Saturday, November 3, 2012

Where life drawing teaches me the value of simplicity

 These three are quick, 5-10 minute drawings. A short drawing time forces you to simplify and reduce what you see into essentials.

The essence of something rather than the exact.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
And I very rarely get a 10 minute drawing anywhere near finished.
Its frustrating.

But a short drawing time does avoid over working a drawing. For example:

The model is 'well defined' (as the tutor says), but he doesn't look any where near as much like Schwarzenegger's body double as I've made out.

Maybe simple is best.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When does drawing naked people stop being awkward?

I'm on such a drawing high right now.
I think it's the endorphins released post-stress, because I do find life drawing really stressful.

I don't know if it's the presence of a tutor, the short pose times (about 15 minutes, which is short for me), that everyone else can see your work or that people are just really hard to draw... what ever the reason, I find it unbelievably stressful.

I very nearly screamed behind my easel several times.

But then the pose is over.
All you can do is step back and see what you've got.
And that's when the high kicks in.

I did these last night at the Candid Arts Trust drop is session, and it still feels pretty good the next morning.

Of course, sometimes when you step back you aren't greeted with perfection.
For instance, in real life our model's thighs meet his bum, but not in my drawing:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Previously unseen summer highlights

Clockwise from top left:
1 - Table greetings at Claire's Birthday Garden Party
2 - Lakeside fire at Wilderness
3 - Mr. Styles at Leake Street, London
4 - Peony
5 - The banquet tent at Wilderness

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City Gardening: 1st Harvest, Shetand Black

My tiny garden as produced it's first crop (well, apart from all the mint - the battle is ongoing)!

I dug up one of my containers of first early potatoes and received a small, but perfectly formed, harvest.

I'm particularly proud of the Shetland Black potatoes (the purple ones). They taste great (but I would think that, I'm so biased) but I wish they kept their colour a bit better when cooked - they turn quite gray. Boo.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wild swimming and Yotam Ottolenghi at Wilderness

Last weekend we decamped to Wilderness, an amazing festival in Oxfordshire celebrating beautiful scenery, good food and outlandish performances.

We stuffed our faces with amazing food at Yotam Ottolengi's banquet.

We wandered in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.

We swam in the lake and drank in the sunshine.

We soaked in wood-burning hot tubs and watched the sun go down.

We saw shooting stars and then attended a talk on Curiosity by Oxford Astro-Physics Department the next day.

 As you can imagine, going back to work on Tuesday was a bit of a shock to the system.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wild swimming in the River Ray at Islip

Wild swimming is idyllic, but isn't something I get much opportunity to do in London, so when an opportunity comes along it's worth braving the mud and the misc squidgy stuff at the bottom and jump right in!
Not literally though, not until you know how deep it is.
That's just dangerous.
Speaking of danger, the Outdoors Swimming Society has a page on wild swimming safely that you ought to read if you're considering it. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sugar and spice and all things cinnamon rolls

Fact: Cinnamon is my second favourite herb/spice.
In case you're interested:

1 - Cumin
2 - Cinnamon
3 - Cardamon
4 - Thyme
5 - Coriander

Fascinating right?

I'm always on the look out for good cinnamon recipes, but had never got round to making cinnamon rolls. 

Until now.

I used this recipe from Moms Who Think, without yeast as I was in a bit of a rush Saturday morning. 

They turned out really bloody good, although really bloody dense... I really struggled to eat a whole, fist sized roll... maybe smaller is the way to go next time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

How to: Chutney Coleslaw (or how to use up manky carrots)

What do you do when life sends you an over-abundance of manky carrots?
Make coleslaw, that's what.

I'm a pretty big fan of custom-coleslaw.
Make it out of whatever you have, mix in something unusual and see how it goes. 

I added mango chutney and cumin seeds to this batch (an idea sparked by a Nigella recipe I believe) making it sweet and fragrant and delicious.

 Chutney coleslaw:

 - Grate as many carrots as you want to use up (about 8 in this case for me)

 - Finely slice half a white cabbage (what was left from our last veg-box)

 - Mix in two small tablespoons of mayonnaise, two large tablespoons of mango chutney and one tablespoon of cumin seeds* (caraway and black onion seeds would also work really well)

*adjust amounts of mayonnaise, chutney and seeds dependent on taste and quantity of vegetables.

Manky carrots are manky, no doubt about it. But its totally worth trying to salvage them if you can.

While it may look gross, this sort of mank (technical term) can be removed with a potato peeler. 

There is not a thing wrong with the carrot underneath, and why would you throw away something with such potential for deliciousness?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

London Life: The Majesty

Under Waterloo station is something pretty magical. 

The Majesty is a jewel and fungus encrusted landscape secreted in the dark of the Old Vic Tunnels

The Majesty is a jewel and fungus encrusted landscape secreted in the dark of the Old Vic Tunnels

I suppose the up side to all of this rain is the amazing reflections in the puddle that has formed.

Today was the last viewing day as is, but it's going to be locked up till September to let the fungus to do it's thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How to: Easy, multi-purpose bread

I love making soda bread, and while it's great in hunks with soups, or for doorstep slices of toast, it just doesn't cut it for sandwiches.

So, my go to multi-purpose bread is this one from One Good Thing. It's light, flavoursome and doesn't require kneading or proving more than once.

I've 'Britain-ed' the recipe from One Good Thing, and roughly halved it so it makes one standard loaf and a whole load of small rolls.

700g flour (either strong bread flour or plain flour, or in fact a mixture of both works fine)
600 ml of warm water (or there abouts)
2 teaspoons of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of salt
1 and a half tablespoons of white sugar

 - Mix all the dry ingredients together and add enough water to form a dough. 

 - The dough should be a sticky mass, not dry enough to form a ball of dough. 
If it's not sticking to your hands it needs more water.

 - Pour into a greased loaf tin. For individual rolls I use silicon cupcake cases.

 - Place somewhere warm and let the dough rise to the top of the tin/cases.

 - Bake on the top shelf of a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for about 45 minutes for the loaf (30 minutes for the rolls) or until golden brown. 

 - 10 minutes before the end brush with melted butter for a shiny crust.

 - Apparently you're meant to wait till it's cooled before tucking in, but that never happens.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breakfast: How the Cornish do it

Cornish clotted cream on scones is a pretty amazing thing, right?
I'm certainly not going to say anything bad about that combination... but it isn't my favourite way to eat clotted cream.

The way my Cornish Grandmother taught me to eat clotted cream was for breakfast, on white bread, covered with golden syrup.

It tastes phenomenal.
It's very much an example of 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts', and its parts were pretty amazing to begin with.