'Aller au fil de l'eau' means to go with the flow. It is also, appropriately, the name of the café in the small French village where I live. On the terrace, the atmosphere is relaxed, life seems to mosey along no faster than the river that slips lazily by. In spring and early summer, conversations are often accompanied by a chorus of croaking frogs. Creating this blog is some kind of commitment to take brush or pen or pencil in hand every day and make art. As Julia Cameron says: "...creativity is not a marathon event that we must gird ourselves for, whacking off great swaths of life as we know it to make room for it. Creativity is not aberrant, not dramatic, not dangerous. If anything, it is the pent-up energy of not using our creativity that feels that way". Not making art is like trying to stop the flow of the river. I surrender to the flow and watch where it takes me.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


The final sketch from my Christmas visit back home. Delph is one of the villages of slate-roofed, millstone grit houses that make up the rural area of Saddleworth in the Pennine Hills. It was damp and not very bright for eight out of the nine days I was there. Living in the south of France, I am used to strong light and deep shadows creating depth and stark contrasts. Here in Delph on a damp, dark day typical of the area, the views are flattened and lines softened by the misty atmosphere.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas in Delph

A first for me this year: painting on Christmas Day, a great antidote to overeating and awful telly. This is the view from another window of Mum and Dad's second-floor flat. At twilight the lights in the craft shop window are reflected in the wet road. Delph has won awards for its Christmas lights... many buildings have real Christmas trees with white lights mounted on the walls.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Delph Rooftops

In Delph for Christmas. View over part of the village from Mum and Dad's second floor window. There was still snow on the hills when we arrived on Monday and the first three days were dark, misty and rainy. This morning the sun came out and there were shadows to enliven my sketch.
Nous sommes à Delph au nord-ouest d'Angleterre pour les Fêtes. J'ai fait ce croquis de la fenêtre de l'apartement de mes parents au deuxième étage. Il y avait toujours de la neige sur les hauteurs quand nous sommes arrivés lundi et les trois premiers jours il a plu. Ce matin le soleil était au rendez-vous pour faire des ombres. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Open All Hours

I wanted to sketch this old-fashioned greengrocer's shopfront with the clementines shining bright orange in the lights. The only place I could find to park my car was behind a huge plane tree so I could only glimpse part of the fruit display. In the end I decided it made for quite an interesting composition!
J'avais envie de croquer la devanture de cette vieille épicerie avec ses clémentines orange tape-à-l'oeil. Le seul endroit où j'ai pu garer ma voiture était derrière un énorme platane qui cachait la moitié de la vue. Je me suis rendue compte finalement que cela rendait la composition assez intéressante !    

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Sketched from my car, parked across the square from this busy newsagents and tobacconists. At six thirty in the evening, there is a steady stream of customers, calling in for a pack of Gauloises or a copy of the local paper on their way home from work.

The lighting was a challenge. The front of the building is lit by the street lamps in the square and the two floodlights on the shopfront cast diagonal beams. The style of the lettering caught my eye. I wondered if "alhumetur" meant "match" in Occitan (the local dialect) but I haven't been able to verify that.

Doorstep Jumble

Sitting on the terrace the other day, enjoying my coffee in the late November sun, my eyes fell on this random collection of objects clustered near the outside tap. We'd been decorating and there was a paintbrush soaking in a pot, a container of white spirit, a jug I use for watering, our wood-chopping block and some pebbles and shells in front of the plant pots. A few months ago you'd have heard me frequently muttering that I never know what to paint but now anything and everything is fodder for my sketchbook.