Sunday, 29 June 2014


Today would have been Rosi's 62nd birthday.
She died 11 years ago from breast cancer and every year on this day I spend some time thinking about her and what a wonderful sister she was.  I went through my albums yesterday looking for a new one to copy and found this one taken on my 40th birthday.  In the picture she's holding up her young son's teeshirt that he'd just been sick over as well as her own clothes.  I had given her one of my dresses to wear and it suited her much better than me so she decided to keep it!
We are usually away on holiday at this time of year so I started to make sketches on this day wherever we were.  In 2004 we were on the boat in Trebeurden and as I sat there thinking of her I could see her name written in the clouds.
She loved to wear outlandish glasses, these are tortoiseshell and the ones in the top picture are bright green.  She also had her hair permed in this wild afro curly style, being the only one on the family with straight hair and when she went grey didn't bother to dye it, just lived with her stripes!
Another year we were in L'Aberwrac'h and I can still remember sitting in the shade of this pretty tree with my memories.  I later made copies of this sketch as postcards with her name hidden in the branches. I wonder if anyone still has theirs (Juliet? Jo? Chris?)
Rosi always had a colourful way of dressing, she loved African prints particularly, having visited the country when she was an architecture student.  In the 70's when she lived in a trendy part of London she wore all sorts of crazy jewellery and bright sparkly clothes. You would hardly have imagined she had a very serious job as an architect, later becoming the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Another of my memory sketches drawn at Tregastel with her name spelt out in rocks and a seagull dotting the i.

Friday, 27 June 2014


I found a couple more sketchbooks today that hadn't been checked for local drawings, my tiny moleskines had got to the bottom of the pile and missed out! So I thought I'd just add a few extras as they are all quite nice sketches drawn on location.  This first one was drawn from a cafe next to the church at Louannec, our next village along the coast.  We can just about see the church tower from home on a clear day.
I drew this sitting on a fallen tree on a walk down to the port for a haircut. The celandines had just started opening and made a lovely golden carpet along the edges of the path.  We often go along here to and from the port as it's shady in the summer and sheltered in the winter.
The marina itself is in a drying part of the harbour and has a very thick wall to hold back the water when the tide is out.  It's marked with tall yellow posts that show sailors where not to pass when the tide is in otherwise they would seriously damage the bottom of their boats!  There is a gate at the other end of the wall that opens when the tide covers the wall.
Just over the road from the marina there is a children's boating lake where there are replica lifeboats and ferries for the kids to sail during the summer season.  In the winter it's rather a bleak place with the only colour coming from the marker buoys.
This is the view from the tertre at La Clarté out towards the Sept Iles which translates as the seven islands.  There are only 5 in actual fact, the other 2 being very large rocks best avoided when sailing by!

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Today's walk takes us down to the town centre and then to our nearest beach. It's about 25 minutes walk into the centre of our little town of Perros which has a population of 8000 residents, rising to about 40,000 at the peak of the summer holidays. The centre is dominated by the church with it's unusual domed tower, nicknamed the German helmet, facing the pretty shops and cafes with their open air terraces.  There is traffic passing but it keeps the centre alive and there's always plenty of people watching to be done!
A street away from the church is the Mairie or town hall which is always decorated and surrounded by the most fantastic floral displays which are changed with the seasons.
From opposite the town hall we take a stroll through some pretty roads lined with impressive old houses and start to descend to Trestraou beach.  The steep hill has the most spectacular views out to sea between the hotels and mansions and eventually we arrive at this perfect curve of pale golden sand.  There are bars and restaurants facing the sea as well as a nautical centre for youngsters  learning to sail and surf.  Boat trips take visitors out to the Sept Iles for a picnic and also to see the gannet colony on one of them, Ile Rouzic, which is the largest in this part of the world.
At the eastern end of the beach is this lovely old granite building of holiday apartments, surrounded by palm trees with some of the best views around.
This is a typical 19th century building dating from when Perros first became popular with wealthy Parisians looking for somewhere to take the waters and relax.
This one in the shadow of the tall pines which are everywhere is a creperie facing the marina.
So we start back home and this is one the views that will probably soon disappear under houses caught my eye a few years ago, a field of cauliflours with the sun dropping low in the winter sky.
I painted this about 10 years ago from my bathroom window looking east across the valley and to the next hill with it's water tower just visible in the distance.  The trees are too tall now to be able to see so far.   I do hope you have enjoyed these walks around my area, I've been planning my next few posts and maybe we'll visit some of the places we went to on our boat. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014


For part 3 of my tour around my local area I'm taking you down to the beaches of Tourony and Tregastel as well as the little port of Ploumanac'h.  From home it's a good half hour's walk straight down the hill to the coast and some of the most beautiful beaches you've ever seen.
One of my favourite beaches is at Tourony which is backed with pine trees and very quiet.  The footpath follows the beach but we love to walk along the water's edge, I can feel my legs getting a good workout in the soft sands!
Ploumanac'h is just to the east of this and you can see the entrance to the harbour between the rocks.  Every year we go to the maritime festival that is held here on the quay with live music, lots of fresh fish and mussels to eat all washed down with the local beer, cider or wine. 
Just along from where I drew the festival sketch is the mooring area for the tenders that sailors use to go out to their boats when the tide is in. They made such a colourful display I couldn't resist drawing them too.
This is a part of the very narrow entrance to the harbour at low water.  We tried to take our boat in there about 18 years ago but were turned away by the harbour master because the water in the mooring area was not deep enough for our vessel. We were very disappointed and had to sail round the headland to Perros instead.  We returned on foot the next day at low water and were amazed at the difference, keelboats standing on legs and flat bottomed ones sitting in the mud and very glad also to have gone to somewhere a bit more suitable!
The next beach along going west is Tregastel which has fine sands varying in colour from white to golden.  I believe that the prefix 'tre' means sands in the native Breton language.
Tregastel beach is sheltered by a circle of rocks, one of which is this one called le Dé which means the dice.  My sketchbooks are filled with more drawings of the different rocks than I could possibly show here, they have kept me amused for many years trying to capture the texture and colours of the  granite and will do so for many more years to come too.

Thursday, 19 June 2014


As part of my summer at home series I'm going to take you for a walk that we do most Sundays before lunch. We turn right outside our gate and walk to the end of the lane where we cross the road and take another narrow lane that leads to the woods that line the edge of the famous granite quarries of Perros.
As we go deeper into the shade of the trees we come across a pretty glade where there is a tumble of rocks with a spring coming up from underground and running between the rocks before disappearing down the slope. This rock is balanced on the others and the trees around are covered in moss.  I  spotted some oxalis growing in the fork of one of them and kept the memory to draw in my nature journal later.
We emerge from the woods and carry on along the road above the quarry with fabulous views out to sea, turning left and right as we go, to arrive at this little windmill on a knoll.  It's built of the local granite and is about 300 years old.  It has it's own special 'fete' every year when it's supporters come and share a few crepes and drinks and no doubt the local 'bagad ' turn up to celebrate too!

If we haven't got too much energy we turn right at the main road and walk back up the hill to the centre of the village of La Clarté, a quartier of Perros. The church here, Notre Dame de La Clarte, was built by a grateful sailor when a shaft of sunlight showed him the way to the port through the fog.
Built in the local stone of course, construction was begun in 1445 and it continued to be added to over the centuries.  We come here for the Christmas music every year when our friends sing in the choir.
From the windmill we can also walk along a few nice residential roads and come to a path through the 'landes' leading up to the 'Tertre' which is a high viewpoint with almost 360 degree views across the land and out to sea. It has one of those compass things built on to a rock to identify what you are looking at.  This is a small part of the vista towards the Sept Iles with the rooftops of the cottages on this sought after spot. The Tertre is used every year for the Pardon of Notre Dame de La Clarte on August the 14th when the bishop of the region comes to bless the many thousands of pilgrims who come to worship and celebrate from all over France.
The walk continues down to the coast where the famous Cote de Granite Rose is a Unesco protected site and visited by visitors from all over the world to see the fantastic shapes made by the weathering of the pink granite. We usually save our walks here for the winter when it's quieter and we don't have to keep dodging dogs and baby buggies and people stopping to take photos all the time!
There is a 'sentier des douaniers', path of the customs men, which follows the coast for several kilometres with wonderful views all along the way.  The lighthouse is a great landmark built on top of a fantastc jumble of rocks.
This is a drawing of the rocks underneath the lighthouse copied from a photo, it looks strangely out of proportion but that doorway is normal height and that rock is enormous!  Kids of all ages love to climb all over the rocks and have a great time as apart from the protected wild flower areas all the place is accessible.

Friday, 13 June 2014


This summer we are staying at home for a change as we have a project to get on with.  We have been planning for years to build 2 new garden sheds and at last we are doing it!  So I thought it would be nice to show you some of the lovely places we have within walking distance and which visitors from all over France and Europe come to enjoy for their holidays.
Every other year we have always been away either on the boat or in the camper car after the boat was sold so this is a big change for us.  Already we are having our meals on the terrace and Bob is busy cooking on the barbecue.  I've searched my sketchbooks from the last 12 years and found lots of drawings to put together as a collection.  The 2 sketches above were both drawn from the terrace of the bar Escale, our favourite for a rosé on Saturday lunchtime with our friends.
These 2 old customs houses are on the quay next to another little bar, the Titine, a favourite with the local sailors where they serve a delicious chilled 'Bordeaux blanc' for only 1.30Euros a glass.
We came to live in Perros nearly 12 years ago and chose it mainly because we needed somewhere to moor the boat and because we had been coming for our holidays for the previous 10 years. We had a place in the marina and these cottages appear in a sketchbook every year as they were part of the view from our deck where we sat to enjoy the sun and aperitifs.
After the boat was sold in 2011 we felt very fortunate as the next winter the pontoons where we had been were badly damaged in a storm and the whole length had to be replaced and reinforced. We had been complaining for years about a broken part of the walkway and this had obviously turned out to be the weak point!
We spent many happy summers staying on the boat, in the marina as well as out sailing to the Channel islands or the rest of Brittany.  This is the walk along the arcades towards the beach at Trestrignel, lined with pink valerian flowers growing out from the granite rocks on the shore.
If you looked across from the arcades you would see this tiny lighthouse in the distance across the bay.  It's now a pretty holiday home right on the beach with fabulous views.
Another part of the coast just beyond the marina next to the sailing club with Ile Tome just visible beyond.
Perros marina is at the head of a bay which dries out at low water so there is restricted access for boats only 1 or 2 hours either side of high water.  When we came back from our sailing trips we had to moor to one of the deep water buoys to wait for the tide to come in high enough for the harbour gates to open. I spent many happy hours here with my sketchbook drawing the houses as well as the seabirds.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


Last week I collected the books I had lent to a friend and after a browse through them I was re-inspired to do something different.  The books were Artists Journal Workshop by Cathy Johnson and Watercolour techniques with pen and ink by Claudia Nice.  I decided to have a change of medium for a few days and to do some work in my other sketchbook, no 24, which is filled with pale coloured mi-tientes paper.  This sketch of  magpies and a feather were done in a fine black micron pen and the background is a sky blue Polychromos coloured pencil.
This phalaenopsis orchid has survived about 3 years now and keeps on surprising us with it's wonderful flowers. They are pink but the micron pens I have are only red, blue and green so I had to improvise.  I sat and drew it in the evening while watching the TV.
I found a yellow micron brushpen in the collection so I added it to give the sunlit look to this palm in the garden.
We had oysters for lunch on Sunday and I couldn't resist keeping one of the shells to draw later  in the afternoon.  Thier shapes are fascinating with all the different layers which remind me of a flamenco dancer's dress.
I've had a lot of fun this week using some different materials, the micron pens are very fine, quite different to the coloured pencils I've been using for the last few months which give a much bolder line and colour. 
Anybody interested in starting an artists journal should invest in Cathy Johnson's book, it's full of ideas for tools and layouts as well as subjects to draw.

Thursday, 5 June 2014


I've finally finished the curtains for my new workroom and thought you might like to see where I now spend most of my spare time when I'm not outdoors.  This first photo was taken just inside the door and you can see the sloping roof and the edge of the first curtain.  The rest of the pictures carry on clockwise around the room.
This room was originally a second spare bedroom with a pair of single beds for grandchildren to sleep in but now we have the camping car any visitors can sleep there instead. The beds had been stacked up and piled with bedclothes and used as a general dumping ground and the rest of the room held ironing board, washing airer and lots of boxes of 'stuff.'
We had been sharing a study with our 2 computers side by side but one day Bob decided he would rather I took all my books, paper, paints etc and had a room to myself.  He said he was fed up with being interrupted when he was working when I started rummaging around looking for my crayons and sketchbooks so we cleared the room and the single beds are now piled up downstairs in the other spare bedroom along with the double bed which will soon be donated to charity
We collected together all my art materials which were all over the house in different cupboards and on shelves, moved one of the bookcases and one of the tables and set up a lovely L shaped worktable in this lovely sunny room.
I took the opportunity to photograph all my crayons and then all my paints laid out before they were stowed away.  I have lost count of how many crayons I've got, maybe better not to try!  That's an old cutlery holder from a dishwasher holding my pen collection, a good example of re-purposing (or never being able to throw anything vaguely useful away!)
We bought a set of inexpensive shelves from the DIY store and they are now intalled beneath the sloping roof on the other side of the room, finishing at the tiny fitted wardrobe that holds a lot of clothes waiting for re-modelling.
I'm in arty heaven now with all my materials to hand, sewing, painting or drawing at the drop of a hat.  I'd like a few more hooks on the wall to hang more pictures but with most of the vertical walls already covered and the slopes unusable I'll just have to make do with changing them from time to time.   I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into my world, I know other artists love to see how others work.