Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I've neglected this blog lately but I have been working and travelling. My Tree Project continues. I have returned from spending an early spring in Sydney, Australia. What I loved was the ebullient, optimistic blossoming of the season. In short weeks flowers burst creating shimmering varnish over the landscapes.

Actinotus Helianthi- Flannel Flower 
blossoming through trees
After bush fires the flowers can be particularly profuse. The black skeletal trees are flooded by Flannel Flowers. 

burnt trees

Thursday, July 31, 2014

the song of grey tree frogs

Grey tree frogs singing: my enduring memory of fading days and summer evenings while in residence. I was artist-in-residence at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut for the turning of spring, when everything burst in optimistic green. The trees exuded leaves that grew darker daily.

The Pond Path, Weir Farm
I live in an urban environment, being in rural Connecticut was both challenging and a reminder of what is really important: the sun, the rain, trees and wild plants creating chaos and disorder. There is something incredibly special about waking early and walking out where the deer have just left their marks, becoming aware that the landscape around me is shared, the rotund groundhog owns it as much as I do.
the pond at Weir Farm 
Studio Weir Farm National Historic Site
It felt like a bucolic rural idyll of deepest greenness. Of course there were the mosquitos and deer ticks, my own difficulties adjusting to life without the city, the huge MacMansions around me posing as cottages- the park is a little island surrounded by seriously expensive real estate. Being a temporary part of a national park is a privileged position. The park was my own out-of-hours and I had the feeling of being in a museum with no guards. I had three weeks of constant drawing while leaving the preoccupations of home: my art focus sharpened and I felt new again.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mysore Fig

I'd like to say that I am still working outdoors but I confess I retreated inside one of the greenhouses. I have been drawing a Mysore Fig that has grown rampant and is extending to the roof. Definitely inside the tropical part of the three climate greenhouse is the place to be. However this winter continues to be mild temperature-wise. I have managed a brief watercolour session out in the botanical gardens. The huge storms coming over do mean that watercolour proves to be a challenging medium.     
Mysore Fig
banana plant from the same greenhouse
banana plant again

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


A New Year and while I can I am enjoying the strangely warm weather. I was working in the Hortus Botanicus today. The investigative project on the life and death of trees continues.

Dusk at the Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam
I could claim my head was full of lofty, creative thoughts but the reality was I spent quite some time dreaming of a nice hot cup of tea. 8 degrees C is not particularly cold but not exactly the sort of temperature for working outdoors and after being immobile for an hour my fantasy did not extend beyond hot beverages. There is something profoundly grounding to work outdoors, to feel the temperature, the wind, to try to grab seconds of sunshine and to focus on essential things like drawing and tea.

"hints of … perfection…."

Sometimes returning to familiar environments can be both reassuring and energizing. I have Swiss family and since I was 3 months old I have been visiting Switzerland. To start my New Year I spent a few days in the French speaking part.
view from the Chateau of Prangins
The weather was astoundingly mild. The sky blue and the view of the Lake of Geneva was beautiful, I know it has hints of chocolate box perfection but this is a special view of the Alps and from this distance they are like lace edging to the sky. They are hiding their more grey, foreboding nature.   

Trees at the entrance to the Chateau
My obsession with trees continues despite having a day off and visiting the Chateau de Prangins- one of three National Museums of Switzerland. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

worked stone

I've returned from my first trip to Orkney. This had been on my wish list of places to visit for many years. I thought December in Orkney would be all horizontal rain and storms but I arrived between storms and it was warm and quiet. Warmer than further south which was pleasantly bemusing.

There is so much I want to draw I am not sure where to begin…

house at Skara Brae looking at the stone dresser 
I started with 3100 BC and spent two hours visiting Skara Brae, Europe's best preserved Neolithic village. Wow. So much remains of these stone structures, it's an environment where people lived and worked and conveys a sense of reality. The entire complex of houses are interconnected, like nests in the dunes, snuggled away from the wind. These were the people who also created the extraordinary shard-like Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.

One of the stones of Stenness. 
Orkney has so many layers of history. Driving through the landscape there were remains from the First and Second World Wars. Here are the ruined sheds by the site of the gun emplacements at Yesnaby.

Finally the hills of Hoy from a beach near Stromness. The winter afternoon light was dissolving into blue night. The longest night is almost upon us and daylight is precious.

Monday, October 21, 2013

chestnut rain

I had a short but extremely intense residency in the Netherlands. The first time I have ever been in residency in the country I live in. I was a guest of the Artist Residence Dalen supported by the family Sanders-ten Holte. I want to thank them for their kind support and their belief in my Tree project. 

Oak tree drawing in progress 
These were probably the wettest 5 days I have experienced in the past few months. The drawing above would not dry outdoors. I had to work on plastic sheeting (generously donated by the interior design shop next door) and I carried this indoors to dry, the paper was so damp it took two days to fully dry out. This hadn't stopped me working.
After three days there was a break in the clouds and in those moments I worked under the shelter of these trees (amongst many).

horse chestnut trees Dalen
The winds meant that all around the trees were dropping seeds and the noise of falling chestnuts and acorns was audible.

snack bar Dalen
Dalen is a friendly, small town. Even for the brief period I was there I enjoyed it and felt welcomed. I would also add on the evidence of the snack bars, outrageously optimistic, it takes a brave soul to eat ice-cream in cool, rainy weather.
another snack bar in Dalen