:: Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours ::

Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.
— Rebecca Solnit

The Montreal Urban Sketchers met up yesterday at the oldest Chapel in Montreal, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, which was built in 1771 after the first one burned down. Entering the chapel, it is breathtakingly beautiful with so many details that for the two hours that I was sketching I kept thinking about the artisans and craftmen that created all of this intricate work. What were they thinking when they created these special reliefs? Do they have a special significance? I guess that a historian or an architect would know, but to me these are mysteries of great beauty. I also thought that the name Bonsecours was spelled this way, but I realized today that on the chapel’s website, it is spelled de-Bon-Secours even though the market next door seems to be named Bonsecours. If anyone knows why, please let me know… It was the first time that I used the Fluid watercolour paper, and I really liked it as it has high absorbency and the colours mix well on it. And it is not too expensive compared to other quality paper.

Paper: Fluid CP 8″ x 8″
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Colours: Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna & Indanthrone Blue
Location: Old Montreal, Québec, Canada


:: A promise ::

The other afternoon, when you fell asleep on my shoulder, I drifted off, too. But before I did, it occurred to me looking around at all of your things and your work and going through years of work in my mind, that of all your work, you are still your most beautiful. The most beautiful work of all.
— Letter from Patti Smith to Robert Mapplethorpe found on Brain Pickings

I promised one of my friends that I would paint some paintings in her sketchbook and then forward these to France… and I finalized the last painting today. Fiou! So the paintings will be on their way off to France this Tuesday.

I woke up this morning, painted on location and then drove off to Montreal to join the Montreal Urban Sketchers to paint an old church in Old Montreal. Yes I was late… Jumping in my car to drive to Montreal, it was quite amazing to see that in Montreal there are no traces of snow whatsoever, but in Rigaud? We are still knee deep in it! While I was painting the backdrop trees I was thinking of Peter Doig, an artist that I greatly admire and I started painting my trees in his way… and they turned out looking like a mountain -)

Mistakes? I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I thought for a very long time that when I painted less, I became rusty… But now I think that we forget the mistakes or how to prevent the mistakes and a little bit rusty too. When you are painting on a day-to-day basis, you do not forget that snow must be painted in one long sweep as opposed to short stances! You do not forget to wet the paper behind your skies. You do not forget that mixing certain colours together they become muddy. Oh well, I think that I should start writing down the important lessons that I have learned over the years.

Paper: Handbook created by my friend Chi Mai
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Colours: Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna, Violet & Indanthrone Blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


:: Eve’s Needle ::

Echoing Wendell Berry’s beautiful assertion that in true solitude “one’s inner voice becomes audible,” she adds:

The feelings and purposes around art-making … ricochet among private, public, and communal places, but the creative process often demands seclusion to germinate its seed.
— Brain Pickings

The latin name for this cactus is Opuntia subulata and seems to have many names, such as Eve’s Needle, Eve’s-pin prickleypear, Long Spine Cactus, Eve’s Pin Cactus, Eve’s Needle Cactus, Eve’s Pin & Cane Cholla. I would really like to know where all of these different names come from! This plant is a native to the Andes in Peru and can grow up to 12′ tall. As I am very good with plants, it might reach the ceiling in a few years. Oh boy, oh boy!

So it is my husband’s birthday today and my mother always said that he was born on St. Joseph’s day. We are going out for supper in a Spanish Club in Montreal where some of our friends will be meeting with us. Hope to see a bit of flamenco dancing tonight, eat tapas and paella and have a good time. So here is my cactus that donned overnight its colours in a grand style -)

Paper: Handbook created by my friend Chi Mai
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk fountain pen
Ink: De Atrementis Document Ink Black
Colours: New Gambodge, French Ultramarine & Burnt Sienna
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Three for one :: Trois pour un

“A friend,” wrote the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue in his beautiful meditation on the Ancient Celtic notion of anam cara, “awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”
— Brain Pickings

My first love has to be drawing and if I decide to paint, without drawing first, the downhill trend is quite steep and abrupt, I lose all faculties for pressing onwards and I get all mixed up — really do not know where to put the paints. However, if I draw first, it grounds me and then I can actually do what I want, without the fear of ruining the drawing or painting. Funny huh? This drawing is a triple bonus because the two pots that hold the cactus were created by me during a pottery workshop in Hemmingford that I followed with one of my very good friends a few weeks ago. It is quite surprising that the pots fit perfectly one into the other as it had not been intended that way…  I was pleasantly surprised! One of my friends has organized a small communal painting/drawing event where we each paint/draw three paintings in a sketchbook and then pass on to another artist. I am the second one in the list, and I will be passing it on to France in a week or so. I do not know yet if I will paint it or not… another joy of drawing first. I have the choice. So nice -)

This little cactus has grown quite a bit, and it is close to my heart as it was given to all guests for an event that my little niece had organized. I will not see her as much now as recent family events are looming over chances of meeting up. Still… it is close to my heart, as she is. Today Canada geese were flying over my house, in beautiful amazing triangles, honking high and loud and announcing to everyone that cared to listen that Spring has arrived.. our beautiful harbingers of Spring.

Paper: Handbook created by my friend Chi Mai
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk fountain pen
Ink: De Atrementis Document Ink Black
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Cactus Plant
Cactus Plant

:: Live model workshop :: Atelier modèle vivant ::

“A person’s identity,” Amin Maalouf wrote as he contemplated what he so poetically called the genes of the soul, “is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.”
— BrainPickings.org

Chi Mai and I went to a live model workshop today and it was an exciting experience. We were 8 artists, we paid $15 for a session of 3 hours and the model was exceptional. He weaved his body into shapes that could only stem from a dancer’s body and also someone who practices some form of meditation. We started at 1:00 pm sharp and had five 1 minute sessions, then we had  minute sessions, then 10 and finally we finished with three 20 minute sessions back-to-back.

To prepare for this I decided that I would do some “gesture” drawings for the one minute sessions where I tried to capture the movement as opposed to the shape of the model. In five seconds I needed to sketch the entire body and its movement, which is quite fast and is excellent in taking out the tension in our bodies. Then I moved to “contour” drawing for the longer sessions. If you are interested in learning more about these techniques, there is an excellent book that I have had for years that is named — Nicolaides “The Natural way to Draw” that is well worth the price. Here are two examples of what I tried to do.

If you would like to join us, these live model sessions go on every first Saturday of the month and you can find the info here. On top of this, the location is quite exceptional as there is small park, hundreds of graffitis, NO parking meters? (can you believe this), an overpass, an exceptional view of the city (if you go on the overpass outside). All in all, a really nice experience!

Workshop: Atelier Modèle Vivant Art-Faubert avec Karsten Kroll Danseur
Location:    5795, De Gaspé, Montréal



:: Who loves trees? ::

Who loves trees best?
“I,” said the spring,
“Their leaves so beautiful
To them I bring.”

Who loves the trees best?
“I,” summer said,
“I give them blossoms,
White, yellow, red.”

Who loves the trees best?
“I,” said the fall,
“I give luscious fruits,
Bright tints to all!”

Who loves the trees best?
“I love them best,”
Harsh winter answered,
“I give them rest.”
— The Pearl Story Book” by Ada. M Skinner

And I love them ALL! I have started drawing again on a regular basis and for me, drawing comes first and painting is secondary. I love painting, do not get me wrong, but if the drawing is weak, the painting will be weaker in my humble point of view. The drawing needs to have life, before starting to paint. However, I do know that one of these days I will paint without any drawn lines, it will be as is. I am not ready for that day, so I am happy to be drawing and I am also waiting in anticipation for that day.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk fountain pen
Ink: De Atrementis Document Ink Black
Location: from my imagination -)))