This week, I visited more museums, and happily spent time sketching. These were both taken in the V & A my most very favourite museum in the world.And then at the weekend, a visit to the Cotswolds. We stayed in an adorable house in the tiny village of Lower Slaughter, and spent time chatting and walking in the countryside. We stayed right by this lovely watermill, and I took an early morning walk one day...We went to the farmers market in Chipping Norton......where I managed to do a few watercolours, in spite of the drizzle.This is a little sketch of the house where we stayed. I loved sitting in the tiny garden courtyard...And then it was back to the city for my last week, and no visit to London would be complete without a cake and cup of tea at Maison Bertaux.
This week I spent some time with friends in lovely places, and managed to do a little sketching too: here's a watercolour of a quiet garden inside Regent's Park.I also did a little drawing while I was having a tasty afternoon tea with scones at the Mock Turtle cafe in Brighton,and here's an atmospheric shot of my sketchbook in the window of Kew Palace, the summer home of King George III, inside Kew Gardens, one of my very favourite places in London. I'm loving being here, seeing all the familiar places with new eyes and sketching every day...
I'm in the UK for a while, and working hard, while trying to fit in some visits and exhibitions when I can. Here's a sketch I did today watching my niece and her dance group in the little town of Horsham. It was adorable, and sort of like going back in time.Whenever there's a chance, I stroll in the garden, and soak up the green-ness of the Spring. I could sketch plants and flowers forever...I've been inspired by some amazing exhibitions, sketching and making notes as I go. This one was at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy. I love trying to work out how different prints were made, and what techniques were used... I especially loved the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. So many incredible patterns and designs!I was incredibly moved by the Howard Hodgkin exhibition Absent Friends at the National Portrait Museum. I've always loved his work, but this show made me see the paintings in a different way...So much to do while I'm here. More London sketches next week!
This weekend we went to Napa Valley, north of San Francisco, to go up in a hot air balloon. We waited in the pre-dawn for the balloons to be lit and the baskets prepared, and nervously readied for the ride. We watched the sun come up and it was magical... I managed to bring one brush, a little sketchbook and travel paints in my pockets and did several watercolour paintings. It was a surreal sketching experience unlike anything I've had before: painting while over 1000ft up in the air, feeling the sun and breeze ruffling the pages.Napa Valley in all its glory glided past slowly, with San Francisco in the far distance.Here's a little sketch I did of the vineyards below us as we floated gently past...If you ever get the chance to go up in a balloon, I recommend it! Thank you Napa Valley Balloons
I love sketching and photographing the wonderful, beautiful food and restaurants in Japan, but I have to be quick, before it all goes cold!We ate all sorts of dishes, from udon to kushiage, and all of it was fantastic... Here's a little watercolour sketch of a simple rice onigiri on a red wooden plate.
After the mountains, we travelled to the coast, in the misty rain, ready to explore another side of Kyushu. We stayed in a hotel in Nango, and watched the changing mood of the sea and the sky...We drove and drove, along winding roads, past smaller and smaller villages, watching the green around us get more tropical, and finally reached the southern-most tip of Japan. There's a little lighthouse and the sea was wild and it was wonderful. We took a ferry across the Sakurajima bay to Ibusuki, and I sketched the misty views of the mountains on both sides.We went to see the little volcano called Kaimondake, jutting out into the sea. It's somehow not as scary as Sakurajima, and both calming and beautiful.
I find rural Japan fascinating and special and worry that people are leaving for the cities, but am hopeful that there is a movement now for people to return and enjoy a slower pace of life. These are rice paddies in Miyazaki after the rains, when we could hear the frogs singing. Just thinking of the beauty there makes me happy.
For 2 weeks I've been travelling in Japan, mostly in Kyushu. We started in Kumamoto, with a wonderful view of the famous castle, although we couldn't go inside due to earthquake damage.We spent an evening at Good Time Charlie's bar, and met the man himself, the Johnny Cash of Japan, and listened to him playing classic country music.We travelled on to Kagoshima and picked up a cute little square rental car and drove through the mountains to Satsuma. We passed Japan's largest tree, over 1500 years old, and arrived at a pretty onsen ryokan where we sat and looked at our garden view and sipped tea.We next drove to Mt Kirishima, walking to see some lakes formed by volcanic craters and then on the the highlight of our stay, Korian. They are primarily a restaurant, specialising in grilled chicken, but also have one set of rooms for guests to stay in. We've never stayed anywhere so traditional and meticulous in preserving their heritage. The house is from 1882, and has been kept in use by the family since then.They even had the original round stone and metal bath, which is stoked by a fire! It literally felt like we were in a Ghibli movie.Each meal we ate there was special and superb: we watched as they hand-made soba noodles, and they made us a bento for our day trip to the countryside. We visited the local sightseeing places like this pretty little shrine in a cave......where I did a little sketch and admired the moss and ferns. We spent some time at home, sitting in the cosy kotatsu and I painted and it was heavenly. The whole family welcomed us as old friends and we never wanted to leave.
I did a little calligraphy job this week, for Van Cleef & Arpels in Hong Kong, for a press launch of their new collection. I hand-wrote place-cards for the invited journalists in a pretty, delicate style.I was also on location during the event, to write any cards for unexpected guests, and while I waited, I sketched the pretty PR ladies.
This week I visited the Jack London State Historic Park near Sonoma. It was a beautiful day spent wandering along green paths and poking around in the museum and cottage. I went to the museum first, admiring all the artifacts the Londons brought back from their world travels......and then wandered into their farm. I loved the wide sweep of the green.I saw Jack's studio where he wrote in their cottage, and their pretty garden. I bought a copy of one of his plays, and painted and sketched in it during my visit.I went to see the pig palace (!) and painted the delightful view of the vineyards.A lovely day, the only scary part being these signs everywhere. Luckily I didn't see any snakes!
I've been planning some trips for the year, and trying to decide where to go, so I've been looking through some of the old maps I did for Conde Nast Traveller for inspiration. I found this full page map of Japan in the cherry blossom...and am thinking it might be just the ticket!
We took a few days off during the holidays to have a little road trip down the coast to Capitola by the sea......and then on to Pinnacles National Park. I spent time sketching, walking and thinking about my goals for 2017.I tried to paint pinnacles in the red of the rocks, but then realised that I more interested in the shapes than the colour, and did a wider panorama in just blue and green.We also visited the Lick Observatory outside San Jose, which was fascinating.Hope this year will be full of wonderful views, and incredible possibilities!
This year I splashed out and printed my Christmas cards properly. By that I mean they were offset litho printed (rather than digital) and included a shiny copper metallic foil stamped element. Hurrah!For the design I wanted to create a pattern, but one that wasn't a straight repeat. To do this I sketched different types of trees you might find in a forest, and then all sorts of woodland animals. I then sprinkled the forest with twinkly stars, a moon and a greeting.This man (and his dog) printed them for me in Hong Kong. I would thoroughly recommend him. New Hip Lik Co. in Central. tel: 2541 1992 (old school and no website!)Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! M x
I'm in Hong Kong at the moment, working on all sorts of projects, and loving being back after far too long. I had breakfast at the retro Hoi On Cafe with a friend and did a quick sketch..I adored the glossy red booths! I visited my favourite sort of hardware store......and wandered the evening streets, admiring the old and fast disappearing Hong Kong.
This weekend I visited the BEYORG organic market pop-up store in Pacific Place mall, Hong Kong, to see the bags I designed for them.It's such a lovely idea, it was super fun to see! I love the way they animated my illustration in their instagram feed too: [embed]https://www.instagram.com/p/BLix95mlS5n/?taken-by=beyorg[/embed]
The little market stands are just how I imagined them...and I think I captured the atmosphere of the market quite well...Hope you can pop down and see the market for yourself and buy a bag for charity!