:: Sandy Beach, Hudson ::

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.
― George Carlin

Like every Tuesday during the summer about 10 plein air artists gathered at Sandy Beach today. No one was talking and everyone was concentrating on their artwork when the skies opened up and it started raining. Not for too long though, so we were saved and could continue later on. The joys of plein air painting. It was surprising to see how much the beach has receded because of the high water level.

I am still on my summer quest to paint with no ink lines and I am trudging on! For this painting I started painting the sky, then the lake and then finished with the mountains. For the sky colour I used Cerulean Blue Chromium mixed with some Raw Sienna and Q. Rose. For the lake I added Burnt Sienna as it was greyer than the sky. I will have to practice my water as it is not looking up to par. I am quite happy with my skies and the constant practice that I have been doing this past week is paying off.

Paper: Handbook Field Watercolour Journal
Colours: N. Gambodge, Q. Gold, Q. Rose, Raw Sienna, B. Sienna, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cobalt Blue.
Location: Sandy Beach, Hudson, Québec, Canada


:: Rigaud Mountain in summer ::

What has roots that nobody sees and is taller than trees?
Up, up, up it goes, and yet never grows.
— JRR Tolkien

We had beautiful day, 21C with the sun shining on the plain and on the mountain… and almost no clouds. A blue sky I have not seen in awhile so I was quite happy to paint it today. One of my greatest difficulties is painting without any ink lines… I love drawing, especially with a fountain pen and to me to let go of that fine tool is scary! So I mustered my courage again and started painting my mountain in Rigaud. Well the first painting was quite overdone as I seem to want to compensate with the colour saturation due to the lack of ink lines -))) My second one is better even though overworked and most colours are too strong, but heck it is presentable.

Paper: Saunders Waterford CP 12″x12″
Location: Rigaud West, 4 km from the Ontario border.


:: 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


:: 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

:: 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


:: 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


:: 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?


:: 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


:: 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


:: 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!!!