Sunday 4 October 2015


 There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso
Victoria Finlay, Colour, (Hodder and Stoughton, 2002) p. 224

We've had a reprieve from the brusque onset of autumn this past week with chilly mornings giving way to bright sunshine and warmth; a last chance to soak up the lazy memories of our hot summer and to gear up for what is ahead.  This year, for the first time in a long, long time, I am most happy to welcome autumn.  I do not wish to make this post about my troubles but I have known for a while that one day in autumn would bring me solace and more peace of mind and that thought has served to embellish this season which so many of you embrace.

Yellow, or more specifically ochre, is always at the forefront of my mind when summer fades into autumn and I wish to paint yellow spots everywhere in the hope that they become, perhaps not suns as such, but poignant moments of joy for the children and I.  We all know that yellow has long-standing connotations of jealousy, illness and ageing but the gold of autumn days can be mellow and rich.  I see drowsy bumblebees, thick pollen, honey and the more seasonal apples and pears which feed my imagination of the golden fruits which pepper fairy tales.  Their taste conjures up the sweet smell of beehives, honeycomb and the fragrance of flowers mixed in with a pear-drop of acid-flavoured green.

Autumn also calls to my mind Jean-Baptiste De La Quintinie (1624 - 88), the gardener who tended the Sun King's potager and orchards.  A man far removed from the frivolities enjoyed by the royal family and courtiers staged in the gardens and palace of Versailles, an alleged introvert who sought solace amongst the espaliered pear and apple trees which he dedicated his life to. "The eyes find so much to rejoice in that one's mind does not want for more distraction", wrote De La Quintinie in his thousand-page gardening handbook.  We cannot argue with his love of pears, apples and fruit in general nor can we dispute his evocative written description of their intense colours and rich assortment of textures and tastes.
 The pictures above are of my version of Carrie Bostick Hoge's simple and most lovely pattern Louise Light and details of my two most recent hares both of which bear a touch of ochre too.

Many of you will already know that dear Annie Cholewa is hosting a readalong of Girl In A Green Gown: The History And Mystery Of The Arnolfini Portrait.  I am savouring this book and would urge you gently to join in with Annie.  Finally if you are interested in reading a little more about Louis XIV's gardener you can find an article which I wrote for Hortus Magazine in winter 2008.

Warmest wishes to you all for a mellow October.  I'm hoping that I will be returning more frequently here if any of you are still around? :-)

Stephanie x

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