Thursday, 10 November 2011

La chambre à couture de bonne-maman, Malèves - (My grandmother's sewing room in Malèves)

During my last visit in Belgium I paid a visit to my grandma Odette. She lives in the belgian coutryside in a lovely restored farm that is full of character and has an amazing garden. I did a painting of her garden on the spot (see my previous post here) but also took a few photographs of certain rooms for future painting references. I just finished this one that is my grandma's sewing room:

La chambre a couture de bonne-maman, Malèves
(My grandmother's sewing room in Malèves)
14"x18"    oil on board

This - I have been told - is my grandma's favourite room; where she does her sewing activities (you can see her sewing machine under the protection cover behind the door alongside patterns and fabrics lying around), some of her writing, and where she has the best views over her sunny garden. I also have the memory, as I was only around 6, of her sitting at that desk doing a watercolour painting for me - and remember thinking "how cool is that??".

I started from the reference photograph and did this drawing to get the composition and values right:

The reference photograph

I also applied a photoshop filter to the picture to get a feel how it would look like as a painting and to simplify the information:


There are many reasons why I like to paint, and one of them is to be able to capture a landscape or place at a precise moment in time, like an emotional visual souvenir of what this place/room looks like today - afterall who knows what it will look like in 100 years? When I look at the painting I suddenly remember the smell of wood, fabric and dry flowers in the house, the sound of birds and wild pigeons in the garden and the sparkling light of the sun falling on all the little ceramic objects and glassware on the windowsill.

I will give this painting to my grandma for Christmas (at 89 she is still cooking the traditional turkey for the full family - around 35 people in total!) and I don't think I'm spoiling the surprise because, as cool as she can be, she is not familiar with the whole internet / blog world...(yet?)


  1. La magie de tes peintures opère sur les autres aussi. En regardant ton tableau, j'ai les mêmes impressions d'enfance que toi qui ressurgissent... Elle va adorer! Sophie

  2. Quelle chance d'avoir encore ta grand mère, et elle sera surement heureuse avec cette belle peinture!

  3. Another fab picture, you've caught the differing light values brilliantly.

  4. Valerie, this is an amazing painting. You have really done a brilliant job here my friend. Also that is a very good sketch for the painting. You have in the painting two treats, a landscape and an interior. Absolutely wonderful. Well done Valerie and all the best.

  5. It's beautiful, I love it! I have also been painting an interior today! I was fascinated to see the Photoshop filter as I don't have it and have never used it! Looks like lots of fun! Thanks for sharing! ;)

  6. Thanks everybody for the lovely comments! I really enjoyed doing this one indeed and I liked having the best of both worlds (indoor and outdoor scene at the same time). I think a landscape/garden sometimes looks better through a window as it frames it and makes it a bit more mysterious. I might look into other similar compositions...

  7. Valerie....this is superb!! You've handled the light so well and it has a beautifully tender/intimate feeling. I'm sure your grandmother will be absolutely thrilled with it.

    Yes please, more interiors :o)

  8. Thanks David! Will let you know my grandma's reaction;) Hope you're well and busy painting.

  9. Every part of this painting is wonderful. The landscape conveys distance and depth.I really feel like I am in the room looking out. Superb composition. I know your grandmother as well as generations of your family will treasure this painting.

  10. Thank you Douglas for your lovely comment. I'm glad you like and all these nice messages motivate me to try more of this style and composition. Watch this space!