Christmas goodies

Festive eating and drinking with family and friends is what this time of year is all about for me. Sadly, the festivities are different this year, but, I did receive a wonderful box of goodies from my mum. Including her wonderful fruitcake and a note of instructions on adding more rum and marzipan (supplied).

I didn’t manage to sketch the colourful packages before breaking into the McVitie’s digestives. Now that the sketch is done I can put the marzipan on the fruitcake.

I started making shortbread weeks ago (to send to family and friends) with the most recent batch made on the winter solstice, as is my personal tradition. I always mix it by hand in my granny’s old bowl (as she did), shape it using her rolling pin, then place the “cakes” on her old tins to get “well fired” as she used to say (50-55 minutes at 325°F). Yum!

Even a scribble helps…

It’s hard not to be discouraged by the news on several fronts these days. Drawing, if only a scribble, is a great escape. Thanks to Shari Blaukopf for starting the conversation. Check out her blog post here.

During some unusually warm November days I did a couple of quick sketches: the goose in the barn across the road and a visit to our local winery. (Cream paper in a small sketchbook, ink and neocolour II water soluble crayons)

Below is yet another close-up of something from the garden: Egyptian onion, or walking onion. The flower tops produce these clusters of small bulbs which cause the stem to fall over thus allowing these bulbs to set roots and start growing a new plant. One of them had been sitting so long indoors (waiting to be drawn) that it started sprouting. Can you see the wee green tips? All the days cares faded away while I studied and drew this.

The thrill of wet-in-wet

I watched a demo video by Linda Kemp (thanks to a recent blogpost by Shari Blaukopf) in which she shows how she works wet-in-wet using negative painting technique. Inspired by Shari’s fall leaves painting I decided to give it a try.

With a variety of dry leaves on my table as a general inspiration, I started painting on the wet paper – no pencil drawing as a guide, just painting with a large brush. It was really quite thrilling! And a great brain stretcher. Defining shapes by painting the negative spaces forces you to think differently. I didn’t quite get it “right,” but I loved the process and will try it again!

You can watch Linda’s demo here.

Calendula, in stages

I grew Calendula in the garden this summer and love watching the various stages of the flowers as they go from bud to fully open flower, to fading into what looks like a pile of pick-up sticks, to a seed head that could be an alien multi-legged insect. I managed to find all the stages on a few stems before the cold and snow finally ended this plant’s season. But, I’ve been saving the seeds to grow lots more calendula next year.

Precious gifts

I am lucky to have thoughtful friends who bring me souvenirs from their travels. I finally opened this tin of Tuscan olive oil (delicious!) and poured it into this spill-proof glass dispenser from Spain. They made a nice subject to tackle with a new medium – gouache!

I only have a tube of white gouache, so I mixed some watercolour pigment with it to get the colours. (Learned this from Nathan Fowkes book). It’s painted on grey-toned paper. I was inspired to try this after watching and listening to Shari Blaukopf in recent etchr video/podcasts.

More garden produce

Apparently, Delicata Squash is trending these days. Yes, they are quite attractive, and tasty. My two plants produced about 16 of these beauties. I like the contrast with the bunch of crab apples. Maybe there is a recipe out there that combines the two?

A Bounty of Beans

It’s a sad time of year when all the bean vines have shrivelled up. But, before that happened I managed to sketch the various types I had growing.

Left: dried pods of Romano.
Right: Scarlett Runner pods and two stages of the bean seeds.

Youthful squash

I continue to be enchanted by my garden produce. These were the last wee squash – the baby ones that withstood the October frosts. They were too cute to leave un-sketched.

Pattypan with withering flower still attached.
Yellow zucchini, including a very young one with its flower attached, and almost iridescent wee hairs on it (hence the silver pen marks).

What the…?

These mottled pole beans were so vigorous they were reaching out for anything they could climb on, including this comical garden ornament. I had to draw it! I feel almost as happy as this frog when I chomp on some fresh picked pods.