Other things I’ve been doing this summer…

…besides touring Ireland, that is

When I was a kid, I drew and drew and drew.  Mostly horses, of course.  I got quite good at drawing them – my preferred medium was graphite pencils, usually a 4B and a 6B.  I experimented with oil paints and produced some passable landscapes, I played with watercolours but never really got beyond a sort of “colouring between the lines” feel with them.  Similarly with pastels and those oil-based crayons that were given to every youngster who showed artistic tendencies back in the 70s – I drew the outlines and then coloured inside my drawings.  Now, looking at what I produced back then, I can see that anything I did in colour was flat and two dimensional, although my pencil sketches were pretty good for a teenager with minimal training.  (I did Art all the way through secondary school, but the teacher used to leave me to my own devices and concentrated on my classmates who needed more guidance.  A compliment, I guess, but I wish I’d learned then what I’ve learned this summer!)

The best painting from my teen years, in pride of place on Granny’s wall! Oil on hardboard, after a John Hinde photo

I steered myself away from the Arts.  I was blessed with a versatile brain – reasonably scientific, usually logical, and good with respect to creativity and linguistics.  This meant that my rational 17 year-old self chose a field which had good earning prospects – the then brand-new field of Computer Science.  My creative side was shelved, for a long, long time.

In my late twenties, I tried to get back into drawing by attending night classes, and failed miserably.  With two young children and a business to run, there was no time or energy left for creativity.  I stopped trying for more than twenty years, and my sketch books, oil paints and pencils languished in a wardrobe in our house, until the Eldest Daughter went off to Art College and I happily passed them on, thinking that if I hadn’t touched them in twenty years, I was unlikely to ever start again.

Ten years later, here we are in Provence, and my creative side has been slowly re-emerging. I’ve been writing.  I’ve relearned the piano and I’ve been listening to lots of music.  But although I tried sketching a few of the inmates at the Farm a couple of years ago, I just didn’t get into it.  What a shame, given that we live in such a beautiful place and are surrounded by so many incredibly gifted artists!


A brief attempt at sketching in 2013

And then in May, the LSH suggested he give me six art lessons for my birthday with a lady in the village, Valérie.  I’m two lessons into my second batch of six lessons and I’ve learned so much!  The concept of building up depth with layers and layers of colour – and using fixative between layers of pastels to enable this layering (I always thought fixative was something you blasted on at the very end!).  To keep going until it’s RIGHT – I’d show Valérie something that to my mind was finished, and she’d invariably point something out!  Bring out the foreground more to create depth… add more touches in the background… build up the shadows and highlights by using touches of different colours…

But the biggest lesson of all has been TAKE MY TIME.  Because now I have time… I’m no longer running around after a family and a business, so I can sit down and spend hours at a stretch on a drawing, take a break and come back to it again and again.

I’ve been sharing the results on my personal FB page, to the amazement of many friends, who had no idea there was this side to me, and to a lot of very positive and encouraging feedback.  So much so that I sold my very first piece of Art this week, and immediately got a higher offer!  But a deal is a deal, and I’m really thrilled that my very first sale is going to a very dear friend.

So (drumroll, please…) here are some of the works I’ve done this summer, starting at the beginning and working up to the present day.

Pastels :

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Sketches, graphite or charcoal/pastel pencil :

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I think you’ll have to agree that my technique is improving as time passes!

I feel I’ve come to grips with pastels, in fact I now prefer using pastels to using a graphite pencil. There’s a big change in attitude!  Now I feel I’m ready to tackle other media… I’m not sure what Valérie has in mind for me, but I’m certain it will be interesting.

Watch this space, or follow me on Instagram, where I tend to post my works as I go along.

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