Sunday, July 25, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York on a very hot and humid summer day. I believe that there is to be a full moon tonight. It is my hope that before that moon rises, we might also have a quick, cooling thunderstorm.
The clouds are gathering and the wind is up. This is the July afternoon weather pattern. What usually happens is that the rain is pushed eastward to Connecticut. We have actually had very little rain. Those areas east of us have had all sorts of dramatic storms, near-tornadoes, fallen trees, power outages, etc. We just stay hot and sticky.
And so, let me stop fixating on this weather and show you a very out of focus photo of a beautiful flower arrangement I was given to commemorate my eighth anniversary with my current employers. The flowers really were spectacular, and before the hot weather (oops, another weather reference pop up) did them in, I found time to sit down with my sketch book to try a few drawings. I wanted to be able to better remember the snapdragons, asters, roses, gerberas, tiny mums, and lovely foliage. For the first time in ages, I spent many hours on an errand-free day off, just trying to regain hand and eye coordination.
Some of the drawings that pleased me most turned out to be those of some of the asters that had actually gotten dried out and spindly. I really loved the linear inspiration of those tiny little twisty, turny dried flowers. I have not taken any photos of those drawings. They were just warm up exercises (another possible weather reference there.)
The picture below is an oil painting I did quite a few years ago, during another summertime. The cups are some of my old china. The setting is imaginary.
This morning I had an early morning walk over to the farmers greenmarket, and found some super red and ripe tomatoes, a tiny kirby cucumber (to add to tomorrow's turkey sandwich,) some young, crisp green beans and a perfect peach. I was tempted by some of the other prime produce for sale, but did not linger outdoors for too long.
I wanted to get home to do a little watercolor picture that I will be giving to someone as a sort of farewell, good luck gift, tomorrow. I do lots of these fanciful watercolor teacups and thought you all might enjoy seeing the difference in my approach using different media.

I painted this pretty quickly without much planning, other than deciding on the shape of the cup.
Some of the colors are inspired by some of my old Minton china. Lots of the colors are just arbitrary to fill up the space with a summertime feeling.
Well. I am delighted to report that while I have been typing, the light in this room changed dramatically, and now we are getting that longed-for summer shower. The air is transformed!
It's my hope to keep the sketchbook handy this week, and to be able to share some more of my playing about with pencils and paint. It's also my hope that you all are having lots of fun this summer. Cheers!


  1. Wow, I love your paintings Frances. the colours are amazing, what a fabulous gift. You too are a gifted artist and I'm so pleased you have had an enjoyable and productive Sunday. The market food sounds scrumptious too.

  2. I remember those eastern summer storms that could clear the air in a few minutes - and then the wonderful feeling of being able to breath again when they'd passed.
    Both the oil and the little water colour are lovely, Frances - lucky recipient!

  3. How lovely to find a post from you before switching off my computer. You sound contented, Frances - is it finding some time to paint that you're enjoying? Anyway it's lovely to see what you've been doing and,as Pondside says, someone will be very fortunate to receive that gift of your work. I'm glad you received a gift too - the flowers look lovely in your room.

    I enoyed reading about your trip to the market, but you are welcome to the dreaded tomatoes! Cx

  4. And apart from concerned with the weather, how are you, dear Frances?

    Is there no end to your accomplishments?
    I knew you are a painter but I don't think I've ever been aware of how prettily you paint. A lovely way to spend an errand free day, marketing for fresh produce, painting, writing and waiting for a dramatic thunderstorm to clear the air.

    I must have said so before but your life sounds far more idyllic than life in the big city has any right to be, you appear to have excitement and peace, both within easy reach.

    I wish you the kind of week which answers all your needs.

  5. It is always a treat to find a new post by you, especially one of your arty ones and this is no exception. I really admire your decorative cup and saucer pieces and think they would make a lovely collection in artists book form.

    It would be nice to think that you have scanned and saved all of these gifted gems and have good digital files for them? If you have they would make a beautiful series of cards or a concertina book of images. I suspect that you have given them away in a spirit of selfless generosity in which case might I suggest that you add a printer and scanner to your Christmas wish list!

  6. I am in awe of your painting talents Frances and I love both styles. Look forward to seeing more!

  7. I love your paintings. Both styles.

  8. You are writting about life in a very interesting manner, I think I will be getting back here, regards!

  9. Please send over your thundershowers! We could so much do with them here. Yes, I agree with Chris, you sound relaxed and contented and your cups look light real cups: they appear three dimensional and you can almost taste the tea in them. The recipient is lucky to be getting such a fine gift. Ah well, if you are ever in need of a job I do suppose you could apply to work in the Bridgewater factory decorating some of their painted plates!

    (And if Chris doesn't want her share of tomatoes I'll take them!)

  10. Hello Frances,

    Your cup watercolour reminds me of one of those interior-looking-out window paintings by Bonnard. The colours are wonderful. I don't know whether you know any of the flower paintings by David Bomberg. He took to painting them after a period of depression when he couldn't face plein air landscape painting.

    I don't mind the tomatoes or the peach!

    It has finally warmed up a little this side of the water, but no sun. At least the grass has had a watering. Chris and I sat by the sea this evening, but alas, no dolphins.

    Best wishes,

  11. Your teacup paintings are beautiful, Frances. How lucky the recipient is!

  12. Your painting are lovely Frances! This has been such a terribly hot and humid summer in NYC, hasn't it? I'm glad it has cooled off a little the past few days.

  13. You are a very clever lady Frances. I love the delicate style and colours of your art work.

    I was going to add something about finding your blog before bed time then I see Chris has put something similar.

    So I shall say good night and go to bed with those images. We shall meet one day.

  14. Lovely to have your news and views from NY - you seem so calm and serene in the midst of this bustling city.

    Beautiful tea cups - the painter in me likes the oil and the illustrator likes the watercolour. Does that make sense?

  15. Frances, how lovely that you have had the time and freedom to enjoy an afternoon painting, and what lovely results. I really enjoy doing watercolours, it is so absorbing, but you really do need the space and time, because before you know it a whole afternoon has passed. Very relaxing.Enjoy the warm weather, it is warm here, but we have had more than our fair share of rain for July.
    Posie x

  16. It's hot and humid over here too and wasn't the full moon grand the other night ? the flowers are wonderful and such an inspiration for your talents. The name farmers green market amused me !!

  17. Hello Frances,
    It was lovely to see the beautiful bunch of summer flowers, a lot of my favourites, very cottage garden.
    Then to see the same flowers had inspired you to sketch and paint with such lovely results.
    Well the weather here feels nothing like summer, we have a fire as it feels very damp and cool, too much rain.
    The summer fruits and lovely fresh Market produce do make it feel like summer. Did you fill the fridge with icecream? Something to enjoy in the hot sticky weather.
    Looking forward to more of your artwork.

  18. Hello Frances - Thank you for your comment on mine. I've been neglecting blogging these days - too busy, I'm afraid. Loved your painting and even the out-of-focus picture. Cities in a humid summer can be a struggle - I hope you're getting some cooling relief!

  19. These paintings are so lovely Frances. I love old china too. You have made me feel like getting out there and buying some more but I have nowhere to put it!

  20. I do admire your realistic oil painting, but I simply covet the cups and saucers in your water colours.

  21. Beautiful paintings, Frances, you are such a creative and talented soul! And what beautiful flowers, how thoughtful of your employers to mark an anniversary like that.

  22. I had sort of given up waiting for a new post --thus my very late response!
    The tea cup painting is a delight. Minton! A pity that you cannot devote your life to painting.
    Yes, we have not had nearly enough rain.
    So much waiting and waiting around for promised rain that never appears.
    Well, I'm glad they gave you some flowers at work --and pretty nice ones.
    Celeste and I, of course, managed to stop by on the day you were off (typical).
    This summer has been so disgustingly HOT!
    Hope to see you soon.
    Buster sends his love.

  23. I'm sure you deserve more than flowers, but am glad you were remembered in such a beautiful way and that it inspired some painting creativity. How I wish I were the recipient of one of your paintings. We just finished painting our bedroom a totally different color and am presently at a loss as to what I want on the walls. Yes, a teacup would be appropriate as the beauty of it would make me smile first thing in the morning and remind me that a nice, hot cup of coffee (I'm not much of a tea drinker)awaits me. I think a small display of your paintings in the corner of the dress shop would be perfect, and for sure they would fly out the door, purchased with every piece of clothing!

  24. Wonderful photos, as always. I particularly like the picture of your lovely overblown bouquet. I must stop by the roadside tomorrow and cut some bluebells, queen anne's lace and wild roses - maybe add texture with a thistle or two!
    Thank you for sharing your city experiences with this country mouse.

  25. i do love these teacups you paint.

  26. Love, love your old painting of the beautiful china cups! Your pretty watercolour is also very nice.
    I am always glad to hear when people go to farmers markets. It is good to support the farmers and the Slow Food Movement.
    Wish you a lovely weekend.
    All the best,
    Ingrid x

  27. Frances, If you don't mind I have a question. Given the option,in the best of all possible worlds, who would you choose to manufacture your darling cup and saucer designs? My first choice would be Shelley followed closely by Spode.

  28. I can hear the raindrops drumming on the pavement outside! ;-)

    Your watercolors are lovely,
    such delicate and delightful cups.