Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I don't know what I've been doing with myself of late. Next week it's October! October?! I suspect I won't be committing to Blogtoberfest this year...I can barely commit to my weekly meal plan (well, it's often just a 4 day plan if I'm honest and even that's sometimes a struggle). So, here's some more stuff:
Well, at least one part of my brain must have realized that autumn is close at hand. However the brain part which deals with camera focus was obviously napping.

Pacifier, dummy, bummy...she only gets it for sleeping and long car journeys and it will be a sad day for all when the dummy fairy comes (soon, I guess).

One of my first forays into DIY - changed a bedside table into a play kitchen. I am disproportionally pleased with myself despite the (in places) dubious workmanship.
...speaking of which...This toddler handbag I made for Elaine's upcoming birthday doesn't look too bad from this angle but the other side is more puckered than and old wifie's (insert body part of your choice). I guess when I  put the zip in something went awry with the lining. Well, she's only 2, eh? Won't notice!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Foot, Sharpe, Caravan!

A foot, a fictional character and a caravan? No, there's no logical connection, they've just been on my mind and in my sketchbook this past week.

Elaine did some painting...self-portrait I guess you could call it:

I did some reading. I'm currently working my way through the Sharpe novels. It's a series detailing the adventures of a Rifle officer set (mostly) during the Penisular (Napoleonic) war. The female characters are, frankly, a bit rubbish but the battle scenes and storytelling are great. The books are so easy to get into and get lost in that I've tended to save them for long journeys but I don't think I can resist the lure...only got about 8 to go...what will I do without Sharpe? Hmm...move on to Horatio Hornblower I guess!

Another Sharpe novel was devoured during last weeks mini-mini-break (one night only) in the van. I dragged myself away from the Kindle to sketch the neighbouring caravan. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Popeye arms and new words

 It was a wet weekend but we can't complain as we have had a very hot and sunny summer so far. Unfortunately we don't have a garden - just a yard which doubles as a customer car park during the week. However, if you bung a paddling pool in the middle and add an heroic older man (the nine year old next-door neighbour, Lukas) it is enough to make a toddler very excited.
Elaine eyes Lukas' snack. Her forearm has taken on Popeye-like proportions here.
I don't think Elaine's vocabulary is as extensive as some of her peers because of the bilingual complication. But the words are starting to come thick and fast now.
 Since I drew these pages she's added quite a few new words (English and German) to her collection. 
Finally, if you ever wonder why my photos are so dodgy..I blame my assistant:


Monday, 19 August 2013

Rather random Scottish stuff...

...from my holiday in (ahem) July. Will have some more up to date(ish) stuff in the next post!

Strawberries in my parents garden (Elaine hat already eaten mst of the ripe ones).
An Orkney reed-backed chair in the house we rented with friends

The Skerray jetty. Billy Mac drove up in his Ford Transit, hauled up lobster pots from the side of the jetty for us to choose our victims. I was in the car with (sleeping Elaine) sketching from a distance. I was quite happy to avoid pointing the finger of death and even more happy not to be in the house when the lobster were quickly killed (before cooking). Tasted amazing! Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, I don't deny it!

Looking down to Ben Kilbreck in the distance. I can't tell you what a lovely view this is...and how disappointed I am at my poor effort. I just haven't mastered the light to dark background/foreground at all. It all went haywire. Maybe drinking gin at the same time wasn't the best idea.

The Aga

The poor stag's head in the snooker room. Wonder if deer also look a bit cross-eyed when alive?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

French holiday part 2

Here are some more rather random sketches from my holiday in June. I won't ramble on about it as: a. it would make for a boring read and b. I've really got to get back to drawing rather than faffing about on the laptop and I-pad. However, I can assure you that a lovely time was had by all.
Sleeping toddler...hurrah! (NB: her head is a completely normal shape in real life)
Found on the ground  - didn't eat them!

Vieil Ucel - a hilltop village near our campsite at Vals les Bains. Painted peering at the (very small) village in the distance and trying to politely ignore the campsite handyman who kept asking for my opinion on his shrubbery maintenance (sadly that's not an innuendo!).
An alley in Vieil Ucel

Sunday, 28 July 2013

French Holiday part 1

Way back in the mists of time (first two weeks in June) we had great holiday in the Ardeche with the campervan. We met up with my parents (in their own van) and their constant babysitting allowed my to sketch all day really. Too busy stuffing in another pain au chocolat. But here's a few drawings at least:

Dad absorbed in his Kindle

A back street in the village Pradons. (For once actually drawn in situ and not from a photo! It was really quiet so I didn't feel too shifty).

My parents' van with washing line hanging from the awning.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Holiday research

Only two 'sleeps' until we head to France and (please, please!) better weather. I have cracked open my new watercolour Moleskine to make some notes. We are going to the Ardeche region in the southeast. As you might discern from the map below it's not got anything (cities, landmarks) super-famous in it but that (I hope) is part of the charm. It's one of the least populated areas of France and full of gorges, rivers, forests, weird rock formations and picturesque villages.

But it is France, so obviously there's going to be some wine...
 And I even may get to do something cultural in between the boozing so I've been trying to increase my knowledge of French history a teeny bit. (I was about to say 'fill the gaps but it's less of a gap than a gaping void. The little I know about France pre-4th Republic I've learnt from the Sharpe novels. Tsk, tsk and hang head in shame).

Monday, 27 May 2013

First haircut

Christoph gave Elaine her first haircut the other week. Due to the way her thicker toddler hair is growing in she has a natural mullet (she is half German so I suppose it was inevitable) but at least now it's a well-groomed mullet. I decided to boldly use a pen so it's not the most flattering portrait (for some reason Christoph here reminds me of Fagin from Oliver Twist). However I wasn't much kinder to myself in my quick watercolour effort: nice shadow 'tache!


Sunday, 19 May 2013

The moleskine

Hurrah! The moleskine sketchbook, started in (whisper it, 2009) is finally filled. The quality of the drawings isn't great but it's full of memories and personal interest for me as I used it mainly when I was travelling. There are drawings done in Shetland, Blairgowrie, Sutherland, Beauly (Scotland), Naples (Florida), Kempten (Germany), Kleinweisertal (Austria), the Yukon (Canada). I simultaneously find that pretty cool that I saved those memories in drawn form and disappointing that I didn't do more drawing of those places. It's hard to prioritise sketching when there are so many new things discover or old friends to meet. 

After the exotic(ish) places mentioned above, the last few pages were...shall we say homely?

There's an annual spring jazz festival in Kempten. This drummer was part of a trio playing in the square near our house. It was a lovely sunny Saturday and all the cafes' and bars' outdoor tables were crammed full. I'd love to say I sketched this from a cafe table, sipping an ice cold glass of good quality Riesling but in actual fact I was wrestling with a toddler intent on escaping from her buggy. I snapped a photo.
I'd planned on only using coloured pencils  here - the expriment went wrong) so that's why Elaine looks like a pantomime dame. Howeverwhen she gets into my makeup drawer (a frequent occurrance) this is pretty much how she ends up).
Saturday night in the camper van.

Peace at last

Friday, 17 May 2013

Wonky Donkey etc.

Some randomness this time. First up, a donkey...drawn from photos taken at the petting farm.
 Next, a little ghost. Lately, Elaine has taken to grabbing items of clothing (or any kind of fabric she can get her hands on) and flinging it over her head. I can't decide if she's trying to dress herself...or if she's just a bit loopy. In this case she took one of my tops out of the (dirty) washing basket, fully covered her head with it and then proceeded to run around the flat at high speed, laughing hysterically. Somehow she managed to miss the furniture. This drawing was also done from a photo (c' there really any chance of my drawing from life these days?!). Elaine manages though (sigh...):

Well, actually this next drawing was done from life. It's....a bread pretzel. Hmm...inspiration doesn't always strike!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Parents on the couch (in a non-Freudian way!)

I haven't posted for a while and was foiled several times this week by Blogger/my internet connection refusing to upload my photos for some unknown reason. My parents were here for a couple of weeks so I had a couple of different unwitting victims models. 
Dad with I-Pad. He must have realised at least subconsciously that I was drawing him as he kept moving his legs about.

Poor Mum never comes off well in my drawings! She started off knitting but then either the effort of counting stitches or following the plotline of 'Endevour' got too much for her and she dozed off! (Although how anyone can make it through Endevour or Inspector Morse fully conscious is a wonder).

Finally, I completed this table runner ages ago but I'll share it with you now as these are the only remaining photos which I have managed to upload. I thought straight line quilting would be so...straight-forward...that I could do it easily by eye alone. How wrong I was! But it's for myself so the wonkiness doesn't bother me too much as I am easily distracted by cuteness. The lambs! The bunnies!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken

Or is it a rooster? How do you tell the sex of poultry? Do only males have those reddish flappy bits of skin (I really must work on my poor fowl-related terminology) on top of their heads?
My sudden interest in this animal springs from Sunday's visit to a childrens' petting farm ( that the correct title these days?!). Farm is taking it much too far. There were a handful of enclosures with various types of chickens, goats, sheep, a pony, two donkeys and two lamas. But that was enough excitement for an 18 month year old. Elaine was surprisingly but sensibly wary of the goats and other animals bigger than her but the chickens were inspected with some intensity.
"Hmm..should I make a grab for it...?"

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

When it's spring again...

...I'll bring again, tulips from Amsterdam...well, from the salon downstairs. It was too hot for them down there so I rescued a few to draw before they wilted completely.
We have now had two days of warmth and sunshine! A real shock to the system. Last week, however it was still cold and miserable so, with my parents in tow, I took Elaine to a large indoor play centre. In theory she's still too small for a lot of the apparatus but she didn't let her size stop her. She was on the big slides, in the ball pit, on the electronic cars and on the bouncy castle and trampolines:
Apologies for the rubbish photo. Not used to dealing with bright sunshine anymore!