drawing my grandchildren and my sister's children.
Here is Stephanie aged 4 after a birthday party with a butterfly painted on her face.

Stephanie has beautiful straight dark hair that feels like silk, I used to love washing and drying it in the days when I lived in England and popped in every week after work.

Kirsty, the redhead, has a beautiful smile that lights up a room.

As an adult now she is still full of fun and that hair is a wonder, very Pre-Raphaelite!

Jimmy as a baby already had his big greeny grey eyes.

He is turning into a handsome young boy now, the apple of his mummy, Jo's eyes!

My sister Juliet has a lovely daughter, Esther.

And a good-looking son called Sebastian.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


It's been a funny week, I couldn't quite get down to some needlepainting so I decided to sketch my bunch of tulips from Lidl instead and straight away I came up with an idea for depicting them in fabric.  I got out all the bits of fabric and made a pile ready to get on with later, but first I had to finish off a few other projects.

Here are 2 new A5 notebooks ready for the garden party in April.
And half a dozen sketchbooks filled with proper drawing paper in 3 sizes.

I found a fascinating fabric backed cork textile in the sewing shop recently and designed a sketchbook to cover it with which incorporated a beautiful wrapping paper I've been hoarding for years.  I made the end papers with the turquoise as well as putting some on the cover, I just love this colour combination, don't you?

Yesterday in the post a lovely parcel of silk fabrics arrived from Kirsty and Justine and I couldn't wait to get started on making a couple more sketchbooks.  I've already torn and folded 7 large sheets of drawing paper and cut out the covers.  I'll be hard at work stitching and glueing this afternoon while Bob enjoys the rugby.

I've been wanting to recover this little lampshade for years and I finally got around to it this week on a rainy Wednesday morning.
So as you can see I've been very busy doing lots of  bits and pieces and maybe next week I will catch up with the portraits and a bit of needlepainting!

Saturday, 4 March 2017


A few more drawings from my portrait sketchbook, this first is of my little sister Juliet taken at the same time as the last two of Christopher and me from the previous portrait post.

Here's mummy with a big smile on her face just after becoming a grandmother to Justine in 1967.

Nearly 50 years later and here is her youngest great-granddaughter, Sarah. 

And finally a picture of Sarah aged 4.  I like to use co-ordinating colours on opposing pages and this pair looks really nice in the book.  Now it's back to work to fill a few more pages.
See you next week and hope the sun shines on you as spring comes along!