A language not our own…

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Listening to Radiohead’s Kid A album, Rigaud is awash with sleets of ice rain, bouts of rain and some snow… perfect temperature to stay warm inside and get back to some drawing. Are you like me? I tend to read many books at the same time and I am reading four at the moment… each book lives in a specific room, reflecting that rooms ruminations. One of the books that I am reading gives me peace and tranquillity and a deep longing for spring to finally arrive… after the icy winter that we have just endured.

“Braiding Sweetgrass, an Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer opens up a world for the mind, body, emotion & spirit and is a hymn to the world. Here is an excerpt:

“…I come here to listen, to nestle in the curve of the roots in a soft hollow of pine needles, to lean my bones against the column of whit pine, to turn off the voice in my head until I can hear the voices outside it: the shhh of wind in needles, water trickling over rock, nuthatch tapping, chipmunks digging, beechnut falling,  mosquito in my ear, and something more — something that is not me, for which we have no language, the wordless being of others in which we are never alone. After the drumbeat of my mother’s heart, this was my first language. Listening in wild places, we are audience to conversations in a language not our own…”.

Paper: Stillman & Birn, 9″ x 6″, Gamma series
Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: I worried…. by Mary Oliver ::

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I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the river
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

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:: A few tries later… ::

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Great love is never justified. It’s like the little tree that springs up in some inexplicable fashion on the side of a cliff: where are its roots, what does it feed on, what miracle produces those green leaves?
— Wisława Szymborska (July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012)

Last night I decided to draw my husband and he kept moving non-stop even though he did not realize that I was trying to draw him. It took me eight tries to eventually get this somewhat decent one, at least one that shows some sensitivity towards the model. He tends to look fatter in this drawing than he really is…

I have been looking at Joseph Zbukvik’s wonderful video Planning your painting, and what a guy and what an artist! He is very generous with his knowledge and at some point in the video he says that we should draw without ever lifting the pencil from the paper… and this is what I tried today. I liked the sensation of doing this and I should practice this more often. Definitely something that I will be teaching my students this coming semester.

Paper: The Colour of Water Sketchbook from the MMFA
Lead Pencil 0.5
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: Summer breeze ::

 

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
— Seals & Croft

Woke up to a sunny windless morning and went swimming in the Pacific for a good 45 minutes. I have to say that this is a perfect holiday! We had dinner with our hosts last night at a local fish restaurant and ate exquisitely. 

While typing this post, I actually thought that we were still in the morning but it is presently 1:10 pm and we still have not had our breakfast… time flies when I am painting. So this is the drawing completed in watercolour this morning.

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Paper: Travelogue Sketchbook 8″x8
Watercolours: Q. Gold, Cobalt Blue, Raw Sienna, Q. B. Orange & Sap Green
Location: Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico

Day 3 :: #OneWeek100People2018

All great works of art are rather difficult to access.
The reader who thinks them easy has failed to penetrate to the heart of the work. 

— André Gide 1869-1951

Up to 40 people today, yeah! This challenge is a challenge, to say the least. Drawing people is not what really attracts me as an artist, and I know that if I persevere I might find that I am getting better at it? Perhaps, I am hopeful -)

Today I went to the Fairview Mall in Pointe-Claire and the minute that I sat down a man said: “You must not know how to draw if you measure the way that you do?”… oh my! That deflated me a bit, and I gave him this answer: “Artists have different ways of working and my way is by measuring to get my proportions right.” I got up and found another spot as he was really looming over my shoulder and breathing down my back. Then a wonderful asian woman with most probably her grandson kept smiling and waving at me and they made my previous encounter less awkward. Felt good -))). When painting with the Urban Sketchers the power of the group is quite wonderful as we look out for each other.

Paper: Bockingford 30″x 22″ folded 7.5″ x 5.5″
Watercolours: MG Payne’s Grey

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Day 2 :: #OneWeek100People2018

A box without hinges, key or lid
yet golden treasure inside is hid.
— J.R.R. Tolkien, Bilbo the Hobbit

I did not have much time today and I wanted to draw faces up close… really close. So again I chose a photograph on the net of a family of three people. What I tried doing today is trying to find a specific characteristic that enhanced the likeness of the person…as to me this is the real challenge as I find that all of my portraits look alike.I tried focusing on one feature at a time. Choosing people with different hair styles helps alot!

So now I am at 23 people and tomorrow I am going to sketch at Fairview Pointe-Claire for around 1:00 pm or a little earlier if I can. Can you guess the answer to the riddle?

Paper: Bockingford 30″x 22″ folded 7.5″ x 5.5″
Watercolours: Q. Gold, Pyrrol Scarlet, Raw Sienna, B. Sienna and Cobalt Blue.

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:: #OneWeek100People2018 ::

What has roots that nobody sees
is taller than trees,
up up it goes
and yet never grows?
— J.R. Tolkien in Bilbo the Hobbit

I really juggled with the idea of participating in the #OneWeekOneHundredPeople Challenge by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steele. Some of the reasons why I am reticent is that first I have tons of correcting to do and I wonder how I will find the time to draw 100 people. Also, drawing people is intimidating for me, and I lack practice so I thought what better way than to practice this skill? I did have to muster up my courage though.

So after having thought about it for awhile, I decided that for my first day I would find a photograph on the net of people sitting in a café where there would already be 20 people there. So one painting, 20 people, instead of several small paintings… yeah! A kind of a warm-up exercise.

A few months ago I had folded a huge 30″x22″ Bockingford 140 lbs sheet the way that Cathy Johnson teaches it on YouTube. If you would like to see how she does this, it is quite simple in reality and gratifying too! You can view it here. So this is the sketchbook that I am using today to fill with my 100 people -)))

So this is a warmup exercise as tomorrow I will be in Montreal and I might not find the time… so this means that on Wednesday I’ll do 40! On Wednesday I am planning on going in the afternoon in the mall at Fairview Pointe-Claire. So if some of you would like to join me, I will be there, sketching away.

Paper: Bockingford 30″x22″ folded 7.5″ x 5.5″
Watercolours: Q. Gold, Cobalt Blue, B. Sienna, Mineral Violet

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:: Precision needed… ::

“We die. That may be the meaning of life,”
— Toni Morrison asserted in her spectacular Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
“But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives.”

Sometimes I need precision in my life and one way to achieve this is through music. Listening to Bach’s Goldberg Variations by the eminent Glenn Gould (and Canadian to say the least) calms my soul when it is perturbed. Having played Bach throughout my life I can relate to Gould’s need for perfection AND mathematics… and this he did obtain through his sensitivity and brilliance!

Today I went to the Montpetit Funeral Home in Valleyfield to offer my condolences to a very dear friend, Benoit, who lost his 58 year old brother. Must be extremely hard! Met a few very old acquaintances there also, reminiscences and all… so many years ago.

So Pyper my dog permitted me to draw him tonight for half of his face… this in itself is a feat as he never lets me draw him… the minute that he sees me pen in hand, looking at him, he reunites with his 34th triple sense… oh no! She cannot look at me this way — LOL -)

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:: Blue Moon ::

Blue moon you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for 
Someone I really could care for
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard
— Billie Holiday

Not a drawing of a blue moon but of a small hand-crafted wood lamp that actually prevented me from watching the moon last night by shedding its warm soft glow on the outside window. I will check her out tonight so hoping for clear skies.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″
Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: Smile ::

Smile tho’ your heart is aching
Smile even tho’ it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You’ll get by
     If you smile
Thro’ your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shin-ing thro’ for you
     Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev-‘ry trace of sadness
Altho’ a tear may be ever so near
     That’s the time
You must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worth-while
     If you just smile
— Nat King Cole

Here in Rigaud the temperature is -25C and the birds are in a frenzy at my feeders. If you are staying inside today, as am I, there is some good reading to do, or cooking, painting, drawing or simply puttering around doing miscellaneous stuff and on Sundays, this is “the” perfect day to do this! So have a wonderful dominical day while I am listening to “Smile” by Nat King Cole -)

Yesterday my black & white drawing of the head of a cactus got viewed as a potential spider and I decided that today I would add some watercolours so that it looked more like itself. I used a mix of two colours only to achieve these hues. These two colours combined together on this type of paper almost appear velvety, don’t you think?

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Watercolours: Q. Gold & Cerulean Chromium Blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: Cactus Epiphany ::

We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through.
Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.
– Australian Aboriginal Proverb.

With the arrival of 20 cm of new snow it is a relief to know that on Epiphany we have gained 20 minutes of daylight as this winter in Québec has seen extreme temperatures. Looking out my window the thermometer is indicating -18C with a full sun. I can hear my husband shovelling outside and the birds are having a full day at the feeders. My dog is sleeping at my feet and I am preparing my classes for next week… sigh…

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Pilot SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: Have a Wonderful New Year ::

“To be nobody-but-yourself
— in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else
— means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”
by E. E. Cummings

By this first of January 2018, I wish you all Health, love, wisdom & a very long life!

My dear departed father would have loved to see this painting of our Scottish family’s coat of arms. I tried replicating the colours as documented in the Rietstap Armorial General where the original description of the arms (shield) is as follows:

“Ar. Three roebucks’ heads couped Az. collared or, a bell pendent from each collar.” When translated the blazon also describes the original colours of the Hannah arms as: “Silver and charged with three blue roebucks’ heads, severed from their bodies and wearing gold collars from which a bell is hanging.” Above the shield and helmet is the crest which is described as: “A black cross, three branches of which terminate in crosslets and the other (lower) branch of which is sharpened to a point, issuing out of a black crescent.”

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook #22
Colours: Q. Gold, Cobalt Blue, B. Sienna
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: Inktober 26 Squeak Theme ::

     Hey there, Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
You shouldn’t spend your whole life wishin’
For something bound to fall apart
     Everytime you’re feeling empty
Better thank your lucky stars
If you ever felt one breakin’
You’d never want a heart
— Miranda Lambert

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Paper: Sketchbook #21 Handbook field watercolour journal 6″x6″
Ink: Dr.Ph.Martin’s Black Matte
Watercolour: Q. Quinachridone
Location: Rigaud from a reference photo
#inktober2017, #inktober,  26 squeak theme

:: Inktober 22 Trail ::

(Sung by Munchkins)
Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow-brick road
Follow the yellow-brick, follow the yellow-brick
Follow the yellow-brick road

You’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
You’ll find he is a Whiz of a Wiz is ever a Wiz there was
If ever, oh ever, a Wiz there was the Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the wonderful things he does
You’re off to see the wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
—  L. Frank Baum

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Paper: Sketchbook #21 Handbook field watercolour journal 6″x6″
Ink: Dr.Ph.Martin’s Black Matte
Watercolours: Q. Gold
Location: Rigaud from my imagination
#inktober2017, #inktober,  22 trail theme

:: Inktober 21 Furious ::

Over the misty mountains cold
Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

— J.R.R. Tolkien

I toggled between the idea of a furious bull or a furious dragon… and the dragon won. Beautiful day here in Rigaud, need to get out in the sunshine -)

Paper: Sketchbook #21 Handbook field watercolour journal 6″x6″
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Fountain Pen: Carbon Pen
Watercolours: DS Pyrrol Scarlet, DS Q. Gold, WN Indanthrone, WN B. Sienna
Location: Rigaud from my imagination
#inktober2017, #inktober,  21 furious theme

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:: Inktober 20 Deep::

What has roots as nobody sees,
is taller than trees,
up up it goes,
and yet never grows?
— J.R.R. Tolkien

Roots run deep and studies are showing that trees have a very intricate communicating system with their own. So happy to hear this -)

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Paper: Sketchbook #21 Handbook field watercolour journal 6″x6″
Ink: Dr.Ph”Martin’s Black Star Matte & Pen-White
Watercolours: DS Cerulean Blue Chromium & W&N Burnt Sienna
Location: Rigaud from my imagination

:: Inktober 19 Clouds ::

Rows and flows 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’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
     Moons and Junes and ferries 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
— Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

I was dreaming of fluffy, beautiful, light clouds… and I drew the digital cloud instead…. humph! Why? Because it is our world now, and we have to make do with it…  like it or not…

Sketchbook #20 Stillman & Birns Zeta

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:: Inktober 14 Fierce ::

The scariest moment is always just before you start.
— Stephen King

For the #Inktober2017 Fierce theme today my thoughts went to a giant tsunami wave and then was inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s beautiful iconic wave. This tsunami is hovering over skyscrapers, waiting to crash down on them… geez! I am having some very positive thoughts aren’t I?

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:: Inktober Teeming ::

#Inktober Teeming Theme.

After thinking about it, I came back to the drawing board and decided to change my subject as I was not too happy with my coffee cup. So here is the new one, and I am indeed happier with this one as the idea is mine (Nicholas G. had given me the other idea and I guess that if it does not come from your gut, it does not work… thanks Nicholas!)

Sketchbook: Stillman & Birns #20

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:: Inktober 12 Scatterbrain ::

It’s not what you gather,
but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

— Helen Walton

The #Inktober2017 theme today is “scattered” and it is in sync with my present frame of mind! With too much correcting, teaching, preparing courses and planning a future exhibit, I am getting tired. Yikes! What I want to do is just paint, draw and relax… I yearn to curl up and just read a good book. But I guess that this will have to wait until the Christmas holidays. Sigh…

Paper: Stillman & Birn Zeta Series sketchbook #20
Pen: Carbon Pen Desktop EF
Ink: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte & De Atramentis Document Black
Watercolour: DS Raw Sienna
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada from my imagination
#Inktober2017 #11 Scattered