A palette for greens

I think I will never be done with green. I love to paint trees too much, it's a challenge that I enjoy very much.

There's several problems with vegetation.

The first problem is analysis, how vegetation reacts to the light? It's a color analysis, really.

Then we have a cultural problem. Our occidental society thinks that red being the complementary of green is science, which is not, and then there's the whole problem of complementaries, which tires me to no end. This is a very dense subject, I'll give a few hints today and I'll get back to it on another post.

Then there's a rendering problem : what are the best paints/pigments to use? This is a bit more tricky : there's technical answers, but there's a cultural part of the answer that is very open. 

I made a sketch book while searching, look at it and let's talk!

First of all, color analysis. Art is art and if you fancy painting your trees red or blue or anything really, by all means, do it! But I was wondering what are, more or less, the colors seen in a tree. I like to really know what I'm painting before playing with it.

I already talked about it last year but don't bother going through all my posts:  I found four kinds of colors in a leaf ( you can use this analysis for 3D rendering, too) 
1. Reflection of the sky or light
2.Transluscence ( the yellow color of a semi transparent leaf with the light behind)
3.Color

4. Shadow.
The colors you see are one extracted from an arbutus, taken on a sunny day in California. Colors change from tree to tree. I was wondering if colors would change with different latitudes, and yes , they do. I took two pictures I took at a week difference, one in LA, one in Toronto, of trees of a medium green, early afternoon, and did some color analysis on my iPad with the Colorotate app

Please clic left and right  on the carrousel of pictures to enjoy the full color analysis. As I suspected, the vegetation in LA is of a yellower green ( cooked by the sun) and the shadows are darker.  Toronto vegetation is a lovely, spring  green, and the shadows are bluer and less dark. The vegetation color, from the lightest to darkest, is consistently GREEN. Maybe more yellow in the light in Toronto, and bluer in the shadow, but that's it. After analysis, my idea is that maybe gentian blue sky, with a touch of purple, might be nice to complement the green vegetation. And maybe other colors, including red, as contrasting colors.
Now I often get the comment about putting red in greens. If you put red physically in the green paint mix,  you'll get colors that go from brownish green to brown to an ugly black. I'm like, OK, but why would you do that? Please do it if you find the result interesting, but I find it rather dull. Or you could add a little red as a color. It's a contrasting color, not the complementary. But hey,contrasting colors are nice too.

Going back to the subtractive colors, as in, the art of mixing colors. On a whim a few weeks ago, I started to make note of all the pigments used in my watercolor palette. I can't do much for the composition of the vehicle (binders, plasticizers, etc) which are usually secret. But pigments are usually listed. So I noted patiently all the pigments in my paints, and then made groups and intersections. 

I discovered that some colors in my palette are mixes of  pigments that I have in other paint colors. Sometimes it was just disappointing (too many phthalo greens) and I removed the color. Sometimes it was super exciting , like for exemple Shadow Violet from Daniel Smith. It's a mix of Viridian green, Ultramarine blue, and Pyrrole Orange. It's a nice little color scheme with colors that proved to mix well together, and I was super excited to use them as a "restricted palette" exercise. Also, by adding one of the 3 pure colors (pyrrole, ultramarine, viridian) to Shadow Violet, instead of creating  a duller color like it would with any other color, the mix become more vibrant. A fine little trick that pushed me to make some more tests.

I reorganized my palette  according to pigments. Phthalo togethers, ultramarines together, etc. When there was a composite color, I tried to put the color that were part of the mix together . For example, I put Nickel Dioxine Yellow near Sap Green in the ultramarine part of my palette, as my sap green is a mix of this yellow and ultramarine blue. I was a bit afraid of the result compared to a more classic rainbow of colors, but it's much more comfortable to use and easy to memorize.

And then I tried to use this new  color palette with family of colors in mind. I know that you can mix pretty much all watercolor paints together, with some exceptions (Cobalt Teal Blue for example, doesn't mix well with non-cobalt blues), but I also noticed that color mixes can go a little bit muddy, depending of the mix. Now most of the time I think it's due to the paper if I can't get the vivid transparency I like in layered colors, but I wondered if by using color Families instead of the one I liked in the moment it would work better. It does work better! Mixing phthalo greens and blues with the appropriate yellows does give a more vivid composition. It's not a strict rule : I also noticed that the Daniel Smith's  Primatek greens that I own mix pleasantly with each other, and they all are different monopigments colors.

But it's not stopping me to use whatever color I fancy. This is art, not pure science. I didn't solve a problem, I just learned to be more familiar, organize, and fully enjoy my watercolor palette. It was really interesting .

If you wondered why I talk so much about colors : I have 26 years experience using Photoshop, 20 years in CG painting for movies and TV, 7 years designing books, 2 years art Directing. All these fields have a different color culture and I'm quite excited to analyse yet a new way for me to enjoy colors.

For a dear friend who wants to start watercolor : a starter guide

A dear friend of mine is getting interested in this wonderful technique, so I promised to put something together for her, remembering all the trial and errors I went through, and stuff I wish I had known before:
(click the product name for links)

About material   

Paper :

Buy paper you're not afraid to spoil, but buy strong, good watercolor paper. Regular paper, and sometimes the multimedia ones too, will absorb too much pigment and will make you feel miserable. I have some very good Arches watercolor paper but it's intimidating, I hardly use it. Go ahead and spoil yourself, buy some if you are more courageous than me. I bought some Fluid paper blocks that's real nice for beginners, but Strathmore 400 watercolor journals are my favorite. I didn't really progress until I bought 3 of these journals, the biggest size, and proceeded to fill them carelessly with quick sketches, color tests and such. I love journals : it's a fun way to record your days, your progress, and if you're not happy of a page, there's a fresh one just behind. It's a good option if you're not too picky about sizing (I'm not) . Other good journals option are the Stillman and Birn ones, but make sure to choose a watercolor journal (their Beta and Delta series).
Learn a little bit about paper ( cold or hot press?) and sizing if you can, it does help!   

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Paint:

Don't fuss : buy artist paint. It's more expensive than the students kind, but so worth it. The students ones are less saturated, and it takes (ironically) a lot of skills to get anything out of them. My favorite brand is Daniel Smith,  I'm a color lover and study pigments, and theirs , when reading the ingredient list, are no nonsense , if not a bit lyrical sometimes. If you don't mind checking contents and learn a bit about pigments and binders , Holbein and Sennelier are good, less expensive options. Winsor and Newton has strong, high quality, sturdy classics, but sometimes they care more about getting an exact color than use a simple mix of pigments. The more you mix colors, the more they'll be muddy so it can be a problem. But, because of color accuracy, their basic set is probably the best you can find to start on scenery sketches.
Learn your colors and what they're made of to get ideas for inspiring mixes.

Best advice I ever got: always wet your colors before use! A drop of water will do. Dry colors will damage your brushes with poor, desaturated results. 

If you're hesitating, start with a little travel palette from Sennelier , a little watercolor box that you'll fill with pans you like ,  with for exemple a set of basics from Daniel Smith. If you already have a palette ond are looking forward to extend it, I suggest you buy the Daniels Smith's 238 Dot Color Chart so you can test the whole range with a little dot of real paint on good quality paper. I got lost in the delight of testing them all for weeks :D

Brushes:

Make sure you get some that hold a lot of water and only use high quality ones. I'm plenty happy with the synthetic, but high quality Escoda Versatil. My favorite with real kolinsky sable hair is the Winsor and Newton series seven. You don't need that many brushes, start with the ones you really need in high quality. If you do detail work you'll need a round 6, bigger, buy a 14. That's a starting point.
If you want to test fun, clever options, Rosemary and co has a great array of good quality speciality brushes. 

Sketching :

jardin

Ink or not ink? Some watercolorist use waterproof ink, some sketch in pencil...I tested everything including colored pencil, and I like it all. Heck, I even love color pencils for kids that change color while you draw. You'll need to test and try and have fun...Just make sure when you draw that you don't sketch too much to leave room for colors. Do try the pencils and colored pencils though, they'll give you nuances that a pen won't.

The only advice I will give you is to draw loose and fast, with only pockets of details in a focus area. I get lost in my thoughts and always forget. Do make mini sketches to try light and composition and colors. I'm afraid my thumbnails are often better than the end result, but hey, still learning.

About lessons and books

Rule of thumb : only buy books and lessons from painters you admire.  
Otherwise you won't get inspired, and you'll spoil your hand, too. 

Another important thing : don't limit yourself. Explore cute floral lessons if you feel like it, but just like in photos, don't be afraid to go further. Try urban sketching, architectural designs, still lifes, nature sketching. Go after what you like. Be bold. Have fun. 

What worked for me : Craftsy lessons from Shari Blaukopf, Marc taro Holmes, Stephanie Bower.  All of them are part of the Urban Sketchers community, and their courses are University level but accessible to beginners. On top of that I bought lessons from James Fletcher-Watson  on Vimeo , because he has a very British style and a traditional way to mix colors that enchants me. I do have a background of classical drawing, but I don't think it should stop you : what I learned is that you learn drawing by practice and that's it. Don't compare your art to others, especially if you live with one of the most gifted sculptors of our generation. I live with a gifted painter. I don't compare or I'll never progress. On the other hand, do remember what you learned practicing other arts , like composition and color. 


I also bought ( a hundred) books that I love and here's a list of top favorites:

By Marc Taro Holmes
By Cathy Johnson
By Liz Steel

I realize this is a lot of information! I hope it's not too much, I really tried to make it short. Please ask questions if you need it, I'll be happy to help.

Don't drink paint.

It seems  fairly straight forward : don't drink paint. Pigments like cobalt blue or Naples yellow are toxic. Cadmium red is cancerous. Unless you buy something labelled for small children,  quality watercolors have to comply with ASTM D Standards, which if I understand well, are more about lightfastness than toxicity. I'm fine with that. I avoid paint except on paper and on my brush.

I learned to use a water container I can close. My cat likes to drink anything but the water in her bowl (it's too fresh probably) and there's often kids running around in my house. That cover saves the day. I cover my water when I'm not painting.  But then, like all artists, I'm prone to the great mixup of the tea cup and water container when I paint, and this is not good. I dipped my brush in my tea, ruining a perfectly good earl grey (hot), and I also noticed that droplets of paint could fall into the cup if it's too close to the water pot. It's not healthy at all! So I tried to remember what I knew in ergonomics (I did some user interface and software/game design back in the days) to trick my brain into not mixing up my cup and my pot. Simple solutions are not always the easiest to think out , and because it's not really an interesting problem to think about, it took me some time to solve the problem. First of all, it's  easy to mix pots because when you paint, you'll look at the paper not the pots. Unless you paint the pots, of course. So it has to be a spatial solution, not a visual one. Here's what I did. 

 
  1. I chose a water pot much taller than the cup, so my first reflex is to deep in the taller one. It's an easier gesture. Better, but not enough. I was still sometimes hesitating between the 2 pots, which is a loss of time. Spatially, it wasn't enough.
  2. I put a pink perler bead coaster under the water and a white lacey one under the mug. It might seem chichi, but it actually taught me to put each container always in the same place
  3. This done, I put the tea on the left side of my table and the water on the right side by my palette (I paint with the right hand). Then I taught myself to drink only with the left hand, to be more safe.
     

That's it. No more droplets in the mug, no more paint in my tea either. It's safer, please do it too! In the summer I just use a mason jar with a cover and a straw for drinking. When I paint outside I have a mug with a cover, too.  Good luck dipping the brush in it. 

I thought that I was very much no nonsense, but I actually saw  friends dipping their brushes in beverages without paying attention. When being very concentrated on your painting you might not even realize you're doing it. Stay safe!

 

 

Un an d'aquarelle

Plusieurs personnes m'ont posé des questions sur l'aquarelle et comment je m'y suis remise, en me demandant des tutos. Pour les tutoriels, c'est un peu tôt . J'en ai fait deux ou trois, mais sur la couleur que j'étudie depuis 30 ans. Pour l'aquarelle, je n'ai pas encore assez d'expérience pour en dégager une analyse pratique, donc  il va falloir attendre un peu.  Par contre je peux vous expliquer le chemin, et les cours que j'ai suivi, je suis sûre que ça peut vous aider!

La petite image en entrée de post est une tentative que j'ai faite il y a un an et qui m'a persuadée que j'avais vraiment besoin de cours. J'ai aussi compris que je n'y arriverais ni toute seule, ni avec un cours trop scolaire ou superficiel. J'ai enseigné aux Beaux Arts (à Amiens, il y a longtemps) et aux Arts Déco ( à Paris, encore plus longtemps), et j'avais envie de cours dignes d'une bonne école d'art. J'ai rouvé  les cours de deux professeurs de très haut niveau sur Craftsy:

Shari Blaukopf : vous trouverez ses cours ici les cours de Shari sur Crafsty. Shari est une peintre admirable, elle a un sens de la composition et de la synthèse de l'image impressionnant. Je suis une grande fan et la suis depuis quelques années. Pour moi c'est la même chose que d'avoir le plaisir de vivre à l'époque de Murakami Haruki : on a le plaisir d'attendre la prochaine oeuvre, c'est très joyeux cette certitude d'avoir de bonnes nouvelles! J'étais très impatiente... et très intimidée...de suivre ses cours et de la voir travailler, ce qui m'a aidée à persévérer.
Vous pouvez aussi suivre son blog ici: The Sketchbook

En suivant ses cours j'ai progressé très très vite. Attention ceci dit : j'ai derrière moi des années de dessin, dont quelques années de cours classiques. J'étais un peu rouillée sur le dessin d'observation après dix ans d'illustration, mais ça revient doucement. Si vous voulez faire de l'aquarelle, il faut aussi savoir dessiner avant. Et aussi : je n'ai pas regardé les cours de manière superficielle. Je les ai regardé pendant des mois et j'ai fait tous les exercices plusieurs fois. 
Je ne suis pas la personne la plus talentueuse du monde, mais je suis très très persévérante et têtue. 

Après une bonne progression, j'ai commencé à avoir moins d'enthousiasme sur mes dessins, et envie d'expérimenter de nouvelles techniques. En revenant de voyage j'ai commencé à suivre les cours de Marc Taro Holmes. Vous trouverez ses cours ici ainsi que d'autres conseils précieux: les conseils de Marc sur son blog.  Je conseille aussi de suivre son blog, Citizen Sketcher . Marc a un style très fougueux, très enlevé, très sur, et sait l'enseigner et l'expliquer. C'est un talent rare, comme celui de  Shari : en général les artistes qui ont du talent ne sont pas fichus d'expliquer, et vice versa. Ici aussi, ses cours sont de niveau universitaire, avec un professeur dont l'art rend les cours superbement intéressants. J'ai appris beaucoup, et je n'ai pas fini de revenir sur ses cours!

Là je suis arrivée au point où je nourris mes exercices quasi quotidiens avec des recherches de références. J'ai acheté une quarantaine de livres, aussi, pour m'aider à avancer en regardant les choses différemment et en apprendre plus. A chaque fois que j'aime un artiste, j'achète son livre si possible, et j'ai acheté beaucoup de livres de deuxième main à ma librairie préférée à LA, the Last Bookstore. J'ai beaucoup de livres en rapport avec la communauté Urban Sketchers, une communauté d'artistes qui dessinent sur le motif, et des livres de méthodes, souvent vintage, avec des idées qui m'intéressent. Il y a un moment où il faut varier culturellement pour trouver l'inspiration, sinon on sèche lamentablement. Les gens qui dessinent interminablement la même chose sans rien expérimenter de nouveau ne progressent pas, il faut aller au delà de sa zone de confort.

Je suis aussi beaucoup d'artistes sur Instagram, des gens de la communauté Urban Sketchers et d'autres artistes. Je suis particulièrement fascinée par Paul Wang  dont la dextérité me bluffe, et je raffole de celui de Anne-Laure Jacquart  dont le sens des couleurs me ravit. Elle va donner un atelier en Bretagne en Septembre, si j'habitais encore en France, c'est sur, j'irais. Je suis aussi des amies de longue date, que je ne liste pas ici, mais qui m'inspirent tous les jours.

Voilà, ça répond à peu près à votre question? La seule, la vraie réponse sur mes  progrès ceci dit (j'ai vendu des aquarelle au bout de seulement quelques semaines), c'est surtout que je travaille beaucoup, et que j'avais un métier d'art au départ, ce qui m'a donné une assise solide pour progresser vite. Mais il ne faut pas se décourager, le plus important c'est d'être têtu!


Vous pouvez regarder mes progrès ici : un an d'aquarelle

Looking for Payne's grey

Payne's grey is one of numerous colors , like Van Dyck or Hooker's green, to be named after a painter who was, usually, a little bit monomaniac on a tint. Van Dyck had a palette rich in browns, Hooker was a botanical artist who needed a special pigment for leaves, and Payne was a watercolor artist famous for the quality of his shadows. I really like this kind of colors : they aren't fixed values. They're ideas, a range of colors allowing little variations. Neither Van Dyck nor Paynes made pots and pots of colors marked with a fixed color code. Please don't give them a hex value, just bask in the delight of having an idea of a color. I'm a bit worried about fixing colors in set values. While we need fixed values for printing or design work, colors are like words : they need a little leeway as terms, they need synonyms, etymology, history, and if possible, errors in translation and evolution in time. They need to be a language of sorts.

Hovel near Yalmton, Devon

Here's a watercolor from William Payne (1760 – 1830), via Wikimedia Commons. It's Public Domain, and represents a Hovel near Yalmton, Devon. Payne's grey is the array of blue grays in the background. It was originally a mixture of colors that you could find in a classic watercolor palette of the time. He recommended the use of this color to his students as a replacement for black, probably because it was a deeper and more interesting mix in the grays, and still very dark at a high concentration. Mixing Payne's grey with other colors is a very easy way to darken or desaturate them, explaining why it survived two centuries of very creative artists and is still popular today. You can find it in most big painting brands, especially as a watercolor pigment.

Now , I did some research about the original mix, and couldn't find a definitive recipe. Bruce MacEvoy of Handprint.com describes it as "a mixture of iron blue (PB27), yellow ochre and a crimson lake, used as a dark violet shadow color", Winsor and Newton talks about "a dark blue grey made from a mixture of Ultramarine, Mars Black and sometimes Crimson". Both mixes are consistent with the kind of colors you could find on a 1820 watercolor  palette. It makes it difficult to know which one is the original, but both mixes produce a rich ternary (a ternary color is the mix of 3 primaries) color, a blueish, rich dark gray with hints of an earthy background. 

I did a little more digging, and found the composition of Payne's grey as sold in the 3 watercolor brands I use myself:
-Winsor& Newton : their Payne's grey is a mix of pigments PB15,PBk6,PV19, codes for Phthalocyanine Blue, Carbon Black, Quinacridone Violet. It's a mix of black, green blue, and a bit of magenta red.
-Daniel Smith : their Payne's grey is a mix of pigments PB29 PBk9, codes for Ultramarine Blue and Bone Black. This is just black and a reddish blue.
-Sennelier: their Payne's grey is a mix of PV19 PB15:1 PBk7 , codes for Quinacridone Violet, Phthalocyanine Blue Red Shade,Lamp black. Once again, magenta, a blue, and a black that goes on yellow. 
I found the color codes here Color of Art Pigment Database. All these mixes will give you a dark blue color. It's nice, and ultimately it's close enough, really, to the original color. But it's not what was originally described, a nice balance of red, yellow and mostly blue, and absolutely no black. I think Payne created Payne's grey to avoid black in mixes, so I'm a bit confused.

I wanted to re-create the spirit of the original shade and tried the suggested 3 colors mixes.It was a bit frustrating and I'm not convinced. I needed a faster solution for quick on the go sketches. In a ternary color, there should be no black but the  mix of blue, red and yellow. Note that I don't talk much of primary colors, they're a problem to me because it's, once again, a mathematical approach of colors. Primaries are an interesting concept, but we are mixing pigments,and absolutely pure primary pigments don't exist. Talking about pigments, we are accustomed for centuries to colors like umber, burnt umber, ocher, burnt sienna, ultramarine and cobalt, historical colors, so in the spirit of the search of an antique color, I went there first. 

I mixed old, comfy basics until I could find a match, with no black, and the rich yellow/red undertone I wanted for a lively grey color.

I did this:

I'm quite happy with the burnt umber plus ultra marine dark blue as a mix for a nice, cool gray. There's this moment, while mixing, when a brown isn't exactly a brown anymore but not completely a blue that I find quite exciting. It's really not something you would get with a computer. By mixing burnt umber with ultramarine blue, you get different colors in the granularity. It's much more interesting than mixing black and blue. 

I also made some tests with Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine blue. I find the gradation between both colors rich of possibilities. Beware : my scanner adds a little magenta to the dark colors, and I couldn't really remove it without destroying the luminosity of the picture.

Looking for Payne's grey, I found a large array of similar colors, colors easy to mix, that will enrich my palette instead of getting stuck with a fixed black blue gray.  I dedicated a whole well on my palette to these colors, with dabs of browns and blues that I can liberally mix. It's much more fun. Along the way, I also learned how different blues mix with different browns, all of them interesting and unexpected. Mixing pigments is much more creative than mixing lights (RGB or hex values). The intermediary colors are never quite what you expected. I got some really cool grays by mixing yellow ocher and cobalt blue, when I was expecting greens. I also got some very nice, soft purples out of iron oxide and ultramarine blue. 

What the whole search really taught me was to understand what William Payne was looking for: beautiful, rich colors for backgrounds and shadows.  I think I'm closer to the spirit of the color with my approximative mixes, than a manufactured mix of black and blue can be. 
I did kept my tubes and pans of manufactured Payne's Grey. But I will use them for what they are, a mix of black and blue-red. 

Here's a sketchbook of some sketches I made along the way while looking for Payne's mix. Making the last sketch, especially the trunks and the houses in the background, made me very happy. I could go from warm to cold easily, with just 2 colors on a corner of a well. It was fun and liberating.
 

Click links in the text for references.

La quiche

(the parts in italic are in French)
You won't , you really won't find me posting recipes usually. My spouse is the king in the kitchen, and I'm an humble consort. But I inherited a classic ( if not historical) quiche recipe from my Maman, and I sometimes venture in the kitchen to try to adapt it to my needs (I'm allergic to wheat) and place : I live in California, where the flour, eggs, and sour cream are very different concepts from France.  Quiche is NOT a diet dish, it isn't vegan, you can make a vegetarian version though, and I will suggest some tasty ideas. It's a happy dish, kind of a savory custard pie, something you can eat for a light diner with a bit of salad. It will often last enough for another meal. It's more time for reading or knitting if you're into that sort of things.

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Bon les gars, c'est pas pour me vanter, mais je suis la reine des quiches. Vous pouvez mettre ça sur le fait que je ne sais pas faire grand chose d'autre en cuisine, mais pour les quiches, je ne crains personne. J'ai passé beaucoup, beaucoup de temps à essayer d'adapter la recette de quiche historique de ma Maman à mes problèmes d'allergie ( au blé)  et au fait qu'en Californie  les œufs , la farine et les produits laitiers sont vraiment différents! Mais j'ai trouvé une recette qui vaut le coup d'être partagée, enfin! Je vous la livre en Anglais, pour les expats, c'est vraiment une recette adaptée pour les USA. Vous trouverez les proportions en Francais dans la photo au besoin:

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First of all, get a scale. I tried to get used to the cup system, but it's not...tadaaah...my cup of tea. A bit too imprecise for my taste. So please, bear with me and grab one of those kitchen scales that let you use your mixing dish as a tare.

Here's the recipe:

First make the pie crust, you'll need:

  • 200gr/ 7oz all purpose flour ( I Use Bob's Red Mill, Pie Crust, Gluten Free, it doesn't taste sandy like most gluten free flours)
  • 80gr/ 2.8 oz  butter,  70% of a stick of butter, lightly salted
  • an egg ( classic French quiche doesn't call for the egg. It's here to balance the lack of elasticity of American flour, AND it makes the pie crust amiably crunchy)
  • a bit of icy water.

If you're lazy, you can get a ready made pie crust. It's depressing and often full of preservatives, but fast.

Anyway: I don't own a mixing machine. Actually, we own one, but by the time I manage to find it, wash it...I could as well do the crust and be finished. Do use your own if you're more organized than me.

So, at this point, I weight the butter in a microwavable bowl, then make it melt in the microwave (it's done in less than a minute) . I put my big mixing bowl on the kitchen scale, tare it, then weight the flour. Off the scale, I add the butter and mix well, then add an egg, mix again. If the blend is crumbly, I add a bit of water, drip by drip, and mix until the dough is nice and elastic. If you put too much water and it becomes sticky, just add a little flour.  When the dough is just like play dough ( a bit more supple), it's ok. Chill it in the fridge until ready to use.  Important: Preheat the oven at 375º F 

 

For the filling, you'll need:

  • 3 yolks and 1 full egg, wipped until foamy (you can do that with a fork, no big deal) 
  • 250gr/8.5 oz/1 cup sour cream. The French recipe calls often for milk and/or creme fraiche. Sour cream is fine, as long as you don't add cheese. Some French recipes allow for gruyeres cheese, but the historical version, a dish from the French region of Lorraine, doesn't allow for Swiss cheese, and I stick to it. I find it much more tasty like that actually, try it!
  • 150gr/5 ounces beacon.  (Enough to cover the bottom of the pie ) and the same amount of cured ham. The French recipe calls for lardons, impossible to find here in the USA. Bacon and ham make a nice substitute, and anyway, anything is better with bacon. 
  • for a vegetarian version : 300gr/10 ounces of veggies, diced if necessary. Green peas are delicious in a quiche, but anything will do. Spinach needs to be pre-cooked as it gives a lot of water and a soggy quiche is not appetizing at all. For this veggie version,  add a little shallot, and a lot of taragon (a tea spoon) to the egg mix. Veggies only make for a sad pie, don't skip the herbs.

Get the dough from the fridge, roll it on a floured , extra clean surface. Make a circle surface and put it in a buttered pie pan. I'm really bad at this so I always end up cutting bits that I join in the buttered pan. Make a nice, high edge. 

Cut the bacon in squares, cook it in a pan until crisp, dry it on a paper towel to remove the grease. Cut the ham in tiny squares too. Put ham and bacon over the crust. 

OR : put the veggies instead. I often make two quiches at the same time, one meat, one veggies. 

Mix the cream and the eggs, add the herbs but only on the veggie version. Pour over the meat/veggies cautiously. Put it immediately in the oven. Cook for half an hour or until light brown. 

Serve it hot or cold, cold is delicious too, with a crispy green salad, made with a simple French vinaigrette (2 parts oil, 1 part wine vinegar, a touch of mustard, salt, herbs to the taste) . The quiche and salad is a classic  family dinner in France. Pack the rest in a brown bag for an unexpected lunch!

  

A tout seigneur tout honneur  : je dois à mon amie Estelle Tracy, du blog le Hamburger et le Croissant, de ne pas avoir complètement, ni perdu mes racines culinaires en 12 ans ici, ni désespéré en essayant d'utiliser les produits locaux. Je lui dédie bien volontiers ce post, et vous engage , si vous demenagez ici, à vous procurer son Guide de Survie Alimentaire aux Etats Unis, une mine d'idées et de bons conseils pour les expats. Merci Estelle!

 

 

 

 

A post, at last!

I finally came round to write again here. This blog tends to take a straight line to illustration stuff, and thing is : I don't do illustration books these days. Art direction linked with illustrations, yes, but books take a lot of time for very little enjoyment. I'd rather do more research, be more challenged. So I switched last year to art direction...I'll talk about it here. And less illustration, even if I will continue to do some. On top of that, I began to paint last year- eleven months ago actually. I chose watercolor because I felt that it will take me a full life to master it. It is really quite difficult, but once again, I needed the challenge. This old dog needs to learn new tricks or she's miserable!

©Delphine Doreau 2017

So last year I did art direction for several companies, painted, made movies, logos , watercolors...It really was a fun year, but I had a hard time making it fit in the format of my website. 

But I realized that, hey! It's fun. So I should share it. So from now on, expect all and everything from this blog. Today let's celebrate watercolor, and tomorrow, I might post about exactly anything.  How about cooking, or making movies?

©Delphine Doreau 2016

©Delphine Doreau 2016

This painting I made from a photo that my friend Angel sent me from paris, France. It's the Luxembourg, a parc in Paris, my favorite actually. I really tried to get the autumn ambiance here, the same as the one 20 years ago when I was on this exact trail, walking to art school. I painted the watercolor, scanned it in high resolution, and touched up the colors  to make it perfect. You can buy it here at society6 , and I encourage you to do it : all the money I make from my prints these days will be used to buy a print for my friend who sent me the photo (and if I make more, to buy more watercolor paint). 

Et bonne année!

I wish you all a peaceful new year!

Ce matin les garçons ont fait la grasse mat', et moi je me suis levée pour trouver tout un petit monde bien éveillé devant ma fenêtre: 

Les Roselins du Mexique ont gagné haut la main le seul usage de la mangeoire, mais les moineaux en profitent dans les buisson. Ce voleur de Grumpy, le seul écureuil du coin qui est bien trop grognon pour être timide, et fait tout ce qu'il peut pour accéder aux graines. Il a fait un foin pas possible, mais a fini par comprendre, qu'il saute ou danse, la mangeoire est inaccessible. Ben oui mon gars, c'est une mangeoire à oiseaux, pas à rongeurs, surtout que depuis que mon andouille de voisin a transformé son jardin en désert, il n'y a plus ni mouffette ni racoon pour chasser les rats, ils sont à la fête. Les animaux sont les bienvenus dans mon jardin...sauf les rats et les corbeaux que je chasse sans aucune pitié , na!
 

Le petit paysage à droite est ce que je vois de mon bureau. Je me rends très bien compte de la chance que j’ai d’avoir sous le nez un petit parc très vert, et j’en profite bien. D’autres dans mon village ont vue sur la mer, mais je préfère, du moins pour la vue, le vert au bleu!

Je vous souhaite une année 2017 douce et calme !

Joyeux Noël

I'm working on more paper toys, but today I'm having video fun. Happy holidays!
 

You can use the share button
Or this URL :
https://vimeo.com/196792052
To wish happy Holidays to your friends on Facebook!

(no commercial use, thanks)

Please credit me, the music and special effects if you can ( they're in the Vimeo page anyway)
Director : Delphine Doreau
Music : http://www.purple-planet.com
Snow effect : http://www.beachfrontbroll.com

The tiny house nº1 was painted by my son and you can find the printable here:

The tiny house nº2 you'll find here:
 

Enjoy!
Copyright Delphine Doreau 2016,all rights reserved, no commercial use. 

The little folk house

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Watercolor house, as promised! I mixed and modified models of past Christmases for this mini house . Use it as a cute gift box for a little present, as an ornament, or just make it because it's a lovely little thing. 

There's two on the page and the little bird is mirrored to make a set of ornaments. I'm thinking of filling it with play-doh and see if it's heavy enough for a set of book holders. 

 

Click on the picture to download the printable  

Click on the picture to download the printable  

 
 

Color your ornament

Last year I made delightful little houses ornaments, just big enough to tuck in a little flameless light . You can find them here : my little houses , and if you look in this category of my blog, there's even more : little houses on Delphine's blog.

I was thinking of doing a watercolor version, and I did, but you'll get it later...if you ask for it in the comments. There's little to nothing as comments on this blog this day, and while I'm quite OK with it, sometimes I would be happy with a little feedback from you guys! I see here and there that people still do, print, enjoy my paper toys and illustrations, and sales tell me, too, that you like my stuff but it will help me to know more. So, hello, how have you been? Do you like red, green or blue this winter?

Anyway. I started to make a watercolor version, it was a bit late in the day and my big adorable boy came back for school with his best friend. I suggested to do it together. I usually lose against Minecraft, but this time when I talked about building ornaments they were really interested. 

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So we printed some white ones and they colored them, and they were really into it, and proud of themselves when it was done! We printed more so Best Friend could bring them home, and a bigger one for his little sister, to make it more easy to color. I really, really liked that an 8 years old boy was able to suggest technical improvements for a 3 years old. It's lovely, don't you think?

I suggest printing on sturdy paper, for exemple 80lb ( 120gsm), what they call "cover" paper for printers. The ornaments will last years like that, if stored properly. It's easier to cut out and color, too. I still have ornaments made 7 or 8 years ago from good, strong paper, but the ones I made on regular paper last year look a bit tired today. 
My favorite boys did this, I hope yours will have a lot of fun too!

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So here we are, click on the picture to print 2 little houses and a big one for your little sister, as we did.