Being an Exhibitionist Part 3

…and feeling Good.

I finally went ahead with my expo in the cave (cellar) of Cent Cinq, my friends’ lovely Chambre d’Hote in Apt. It was held during the first week of the autumn school holidays, so I thought there was a smidgeon of a chance that I might have a visitor or two per day.

I had worked hard to have my Christmas cards ready, but in fairness, it’s only the Americans who start thinking about Christmas once Hallowe’en has passed, so I shouldn’t have bothered – lesson no. 1.

The LSH and I set it all up on the Monday morning. It looked amazing. The owl cushions had their own little section, happily sitting on an antique childs bed which doubles as a little couch in the courtyard of Cent Cinq during the summer.

The next morning, the board was set out in the rain-soaked street and I settled down to a quiet morning of drawing, working on a sketch of a horse, just to practice a few techniques.

I had nobody at all in the morning, but in the afternoon things picked up – I had three visitors! I packed up as planned at four, but I felt there was a bit more bustle around town – perhaps it would have been worth waiting until five to close? I decided I might try that the following day.

The following day, Wednesday, was surprisingly busy. I had a steady trickle of people throughout the morning – I even sold some cards, and I think I would have sold Chouette 1, except I’d put a red sticker on him! I’ve decided that I like him way too much to part with him right now, so he’s going nowhere except my wall!

My in-laws arrived in force in the afternoon, and gave my sales a huge boost (thanks guys!) They left at about three, and the rain started to fall torrentially by about 3.30pm, so I decided to I bail out. I put all my cards and prints away in the laundry, just so they wouldn’t absorb the damp from the air in the cave, and I went home, sploshing through the torrents of water that ran down the street.

The rain fell and fell and fell. It fell in sheets, it fell in buckets, it fell in cats and dogs, it fell in ropes… it fell in every way possible that rain can fall, for hours and hours. I did wonder a little about whether the cave would stay dry, but I shrugged those worrisome notions away. It’ll be grand, it’s been there for hundreds and hundreds of years, I thought, and the heavy rain which had fallen the previous Saturday had had no impact on it at all. So I hadn’t even been the slightest bit anxious when I got the text from Jenny saying “A little bit of water had come in from somewhere, and had landed on the table” – where I’d had all my cards and prints! Good job I had moved them! But no need to worry about all my original pieces, they had moved the whole lot into the safety of the main house. (Again, thanks Jen and Chris!)

Lesson no. 2. You can’t be too careful where water and Art are concerned.

The following morning, everything was set up once again, with two dehumidifiers humming happily in the corners. I popped my head out for air after about an hour, to find a man looking at the poster outside the door.

“I’m in a hurry, I don’t really have time,” he told me in French. “But I can’t resist!”

In he came, and he ooh’ed and aah’ed his way around the whole exhibition. He completely fell in love with the Owl cushions, and left with one tucked safely under his arm, sending in another hapless passer-by on his way out.

That set the tone for the rest of the week. I had a steady trickle of visitors, so much so that I had no time to spend on my drawing practise. Drawing takes steady concentration, for me anyway, so I took to wrapping up my packs of cards in between visitors instead. Brainless work, but has to be done.

By Friday, I had sold a good few cards, the second owl cushion, had had very serious enquiries about commissions and had received lots and lots of very positive feedback.

Saturday morning is the insanely busy market day in Apt, so I had high hopes for more visits and more sales… This was the one disappointment of the week, but an important lesson nonetheless.

Market stallholders are assigned slots along the streets and alleyways of Apt, and there is a large cheese stall assigned the slot in front of Cent Cinq. It’s possible to get in and out, but it is not at all inviting, as the cheese stand literally blocks the door. I had a handful of intrepid visitors, but not a single sale.

Lesson no. 3 Next year, if Jen and Chris will have me back again in the summer, I will know that there is no point at all in opening on Saturday morning.

I will leave you with a little video of the whole exhibition.

As a final note, it was really exciting for me to see all my favourite pieces out on display together for the first time. Thanks again for everything, Jen & Chris, especially the photos! ❤ ❤

Taking Art out of the Frame

I am so ridiculously delighted with these.

It’s my Chouette 1, printed on cushion covers by the clever people at

Redbubble is a site where artists can sell their images in many different formats. It’s set up very much like a community or social media site.

I’ve been uploading some of my images to my page there, and working out which ones will look good on what.

I’ve duplicated and reversed some images, in some cases so that someone can have two horse cushions which look at each other…

…but also so that it will look correct on certain items. For example, the leftward looking Iberian will look wrong on a phone cover :

His head would end up at the back of the phone, but his mirror image will look fine, after being shrunk down a wee bit :

Who knows whether anyone would want such a thing on their phone cover… but he’s there in case a Lusitano-lover sees him and falls in love with his little face. I also thought he’d look good on a mug, but cropped in close…

There’s a wide variety of things to print on, and it helps that I can modify the background colour to suit each image.

Take a look at my page by clicking on the image below…

Once you’re there, you can see what options are available for each picture by clicking on it. Have fun!

Sales, likes, shares and suggestions for what you might like to see one of my pictures on  are all welcome.

The title of this post, Taking Art out of the Frame, is the title of a short piece I wrote in my artist’s journal on Redbubble. You can read it if you drop by. 



Horse Chestnut Washing Liquid?

You know those things that scroll by on Facebook (those of you who book your faces, anyway)? You know, orange peel will clean your windows? Drink used car oil for a digestive cleanse! That sort of thing. And you just KNOW it’s a lie.

One of my friends shared this :

I was intrigued. Especially since we really do have a lot of horse chestnut trees in the village. From the end of August to mid October, it becomes risky to sit on certain parts of the terrace of both bars. One of those prickly cases landing on your head could do a lot of damage.

I clicked through to read the post.

As everyone is talking about conkers already I thought I would share my post about conkers and washing from last year.
I have used nothing but conkers for over a year now. As a family we love it.
No smells, no chemicals, no palm oil, no plastic. And best of all free other than my energy.
I have used the four smaller tubs in the picture and have the largest tub left.
I am now collecting conkers to prepare for this year and I hope to be able have enough to help others use conkers.

Can you help me? I need as many conkers as I can get.

How to use.

Chop up small and dry the conkers till they are rock hard. I use a dehydrator for this but you can use an oven on a low heat. Once totally dry they will keep until you need them.
Put 40grms of dried conkers in a 500ml jar.
Fill jar to top with boiling water and sock for at least 10 mins – 30 minutes is better.
You will get a lovely creamy feeling thick liquid.
Seive into another jar.
Resoak the conkers with more hot water. This time for at least an hour.
Sieve the liquid from the conkers again and resoak for a 3rd time. This time for at least 2 hours or over night if you can.
Each soak the liquid gets “thinner”. You can see when your conkers are “spent” they change from a yellow colour to white.
The liquid will have a lovely tree/soapy/woodland smell. This disappears by the 3rd soak.

Use the liquid from the first wash for your dirtiest washing. For very dirty clothes I would use the whole lot, for normal washing half the liquid per wash.
The liquid from the second wash I dont divide and use the whole lot for one wash.
The 3rd lot of liquid I use for towels and things that need a light wash.

I make the liquid as I need it. If you need to keep the liquid pop it in the fridge (label the jar so it doesnt get drunk) and it will keep for around 7 days. Always stir the liquid before use to evenly distribute the “soap”.
The used conkers can then be added to your compost.
Please always say thank you to the trees for the gift of conkers and please plant some of the conkers fo our biospheres future.

The Watercress Queen, Facebook  If you’re a Facebooker, check out her page – they make Ecobricks out of used plastic bottles. A woman after my own heart…

Anyway, I thought it seemed a little too good to be true, so I googled it horse chestnut washing liquid. I found a couple of other low-impact bloggers discussing their recipes and I thought, well why not give it a try? There are literally hundreds of thousands of horse chestnuts falling into the streets of Reillanne every year, to be swept up and put into the community compost heap. Why not collect a few and experiment?

I collected a smallish amount, about 400g. One of the articles mentioned that unpeeled chestnuts will stain the washing, so I peeled them, chopped them and ground them up small in a food processor, and left them to dry in the sun for a day or two.

I tried a fairly nondescript wash first, dark colours, not particularly dirty, followed by some towels. They certainly seemed to be clean and they smelt… yes, ‘Fresh’ is the word. But would they have been just the same if I’d washed them in water only? A real test was necessary.

As it happened, I was working for all of last week. Normally I change jodhpurs halfway through the week, but this time, I used the same pair for the whole week. Five days in a row of ‘horsing’ my clothes.

This is how they looked on Friday evening.

(I wear half-chaps to stop hay and straw going inside my boots, that’s why all the dirt is concentrated on the thighs.)

Could this yellow liquid clean up my manky jodhs?









for the









Here are the photos side by side for a true comparison :

Convinced? I certainly am.

I’ve been collecting conkers like a loon for the last week.

I’ve got a few tips on the peeling process :

Bash each one hard with a mallet or meat hammer. That cracks the skin and makes it easy to get the knife tip inside to lift it off.

In some cases, if they’ve dried a little, you can just winkle out the flesh.

Use a sharp knife with a strong blade. Some of those suckers are tough.

I gave up on the food processor notion and I’ve just roughly chopped the flesh, to dry in the sun on my balcony. If you don’t have a balcony or sun (Hi Cork!!) you can put them in the hot press. Or Airing cupboard if you’re not Irish.

I’ve got about 4kg collected, with maybe a third of them past the peeling stage.

This is going to keep me entertained for some time, but more importantly, it’ll give me natural, packaging-free, environmentally friendly laundry for the next year.