:: Grande bibliothèque de Montréal ::

          You must clean and arrange your studio in a way that will forward a quiet state of mind. This cautious care of atmosphere is really needed to show respect for the work. Respect for art work and everything connected with it, one’s own and that of everyone else, must be maintained and forwarded. No disrespect, carelessness or ego [and] selfishness must be allowed to interfere if it can be prevented. Indifference and antagonism are easily detected — you should take such people out immediately. Just turning the paintings to the wall is not enough. You yourself should not go to your studio in an indifferent or fighting mood.
          — Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances (public library)

I was with the Urban Sketchers of Montreal today at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, and what a place! It made me think of the quote from Agnes Martin and how she valued her space.
I changed places three times, very comfortably seated, and my first sketch was of the Montreal skyline. Then I decided to sit at a table with most people’s backs towards me… ideal for sketching people. So my first person stayed there, reading from a real book, and did not budge for at least one half hour, which was a delight for me. Then my second sketch was of someone who was sideways to me, and I do not know if he had a third eye, but the minute that I started sketching him, he started fidgeting, clearly anxious. I did not have the heart to sketch him much longer even though he did not even see me. So I rushed his sketch, to appease his anguish. Then my eyes fell on this wonderful asiatic beauty, and the minute that my pencil touched the paper, she was gone. Then I realized, at 12:15 pm, that I had not paid for my parking downstairs. How could I have forgotten that? I went to see a Security Officer, and he told me to run to my car as I could have a ticket waiting for me… I rushed downstairs, found my car, unscathed by paper — lucky me! But still, how could I get out of the parking space if I did not have a voucher proving that I had paid? So I paid, and when I got to the gate, it opened without asking me to give proof of my payment… sheesh! Anyway, very glad that I had no ticket and la Grande Bibliothèque was a wonderful sketching place. Thank you Shari for bringing us there -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Location: La Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal



:: Three beets… oh no! Three onions ::

“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”
           — legendary Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh (b. October 11, 1926) explores in How to Love (public library) — a slim, simply worded collection of his immeasurably wise insights on the most complex and most rewarding human potentiality.
           “… If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform…”

I am very rusty with my watercolours and I was glad to dab into them today. It has been awhile -) My shadows are not strong enough, the top beet has a too much of an intense colour, but at least the two beets on the plate are better as they were painted after the top one… you see, we always improve, even when we start on the wrong foot -)

Paper: Travelogue Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Indanthrone Blue
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Primary consciousness & taxidermy ::

What keeps us from happiness, is our inability to fully inhabit the present:
The “primary consciousness,” the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., “everyone will die”) that the future assumes a high degree of reality — so high that the present loses its value.
— Alain Watts

Taxidermy: the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals with lifelike effect.

I inherited a very very old bell jar filled with birds & eggs filled with various grasses and pieces of wood. And I also received by mail today some beautiful inks to put in my beautiful fountain pens. So I had to try my new DeAtrementis Grey Fog ink in my Pilot Prera Fine fountain pen… and wow! What a glide, what a softness. I love it. The colour is darker than I would have thought and the grey has some dark blue nuances in it, but still… it is wonderful. Very happy about this new ink!

If you feel like sketching with us this coming Sunday, join us at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal with the Montreal Urban Sketchers, a truly beautiful library and well worth the visit… and the sketch -)))

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Inspiration ::

Inspiration :: It is an untroubled state of mind. Of course, we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last, so we say that inspiration comes and goes, but it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can therefore say that it is pervasive.
— Agnes Martin (March 22, 1912–December 16, 2004) Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances by Arne Glimcher (20th Century Living Masters)

This book seems to be a very interesting read for anyone that is interested in art, art studios and art friends. I think that I will buy it — whoa I just saw the price. No wonder people are saying that it is wonderful — it is quite expensive.

Small dried myosotis flowers in a grunge-like presentation. This Moleskine Sketchbook paper is not made for watercolours as it is a very grunge-like effect… sometimes happily, and sometimes not. I guess that flowers are not very grungeable -) For the hundredth time, I should have taken a picture “before” painting it in… and I would have had a reasonable drawing, and if the results had been good with the watercolours, I would have had a 2 for one -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Watercolours: Hansa Medium, Violet & Serpentine Green
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Arthur the cacti ::

White with daisies and red with sorrel
    And empty, empty under the sky! 
Life is a quest and love a quarrel 
    Here is a place for me to lie.
Daisies spring from damned seeds,
    And this red fire that here I see
Is a worthless crop of crimson weeds,
    Cursed by farmers thriftily.

But here, unhated for an hour,
    The sorrel runs in ragged flame,
The daisy stands, a bastard flower,
    Like flowers that bear an honest name.

And here a while, where no wind brings
    The baying of a pack athirst,
May sleep the sleep of blessed things
    The blood too bright, the brow accurst.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892–October 19, 1950) was only thirty-one when she became the third woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

Yes you have guessed it, I do name my plants… all of them! So here is Arthur! I drew this in a Moleskine Sketchbook and I love how the ink glides from my fountain pen on this wonderfully glazed paper. It has a silkiness that is unbeatable… and it soothes my soul to feel a good quality fountain with a good quality ink gliding on top of it. If you do not know these sketchbooks, give them a try. Here is the link for the Large Moleskine Sketchbook.

Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera Fine
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Paper: Large Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Trepidation… for some time off ::

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
— Annie Dillard

I have been spending the last few weeks in a frenzy of prepping new courses, teaching new courses and correcting new courses… all to say that the gruelling time that teachers spend on these tasks is wearisome and one of the rewards is to see the beautiful faces greeting you as you enter the class and the ah-hah moments when they get a concept that you explained. If these episodes in time did not happen, I am guessing that many teachers would just turn away and choose another venue. So here is my drawing for this night as we are watching the excellent British TV series “Luther”. The feeling of trepidation that I had today as I realized that in one week’s time, I would be on March break was totally awesome! Some time off to think about my family, friends and for painting -)

Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk
Ink: Black Carbon Ink
Location: Rigaud, QC, Canada