Stretching in the Lot

We’ve had a couple of days respite from the heat. Now it is back to 38° C / 100.4°F in the shade and a baking 46°C / 114.8°F in the sun. Ooph. Step out of the shade and you’re toast.  But yesterday evening it was cooler so I assembled a few stretchers.

Bicycle, stretcher bars, canvas, stone wall

Not my bicycle. You don’t need a bicycle to assemble stretchers. In fact, definitely don’t try it on a bicycle.

Woman in blue, Catherine Forshall, assembling stretchers, against background of stone wall

I like these stretcher bars. They are good and solid, the best I’ve had. They are from Russell and Chapel, London’s oldest supplier of fabrics to artists and the theatre, established in 1770. Captain Cook first sighted Australia on April 19th of that year, leaving the British in North America another 6 years, in which to declare independence, though by 1770 trouble was brewing.

Hands of Catherine Forshall, one with hammer one holding stretcher bars,

Yes, I know that I should be using a mallet not a hammer. I can’t find the mallet.

Woman, Catherine Forshall, assembling stretcher bars

Wooden canvas stretchers against a stone wall

Here they are. Waiting for me to stretch the nice clean white canvas on them, which I will do if it cools down later.

If you would like to be kept informed of my shows and other events please email me at

all photographs © James Forshall


The Sea in my Barn

It’s hot here. 40° degrees C or 104°Fahrenheit. It’s hard to work outside, except early in the morning. We’re under siege. The shutters on the house stay shut until after sunset. It works. The house stays cool and most of the windows in my studio face north.

Catherine Forshall painting sardines in her studio in France

Was that why I started painting the sea and its creatures? To bring the cool blue into this hot dry place?  That might have been part of it, part of why I enjoy it, why it makes me feel happy.

Shells, pencils, a star fish in a wooden trug

I’m painting sardines, Sardine pilchardus. I am calling it Sardine Shoal, though in the sea it would be only a tiny part of the huge murmurations of sardines that makes up a shoal.  Like many fish sardine numbers are under pressure from over fishing. Some scientists think that sardines help to keep the sea healthy and reduce the amount of methane sent into the atmosphere.

Woman in blue denim, Catherine Forshall, painting sardines on canvas in evening light

This painting will go in my forthcoming show, Coast, this November at the Flying Colours Gallery in Chelsea.

Here is a detail.

Two Sardines against a blue background, acrylic on canvas, painting by Catherine Forshall

If you would like to be kept informed of forthcoming exhibitions please email me at

Photographs taken in the Lot, France © James Forshall