Monday, 30 September 2013


Luba and Hervé have grown some wonderful vegetables in their garden, she's especially proud of her pumpkins and this grapefruit sized one was a recent gift.
I couldn't resist drawing it twice in my different sketchbooks but I think I prefer the tinted paper one.
We have been busy gardening today on a very warm afternoon.  The grass is making up for it's slow growth in the summer by going crazy now!  I usually take the clippings to the dechetterie (dump) where they make all the garden waste into compost which is freely available to residents of Perros.  People have been very busy deadheading their hydrangeas and agapanthus and I'm amazed at some of the beautiful blooms to be found discarded so I often pick out a few to bring home and enjoy.
The butterflies are still swarming in the garden and although the buddlea flowers are now nearly over  the ivy has just started blooming and is alive with them and the buzzing of bees.   

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Our friend Hervé has a wonderful fig tree in his garden and this year it is laden with fruit despite the long dry summer.  The leaves on the tree are such a  rich and luscious bright green that I want to pick some to draw too.  We spent a lovely afternoon  there recently, eating lunch and sharing a bottle of wine or two with Luba's daughter Anna, her grandaughters and a couple of charming French friends.
Later on Hervé came round with a huge bag of freshly picked figs for us so I decided to make some chutney.  I followed a recipe I found on the internet but when it was finished we decided it was far too sweet. Bob helped me to empty out all 12 jars and I remade it with a kilo of onions, a kilo and a half of apples and more spices. I now have about 20 jars of Fruity Fig Chutney!
One Saturday mornig Luba called to say she was making jam with more of the figs so I went round to give her a hand and also some labels I had made for her using the sketch here.  I scanned the drawing before doing the writing and used the mailing label programme in 'word' on windows.  Hervé brought us another bag full before going on holiday so we're eating our way through a couple more kilos!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Unknown butterfly

We found this pretty butterfly under a chest of drawers when we were cleaning today. I can't find it in my field guide so I wonder if any of you out there recognise the species? 

Saturday, 21 September 2013


I have been sketching all the while posting the 75 day challenge and here are a few of my latest scribbles.  I have had so much fun in this coloured paper sketchbook that I wish I had tried it years ago. Maybe I wasn't yet ready for the challenge, needing to feel confident in drawing first before branching out, but now I feel free to do anything in my own way and my new Museum coloured pencils are so easy to use that I can't stop trying new styles!
I think I may have posted this marrow before but since adding the background it seems to have more impact.
A very impressionistic view of the garden next to the patio, it's so nice to sit there on a summer's afternoon and scribble to my heart's content!
Just to the right of the view above is the big buddlea that was invaded by butterflies this summer.  Impossible to ignore the fluttering of wings all day and I tried to photograph some of them when they settled and managed to identify about 8 species. I'll have to try and do a sketch of them all together one of these days!

We have a family of woodpeckersin the garden who feed on the ants in the lawn.  The youngsters are still a bit lazy about finding their own food and this one often sits in the sycamore tree and squawks to be fed although his parents usually ignore him!  I found one of their feathers in the garden recently with the lovely white markings along the side.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Following on from yesterday is another of my parents' wedding presents, this time a fish bowl from the Orrefors glass factory in Sweden.  I researched it on the internet and found out the date of manufacture and a bit of history about the range.
My parents had quite a lot of glassware including a set of 12 pint beer glasses, some still with their Orrefors labels on. Each glass has a different boat or nautical symbol engraved on the side. I also have a couple of heavy glass candle holders from the same factory.
Last year when Bob and I went to Sweden, one of our ambitions was to see the Orrefors factory and to buy something contemporary there. We found this lovely vase and bought it as a 40th anniversary present to ourselves. 
So, at last, the challenge is completed, 75 drawings in ink in 75 days.  It was quite a job to keep up with the work as some of the pictures are quite complicated but I enjoyed every minute.  I reported back to Brenda Swenson who set the challenge and she sent me my Artistic Licence which I'm very proud of!

Saturday, 14 September 2013


My parents had quite a collection of silver which I now have care of, mainly because I am the eldest of their 4 children and because I have the space to store all these things.  These silver spoons were often used in our home especially at Christmas when I particularly remember the middle one being used to serve the brandy butter Dad always made to go with the flaming christmas pudding.
Mum collected teaspoons wherever she went travelling to go with her coffee cups of course.  Her brothers all lived on different continents so she had plenty of opportunities to see Walter in Australia, John in Canada and Michael in South Africa.
Mum's parents were globetrotters too: they met in Durban where my grandfather was a telegraphist for the Eastern Telegraph Company.  They were posted to a different country every 2 years so although Mum, the eldest, was born in England her 4 brothers were born in Egypt, Portugal and South Africa.
By the time Mum was 13 her father decided to give up his job and go to Argentina to become a farmer and the family set off across the Atlantic to start a new life in the jungle. Uncle John has fortunately written the story of this adventure where they had to clear the land, build a house with the timber and plant crops.  I can just imagine him and his brothers having a wonderful time with no formal schooling apart from a few morning lessons. I think this set of teaspoons is a souvenir of their time there which ended after only 2 years when my grandmother became pregnant again and wanted to return to England.  She must have lost that baby as there were no more children in the family.
This commemorative set was bought by my maternal great grandmother Louisa Baker for the coronation of Edward VII. My Grandmother Mae Gritten gave it to my parents for their wedding in1947.

Friday, 13 September 2013


My mum loved porcelain so much that when a friend offered to teach her how to paint it herself she jumped at the opportunity. Ever since my childhood when she painted me and my sisters fairy plates she kept up the practise, improving over the years.  She particularly loved to paint flowers and had an incredible eye for fine detail and even when her hands were crippled with arthritis she never gave up trying to perfect her dainty pictures.  All her friends and family were honoured with beautiful hand painted gifts and of course I have several on display and in cupboards.
This section from a Swedish plate has very strong childhood memories for me as it was always used for birthday cakes and other special occasions.  I particularly love the harebell motif as I collected the flowers as a child at our country cottage 60 years ago.
These coasters are in porcelain and very finely painted with views of Copenhagen which my parents often visited.  I wonder if they were a wedding present?
Joanna had them hanging as a set in her kitchen for a time but when she moved house they came back to me for safe keeping.  They are in a cupboard at the moment but maybe it's time for them to come out again!
This fine set of salad servers is part of the Wedgwood collection and were hidden at the back of the drawer till I brought them out to draw.  The silver needs polishing, a job Rene and I used to do together when she came to stay in the summer.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


This is a very elaborately decorated cup and saucer which took quite a bit of work to get all the patterns correct and in perspective and don't forget the first line is in pen, no rubbing out!
I think I'm getting the hang of the ellipses at last and the curve at the front of the saucer looks odd but it is quite a deep one!
I love this little cup for the finely painted Swedish scenes on the cup and the saucer.
It was a bit difficult to get this scalloped edge looking right!
This set caused quite a bit of interest when I posted it on the daily Challenge facebook group page. I mentioned that it seemed odd that a souvenir from Guernsey should have been made in Germany but I had forgotten about the occupation during the war.  I was soon reminded and also told about a book written from a diary kept during the occupation called  'The Guernsey literary and potato pie society.' One of my generous 'friends' in America even offered to send me her copy in the post but I was able to download it onto my Kindle and read it while on holiday in Tenerife.
This is the last and the best of all the cups, a very fine bone china painted black with a fabulous gold painting on the cup and the saucer. I'm sure it must be worth something... but I wouldn't sell it anyway!

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Rene had custody of this pretty cup for 20 years after Mum died but decided to let me look after it when I collected the rest of them from Christopher who still had them in a storage box, never unpacked in 20 years and at least 3 house moves!  I put the whole collection together with the few I have and now they are all on my Welsh dresser for us to enjoy looking at.
An unusual colour but the painting on the front and saucer is very finely done.
 There's something about these blue cups that captivates me, I wonder if the 60 on the base of this one is it's year.
When I showed this sketchbook to my friend Kim she recognised this cup and a couple of the others as being in her family collections too!
One of these days I must try and get round to researching the origins and possible value of these cups on the internet!  Some of the manufacturer's names are quite well known so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


My mum was a keen collector of demi-tasse coffee cups and had a large collection which were used every time she served coffee to friends.  This first one is translucent and it was very difficult to convey the light shining through the leaf shapes!
I really love this one for it's fabulous blue colour and the pure gold inside.
This very pretty one has a delicate lacy edge.  I decided to start drawing the base marks on the page.
This has an unusual shape with the scalloped top.
Another dainty cup with a stem this time.  I have no idea where Mum bought any of these cups but I hope you'll enjoy seeing the collection as it unfolds.