:: Sowing clouds ::

Sow a thought, reap an action;
sow an action, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny.
— Stephen R. Covey from the excellent blog The Painter’s Keys

Even though the weather has been somewhat more autumn-like — many days of rain interspersed with a few beautiful days — I must admit the clouds have been gorgeous. They are rolling, tumbling over each other, heavy to get where they need to go… light on top and heavy on the bottom, some zooming ahead while others linger as though they wanted to stay a tad longer? Yesterday my husband and I deciphered countries, continents, lions and bears in the cloud formations and yes, even a dragon or two. So today is the same story, rain is coming and the beautiful clouds too.

My first test was with French Ultramarine mixed with some Pyrrol Crimson and Burnt Sienna and the clouds turned out too purplish, in some ways too cute. Then I tried French Ultramarine mixed only with Burnt Sienna and they turned out flat. Then I tried Cerulean Blue Chromium, mixed with Burnt Sienna and that worked. Yeah! So here they are… I did wet my paper a bit beforehand, but not entirely — only some areas running across in a zigzag motion. Then I waited a bit and painted in the Cerulean followed by the Burnt Sienna. Touch and go!

I wanted to mention that I am subscribed to the excellent blog Painter’s Keys and their latest article was on the Seven habits of highly effective artists. It is well worth reading and if you are an artist, you will truly enjoy the depth and sensitivity of their articles.

Paper: Do not know, might be Saunders Waterford CP 9″ x 5.5″
Colours: Q. Gold, DS Cerulean Blue Chromium, WN Burnt Sienna
Location: In my street in Rigaud, Québec, Canada


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:: Summer solstice ::

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.
— James Dent

In the beautiful Jack Layton Park in Hudson I sat at one of their picnic tables and pondered how I would paint the magnificent view right in front of me. The Mont Calvaire perched high up, the Ottawa River lapping at my feet and no boats ringing in my ears… heaven -) The wind was feisty and my papers kept blowing about, but ohhh isn’t plein air painting all about this?

Today is the summer solstice and it is always something to honour as I feel that living in the northern regions of North America, you cannot take summer for granted — you cherish it. The longest day of the of year is today, and it is important! Tonight I will sit on my back porch and look at the stars as past 21:00 it will still be light -) I will remember these moments in December on the shortest day of the year…

When I got back home I looked at my painting and thought that there was something wrong with it… until I realized that I had to glaze the clouds with a golden colour. So a wash of Raw Sienna was added on top of my painting for the clouds only and that made it. A much softer result. See the bottom painting without the glaze, the top painting has it.

Paper: Handbook Sketchbook 10″ x 7″
Colours: Q. Rose, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine
Location: Jack Layton Park in Hudson, Québec, Canada

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:: Both sides now ::

     Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
     But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
     I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
     Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
     But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
     I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
     Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
     But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day
     I’ve looked at life from both sides now 
From win and lose and still somehow 
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
     I’ve looked at life from both sides now 
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
–Joni Mitchell

Today I went to the Parc de la Visitation to paint with a group of painters… and I did not find them. I looked all over, I walked through the whole park, to no avail. No matter, as I found myself a spot and painted away, with no results. I tried painting behind the Maison Meunière on top of the rapids the old stone buildings, but my eyes were not keen on the subject and I overdid it. As I was coming back home, the clouds were simply amazing so I looked and looked at them intently, took a picture as reference and got home to paint this. When I was gazing at them I started thinking that if I put the strong colours in first, and then added white on top that it might work? There are two places that I put in some white top quarter and bottom of the clouds… Let me know what you think.

Paper: Handbook Sketchbook 7″ x 10″
Colours: Titanium White, Q. Gold, B. Sienna, French Ultramarine


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:: Baie d’Urfé Town Hall ::

A distinction is made between artists who work directly from nature and those who work purely from imagination. Neither of these methods should be preferred to the exclusion of the other. Often both are used in turn by the same artist.
— Henri Matisse

With Linda Drewry’s outings we were about 15 people painting away on this beautiful & sunless day. We were really going at it! So much so, that I was taken by surprise when they told me that it was time to lunch… lunch already? I am not ready for that! Since June 1st of this “about to become” summer, I decided that I would withhold any pen use… ink pens, ball point pens, technical pens… none at all to force myself to paint without the “lines” that I am so used to. So “this” fact turned me into something or someone else. As one of the gentlest women that were out today, she just said to me: “You are discovering another artist in yourself Jane!” Well I believe her as I cannot see myself in this painting at all — but we are all on a journey, huh?

Paper: Handbook Sketchbook 10″x7″
Colours: New Gambodge, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Deep Sap Green
Location: Baie d’Urfé Town Hall, Québec, Canada


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:: Dog days ::

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
— Emma Goldman

We actually had a wonderfully hot, humid day that was accompanied by warm gusts of wind — so wonderful to feel the soft wind on our bare skin! Bare skin, we have not seen here for quite awhile as the temperature has been somewhat on the cold side.

So few flowers that I have painted in my life that today, when I decided to paint these beauties that trump the steps of the backyard porch I thought that they would be easy… easy I said? Did you hear that? Humph! Well no, they were not… and when is painting easy? Drawing for me is easy, but painting? No way Jose -))) Still I had the courage to continue and that is good especially that I did not use any ink lines… which makes me uneasy in a way.

For those of you who are interested in painting or drawing with a group of people, Linda Drewry is still at it after 23 years. Here is this Tuesday’s location…

June 13 – Baie D’Urfe Town Hall for 10:00 am. There is a beautiful rock garden here, with ponds and water plants. The Town Hall building itself is charming, and there are usually sailboats moored in the bay. Highway 20, exit Morgan road to the end. I will be there!!!

Paper: Arches Cold Press 5″ x 8″
Colours: Q. Gold, New Gambodge, Pyrrol Scarlet, Q. Rose, Pyrrol Crimson, Phthalo Blue
Ink?: No ink -))) See Shari?


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:: All hushed and still within the house ::

All hushed and still within the house;
Without – all wind and driving rain;
But something whispers to my mind,
Through rain and through the wailing wind,
Never again.
Never again? Why not again?
Memory has power as real as thine.
— Emily Brontë

After having bought most of our train tickets for our England trip this morning, I went to my new beautiful painting/work studio and painted inside, with heat, lights and some nice music on to put the gloom out of the day! Thankfully they are announcing that starting this Thursday we will have near summer temperatures and see the sun again.

The weather here in Quebec is awful this year. It is cold and wet! The trees, grass and shrubs seem to love it as the greens are resplendent and lush… now my job is to capture this greenness right? Well, not so fast! When do you stop splashing on paint? So that the painting is not overdone? How do you convey those soft spring like greens on paper? I guess that this lesson comes with experience, time, a mindful eye and sometimes you get it just right, and some other times, less. When the watercolour has a bead in it, I am painting and not dry-brushing! Yeah!

Sketchbook: Handbook field watercolor journal, 10″ x 7″
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen Black — Extra Fine – DP-1000AN-Red (for Larry)
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Colours: Hansa Yellow Light (DV), Raw Sienna (DS), Burnt Sienna (W&N) Cobalt Blue (W&N) and Pyrrol Crimson (DS)
Location: Studio painting


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:: Sketchbook Skool & Koosje Koene ::

Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
— Greg Anderson

Woke up this morning and to my surprise, I had a good night’s sleep (for those of you who are wondering, just read my previous post) and I was rested and ready to go. Picked up my drawing/watercolour paraphernalia and headed for Old Montreal where I met Larry Marshall from Quebec City and as we sat down to sketch it started raining. So we decided to move and find another vista, which we did, sat down and it started raining again… by this time it was 11:30 am and high time to get back to the Nelson Statue to meet up with Sketchbook Skool Koosje Koene and some USK Montrealers… and guess what? It was still raining. So we actually decided to head towards the Jardin Nelson which has been restored beautifully! They kept the old outside and inside architecture intact and took down all of the inside walls AND the roof and created an indoor café/restaurant with jazz musicians playing throughout the day, huge parasols to keep us safe from the rain and good lighting for sketching! Could you actually ask for more? Other than this, Koosje is a really nice person and the group was in awe! I met some kind-hearted people today…

To stay true to the Urban Sketchers manifest, I drew this on location. Tomorrow I will be painting it in from my house. When I drew this, I was looking towards the sky and seeing these huge parasols that must have at least 30 feet wide or more? Not sure of their size, but they actually looked life flowers to me.

Sketchbook: Handbook field watercolor journal, 10″ x 7″
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen Black — Extra Fine – DP-1000AN-Red (for Larry)
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Location: Jardin Nelson in Old Montreal


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:: Just one of those days… ::

 “Is the moon or the sun more important?”
and the answer is:
“The moon gives us light at night when we need it.
The sun only provides light in the day when we don’t.
Therefore the moon is more important”.
— Richard Benson “F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers”

Oh what a day that I have just passed! Full of positive and negative emotions, a real coaster ride. First I woke up from a very disturbed night, full of dreams, dreads and tense emotions. Then I received two emails in a row from John Abbott, asking me to be present for the Deans’ List where I was asked to represent two of my students (one in first year, the other in third year) that had achieved the highest honour in their program. Wow! This blew me, made my day! “If you are one of the top 35 students in the College based on overall average, regardless of your program, you will be placed on the Dean’s List. To be eligible for this honour, you must have followed all the courses that are required by your program for the semester. Dean’s List students may also invite to the reception one of their teachers or other college staff member who has made a difference during their course of study.” 35 students out of a possible 7000 the odds are small! So honoured to be a part of this and I am sooo bloody proud of these students — they truly deserve it! They work hard, are passionate, love what they do, and are just brilliant -)

So after a day of ups and downs… one of the downs was that one of my molars broke and I am still trying to find someone to repair it, but I guess that it will have to wait until this coming Monday, I cancelled a meeting tonight that I was really looking forward to, and then another urban sketching drawing meetup with a rep from Sketch Skool that is supposed to take place tomorrow… I guess that I am tired and a bit disoriented. If my tooth is doing well tomorrow, here I come! Tomorrow will be a new day -)

On a final note I met with one of my dearest past students this week from 19 years ago, and he gave me a small booklet named “F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers”. Coming back from my day with him, I sat down and started reading it and I cried of laughter all through.  As an example for the final exams in Physics one of the questions was this: Is the moon or the sun more important? and the answer is: The moon gives us light at night when we need it. The sun only provides light in the day when we don’t. Therefore the moon is more important. Just love it! On my test exams I always put a bonus question and usually it goes like this: What is the colour of my Golden Retriever? and I have had a multitude of different answers from my 17-19 year old students ranging from: transparent to brown to you do not have a dog, etc. You just have to love them!!!


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:: Heritage Montreal Day & USK:Mtl ::

You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.
— John Singer Sargent

Today was a big day as Heritage Montreal was co-hosting with the Montreal Urban Sketchers in Old Montreal and there were many things that were organized. A morning sketchout, a monument and buildings heritage tour, one in English and one in French, an Urban Sketchers how-to workshop on how-to draw on location, co-hosted by myself, Susan Cooke and Raynald Murphy for the English group. It was wonderful and everyone there seemed quite happy as I had to rush out as my husband was waiting for me back home for a small commemorative supper. This was a long day, but I am happy to have done it! The next outing is on Sunday June 25th at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.



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:: Colour Palette ::

Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.
— Billy Collins advice to writers.

Here is my newly filled-up juicy colour palette ready for tomorrow’s Montreal Urban Sketchers outing in Old Montreal with Heritage Montreal as co-host. We are meeting at 10:00 am in front of Bonsecour Market.  If you are interested, go on our USK:Mtl blog to find out more information.

… material orderliness, he (Billy Collins) reminds us, fosters mental orderliness, and a mind unassaulted by chaos is a mind free to create. Not sure if this applies to everyone, but it sure does apply to me! Before I start to work, paint, cook, whatever I have to do, the space must be clean “beforehand”… and after I am finished I clean up again to clean up the mess that I created -LOL -)


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:: England Trip ::

I am planning our England trip and what better way of remembering where you are going than actually drawing a Great Britain map? So here are the highlights. We arrive in London and immediately travel to Bath, Britain’s Belle of the Ball as they say. I am taking a 5-day watercolour workshop there which I am looking forward to. Then we travel to the Cotswalds to see Castle Combe Village, Lacock Village, Silbury Hill, Avebury Stone Circles and finally Stonehenge. Then off to York by way of ancient Roman roads to see Viking heritage, walk in medieval streets with beautiful canals and gaze up York Minster Cathedral. Then off to London by train for six days of sightseeing and one day to Oxford to see its famous university and city. BTW, my ancestors come from Dunoon, Scotland and that is why I singled it out! All mingled in this tour are short spurts and periods of sketching, drawing and painting — can’t wait!

Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″
Sailor Desk EF with DeAtramentis Document Black Ink


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:: Chagall Exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts ::

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.
— Marc Chagall

Went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts today with one of my dear friends and we had the time to examine the whole exhibit from head to toe. It is a beautifully set exhibit with costumes, musical instruments and paintings that are joyful for the eyes. Chagall’s life impressed me as his life was one of a true artist. My friend remarked that because the exhibit was not really set in chronological order, it was difficult to understand the artist’s development and outcome… I wonder why the museum did not explain at some point why they had not done so? I drew one of the dresses that Chagall drew for the theatre.

On Sunday I also went with the Montreal Urban Sketchers as we were invited by Les amis de la montagne to sketch the beautiful Mount-Royal and 35 sketchers joined us. My two paintings were terrible, saturated — I really did not have the colours in my eyes that day and I was almost shy to show what I had done… alas, it was one of those days of painting but wonderful for everything else! One of the reasons why I did not succeed is that I have not painted in a long while, secondly I did not do a value sketch which is always very helpful. Next time -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 3.5″x5.5″
Description: Costume for Aleko, Society Lady, Scene IV. 1942. Dress of painted silk taffeta, silk leno and tulle.


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Draw me a Mountain on Sunday May 21st

Artists and art lovers are welcome to take part in an art day on Mount Royal with the Urban Sketchers of Montreal and Les Amis de la Montagne on Sunday May 21st.

* 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Join the Urban Sketchers Montreal for a sketching/drawing/painting day on the mountain.

* 3 to 4:30 p.m.: Exhibition of works by all participants at the Beaver Lake Pavilion Café des Amis.

Free admission
• Meeting point at 10 a.m.: Smith House, 1260 Remembrance Road, Mount Royal
• Meeting point at 3 p.m.: Beaver Lake Pavilion Café des Amis
For lunch: Café des Amis or bring your own lunch on the lawns of this majestic mountain.
• This year, enjoy the hospitality of the Café des Amis in two stunning venues – Smith House and the Beaver Lake Pavilion. Menu includes full meals, sandwiches, salads, desserts, hot and cold beverages.

This activity is presented as part of May : Mount Royal Month.

Those interested in acting as volunteers to help new sketchers should arrive at 9:30 am so that we can share responsibilities.

Facebook LINK — for more information on this activity and future activities, please join us on Facebook -)

For additional information, please contact:
• Danielle Desnoyers :: danielledesnoyers(at)me.com
• Jane Hannah :: jane.hannah(at)csur.ca
• Jean-Claude Boivin :: boivin442(at)videotron.ca


DESSINE-MOI UNE MONTAGNE, une journée en arts

Les Urban Sketchers de Montréal en collaboration avec les Amis de la montagne invitent les artistes et amateurs à venir dessiner sur le Mont Royal dimanche le 21 mai. L’activité s’inscrit dans le cadre du Mois du Mont-Royal.

* 10 h à 15 h : Joignez-vous au groupe Urban Sketchers Montréal pour réaliser des dessins/peintures/croquis du Mont Royal.

* 15 h à 16 h 30 : Exposition des œuvres de l’ensemble des participants au Café des Amis au Pavillon du Lac-aux-Castors.

Activité gratuite.
• Point de départ à 10 h : Maison Smith, située au 1260 chemin Remembrance. Danielle Desnoyers et  Jane Hannah seront là pour vous accueillir.
• Rendez-vous à 15 h : Pavillon du Lac-aux-Castors
• Pour le repas : Le Café des Amis ou vous apporter votre lunch et profitez de la nature.
• Le Café des Amis vous accueille cette année dans deux lieux distincts – à la Maison Smith ou au Pavillon du Lac-aux-Castors. Vous trouverez au menu : repas complets, sandwichs, salades, desserts, boissons chaudes et froides.
• Les personnes intéressées à agir comme bénévoles pour guider les néophytes peuvent arriver vers 9 h 30 afin que nous puissions répartir les responsabilités.

Page Facebook LIEN — pour avoir plus d’informations et demander des détails joignez-vous à nous -)

Pour renseignements supplémentaires :
• Danielle Desnoyers :: danielledesnoyers(at)me.com
• Jane Hannah :: jane.hannah(at)csur.ca
• Jean-Claude Boivin :: boivin442(at)videotron.ca


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:: Église St-Enfant-Jésus du Mile End ::

“There is no such thing as an amateur artist as different from a professional artist,”
wrote Paul Cezanne,
“There is only good art and bad art.”

The Montreal Urban Sketchers were out sketching out today and the weather was beautiful, even though a tad cold with the wind. Surprisingly it was colder in Montreal than in Rigaud… as we live in the forest, there is rarely any wind. When I first decided to draw this majestic building, I did not know how intricate that it would be… and I kept thinking, “why did I choose to draw this building?” However, in the end I was quite happy to have completed it! I might have time tomorrow to paint it… I hope so -)

Paper: Field Watercolor journal 7″ x 10″
Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey
Location: Église St-Enfant-Jésus du Mile End


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:: Easter Monday Flower ::

Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers
and how one remembers it in order to recount it.
— Gabriel García Márquez

The hour is growing late on this Easter Monday afternoon and I have to report to school tomorrow. My classes for the week have all been prepared and I am enjoying the music of Leon Bridges “River”, Agnes Obel’s “September Song” and the Villagers “Nothing Arrived”.

I have been intermittently reading Stephen King’s “On Writing” and it reminds me that to be an artist, any type of artist, we have to make a clearing through the chaos of our senses & events. When I first saw Kim’s photograph that she sent me, I sat down to study it… I had to make sense of it all before even starting to draw. Figure things out in a way that works for me.

I decided that I would start at the top and work through the first big flower as an outline, then move below to the second flower and then finish off with the leaves. Then fill everything in. What I actually did was start at the top with the first flower, filled it with the flowing lines, drew the stem and leaves, left them blank, and then finished with the second flower to finish everything off. So much for my plan!

Moleskine Sketchbook: 5″ x 8″
Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Photograph: Taken by Kim Thuy Ly Thanh


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:: Kim Thuy ::

It’s not because we’re given a life that we know how to live.
I think we need to learn to live.
— Kim Thùy

Kim Thuy posted a beautiful flower on Facebook today and it inspired me… and I just drew it. She is an amazing writer, author & person and shows the resilience of refugees. She also has a great sense of humour, which makes us love her even more.

Today I studied for my Spanish course as I had been lagging behind in the past few weeks… so much catching on to do! Can’t wait for the semester to be over and really delve into what I love doing… time to paint… and paint. This will be forfeited for awhile as there are tons of correcting to do in the very near future.

Yesterday we cleaned up one of the patios at our house and it felt really good as Spring really seems to be have sprung upon us… let’s hope that it continues.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″ x 8″
Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Reference photograph from Kim Thuy


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:: Coneflowers ::

Educating the mind
without educating the heart
is no education at all.
— Aristotle

I must be ready for summer as I bought these beautiful flowers Echinacea Angustifolia or Coneflowers and decided to draw them. These flowers are part of the sunflower family and oh boy, the chickadees, nuthatches & goldfinches are having a field day with the sunflower seeds in my backyard. They are voracious. My husband and I sunbathed for awhile today and we think that there is a Pileated Woodpecker couple that are nesting in our backyard. These are very private birds and we feel cherished that they are staying in our wood.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″ x 8″
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black


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:: A little spring in the air ::

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
— Stephen King On Writing book and some of his tips on Openculture

Even though there is still alot of snow here, Spring is in the air! The sun is shining, the beautiful shadows are long and the birds are chirping. The quality of the light flooding my window is soft and tender…

I have been reading Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s The Experience of Colour and he was known as the poet of painting. One critic said of him: “the poet and painter of summer” after seeing his beautiful paintings of majestic elms in Laval in the 1920s. It is quite inspiring to read on the artistic lives of painters as well as writers. Marc-Aurèle said: “Painting is nothing but visual poetry” I like that!

Another book that I am presently reading is Stephen King’s On Writing which surprisingly, talks about how to become a writer and I am loving every word in it. What a storyteller that he is. It is part memoir and part master class and well worth the read. Have a nice day -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″
Pen: Sailor Desk Pen EF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Ink Black


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:: Little Tree ::

      A little while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.
     Why wilt thou go, my harassed heart,
What thought, what scene invites thee now?
What spot, or near or far,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?
     There is a spot, mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.
     The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight’s dome;
But what on earth is half so dear,
So longed for, as the hearth of home?
     The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o’ergrown,
I love them, how I love them all!
     Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away,
And from the midst of cheerless gloom
I passed to bright unclouded day.
     A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side;
     A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.
     That was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway’s sweep
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.
     Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy’s power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.
     Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.
— Emile Jane Bronte

This morning, just before my morning class, I had a little time to draw this sketch of a little tree in front of my parked car. It rained a little today and I had little groups of students for my first class and I am coming out of a little cold. Apart from that, everything is looking good as Spring is upon us! Up to now it has given us fair amounts of rain & cold, but next week they are announcing for 18C… a little improvement over the past few days. I Photoshopped out some little blue lines that had seeped in from the underside of my paper as this morning I did not have my sketchbook with me…


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Redpath Museum with USK:Mtl

     A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.
     A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.
     A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.
— Jean-Pierre Simeón

Felt really good today to be back with the Montreal Urban Sketchers, drawing & painting & sitting with at the beautiful Redpath Museum in Montreal. I had not really painted since the Christmas holidays & I felt quite rusty… funnily. Painting or drawing is not at all like riding a bicycle. Once you have learnt to ride a bike, after a few pedal pushes, your body settles immediately in the long-ago strides, a physical memory. Drawing or painting on the other hand is a discipline, which means that you have to do it on a daily basis if you wish to progress. I remember that when I started painting, I found that the maximum amount of time that I could go without drawing (and not losing what I had gained) was 3 days… after that, the eyes were less keen on colours, the hand was less coordinated… so I knew today where I was heading & because I knew, it was fine! I had expected it & it happened.

A woman came to sit beside me while I was painting & she herself did the same thing. We painted in cordial silence, until one of us decided to ask the other their name… and lo & behold, we realized that we had been friends on Facebook for over a year, had never met, that each one enjoyed the other’s art & thus in our encounter, we found a mutual respect & liking.

Right now, as early night is upon me and the sun’s rays have disappeared, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I have been acquiesced to live long enough to enjoy the moments that I have left.

Colours: Buff Titanium, Yellow Ochre, Goethite & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Redpath Museum, McGill Campus, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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#OneWeek100People2017 :: Day 2 ::

Claude Debussy
“Rien de trop”: that is the artist’s motto. Instead of amalgamating the instruments for mass effects, he throws into relief their individuality or delicately grafts one timbre on to another, without anything of their true nature being spoiled. Like the Impressionist painters of those times, he paints with pure colours, with that delicate sobriety that spurns all harshness and ugliness.
— Romain Rolland

I managed to draw 20 more people directly from TV, which is not as good as drawing “live” people in real situations, which I love best, but still second-best. Probably that this is my last day of this weekly challenge as tomorrow I will be in intense correcting mode and for the rest of the week we will be moving back all of our furniture to where they belong… no more camping in the living room — yeah!

Today I found it more arduous as my head is preoccupied with the daily ins-and-outs of workers coming in and letting the doors open, banging doors banging noises in the house… I just want a bit of peace. Soon I know!

Moleskine Sketchbook 3.5″ x 5″













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One Week 100 People 2017

La maison du clair de lune
Le boisé saura les protéger

    En veillant sur leur intimé
    Ici la nature est généreuse
    On oublie la ville et le rossignol  chante
L’horloge ne compte pas les heures
    Et le soleil te donne toutes ses heures
    À leur manière, les saisons
    T’ofrent es frissons
J’entends la tourterelle triste

    Certains jours ça existe…
    Par contre, la mésange
    Toute heurese bat des ailes
Le parfum des fleurs

    À l’été, donnera des couleurs
    Les maîtres de la maison
    Auront de tout nouveaux horizons.
Avec souvenirs, veillera en paix

    Arrêtant le teps si elle le pouvait
    De l’ennui, elle ne rira
    Car ici, Dame Nature allège les tracas
Et le vent, dans sa douce voix

    Laisse passer le bonheur entre ses doigts
    Et d’un duvet doux
   La brise répète cachez-vous, c’est pour vous.
–Poème de Marie Dionne, ma bien-aimée et ancienne voisine qui me manque beaucoup.

I thought that it would be fun to participate in this fun challenge. Started by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel, it’s called One Week 100 People, and the goal is to draw 100 people in one week (March 6-10), as well as share your drawings using the hashtag #OneWeek100People2017.

So this challenge is to draw 20 people per day for 5 days. You can sketch “live” or in front of your TV, or from YouTube or even yourself for 100 times — sounds fun, does it not? As this week is the March Break for me, I do not have access to the unlimited number of students that I usually have… so I deciced to draw from the TV. Not ideal, but there is no alternative for now. What I noticed is that my student usually keep their coats on during class… or at least some of them do. They keep their hats on, their coats, scarves, etc. it must have something to do with our Quebec temperatures I guess…and add alot of pizzaz to a drawing! When watching TV, especially The Voice, there are no scarves, hats or coats… which is a bit more boring… tomorrow I will try to find a show that has more diversity and that is people oriented — do you know of any that I could watch?

I decided to “draw” with a fountain pen as this is my preferred medium and even though I do not have much time, the renos are still going on strong, and I have piles of student projects to correct, tonight at exactly at 9:00 pm I decided that while listening to The Voice, I would sketch out the participants… and here they are. I wonder if some of you can guess who is who? In a sense a challenge such as this one is really helpful as it forces you to draw people, which I am not a great fan! And it is making me to start “liking” drawing people… I see this day in and and day out in the classroom. Students coming into class saying that they “hate” typography or drawing… and I wonder how can you hate something when you do not know it? Try it first, and then we will see…. and I have to admit that by drawing people, it grows on you -)))














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:: The Projectile ::

The Projectile

We sipped tea.
Politely musing on possible reasons for the success of my books in your country.
Slipped into talk of pain and humiliation you find occurring, and recurring, in my stories.
And that element of sheer chance.
How all this translates in terms of sales.
I looked into a corner of the room.
And for a minute I was 16 again,
careening around in the snow in a ‘50 Dodge sedan with five or six bozos.
Giving the finger to some other bozos,
who yelled and pelted our car with snowballs, gravel, old tree branches.
We spun away, shouting.
And we were gonna leave it at that.
But my window was down three inches.
Three inches.
I hollered out one last obscenity.
And saw this guy wind up to throw.
From this vantage, now, I imagine I see it coming.
See it speeding through the air while I watch,
like those soldiers in the first part of the last century
watched cannisters of shot fly in their direction while they stood,
unable to move for the dread fascination of it.
But I didn’t see it. I’d already turned my head to laugh with my pals.
When something slammed into the side of my head so hard
it broke my eardrum and fell into my lap, intact.
A ball of packed ice and snow.
The pain was stupendous.
And the humiliation.
It was awful when I began to weep in front of those tough guys while they cried, Dumb luck.
Freak accident.
A chance in a million!
The guy who threw it, he had to be amazed,
and proud of himself, while he took the shouts and back-slaps of the others.
He must have wiped his hands on his pants.
And messed around a little more before going home to supper.
He grew up to have his share of setbacks and get lost in his life, same as I got lost in mine.
He never gave that afternoon another thought. And why should he?
So much else to think about always.
Why remember that stupid car sliding down the stupid road,
then turning the stupid corner and disappearing?
We politely raise our tea cups in the room.
A room that for a minute something else entered.
— by Raymond Carver & poem dedicated to Murakami, one of my favourite authors…

I have not been active on my blog for awhile now and I just wanted to give everyone a heads-up that I am still here & alive! It has been an awesome beginning to the 2017 year, even though extremely busy. In mid-December, while I was working in my office, my husband came in to announce that we were starting the renos “now”. “Now” I said? And he said yes… within 2 minutes, I was already starting to move books from their shelves, putting them in the few boxes that we had, he was already sawing at one of the floor boards… oooh! What a start! So since then, we are in a huge reno mode that has not stopped. My house is totally tipsy turvy… sometimes I cannot even find my dog, as he does not seem to like all of the ins-and-outs that are happening amongst the workers that spring up at every hour of the day on “his” territory. One good thing about renovating in winter, is that the workers are all free! And when you call them, they arrrive. Very different from a summer renovation.

So I took the time tonight to sketch the front of my fireplace that is inundated with books and mostly 3-ring binders… as we are moving the office from the réz-de-jardin to the first floor, and the bedrooms are moving down. There are mostly perks to this. The réz-de-jardin faces the brook and the main area of our property, it stays fresh all summer even if the temperatures reach high humidex levels and it is very very quiet as there is a 3 acre area of forest free of any human activity.. cool! And lastly, this area opens up to a main screened-in porch that is tucked away in a nook — quite wonderful for sipping your morning coffee or your afternoon tea -).

Soooo, here is the mumble jumble of a part of my living room. Enjoy and hope to be back in shape and ready to sketch in about 3 weeks time -)


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:: Troublesome yellows ::

“My life … runs back through time and space to the very beginnings of the world and to its utmost limits. In my being I sum up the earthly inheritance and the state of the world at this moment.”
— Simone de Beauvoir

Alas, I have heard many times how watercolorists (and myself) complain about how difficult it is to make good greens, without creating a mud puddle. So I decided to look at all of the yellows that I have at my house, and study them in a methodical fashion.

So my method was to create a rectangle and put a black line with a Sharpie permanent marker and then add a first layer of the colour. Then wait until it is completely dried up and then add a second layer on the top left-hand side of each colour (a dab of paint).

What I am looking for is this:
— That the lightfastness number is 1 (not 2) so that the colour does not fade in time;
— That the colour is completely transparent;
— Ideally the least amount of pigments. One pigment is ideal…

Best cool transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is from Sennelier Primary Yellow, Serie 1, Lightfastness 1, PY74

Best warm transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is Daniel Smith New Gambodge, Series 1, Lightfastness 1, PY97+PY110
AND Daniel Smith, Quinachridone Gold, Series 2, Lightfastness 1, PO49 (DS says that this colour is semi-transparent) but to my eye it seems totally transparent! Maybe that I am getting old -)

Surprisingly, I did not think that New Gambodge would be completely transparent but they were. Both Winter & Newton and Daniel Smith had very good results, however the Lightfastness number for W&N was 2, so I have eliminated it.

The two yellows that were the coolest were W&N Bismuth Yellow and DaVinci Hansa Yellow Light and they were both semi-opaque.

So here is the chart that I created & I left the resolution at 150 ppi so that you could zoom in to see what I am talking about.

If you have not had the chance yet to read Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing and if you are also wondering about your muddy colours, then this is a must-have book. Her chapter 3 on Octanic Colours is fabulous and she explains, in my very condensed explanation, that when you mix two colours together, that you must look at the primary color that you are using and what other color it is made up of (red, yellow or blue). For example, Aureolin Yellow (has blue in it) and Winsor Blue (has yellow in it) therefore these two colors will make great greens as these colors are octanic. Cadmium Red (has yellow in it) and Cadmium Yellow (has red in it) therefore this works! French ultramarine (has red in it) and Alizarin Crimson (has blue) in it, etc.


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:: Huntingdon ::

What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between.
— Robert Motherwell

The other day I went with one of my friends for a car ride to the Huntingdon area & I took quite a few reference photographs for just in case that I would need them for a winter day like today. Here in Rigaud it was freezing rain this morning, then ice pellets and will probably snow again tonight. Luckily, we only had four hours of blackout and it was during the night, but my husband has put some wood in the fireplaces, put in more gas in the generator, the candles are close to us and it is cozy. We are ready!

Paper: Handbook Travelogue 8″ x 8″
Colours: New Gambodge, Cerulean Blue, Goethite, Burnt Sienna, Deep Sap Green, French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Huntingdon reference photograph


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