Monday, November 16, 2009

Vacation in France, October 2009 - Part #4: Moleskine sketches and photos in & around house in Château-Chervix, France.


copyright Judtih Nijholt-Strong
Horse Chestnuts from Château-Chervix, France - Oct. 2009
watercolor, pen & ink in Moleskine sketchbook

You can't eat "horse chestnuts", but I was told that the branches from the trees are used in the Limousin as closet liners, to keep away bugs. I love the colors and shape of the horse chestnut (also known as "conkers" in the UK, I think, someone correct me if I'm wrong...leave a comment) and along with the drawing/painting above, I brought home a big bag of them.

Of course we do have both types of chestnut trees (in dutch the singular form = kastanjeboom) in Holland, but it was a lot of fun picking these off the ground in France; free souvenirs. :o)

The Limousin region of France is full of chestnut trees and the rental house's property was no exception. We picked up many "sweet chestnuts", the knd you can eat, and roasted them in the oven. As an arrival gift, we were given a delicious sweet chestnut cake, (a traditional product of the Limousin region), by the owner of the rental house. It was yummy.

copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Painting/drawing of kitchen window view and sweet chestnuts at house in Château-Chervix, France. Oct. 2009
watercolors, colored pencil, pen & ink in Moleskine sketchbook

I did a lot of drawing & painting in the kitchen of the house, because it has large plate glass
windows, (one side with sliding glass windows), along the entire back corner of the room. Lovely views of the back yard and woods on the property, with beautiful light during the day. In the little painting on the left (above), I was trying to get the view out the window just after it had rained - the golden leaves of the chestnut trees stood out so much. The drawing on the right is just a chestnut leaf I picked up because I liked its color and curve - with some of the sweet

"Minette", the cat who owns the house, was paying me a visit in the kitchen that morning...
image ©2009 J.Nijholt-Strong
"Minette" is not grumpy, it's just her "look"- her brow seems to always be lowered. She's actually the most friendliest cat I've ever come across at a rental house; the perfect hostess.

And there are, of course, oak trees on the property...

copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Study of a tiny branch of acorn caps at house in Château-Chervix, France. Oct. 2009 watercolor, pen & ink in Moleskine sketchbook

That little study was done one late afternoon while "Minette" was watching. I was quite pleased with the results (sorry the pic is lousy though..scanner is not working so had to use the camera on a rainy day). Maybe having a cat watching me draw helps?

We also bought some roasted sweet chestnuts at a chestnut festival. They were roasted over a wood fire so they tasted nice and smoky. This is "Grand Kermit" in the community park at St-Priest-Taurion (about 30mins. to the north of Limoges), enjoying some roasted chestnuts and the lovely October weather.

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong

Another study of a "horse chestnut" ...

copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Study of horse chestnut and its shell. Château-Chervix, France. Oct. 2009
colored pencils with pen & ink in Moleskine sketchbook

"Horse chestnuts" have a different outer shell/casing than "sweet chestnuts" and the inner shell is extremely hard. Probably need a hammer to crack it open, though I haven't tried. In contrast the softer "sweet chestnut" shell is covered in thin prickly spines (sort of like a sea-urchin), but it opens easier and getting to the nutmeat inside is also easier. I have a Dutch friend who eats sweet chestnuts raw, he loves them - but not many people eat them raw, I know that I wouldn't. The best way to eat them is to cook them by either roasting on a fire (or in the oven), or blanche them in hot water. Lot of work either way, but very tasty.

Pity that I'm not a landscape painter (and never will be), because the views in the Limousin region of France are just gorgeous ...

photo copyright Judith Nijholt-Strong
Landscape with pond and farmhouses, near Château-Chervix, France. Oct. 2009

That was shot from the car while we were on our way to go shopping in St. Yrieix (a town just south of Château-Chervix). The skies of October were incredible in the Limousin. During our October vacation, we only had 2 days of really rainy weather...pretty lucky.

Another mosaic of images in and around the rental house in Château-Chervix, France.(sorry there is no clicking for a larger view - thanks to all the image thieving from my blog)

all images copyright 2009, Judith Nijholt-Strong

Next post will be about the city of Limoges and an Ancient Apple Festival in the town of Magnac-Bourg that we visited. I hope to get to them before the end of the month, but I'm currently working on a colored pencil piece of a peony and I need to FINISH it - and Sacha, my cat, caught another bird and left it somewhere in the house and I can't find it!!! omg...

doei (bye),


Meisie said...

STUNNING sketchbook work Judy....tht top one being my favourite. the composition is superb!
I remember roasting chesnuts over an open fire near Cessy...that was a first for me. The French country side is beautiful. I just have to visit one day...thanks so much for sharing the drawings, stories and pictures! I'm totally enjoying my visits to your blog!

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Thanks Meisie! and you're welcome.:o)
Lot of work sorting through all my images of the trip...but it keeps it alive for me. I love the Limousin area. We just found out we'll be back there again next year, in Spring!


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