I sat under unbroken blue looking over the wield of Kent and East Sussex. The commission is to capture something of this awesome view for people who know it intimately. It is difficult, not least because even if I admire it, I can not know how they view it. These are hard working people with machinery, animals and storage.It will give me something interesting to work on when I get home.
This image is made of random stains on a chair seat.
Observed, considered and recorded. Whether by drawing, painting or some other means. There should be a belief that it may have insite, the possibility of something seen differently, that this version may be revealing and intrigue to others. A gift.
To be enjoyed, accepted or rejected.
When my parents first looked at the property that was to become our home in 1963 ,( and still is theirs now);. there were a few very old fruit trees and a Philadelphus growing The ‘mock orange’ was flowering in an overgrown hedge at the far side of the garden area that would later become lawn. Mum and I walked through high grass and weeds hand in hand, it was full of thistles that towered over my four year old head. She introduced me to the delicate white blossoms of the flowering tree and invited me to sniff it’s aroma. It is one of my most vivid early memories.The sketches for these drawings were done in that garden nearly 60 years later, with the still flourishing Philadelphus behind me.On the right of the image is a cooking Apple tree that was newly planted when Paul and I married. 1981. It was part of a floral display made inside the tent where our reseption was held.Now on the right is the magnolia grand flora. The gift from ‘paddy’ dads step mother, that has caused mum such frustration. Planted too close to the house, it blocks the light, drops an endless stream of large dark leaves, clogs the sump that houses a pump that stops the house from flooding when it rains hard and just occasionally has a few delightful flowers. In the middle is represented the most grand and beautiful crab apple tree, which is covered in jewel like fruit that set perfectly when used to make jelly. On the left is a wee walnut. Not so wee anymore. A small bush ten years ago it has flourished in the land of plenty and goes ever upwards and outwardsAnd finally, the acasia that Paul and I gave dad for his 57th birthday. Now 93. – that mesns this lovely tree has been there at least 40 .
Time passes, things grow, or go.
This is part of four pages of sketches done in situe. They capture a truth that is elusive in further works. Nothing betters the direct response for me.
The more polished rendering looses rawness as well as some of the direct observation.
Babies and bathwater.
A morning out in the town about 3 kilometres from l’age Baston. To draw, sketch – paint.
We then went our separate ways. And having met up again visited a monastery on our return.
Painting first thing in the morning before it cooks up to 40°. We dipped in the lake to cool the dogs and then I swam the length of it to get back to the lake house. It is only a couple of feet deep, with gloupy mud underneath. Mud bath swimming. It was still refreshing though. It is so warm outside. The breeze is warm, the ground is hard.
I believe the air-conditioned studio at L’Age Baston is going to be a welcome sanctuary if this carries on.
For the last few years I have been coming out to the Limousin region of France to help people who are holidaying, with painting as a daily activity. Travelling by train sometimes, but mostly by car which is my preferred means of transport. To be able to pack all the art materials I could possibly want and to bring my dogs. (Also many pairs of shoes – I do not pack thriftily. )
This year I have extra time in France for a bit of exploration. We drove to the coast directly east of Limoges and were delighted by the contrast in landscape. In an hour we progressed through vineyards, sunflowers and maize crops to vast expances of wetland with turquoise sea just visible, shimmering – way, way in the distsnce. Muddy and seaweeded. We walked and paddled in warm pools which formed where people had dug down for clams. Straggled, structures of rusting, rotting posts, rigged for the growing of oysters rose from the flats.
It is my last week teaching at this venue in France for now. I don’t attract enough people. It maybe coming from Scotland makes it a little more expensive or difficult for my contacts, And brexit has added uncertainty to the process. Whatever. I will savour the time and give those attending exclusive care and attention. It’s been a most pleasurable place to work, the chateaux ambiance, hospitality and charming people. A grand experience and great studio space.
The temperature is rising. The lake shimmers the midday sun but remains a murky green. Not reflecting the unbroken blue of the sky
I have driven here with Sue, my friend for nearly 50 years. We walk the dogs and share so much history, but there are still plenty of interesting gaps to fill out.
Could also be called making space for the future.
I went delving into the dark space under a tarpaulin (that is in the barn to protect varies object from swallow pooh) and found an old suit case of my grandmothers. Not filled with lost delights of hers, but with sketch books that I filled in my college and early years.
They smelled of mould and had the bloom of mildew. But also contained far more drawings of friends and family from that time than I had remembered.
Tia Lambert – who was a close friend and ally in my foundation year at Canterbury College of Art. Also went on to study fine art at Farnham with me. Although we lived in the same accommodation (West Cottage, Wrecclesham ), we didn’t have the same connection. I know she is now living near Malvern and still making the most lovely paintings. By co incidence I worked with a man from that area a couple of years ago, he knew her and gave me good news update.
Friend since she joined the same class as me for the long secondary school years at Tonbridge Girls Grammar. Sue Doe, this drawing was done in 1979 when we on a barging holiday together. The drawing probably made her looks older than her years at the time, but she looks just the same to me now. We walk and talk and share so much common ground.
Sheena Broom became a dear friend when she came to lodge with us at Frailey Hill, Woking, in 1980. This was a short time before I married Paul Duley. She stayed for two years and of course moved on – after some ups and downs since then, she has lived mostly in New Zealand. That has meant our times together over the years have been rare treats.
I have been preparing for the Marcliff Charity event – Painting Demonstration, for months. It has been the main marker in my diary and so the focus of my mind. Paintings have been mounted and framed, paper stretched, mounts for display have been cut.
Planning (in my head) how I would approach the painting evening. With two pieces of work, one loosely painted making advantage of wet in wet and the other a more controlled piece of flowers painted to form a composition across the page.
The time didn’t fly by, but I was caught out by how long it took me to paint with my hand shaking. I felt quite ok, but the adrenaline nearly got the better of me.
The room at the Marcliff was pretty well full, the audience had a good number of families faces, so not unfriendly or intimidating. Except when it went completely quiet. And hot under the lights. It must be a bit like the experience of being an actor. The questions from the audience were helpful as I found I could paint faster and more confidently when I was taking the edge off it by talking.
I am grateful for the opportunity to test myself and glad it is behind me.
– so today I can relax.
But I have managed to finish off the longer piece to my satisfaction.
The left hand cornflower inserted to cover up a pink dribble. And a bit more detail on some of the flowers and stems. Euphorbia added at the request of the purchaser.