Category: Painting

The Manu Biosphere Reserve

Posted by July 1, 2010

Well we are home and very happy, eating roast beef and drinking PG Tips.  Our month volunteering in the Peruvian Amazon was brilliant – pretty difficult to draw any animals though as they’re either impossible to see or moving very fast.  But anyway here we go, my last travel sketch entry…

The lodge we volunteered at is called the Manu Learning Centre, owned by the CREES organisation.  It was a beautifully designed place, all dark polished wood and thatched rooves.  The buildings had open sides so you were breathing open air 24/7.  There was no electricity except occasionally for the kitchen/internet, so at night it was pitch black except for candles, stars, headlamps and fireflies.  There was wildlife everywhere in the garden; much easier to see than in the rainforest actually.

The purple flowers below are loved by hummingbirds, whilst the so-called walking palm on the right was one of my favourite trees.  As my notes say, when young they can move up to 2m by putting roots down on one side, thereby bringing them closer to the light.  I thought they were straight out of a Lord Of The Rings/Labyrinth-type movie.

The MLC lodge was just above a river, the Madre de Dios.  When down there you really felt like you were in the rainforest – misty hills of deep green jungle rising up whichever way you look.  It’s vast, despite the deforestation which you see taking place in many areas.

In our last week we went on a 4 day expedition into the nearby area.  First night was spent at another volunteering lodge where they had in-house monkeys and a macaw.  Below is Chico, a 9-month-old Red Howler monkey who, despite being a wild animal that had only been there a week, desperately wanted human affection.  He was there because he got injured falling out of a tree; I don’t think natural selection would have had a lot of patience with that, but they took him in so we’ll see what happens.

On the 2nd day of our expedition, we went to stay with a native community.  Most of the people in this area of jungle were actually Andeans who had moved there (Cusco/the Andes are 8 hours’ drive away) seeking a better life, but there are also native jungle communities scattered around.  It was fascinating.  These are some of the natives demonstrating their crafts to us – basket-weaving, jewellery-making and carving spears (which has to be done topless apparently).  They still used spears/bows and arrows to hunt in the forest.  Randomly they also had two very indignant turkeys wandering around, permanently tense and occasionally gobbling in horror over some unseen issue.

The people on the right were in Cusco airport, waiting for our flight to Lima at the end of our trip.

And then it was all over.  As usual everyone on our flight to Madrid was asleep except for me.  I feel kind of mischievous drawing sleeping people, but they make such obedient models you can’t not really.

So goodbye South America.  Peru was wonderful; actually I might post some photos of the crafts I bought, they’re all so beautiful.  Thanks for checking my blog if you’ve been following it; it’s back to sketches of everyday British life now I’m afraid.  But there’s no extra value in the exotic really; it’s all just life trying to get by whichever land you’re in and species you are.  I will miss the variety of life in the rainforest though, and going to sleep to the sound of thousands of creatures buzzing in the night.  Quite pleased to see the back of the microscopic ticks though.

Ciao x

All creatures very great and very small

Posted by March 20, 2010

The gorgeous grey Morocha, a poodle at the hostel La Bolsa in Bariloche.  She was once a street dog and had puppies after the owners took her in.  They had some kittens at the time whose mother wasn’t interested (I forget why) so they gave them to Morocha and she nursed them too.  She had the loveliest temperament.. all I want now is a poodle.

After Bariloche, we went to Neuquen, a lively and prosperous town which isn’t focused on tourism – v refreshing.  We were there to see some of the dinosaurs found nearby, including a reconstruction of the largest dinosaur ever found, the Argentinosaurus.  To the right you can see a T-Rex, to give you some idea..

Absolutely extraordinary.  And it was a veggie.  In Neuquen itself we went to the Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes (lovely turn of phrase, like fruits de mer) – below is a copy of a Pueyrredón, a celebrated 19C Argentinian artist.  To the right is the crazy lady who staffed the cloak room.  She was tiny, sported an enormous red curly wig, huge white 70s specs with accessories all over the place and sort of weirdest of all, was really unfriendly.  When we went back to the MNBA two days later, Rich remarked that the woman running the cloak room was ‘very David Lynch’.  I checked and indeed it was the same one, this time with long black hair, skulking in the corner frantically making a friendship bracelet.

This is from a dream I had a while ago about an Anubis-like blue dog with orange eyes.  I always meant to get him down on paper.

And finally, a grasshopper that somehow found its way to the centre of Buenos Aires and our windowsill today.

El Chalten (again)

Posted by March 14, 2010

Some more of the mountains around El Chalten – I was so attached to them, I kept drawing them.  This painting I did on a hike; the spike is Cerro Torre, renowned for the near impossibility of climbing it and the controversy over who first achieved this.  The very top is covered in a cap of ice, which is not only extremely difficult to get a hold in but pieces of it might at any moment drop onto your head.  Also the mountain is nearly sheer.  I thought it was much more exciting than Fitz Roy.

Secondly here are the mountains to the left of Torre and Fitz Roy.  I was sat in a much comfier cafe for this one.


Posted by March 1, 2010

Well it’s taken me ages but have finally uploaded some sketches from my travels on here.  I didn’t really have my drawing mojo on for weeks, but we’ve stopped in a Patagonian town called El Chalten for a while and with a bit of a relax, it’s come back.   Obviously I’m not travelling with a scanner, so what follows are rather poor attempts to photograph the pics with my boyfriend holding the sketchbook in direct sunlight.  Nor do I have Photoshop out here, so can only adjust the brightness a bit with the fairly basic editing page on Picasa! 

In chronological order… the balcony of our first hostel in Buenos Aires.  This was the first time I’d used my new Artist’s Grade watercolours so it was all a bit haphazard.

The beach at Puerto Madryn on the east coast.  Was being blown by a very strong wind and a lot of sand.

Random bits and bobs, including one of the long-distance buses everyone uses to get around here, and various people as they came and went on the Puerto Madryn prom.

My boy Rich with a rather long face, and the Andean mountain range overlooking El Chalten..

Striated mountains seen from the Los Condores viewpoint in El Chalten, if you look in the opposite direction to Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.  I loved these mountains.

Experiments with my new dip pen.

A tree characteristic of the lower levels of the Andes around here.  They seem half dead, though still lovely.  When hiking you come across whole fields of their blanched spidery skeletons.. I must find out why.

enigma + rabbit

Posted by August 21, 2009

A sketch of the most random thing I’ve seen in a long time.  I left our building – which is in the heart of Manchester – at about 9am on Wednesday morning, just as this guy skateboarded past.  He was completely nonchalant, like he was just getting from A to B.  I can’t remember if he was wearing shoes or not.. to clarify, the rabbit was real, looking very content in his arms, and that’s a pink clip in his hair.  People who are different or eccentric, who mess with the boundaries without caring what others think, are life-affirming to me.  It was a great city moment.



Posted by August 19, 2009


Posted by June 8, 2009


I love frogs

Posted by June 1, 2009

The Hyla Punctata tree frog, found in the Amazonian rainforests.



Posted by May 13, 2009

A watercolour to go on a card for a friend of mine.  She’s just had a baby and likes pandas, so..


Mini oil

Posted by April 6, 2009

I saw these mini easel and canvas sets in my local art shop and had to get one.  This is an oil of Lake Ullswater in Cumbria, after a recent visit at dusk.

Lake Ullswater

Lake Ullswater - relative size!