Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Supermoons and Sketching

I normally love this time of the year - Autumn - where the long summer days shorten and you can feel a slight chill in the air with the onset of darker evenings, leaves falling, bonfires and seasonal soups with stoves and fires lit.

Sadly, it seems it has gone straight from 37 degrees to 4 degrees 

No warning! 

Just straight from shorts and t-shirts to woolly jumpers and boots. Which acutally suits my wardrobe nicely.

But with the winter days coming towards us at a rapid rate we are given natures best gifts of stunning visions.   

Online Sketching Classes

As many of you know I have signed up with and joined sketching classes with Marc Taro Holmes, Stephanie Bower, Shari Blaukopf and more recently James Richards.  I love these online classes as I feel that I am having one to one tuiton with each of the tutors. They are all very concise in their delivery and generous in the advice that they give out especially if you have a specific question.  Well worth paying for and not expensive.  Look out for regular special offers on all their courses covering a huge range of creative subjects.

Here are a few examples of my recent sketching work after learning from the above tutors.

Bressuire Mairie

Exercise from Stephanie Bower Perspective class

Perspective Exercise

Bressuire Theatre
Early morning sun - Bandouille

The Gite - Bandouille

The barn - Bandouille

Early morning sun - Bandouille

Le Verger de sculpture - Bressuire

Bandouille Lake

Arty Pants

From the kitchen                             Making walnut ink

As our walnut tree released some of its load last week I thought that I would take advantage and try and make walnut ink.

Something that I have thought to do for a long time.

First I gathered some walnuts.  But its not the fruit that interests me at this point.  Its the husks.  I collected all I could find.  The green, brown, fresh and dried up versions.

I then topped up the saucepan with enough water to cover.  The logic to me was, the more water the lighter the colour.

I put a lid on the pan and simmered for a couple of hours, pressing and stirring the husks a few times in between. Always checking there was enough liquid in the pan.  If not I topped it up with hot water.

Left to cool.

Walnut Ink
I strained the "black mush" through a fine strainer pressing it every so often. And left it to drip till it dripped no more.

Put the pulp aside.

I did get quite a good pass, but wanted the colour to be darker. I collected some more husks added that to the walnut pulp and set to simmer again using the ink that I had already produced.

This was the result. The amount is less than I got from the first run but its more concentrated in colour which is what I wanted..

Add a splash of alcohol to preserve it
Walnut Ink example

Here is an example of the colour just daubed on watercolour paper. Its fun to try something like this and to use natural elements from your surroundings.  I love the colour sepia and this is perfect.

Bixxy's bestest Tomato Soup 

Getting ready for the Draw in Stitch workshop tomorrow so prepping our lunch today! 

Homemade tomato soup. Yum!

Just roasting off vine tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, onions, head of garlic till soft and a tiny bit charred!

When done, add 1.5 litres of vegetable stock to a large saucepan, add the vegtables, teaspoon of fennel seeds, cover and simmer gently for 45 mins.

Using a hand blender, blend till smooth adding more liquid if you want too and a handful of basil. Season.

I like to have this sit overnight to develop the flavours and warm up and serve the following day.

If you like it creamier you can use some creme fraiche and mix it in or serve separately with toasted seeds and chorizo, and feta cheese...with of course some french bread!

Thats it for now as the sun is out.

Till next time



  1. Wow! You've been busy! Love the sketches.

  2. What a life, sounds idyllic especially in that glorious place. I might have to come back xx

  3. Thank you. You can't not be creative when living here so it's perfect. More to come! B

  4. Hi Helen, would love to have you back.....just drop us a line. Bx

  5. That's a great use for your walnuts! Your talents are all encompassing. Mary Crowley x

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