June 29th, 2010

forgive and forget

In order to improve…

…I need to not rip up pictures when I get frustrated.

…I need to forgive myself when they don’t turn out the way I wanted.

And I need to recognise small victories.

June 24th, 2010

curried marrow and mango soup

A marrow is a courgette (Americans read: zucchini) that’s getting on a bit.

Dad’s courgette plants are producing in overdrive and we have courgettes coming out of our ears at the moment. We’ve been searching for new ways to cook courgettes (and marrows, as the courgettes are maturing to their marrow stage faster than we can eat them). This soup was really easy to make and one of the most (unexpectedly) flavoursome I’ve had in a while.

serves 5-6

For the spice mixture (to be ground with mortar & pestle):

2/3 tsp cumin seeds
2/3 tsp coriander seeds
2/3 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/3 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/5 tsp anis seeds
2 cloves

(or cheat and use 2 tbsp curry powder and chili to taste — won’t be as good, though)

For the yoghurt mixture:

1 pot of greek style yoghurt (approx 2 tbsp).
4 tbsp mango chutney (I used the “Patak’s” brand).

The main ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped coarsely
2 medium-large marrows, peeled and largely diced
500 – 750ml vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want your soup — save some of it and add later if necessary)
a few handfuls of fresh spinach (optional, adds depth of flavour)

The onions are sautéed in the oil and spices until they’ve softened*. Then the stock is added with the diced marrow (with salt to taste), and it’s left to simmer for 20 minutes**.

Then the spinach is added (if you have it) and left for another 10 minutes. Then the whole thing is blended smooth and the yoghurt mixture is stirred in.

*If the spices mop up too much of the oil and the pan becomes dry… add more oil!

**If, during the previous stage, there are spices clinging to the pan, you can loosen them with a dash of vinegar.

Adapted from this recipe (whose portion sizes are very mean; I doubled most things and it was about the same number of servings, in my opinion).

June 23rd, 2010

sheep shed

A sketch from earlier today.

Like the rest of my watercolour sketches so far, this is a scene depicting rural Santa Margalida. I ought to make the most of my environment here and practice more in the coming days, because I’m off to Belgium on the 29th.

This one’s a bit messy… clumsy… Not very pleased with it. I had the sun on my back and was sat on a rock. Lesson learned: paint in the shade. And think about getting a tripod seat!

June 20th, 2010

upcycled plein air kit bag

I made a roll-up kit bag for when painting outside.

And a bag for my digital drawing tablet, from the same material.

They’re both made of the same material (a durable shopping bag), except the digital tablet bag is padded with a thick black felt lining.

See the entire post below for more pictures.

Read the rest of this entry »

June 14th, 2010

garlic and chocolate… an introduction to flavour pairing

Garlic and chocolate. Yum?

The blog food for design on flavour pairing:

[…] basil tastes like basil because of the combination of linalool, estragol, …. So if I want to reconstruct the basil flavour without using any basil, you have to search for a combination of other food products where one contains linalool (like coriander), one contains estragol (like tarragon),… So I can reconstruct basil by combining coriander, tarragon, cloves, laurel.

The people behind the food for design blog have started a new website called foodpairing.be, which provides a database of foods with information on their flavour components and flavour partners.

Apparently peas and strawberries have flavours in common and would be good partners, as would chocolate and oysters or chocolate and sauerkraut. Even more interesting is that you can use their theory to match two otherwise unmatching foods by using a third food with common flavours to both:

Like chocolate and garlic. The trick then is to search for a third food product that has something in common with chocolate and with garlic. An example is coffee. Coffee has flavour components in common with garlic: Dimethyl disulfide and with chocolate: Methyl pyrazine.

Sounds fun. They hasten to add:

This is just a tool to inspire you. You still need as a chef the craftsmanship, the experience,…to translate this inspiration into a good recipe. It is not only mixing two components together. The balance between the two is important.

Foodpairing.be | Food for design.

June 13th, 2010

Spencer Gore, Icknield Way


The sky of this landscape by Spencer Gore reminds me of a low compression jpeg. Probably not what the artist had in mind when he painted it in 1912.

In any case I think it’s a uniquely beautiful and evocative effect. I also like the simplified shapes in his Beanfield painting (see art inconnu for this and more)

June 13th, 2010



I need to learn to prioritize the important parts of these sketches; I tried drawing this scene when the sun was going down and soon learned to appreciate brevity in sketching.

June 11th, 2010

mutatis mutandis

I like the music, appearance and function of this expression. Wiki:

Mutatis mutandis is a Latin phrase meaning “by changing those things which need to be changed” or more simply “the necessary changes having been made”. The term is used when comparing two situations with a multiplicity of common variables set at the same value, in which the value of only one variable is allowed to differ – “all other things being equal” –thereby making comparison easier (cf. ceteris paribus).

It carries the connotation that the reader should pay attention to the corresponding differences between the current statement and a previous one, although they are analogous.

An example:

“His cat” and “His dog” should be changed to “Her cat” and “Her dog”, mutatis mutandis for pony, sheep and cow. (That is, “His pony” becomes “Her pony”, and so on.)

Mutatis mutandis @ wikipedia

See also: nolens volens

June 11th, 2010

go go go

Van Gogh, Landscape with Cottages. Late 1890.

The website Van Gogh Gallery has an easy to browse collection of hundreds of privately owned and publicly displayed paintings by the artist. Some of them you rarely see, like the above watercolour sketch.

June 4th, 2010

learning to paint, using instinct

The latest sketch of my foray into watercolours. Can you tell what’s depicted?

I’m still lacking control of the finished product (I always know what I want but rarely how to achieve it) but having fun nevertheless.

I’m finding it fun to use my instinct and available resources. My brushes aren’t very good but most of the nicest effects I’ve achieved so far are from using bits of plant stem or leaf as brushes. I also used a knife to cut up the paper in places, but that’s less evident in the photo than in reality.

The green grid pattern is meant to represent the protective wire around the two sapling trees (yes, that’s what they are). I achieved it by cutting out some mesh from a garlic bag and making a stamp.

Update: I see now that I should have made the background layers leaner in places so that the thicker paint in the foreground wasn’t muddled. And perhaps I should have been more patient with drying times. Hopefully I’ll remember all this next time.

June 3rd, 2010

this morning

Photos from this morning. Pollen and blossoms on a plank of wood. Simple but visually appealing.

More photos from today and two from yesterday below (see entire post). Read the rest of this entry »

June 1st, 2010

the hallway

The Hallway from The Hallway on Vimeo.

From Miranda July’s blog.

June 1st, 2010


I’m using watercolours for the first time.

In the past I’ve only painted digitally with a Wacom tablet. Below are my first four pictures. Clearly I have a lot to learn. But I’m already having fun with different techniques, styles, papers, subjects, etc. I hope that by shaming myself on my own blog I will be encouraged to continue practising :)


First steps. From observation (actually, all of them are).


Getting more confident. Started using a penknife to apply paint in some places because the brushes I have are too flimsy and broad.


This one’s less confident, more complicated. Mixing colours is difficult!

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