Autumn song

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How strange, two weeks ago, to find ourselves transported from Greek summer to English autumn in the space of a few hours. Strange, but magical: the England we returned to was the one I love, one of yellow, russet and crimson, of crisp blue morning skies and the smoky damp of dark, chilly evenings. The colours of the season have found their way into everything I’ve put to paper since then.

Melody on one of our many leaf-collecting expeditions …

… one of which inspired an entry in my sketch journal …

… another, a gloriously messy – but at least somewhat structured – two-hour painting session with Miss M herself …

… yet another, a playdate with materials, textures and compositions for this month’s CMP trading-card exchange on the theme of “A Song”. I’ve had great fun experimenting with combinations of gouache, acrylic, poster paints, gold leaf, pen, collage and spray varnish – all in the pocket-size ATC format.

The finished card:


ATC Original (2.5″ x 3.5″) “Chanson d’automne”
Mixed media on cardstock

Even this sketchbook doodle ended up sporting shades of sepia, burnt sienna and blue …

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Back to paradise

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… and now, back from it once more. Big sigh.

It was a very great pleasure to revisit the beautiful island of Zákynthos (and that’s ZAK-ynthos, not zuh-KYN-thos … why do all holiday reps feel the need to pronounce it this way?) for the first time in ten years, and to find our beloved Alykés remarkably unchanged.

This zentanglish journal page was done during the afternoon of our first day at the beach, in between swims and sandcastles and plates of calamari.


Pen in square hand*book journal, 3.5 x 3.5″
This sketch was done from my sun lounger, and shows the view from Alykés beach to the next resort of Alikanás. I last sketched this view 11 years ago, and the scene felt incredibly familiar even after all this time.


Pen & watercolour in Canson w/c journal
One afternoon I had a couple of blissful hours to myself, which I mostly spent sitting at the decked terrace of a tranquil riverside bar, sipping a fruit cocktail amid the olive trees and doing this next drawing. The owner was a friendly Greek gentleman who asked about my sketching. I left him one of my little Moo cards.


Pen & watercolour in Canson w/c journal
At the bottom of the page: the tiny brown scorpion that took up residence on the ceiling outside our room, and the (in reality much tinier, but very pretty) beetle I spotted on my sun lounger one afternoon.

The beach at Alykés again, on a breezy day.


Pen on 2 pages of Canson w/c journal prewashed with watercolour
As an artist I am architecturally phobic, and was clueless as to how and where to even begin in depicting this view of the neighbouring balconies from our own – but I really wanted to capture something of the Koukounaria (“pine cones” in Greek) and to make the most of my bits of early evening chill-out time. So I just sort of got on with it, and am pleasantly surprised by the results.


Pen & watercolour across 2 pages of Canson w/c journal
Though the mostly gorgeous weather afforded us 11 days at the beach, given the season I realised I had to have a project for the occasional sheltering-from-rainstorm scenario. My starting point for this was the silhouette of Kefallónia seen through a misty morning sky.


Pen across 2 pages of Canson w/c journal
Lastly, those sun loungers again …


Pen & borrowed Cotman watercolours in Canson w/c journal
End of season means relatively few holidaymakers cluttering up the beaches and tavernas, but I’ve perhaps exaggerated that tranquility just a touch here. 🙂 That the Zákynthos of my sketches is apparently a desert island belies the fact that we had a lively, sometimes hectic and ultimately exhausting (but fabulous) family holiday. But it does perhaps reflect something of what art does for my soul.

I have a handful of tiny sketches still to post, along with random crafty nuggets. In the meantime, my holiday photos can be seen here.

Kalo taxidi

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… or as we say in English, er, “bon voyage”.

For the next two weeks I will be internetless in the Ionian Isles, in a place I love but haven’t revisited for a decade. I hope to have at least a few small sketches to share with you on my return.

In the meantime, I have finally decided how to make use of my square-format hand*book journal, which has sat in a lonely drawer for a year and a half. On reading yesterday that the meditative doodles known as “zentangles” tend to be 3.5″ x 3.5″, I dug out that little blue book and produced my first zentanglish drawing as I sat thinking about the fortnight to come.

“Kalo taxidi”
Pilot pen in square hand*book journal
It very much resembles the kind of pen doodling I used to do loads of, years ago, but it’s more structured, more contained – and it was wonderfully absorbing. I have another pleasurable journey ahead of me, it seems.