Saturday, 8 July 2017

MY 300th BLOG!

Hello friends and followers, I've come to a landmark, my 300th blog post and I've decided to celebrate with a look back over the last 5 years of blogging.  This hydrangea was the first picture I posted on Nature sketchers after I was invited to join by Cathy Johnson who runs the Artist's Journal Workshop group on Facebook.  She had seen my drawings and thought I might be interested in contributing and to qualify for the group I had to have my own blog, hence the birth of Colours in the Breizh.

In January of 2012 I started to keep a nature journal to record the happenings in and around my home here in Brittany.  I really enjoyed the discipline of going out every day to find something to draw in my sketchbook and then later I re-visited all the pages again to post on the blog.  I've shown the book to several people here and I hope I've inspired some to start the drawing and observing habit too.

By the end of 2012 I was looking for a new project and discovered the 75 day challenge organised by Brenda Swenson, a watercolour artist and sketcher in America. The aim was to draw for 75 days using only pens, so I sorted out my rather large collection and found I had all sorts from fine liners, through brush pens and markers to biros.  At the end of the challenge I received my 'Artistic License' from Brenda and a nice handwritten card congratulating me on completing.

I found a black sketchbook at a car boot sale locally for 1euro and after covering it with a pretty fabric it became another occasional nature journal.  It's quite a challenge to find the right colours that stand out on black paper but I found it a useful learning experience.  I was using my newly discovered Museum coloured pencils which have a rich pigment that works well on a dark background.

My main love of sketching is to draw when we are on holiday and as we go to so many different places in our camping car I usually fill a sketchbook each time we go away.  I take photographs too but they don't get looked at nearly as much as the sketches which are also a useful way to identify places and dates when we're discussing them later.  In fact this sketch of Chinon chateau is different from the one I drew several years earlier before the extensive renovations were undertaken.

Another challenge I took part in was the 2015 January challenge where a different subject is posted for each day of the month.  It was fascinating to see all the other participants' interpretations of the same subject as we all posted them to a special page on Facebook.

When we go to England to see the family I love to draw my surroundings as well as trying to sketch live portraits. Joanna had moved to a new house in 2014 so I drew the lounge while we all relaxed on a Sunday afternoon.

Just occasionally I copy photos to complement the 'plein air' sketches, especially when there isn't time to draw everything I see!  These sheep at a farmer's festival were such fun to capture as well as the horses and the snail I drew afterwards.  I have a small tin of coloured pencil stubs that I take on our travels so my palette is limited which means I have to be a bit creative with my interpretation, as you can see I've used a lilac for the shadows which I think makes the picture more interesting.

I love to make my own clothes and I'm always on the lookout for interesting fabrics so when I found a stall in the market at Tenerife selling pretty sarongs I couldn't resist. In fact over 4 years I bought several different ones and each year when we returned I went to show the girls on the stall what I had made, needless to say they were delighted.  This is the latest one which I eventually made with 2 sarongs so there was a nice long piece left over to make a scarf.

In January 2012 I took a bookbinding class so I could learn how to make my own sketchbooks and it has changed my life.  Now I'm always looking out for interesting fabric to cover them with and unusual paper to draw on.  When a friend gave me a stash of old maps I made some of them into a couple of sketchbooks with hand-made drawing paper samples stuck to the plain back of the map and a square of gesso on the map side to draw on. The gesso was a bit hard on my drawing pens but I had a lot of fun trying out the different papers with different media.  Another trial and error experience!

I have a friend, Rose Jones, who is a brilliant photographer who has given me permission to use her photos as inspiration,  This one is done in pen only using triplus pens in different colours.  It's quite exciting to try out new products recommended by friends and most of them work very well for me, although there are a few lying untouched that I keep trying but then abandon again!

My family are my greatest love and drawing their portraits gives me a lot of pleasure.  I have a revolving gallery in our hallway where I frame the latest drawings as they are completed.  This one of Sarah with her cat Odin in graphite is a favourite.  I have a folder with all the portraits in and it's fascinating to see my progress over the last 15 or more years.

In the last year or so I've started to move in a different direction with my art thanks to my friend Luba who was the director of the Belarus fashion company. She gave me bagfulls of  samples which have inspired me to start using them as stitched collages using my sewing machine.  Each time she comes back from Minsk she brings another batch of amazing silks and linens, wools and jerseys in fabulous colours and textures that I can't resist playing with and turning into interpretations of my photos taken on our travels, like this one of Roussillon.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed our trip down memory lane, maybe if you have any friends interested in seeing what I do you could pass on my name, I would love to increase my readership.