Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Back from Bassin d'Arcachon

I am finally back from my holidays at the Bassin d'Arcachon and I thought it was worth posting about it.
The typical part of this area is its bay. As it is connected to the sea and rather flat, the tide has extreme influence over the landscape. The water coverage varies from about 155 km2 at high tide (picture on the left below) and only 40 km2 at low tide (picture on the right). This peculiarity has been exploited to grow oysters. 
Note that the Atlantic sea is on the left and the sand coast is whitish on the pictures, habitations are grey-ish.

A couple of pictures I took to illustrate this effect:

Andernos, full (high tide)

Same place a couple of hours later, empty (low tide)

Claouey, low tide

La pointe aux chevaux, low tide
(where we made the horses cross at low tide to go to the island in the middle of the bay)

Same, on its way to high tide
Boats are now floating; you need to calculate and accommodate to the tide when
you want to navigate: you cannot go whenever you want as you need to have
enough water both to leave and to come back.

Petit Piquey, low tide

Same place, with the famous Dune du Pyla in the background
This dune is the tallest sand dune in Europe, with a height of 110 meters above the sea level. Have a look at some pictures I found on the web; it's like a trip to the Sahara's desert!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Painting from real living model

Last weekend I went to a painting session with two colleagues who routinely go there. We used oil paint on canvas and a nice women who took the pause for 5 hours! It was a bit of a challenge for me as it was both:
- my first time in life painting - I do abstract or faery-style people so that if/when I get the proportion wrong, I can always say it was meant to be that way. No excuse this time.
- my first time with oil paint - I use acrylic. Acrylic dries as you paint so you can do several layers and put your hand on the canvas while you paint (to get stability). With oil paint when you go back to what you have done an hour before to add a bit of color, it smears and mix all together (which is nicely called ''live''). In other words, you cannot put the color you want where you have already painted something as the final color will be an average between what you had and what you add. Unsettling but really useful to blend altogether and fade-in, smoother the whole thing once you get use to it.

We started by drawing the composition with a pencil to put the proportions down. I would say it took us one hour. Then we discussed about colors to use; the teacher was keen on avoiding the brown for this session and using more a kind of blue & purple tone for the skin shadows. And it worked well! During the short period of time our model was stretching we were quickly doing the drapes & background. And voilà!

Stupid me, I only thought about taking a picture while it was down in a corner of the studio
 to let it dry... so sorry for the poor light!

Thursday, 11 July 2013


A while ago I made some pancakes and even if they were not as thick as I wished, they were really nice. Looking for a recipe I was submerged by american ones and their total absence of metric units... which seriously gets on my nerves. So by the time I finally found one and bake them, I engulf most of those as a reward ! 

The recipe:
100g flour + raising agents
1 egg
150mL milk (originally ''buttermilk'' but I used half-skimmed one)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1 tablespoon oil
flavoring (vanilla for me)
Pour all the solid ingredients in a bowl, add the egg and mix then same with the milk - gradually.
Cook in a hot pan until the bubbles forms on the surface. Then flip them over for a short time and reserve in a stack. Spray a small amount of butter while making the pile and serve with maple or golden syrup or honey.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Frites au four

I cook & eat chips in the oven since my sister made me discover how quick, easy (I mean no special equipment), nice and light it was to do so. 
Just cut the potatoes as you like them and put on an oven tray (I put a baking sheet to facilitate the cleaning) trying not to layer them too much. Drizzle seasoning: rock salt, grounded pepper, olive oil and lots of herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, bay leaf). I usually add vegetables as well: red onion, carrots or whatever you fancy.

I cook 45 to 60 minutes at 180 to 200°C. I used to shake and move everything around at half-time but do not bother anymore: the coloring & cooking suits me perfectly as it is. They are really nice and both melting & crispy, like proper chips... just easier!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

30 Day Photography Challenge

Previous post

Day 28 : Flowers
(Artichoke @ allotment)

Day 29 : Black & White
(A Cadillac because Bentleys are too mainstream)
(And because I find it better for a Comics atmosphere)

Day 30 : Self-portrait
(With my camera as it has become an habit to go around with it)