Life drawing in London – Off Brick Lane

SketchPowder N°1 - Off Brick Lane

An unformal guerilla life drawing group initiated by Ben Lowdon on HumHum.

Started with 4 people and their sketchpads, many more joined us in the fun until the early hours.

My big A3 sketchpad was borrowed many times and used for some awesome collaborative drawings.

Stay tuned as we’ll be posting the results over the next few days.



Voila les Kittens: Messirs Tokyo and Scruff asleep on the laundry basket


And here is Rebecca having a cuddle with Tokyo!

Klara watches the shooting stars

Pencil sketch of  Klara, age 9, who spent many happy summer evenings watching out for shooting stars in the garden.

Klara watches the shooting stars

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Cathedral Saint André

The Cathedral Saint André 2009

Exciting news – the latest commission is almost completed.  Erwan hopes to have it finished by today so stand by fellow Sketchpowder fans – I’ll upload the images as soon as its ready!

Here is a sneak preview taken on Saturday, of Erwan painting in his studio

New Saint Andre Cathedral

The visitor’s room

The visitor’s room

visitors room

Peace, peace, thou over-anxious, foolish heart,
Rest, ever-seeking soul, calm, mad desires,
Quiet, wild dreams–this is the time of sleep.
Hold her more close than life itself. Forget
All the excitements of the day, forget
All problems and discomforts. Let the night
Take you unto herself, her blessed self.
Peace, peace, thou over-anxious, foolish heart,
Rest, ever-seeking soul, calm, mad desires,
Quiet, wild dreams–this is the time of sleep.

Leolyn Louise Everett

A view of Sauveterre

A view of Sauveterre

Isadora (4 years old) was very confused about the “thing” on the top left

“But what is it? I can’t see anything!”

Salies à peindre 2009

Salies à peindre

Competition entry for  Salies à peindre 2009 (70cmx50cm) – For Sale

The weekend of the 12th of July was the annual Salies à peindre event – an oppourtunity for professional and amateur artists alike to depict a scene of Salies de Béarn.  Salies is a typically pretty French town in sleepy repose. There are endless cobbled streets,  cafés entertaining regulars and tourists alike,  and lamposts strung with brightly coloured bunting from which to draw inspiration.

However, coupled with this prettiness is a sense of crumbling decay – as if a song from of the grand days of the turn of the century hums hauntingly to remind us of it glory as a splendid spa town for the wealthy in need of a cure. Their ghosts linger, caressing passers-by with tendrils of long planted wysteria.

Erwan’s entry depicted the bandstand at Salies.  It lies in front of the Thermal Baths that spelt Salies’ heydey.

And for your delictation, here is Hector Pellerin singing his hit “Nid d’amour”

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Saint André Cathedral

Saint André Cathedral

Seeing that Erwan is working on a new commission of Saint André Cathedral in Bordeaux, I thought I’d share the first painting he did of the building, now hanging in a private collection in Belgium.

There is something about Cathedrals that are truly inspiring. Perhaps it harks back to Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, but it never ceases to amaze that these giant edifices were built in the 11th Century by labourers who had nothing more sophisticated than hand tools, wooden plank scaffolding and faith. Often constructing these buildings was to be the life’s work for those involved, taking 30 years or more to construct. Illusion, magic, story telling and clever engineering – ceilings appearing so high, so light and airy that they could almost be floating,  gargoyles  at once comical and terrifying, arches that serve as mystical symbols between man and creator. It was an expression of the master masons vision of beauty – of their dreams and of man’s desires in relation to a higher consciousness – that still strikes a chord, agnostic, atheist or believer.

What I love about this painting of the Cathedral Saint André  is that it is not recognisable as such as the cathedral in Bordeaux. Its is not ‘reality’. Instead it is dazzling, curvy, appearing to float off the ground and be ready to take off – like one’s own dreams and desires.

River in Osserain

Le Saison à Osserain

Le Saison à Osserain

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. The girls were still both under three, and in a moment of compassion our friends Jane and Simon offered to take them  so that we could spend a day alone together.

These occasions don’t come along that often when you are the parents of toddlers, so we gratefully accepted,  stopping only long enough to get a paper, baguette, a bottle of red and a rather stinky mature cheese and dashed off to this little known spot on the river between Sauveterre and Saint Palais.

A blissful day was had by us both –  I alternated lazily between reading the paper, floating in the river and enjoying watching  Erwan produce this painting.  Finally, the last few rays of the afternoon sun bowed us out, and we headed back upstream to jump back into real life.

Ghost Town Crooners

Girl in the courtyard

Girl in the courtyard (50cmx70cm) – For sale

Erwan and I were mucking about a bit with recording some music last Wednesday and came up with this quirky version of Chet Baker’s classic “You don’t know what love is” – a bit rough around the edges, but a fun way to spend a week night  in any case!

Listen on Myspace

The Antique Frames


Most of the frames used for Erwan’s paintings are hand framed by the artist himself, using a selection of antique frames. Somehow, the antique element just goes particularly well in contrast to the more modern painting.

These gilded and agéd beauties, like Grandes Dames from Bordeaux were dying a silent expiration in the dusty corner of Lilli’s attic. That there was such a large collection goes back to a former owner of the Maison de Maitre who had abandoned the pieces upon his departure. As Lilli was not sure as to what she could do with them all, she kindly offered to give them to us.

Turning up in her gravelled drive in our clapped our Citroen, a merry afternoon was spent drinking tea, poking around attics and watching the children play.

On the way home we were in store for one final treat – the most magnificent sunset I think I have ever seen.

What a sight it must have been, seeing us packed with precious frames, two chocolate covered toddellers in a state of exhaustion and a very happy look on our own faces as we discussed which frame would match which painting best! Its at moments like this that I feel most alive.

Erwan stops at the side of the road to tighten the load:


The sunset:


Port-Navalo, Britanny


A view of Port-Navalo (70cmx50cm) – SOLD

The first golden tendrils of summer greeted us as we made our way up for the annual trip to family in Brittany.  The girls breakfasted on the cliffs, and Erwan started each day with easel and paintbrush looking out to sea.  What could be more perfect!

Here is a view of Port Navalo which was admired by many passing cliff walkers. It has since been sold.

Erwan painting:

Erwan painting Port Navalo

Pumpkin Soup


4 cucurbitacées (40cmx40cm) SOLD

Its October again – and the markets are full of orange Potiron.

They look beautiful. But apart from being good subjects to paint, what the heck do you do with them?

Well, seeing that the family has just polished off another whole batch of pumpkin soup, I thought I might share this recipe I came up with.

You will need:
A small pumpkin, called over here a ‘Potiron’
A head of garlic
A small dash of butter (optional)
1 can of coconut milk
Chicken stock
A pinch of cinnamon

Wash down the pumpkin, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds; do not peel the pumpkin – leaving the shell on is what gives the soup the lovey texture

Place the two halves of the pumpkin on a baking tray with the heads of garlic scattered around it. Leave the garlic in their skins also as this will help them roast better.

Next drizzle Olive oil over the lot, season a little with salt and pepper and cover with silver foil. Roast in the oven on a low heat (160) for an hour and half or until the pumpkin is completely soft.

When the pumpkin is ready break it into a soup pan with a little butter. Squeeze out the garlic which will now have turned into a kind of puree and discard the garlic shells.

Next, add the coconut milk, the chicken stock and a good pinch of cinnamon.

Blend the whole lot and voila! Add more water to get the soup to the consistency you prefer.Personally I tend to leave mine quite thick as it feels more satisfying like that. A dash of curry powder would probably also be nice with this.

Happy pumpkin roasting

A tree in Laas

Oil Painting : Blue Tree

Tree in Laas (30cmx30cm) – For Sale

The grounds of the Chateau de Laas are an exquisite mix of exotic trees and 18th century romanticism.  Hand carved stone sphinx, muddy carp ponds, an orangery and a rose garden with views across the Gaves d’Oloron. A good place for those in search of a breath of inspiration.

The sketch for this painting was done on one of our many visits there. The painting is framed in an antique frame found in the attic of our friend Lili’s rambling maison de maitre, and rescued from a cobwebby state to grace a modern approach to horticultural drawing.


This painting is currently available for sale. Please drop us a note if you would like to know more details.

Arthur Ferrari


14th of February 2009 – Arthur is 30!

Another massively inspiring trip up to La Taillade, this time to celebrate Arthur’s big day.  Check out Arthur’s music on myspace – a wonderfully curious mix of 60’s cinematic, kookie, jazzy individualism pret a ecouter for 2009 .

We were treated to a night in the gypsy caravan on the grounds – greeting the dawn with views of undulating countryside, drinking coffees with Arthur, Claire, Seb, Edith, Pierre and many many more amazing people – who can not help but leave such company without the deep desire to go CREATE!!!