Hello and welcome to my blog, Colours in the Breizh, where I share my love of nature, drawing, painting and sewing. My name is Valerie and I live in North Brittany in France in a beautiful seaside town renowned for it's summer displays of hydrangeas. Every year I can't resist picking these colourful blooms to draw for birthday cards or in my sketchbook.
We live on the edge of town almost in the country so we have a great selection of wildlife passing through for me to watch and draw. Birds are a particular passion of mine and I love to depict them on this tinted paper which I've bound into my current sketchbook along with other colours.
Another passion is travelling, especially in our camper car. In 2012 we visited Sweden, where I was born, to try and find some of the places I remember from my childhood. We had a wonderful trip and I came back with a sketchbook full of watercolours as well as lots of beautiful memories.
After several years of painting nature and landscapes I decided I needed to try and expand my horizons and attempt some new subjects and media, so I looked out some photos and started on some portraits. I've found my style now with coloured pencils and this recent one of my Mother is one of my favourites.
I left school at 16 dreaming of being a fashion designer and spent 2 years at art college studying dress design and manufacture. I soon realised that my talent lay in the sewing rather than the designing and I spent several years as an outworker making dresses for shops like Harrods. I only have one tiny sketchbook of designs left along with a book of pattern cutting notes.
I still love to make my own clothes and this sketch is from last year when I became inspired by the colourful sarongs on sale in the market during our winter holiday.
As an extension to my needlework I took a bookbinding lesson at the beginning of 2013 and now I am able to produce all my own sketchbooks with all sorts of different papers in them.
One of my friends has just retired from her job as the director of the state fashion industry in Belarus. She gave me a wonderful calendar a few years ago depicting the regional costumes of China and I had a great time drawing them and making them into Christmas cards for a couple of years.
Another job I had, once my children were at school, was as a rep selling cheese and this cheese board from a local restaurant has been reproduced several times now for various birthday cards.
We had a sailing boat for 19 years and I have several sketchbooks full of pictures from our travels around the coasts of England and France. This is a fun sketch of the last time we worked on Chardonnay of Solent before selling her.
I bought a black paper sketchbook a couple of years ago and had a lot of fun with my coloured pencils drawing flowers, seashells and mushrooms in it. The pencils I am using at the moment are Museum watersolubles made by Caran d'Ache. They are expensive but the richness of the pigment makes them perfect for use on darker papers.
Animals are another subject I've tackled since coming to live in France, especially family pets for more birthday cards. This one is drawn on velour paper which brings out the lovely softness of the fur. I love the way his green eyes reflect the grass.
Living in France we have the whole country on our doorstep to explore and one of my favourite regions is Provence where we've been several times now. I'll never forget the sight of the lavender fields or the ochre and red cliffs at the perched village of Roussillon. If you want to see more of this region you'll find all the sketches posted in the archives for July 2013.
Thank you for reading my story, I hope you've enjoyed this little view into my world and will follow me for more of my travels. We have trips already planned for the next 6 months to Tenerife, England and the Basque regions of France and Spain so there will be lots more to see and I look forward to meeting lots of new readers.