Good Luck Clam

Catherine Forshall sketching beside the River Dordogne in France I have been in France for a week. I wanted to sketch the River Dordogne. I was looking for the autumn colours.   River Dordogne looking down river towards Roque Gageac, evening light, reflections I was hoping to see lots of autumn leaves floating down the river. For some reason there were not many. Downstream the river was in the late afternoon sunshine. Where I was sitting it was soon hidden by the limestone cliffs: not many leaves and soon not much sunshine. Catherine Forshall Picking Lucky clam shells from the River Dordogne Walking along the shore I found small brown clam shells. I was not sure what they were.  Fresh water clams.  Later I identified them as the Good Luck Clam. Good luck for me, not such good luck for the local variety, who are being wiped out by these non natives. Corbicula Flumea was brought to America with Asians in the 19th century. They were first seen on the River Dordogne in 1980. No wonder they are invasive. A single self fertilising individual of these rather dull, muddy shell fish can produce between 35,000 and 47000 baby clams a year. Self fertilisation! Where do they get the time? Lucky Clam sketches   Catherine Forshall sketching beside River Dordogne France   Lucky Clam sketches

Sketching Good Luck Clams

All photographs © James Forshall

Razor Fish (xyrichtys novacula) in Menorca

I am in Menorca.

Man with cigarette mending net Mahon     © James Forshall

We are staying with an old friend on the other side of the harbour and yesterday when the others went off to an organ recital I went to the fish market to sketch some of the local fish.  The market is surrounded by a windowed cloister where the merchants have their stands selling squid, octopus, spider crab, tuna, bass, bream and the friture of the mediterranean, small rascla, gallina, cerrano, cerrano imperiale, salmonetes, and Jureles.

Rao, Razor Fish, Lolitos          © James Forshall

A small orange fish with black and yellow eyes, a small mouth and blue stripes down the side of his face caught my eye. The local bye laws only permit him to be fished for a week a year, from the first of September. Fishing outside this period incurs a fine of 150 euros. When threatened he dives down and buries himself in the sand.

Two women consult notebook at fish counter© James Forshall

 

Fish in weighing scale, large finger points down at fish eye

Fish scales              © James Forshall

 

I had never seen this fish before and had to ask the fishmonger to write down his name, Rao, Lolitos or in English Razor fish, though I hazard the name Razor fish is the local name Rao anglicised by the English sailors who were stationed here after the island came into British hands falling the treaty of Utrecht (1713).

 

_DSF2358 Catherine Forshall Mahon © James Forshall     © James Forshall

We went down to the harbour,  where some men, their equipment moved around in liberated supermarket trolleys,  were mending nets and where I did some sketching and then lay on one of the  pontoons between the boats, dozing in the sun.

Coil of rope, Catherine Forshall sketching                             © James Forshall

 

Rao, Lolitos, Razor fish, small orange fish sketched by Catherine Forshall Lolitos, Rao, Razor fish sketch                          ©  James Forshall

hands mending net, Mahon                 ©  James ForshallConcertina note book sketches of Rao, Razor Fish, Lolitos, Rougets, on terrace ballustrade, Mahon, MenorcaFish sketches      ©  James Forshall

I will use these sketches for some large scale paintings when I return to Britain.

 

 

Painting Sardines in France

Catherine Forshall painting in her studio in France

Painting Mackerel in my studio in France.  The weather here has been very mixed. That may explain the very green view, but it’s cooler which is nice. I notice that the young children who visit us find the cooler weather easier, and even the locals are beginning to enjoy it.

Three water studies by Catherine Forshall

Studies of water

Wooden objects in Catherine Forshall's Studio

Sketches of mackerel by Catherine Forshall

Sketches of mackerel.

 

All photographs © James Forshall  http://www.jamesforshallphotography.com

 

In a Cornish Garden – Sketching Magnolia Stellata

I’m very lucky. The garden I’ve been asked to paint is so beautiful. It feels so loved. I’m down here to sketch studies of Magnolia Stellata. Just being here makes me feel happy, and in the spring sunshine….

Magnolia stella, hand skeching drawing pad

Magnolia Stellata, I love this flower. You only have to look at it to see why, but like all the magnolias its petals bruise easily. By the time I had finished the sketch this one was smudged with Indian ink too.

Magnolia stellata, Yew, garden, Catherine Forshall sketching

Catherine Forshall sketching in background, Magnolia Stellata in foreground

Hand holding bottle of indian ink and flower, magnolia stellata, sketch of flower in back groundPhotography © James Forshall

Sketching Cornish Spring

I’m sketching Cornish Spring.  It’s a camelIia, Cuspidata Japonica.

Sketching Camellia Cuspidata x Japonica Cornish Spring

The tea plant is a camellia. The first camellias grown for their flowers in this country were those of Robert James, Lord Petre of Thorndon Hall. Other plants were brought to Britain by the East India Company.

Sketch in preparation of Camellia Cornish Spring, Cuspidata x Japonica which lies on a table beside the sketch pad

 

Photography © James Forshall

Sketches for paintings of a Cornish garden

I’m sketching the flowers of a Cornish garden in preparation for a series of paintings I’ve been asked to do.

magnolia, sketch of magnolia flower, tubes of paint on table

Sketching is important to me.  It allows me to learn to observe the subject, to learn about it’s shape, its line and how they work on a flat surface. It gives me time to absorb these things so that when I come to painting I can do so without hesitation. I like to work quickly.

Helliborus niger beside sketch of helleborus niger on white paper, white flower with green leavesSketching also allows me to experiment with mixes of colour.

Magnolia flower lying on sketch of magnolia flower in sunlight

Photography © James Forshall

 

 

Herring Triptych. Painting the silver darlings.

I’ve been asked to paint three panels (canvases) for a collector who has a house in Cornwall.

Herring Triptych monochrome C dmFor over a thousand years herrings were one of the protein staples of Europe. Stocks are probably diminished. At Clovelly in Devon, where records go back 400 years there were 100 herring boats in 1794. Now there are only two able to earn a proper living, fishing in a sustainable way, with drift nets and lines.

Go to the Marine Conservation Good Fish guide  http://www.fishonline.org/fish-advice  . This easy to follow guide will tell you which fish are currently plentiful. The list changes with the seasons but at the moment herring get the green light.

Photography © James Forshall