Saturday, 12 December 2015


I received a Christmas card which featured a kingfisher, instead of the usual Christmas bird, robin. I thought that's unusual but since I love kingfisher (well, I love robin, too, after all, robin is now officially the British national bird), I made a quick sketch on the back of a direct mail envelope. Now I am kind of regretting not painting it in a proper sketchbook - but then I would have been too nervous not to make mistakes...

Monday, 21 September 2015

Bouquet of Flowers

The first floor of the house I live has been sold recently, and the new owner of the flat seems to have moved in. I haven't met her yet but thought I'd leave a welcome card. I rummaged in a small drawer where I keep cards both used and new, but I couldn't find a suitable card to write on. So I improvised a watercolour painting. It was painted in less than 10 minutes. It's strange how this casual improvised painting was a lot easier to do for me, than paintings which is more contemplated...what's in that "contemplation"? They are the thought of "oh, I don't want to mess it up" "I want it to be a good painting" "If I put this colour here, it may all go wrong..." "It doesn't quite look like the photo I am working from." Etc etc. they don't really seem like helpful thoughts.

The thing is, I wasn't even looking at a bunch of flowers or photographs to paint from. This is really the concept of flowers...there isn't a species of plant that's identifiable by this painting. I put down a few brush strokes in a "flowery" colours and "leafy" colours and they still looked like flowers (I hope). I think I have learnt something useful from this little exercise. I can try to experiment with more casual and fewer brush strokes than fiddling about with many, and not so much sticking to how it resembles the original photograph.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Some Bird Sketches

Woodpecker - copied from a painting by Denis Clavreul

Shag - copied from a painting by Denis Clavreul

Grey heron sketched at Chiswick House and Gardens. Grey herons tend to stand still so it's a good subject to draw - was the thought I had, but once I started, the bird kept on twisting and turning its head and just wouldn't sit still!!


Canada geese and coots

These are the two species that are very common in the pond of this garden. There is a more exotic looking species, the Egyptian goose, but I couldn't see them near enough to draw. I should remember to bring my binoculars next time.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Monarch Butterfly

Danaus plexippus

"The monarch butterfly ... May be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species. ... The Eastern North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward late-summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousand of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return north." - Wikipedia

Just as we love the red admiral butterfly in Britain, monarch butterfly seems to be its counterpart in America. Since we don't have this species here (I am lucky if I could spot a red admiral even!), this was painted from a photograph.

I have seen monarchs' annual migration on wildlife programme on TV, but it would be really miraculous if I could see it in real life.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Decisions, decisions

I will be off to Normandy for two weeks tomorrow, and here comes the decision time again as to what to take with me re wardrobe.  Normandy summer can be anything between early spring and late autumn, so I need to prepare for three seasons.  Question is, which season do I gear toward?  Do I pack more jumpers, or do I pack more linen clothing?  I struggle with this every year, so this year I may have to take photographic record of what I was wearing each day.

I draw possible items to take with me in my travel journal, but I may not take everything on the list or I may throw in what's not on the list in the last minute.  Looking at the 14 day weather forecast, it  could be quite warm this week so I might take lighter items with me.  Having said this, a down jacket is still a must item for Notmandy.

I will get to use this new journal from this year, as the last one filled up last year.  I've made this journal a little bigger than the last year's, hoping for it to last quite a bit longer.

I have lined the inside of the covers with reproduction vintage map of London.  The world map would have been better but I couldn't find it so this would do.

The paper is 190gm, heavy enough to take water colour paint.  The paper surface is smooth so that the pen tip wouldn't catch on the surface.