Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Winter Scenes II - Watercolour

We had a calm and quiet class today (absolutely nothing to do with the fact I had lost my voice, and spent the day painting in silence apart from the occassional stage whisper of "lunch is ready" and "would you like some wine")!

This was our second Winter Scene painting day this term, we had a different painting (no sheep!) and it was actually of Treetops, a photo taken in the snow of the woods with the walkway leading you through.

We mixed up some lovely cool colours and then spent ages trying to get our posts and walkway correct, sometimes it looks just right, but you step away and your pathway appears to be leading you up to the heavens.

It was amazing at the end of the day to see them all lined up, they were all so different but yet were taken from the same image. There were some fantastic trees, shadows and dusky lights.

Lunch was taken from Sarah Whitaker's new book (Treetops Aga lady) a delicious salmon recipe, there is a link from the website on the "News" page, I can definitely recommend the book.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Aga Christmas with Sarah Whitaker

Christmas came to Treetops yesterday, and today feels like Boxing Day with the final load to go in the dishwasher, the candles and ivy to put away, but there is still a beautiful smell of bacon, christmas pudding, boozy fruits, citrus and the scent of my favourite Crabtree & Evelyn candles lingering in the background.

Sarah welcomed 17 aga owners into Aga land, and wowed us all with her ability to do the entire spread in 2 hours!! We followed the recipes making notes as we went along, there to jog our memory when the time comes for us to prepare our feast. She provided a huge amount of top tips along the way, we were especially grateful for the freezing advice of what can be done now and be put away in the freezer.

We passed round the bag of dried fruits that she'd poured some rum into at the beginning of the week, and then opened today, the fruits had plumped up absorbing the alcohol and were perfect in her alternative Christmas pud (anything mixed with 2 bars of chocolate is heaven in my opinion!)

The Turkey had arrived from Nether Wallop wrapped in foil, towels and Sarah's puffa jacket, and had travelled by her side in the laundry basket. Cooked slowly overnight in the simmering oven, it was then unwrapped for us all to touch the foil and be amazed at how hot it still was. It was delicious.

It was a great morning, but whilst cooking the Christmas meal, Sarah was also showing us how to use the Aga, how to grill, roast, fry and bake in it and how to run it efficiently (keep your lids down as much as possible!)

We all sat down in the hall for a lovely lunch, complete with crackers and christmas candelight (and we even loved the brussel sprouts!)

Sarah will be returning on Friday 11 June for Aga - the Indoor Barbecue! A delicious and fun class that covers grilling, simmering, stir frying, aga pastry and baking by making delicious recipes such as marinated monkfish kebabs, steaks, halloumi salads, chocolate and cherry fudge pie and her AMAZING chewy chocolate brownies.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Helen & Friends' Cookery Day

A delicious class with Vanessa in the kitchen today.

We do offer tailor made days for groups of friends, if you haven't seen a date that suits you, or you have a group of 8 people already put together, and fancy choosing your own class theme. Today we had a lovely group for Winter Cookery, none of whom had visited Treetops before.

Everyone made some yummy olive and tomato bread rolls, which you can see in the before and after photographs above. There was plenty of kneading, and filling of the gorgeous dough with sun dried tomatoes, olives, basil, parmesan and olive oil. We had some for lunch and then everyone took home a small bag of bread rolls to enjoy this evening.

We also made a ricotta and herb stuffed chicken dish in a creamy tarragon sauce, which is shown above. It's always brilliant to get Vanessa's presentation tips. Also a very aromatic rump of lamb in a red wine jus and herbs, with very creamy dauphinoise potatoes.

There were lots of tips during the day and lots of scribbling of notes.

I don't know how we found room for pudding, but we always seem to on a Vanessa Day! Today it was Apple, Cinnamon and Hazelnut Crumble Tart, which disappeared before I had time to take a photo. Served with a Christmassy brandy cream, it was perfect.

So if in 2010 you fancy coming with a group of friends, perhaps as a birthday treat, or with your book club gang, then give me a call, and we can arrange a date.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Winter Scene Watercolour

The Christmassy classes have started! Yesterday was Claire's Winter Scene, this class is popular every year, as some happy artists like to turn their paintings into Christmas cards.

We had a beautiful misty scene to work from, where we needed to keep alot of our lights to create the sunlight shining through and mist rising from the ground. We also had the fun time of flicking masking fluid onto the paper to create our snowflakes.

After lunch, came the sheep! Considering how nervous everyone was, they all looked brilliant, they did look like sheep. Once the shadows were painted on and the masking fluid rubbed off the paintings really came alive.

Look out for Claire and her paintings this weekend at the St Gabriel's school Christmas Fair in Newbury. From 10.30am-3pm. There will be 80+ stalls in the Sports Hall and Theatre.

Cameo Newbury's Watercolour Class

Last Friday, 8 parents from Cameo, Newbury's support group for parents and carers of children with a range of disabilities, came for a relaxing day of painting.

Claire had chosen water and skies which is always soothing to paint, it's always fun to see the sky colours merging together, you never quite know what you're going to end up with.

Some had painted before, and others were new to Watercolour, by the end of the day there were some fantastic paintings to take home.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

2010 Watercolour Classes - Dates Announced!

Just announced ... the new Watercolour class dates with Claire Warner for 2010.

Wednesday 20 January - Art for Beginners

Friday 29 January - Banish the Winter Blues

Friday 5 Feburary - A French Scene

Wednesday 10 &
Thursday 11 February - Masterclass

Monday 8 March - Spring Flowers

Tuesday 16 March - Simply Venice

I hope there is something in there to suit you, if you are completely new to Watercolour or nervous about picking it up again, come on Wednesday 20 January, Claire takes you through a painting step by step, talks about different paints, brushes and paper. You will feel a real sense of achievement at the end.

The Masterclass in February is for intermediate and advanced painters; Claire likes to stretch this group, and having two days, she is able to take your skills furthers, for example in previous classes we have spent time studying and painting buildings and people in more depth.

The other classes are for any level of artist, because we keep the groups small, Claire can give everyone individual attention.

The classes run from 9.30am - approx 3pm and cost £65. This includes all your materials, so you only need bring yourself. Lunch, a glass of wine and refrehsments throughout the day are also included.

To book please call me 01635 44850 or email via the website.

Gift Vouchers are available and make great presents for Christmas.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Winter Exhibition at Barn Acre Gallery

I must mention a fantastic Exhibition that is being held in Wargrave from Friday 20th November until Sunday 6th December. (10am - 6pm daily with late opening til 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays).

Kirsten Jones, has a perfect gallery by the river and will be showing a selection of paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery, stained glass and quirky objects by over 50 artists.

I discovered Kirsten's great paintings whilst in St Ives, and then realised she was practically local! I love her style, perhaps because she uses alot of pink?!

I can really recommend a trip over to Wargrave, there are cakes and coffee (and chickens wandering!) and you will find so many Christmas presents and plenty of inspiration.

For directions and more details visit her website