19 August 2009

Interview with a vampire

Deb lives near Málaga, how I envy her that. I used to live in the centre of the city when I just turned 20. That's a quarter of a century ago.

I'd move back in a heartbeat if I could.

Deb has had a great idea to interview fellow bloggers she knows, and her first invite came to me. How kind.

So here it is, pop over to her excellent blog to read all about my dirty secrets

Jordan, eat your heart out, and do something about that chest, it's not natural:

8 August 2009

how to oil paint

anyone can do it. honest!
go to your local town hall, and ask about studios and lessons.
and you're away ...................

from there you'll find your own style.
I paint what I feel, not what I see. Even if it's in front of my very eyes, I'll make marks inside and out of the subject.

Most of my approach is spent thinking. & my physical painting style then on is faster that a Nigella speedy supper - speedy speedy.
covering that canvas no matter what size in about half a hour.
I put a mark at the top, the middle - change the colour - and dib around the canvas.

Stand back, and if I'm lucky, the marks make sense of my thoughts & visions.

I only use 3 colours:

alizarin red

prussian blue

indian yellow

the latter is pure turmeric. & on occasion I'll introduce a fourth, such as cadmium yellow.

My dear friend Odette has recommended an oil paint maker in the States, Gamblin, so I get these tubes Fedexed into the UK if the rate is favourable enough
otherwise, I used rich paints from Michael Harding.

using these 3 I can get a deep deep black - like caste iron railing paint, tonal greys, pretty much any colour I would wish for
so you make a start on your image, get that canvas covered first before you go into any detail.

Here I'm on vacation in Catalunya, where I paint on the beach, while my husband reads or snorkels or power swims back and forth in the sea. Occasionally I digi-vid him so he can analyse his style when we go home.
I have to make do with stabbing my brushes in the sand, as I have no room for a tray - it's awkard out there - but that's part of it.

Spanish kiddies on the beach sit behind and play, making gentle simple remarks as I chat to them, and their parents make sure I'm not being disturbed

- ¿Qué es?
- ¿qué ves?
- no se
- el ojo de la imaginacion
- ¿como?
- el mar
- ¿dónde está la playa
- detrás
- ?y las palmeras?
- detrás

For someone with no children, I enjoy this kindergarten new role of mine

any way.
Those ideas have to come to life somehow.

from a boring, boring painting here, I pick up the canvas one year later after I've seen something.

My husband in the hotel room, cannot switch off the digital TV screen that dominates our room. So he covers the image with FT newspaper pages
which flutter and drift due to the static, and through the dark obscure pages, I detect lines of dramatic pixelated boats.
I drift off to sleep with the impression in my head
and work on that canvas for half an hour, recreating the hotel TV image as I've remembered it

Just paint anything and everything you want & feel. That's all you have to do when you pick up that brush

5 August 2009

the Workshop painting: of my day at Dan Lepard's sourdough class

I've been trying to think how to paint my wonderful day at Dan Lepard's workshop.

Clean, crisp, clear memories of a day I want to remember. I've got the bread making for the rest of my life.
But I want to represent my interpretation of the feel of the day.

First thing, the aprons
Second thing, the intimate group of people
Third thing ................... I'll carry on with that later.

So I've got a piece of heavy sacking that I bought for the princely sum of €3 in a little shop in France.
So I've stretched it, fixed it, PVA'd it, & most importantly I've primed it ready

After too much pondering, I've started to just get on with that first approach to the gathering for the workshop:

I'm thinking about the impression of mainly the tidy white aprons, that offer quite a lot of comfort
and steel worktops, steel bowls, a group of different people who all look and feel like-minded

And I move on to pick out the remnants in my imagination of the moment

Can you tell which person is Dan?

And at the third session, I want to soften up the background.
Steel in a kitchen isn't cold. So I've warmed up the colour a little.

and finally, the painting is complete. I've signed it today.

Not a bread roll in sight I hear you cry, but I'm not painting the bread baking, I'm painting my lasting impression of the day, something from my imagination.
It's a gathering of same-minded people, all differing essentially & yet all the same on the day.

It reminds me of Alice through the looking-glass &, if I'd read the book, I might be able to cobble in some symbolism and parallels from it.
But I haven't, so I can't.

You are in there - tall chap standing beside, & to the right of, Dan. & if you'd rather, you can be the one in the middle peeking out with the bright red pair of lips.

& which one's Dan, then?

The chap on the right, with a cap on (as in the photographs I've seen of him) his apron tied to his waist, and his hands to his pockets looking rather cool.
He's got flat colourful trainers on.

& me? I'm left centre canvas - with the orange lips holding a cup of coffee.

Sorry about the photo, the heavens opened just as I was leaving the studio, so it's a little dull.
But you can see what it's about I think.
I'll take another better picture if I can.

& the piece is titled "the Workshop".

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

the painting is now absolutely complete.
David, I've put your glasses in, and some hands
& I've changed Dan's trainers slightly, so they no longer look like fluffy rabbit slippers.
It's now hung on the studio wall

Click on the image direct, and you can see the original size & can navigate around the work to see the brush strokes if you so wish

4 August 2009

no-knead bread in a pot

via youtube

I might be the only person in Christendom, nay beyond, who hasn't heard of this bread.

The fella in the vid claims it as his own, but it has been around for yonks, I think. Anyway, Hickybank at the BBC messageboards brought it to my attention last week, so I thought I'd give it a punt

but in the back of my mind, thinking it to be a right dud!


3 metric cups strong white flour
1/4 teasp dried Allinsons yeast
3/4 teasp salt
1 5/8 cup room temperature water

I'll have to check my conversions, as my mind wondered whilst pressing the digi-scales, but that's:
strong white flour (515g), 1/4 teasp yeast, 3/4 teasp salt. cups water (340g)

Now then.
That's not much yeast is it.

bring it all together quickly with your hands

rest, covered, overnight - 15 hours here

on a clean, oiled surface, fold your stretchy, stringy dough

shape into a boule & rest seam-side uppermost, in a heavily floured t-cloth and bowl
for one hour

turn out onto baking parchment, seam-side down

lift into a suitable baking cocotte

lid on
& bake at 220 for 25 minutes (amended baking instructions here to bake as per Dan Lepard's bread in a pot - I'm sure the original method would burn bread)

turn the temperature down to 180, and bake with the lid off for 15 minutes further
& rest on the oven bars directly whilst the oven cools for 5 - 10 minutes

Not a bad loaf, not bad at all.
It really is very good, but you don't have any control over the end shape really

I give it 9/10 as the salt is way too high at 1.5 teaspoons. I've amended the recipe

Next time I'll make it with leaven!

that next time is with leaven.
I subbed 100g of white leaven for the 1/4 teasp yeast.

The result the following morning was very slack. Maybe I used too much.

Nevertheless, with a bit of man handling - I've shaped it into a boule to rest, scooped it into the pot & baked it:

It's certainly a "better" bread for the leaven