:: Rusty ::

Là où va la main, l’oeil suit;
Là où va l’oeil, va l’esprit;
Là où va l’esprit, se trouve le coeur;
Là où se trouve le coeur, est la réalité de l’être,
Le siège de l’âme.

The Rigaud woods today are beautiful on a sunny and spring-like day! The shadows are long and deep and the birds are feeding, spring is definitely in the air. I am quite rusty with my paints as I have not painted in a very long while because of my job workload… but now I am beginning my March break and I will have some time to paint… well at least I hope so. But you know how life gets in the way of our plans, huh? We will see by the end of the week what happens and I will keep you posted.

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Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen EF, Black, Japan
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink (waterproof)
Colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Pyrrol Crimson & Cobalt blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

:: What a difference… ::

What a difference a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
— by Dinah Washington

What a difference… a scan makes as opposed to taking a picture with an iPhone late at night -) Well last night when I painted this I wanted to post it right away but the paints were still wet. So I took a picture with my iPhone. This morning I woke up and decided to properly scan it? And see the difference? Can you hum the tune that I have in my head at the moment?

The links did not follow when I posted on Facebook so for those of you who would like to hear Serge Bouchard passionately speak about our First Nations here is the name of the YouTube episodes, as there are 4. CERP Serge Bouchard 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxivQXXsgeg)

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:: Did you know? ::

In Québec we have an anthropologist who studied for most of his life the First Nations and Aboriginals and First People. His name is Serge Bouchard and if ever you are interested in listening to what he has to say (only in French though)  this is a good place to start. He explains the history of it all. LINK.

Listening to him on YouTube, I decided to draw him, quite furtively at first as I have not drawn in a very long while. Then I decided to take out my paints… and yes it feels good to have drawn & painted…  -)))

• One person of Inuit descent is an Inuk, which is singular for Inuit?
• Inuit are “Aboriginal” or “First Peoples” but are not “First Nations”. Also, Inuit are not Innu. Innu are a First Nations group located in northeastern Québec and parts of Labrador.
• Inuit land claim regions occupy 40% of Canada’s land mass.
• The Inuit population is the youngest in Canada, with 56% of the population under the age of 25.

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:: Colour in my eyes O children ::

O children
     Forgive us now for what we’ve done
     It started out as a bit of fun
     Here, take these before we run away
    The keys to the gulag
O children
     Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
     Children
     Rejoice, rejoice
— O Children by Nick Cave

As some of you surely know, once you have’nt painted in a while, you need to put colours in your eyes… a weird way of explaining it but to me it makes a lot of sense. I guess that I mean that I have to saturate my eyes with colours. I actually test out colour combos, which by the way I love to do and need to do.

To bring you back further in time, I had a recent conversation with some water colour artists on choosing and painting with reds… and the responses were quite diverse.

The two reds that I decided to test out were my two favourite ones of course – hah-hah! Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Crimson and Daniel Smith’s Q. Rose. One of the reasons that I love these two colours is that they only have one pigment… not a mix of pigments. Some water colour artists sometimes wonder why their colours turn to mud? Well, that is one of the reasons… when mixing too many pigments together at the same time, they turn a mushy brow…

The six squares represent the colour at 100% (top left) then a mix of Q. Gold, then with New Gamboge, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue. I picked only primary colours to test this out, yellows and blues to see the variants in colour.

All in all, both colours are valuable and the combos even more so. The Pyrrol Crimson gives off richer hues and the Q. Rose gives more summery and bright hues… it all depends what you are painting, when and where on this beautiful planet. Let’s keep it beautiful, huh? Nick Cave & P. J. Harvey have been my musical muses these past few weeks -)))

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Paper: Hand•book journal co. pocket landscape
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

:: You had time ::

How can I go home
With nothing to say
I know you’re going to look at me that way
And say what did you do out there?
And what did you decide?
You said you needed time
And you had time

You are a china shop

And I am a bull
You are really good food
And I am full
I guess everything is timing
I guess everything’s been said
So I am coming home with an empty head
— You had time by Ani DiFranco

Oh boy! Watercolour papers are a diverse bunch of papers! When I started painting a few years back, I used to love the Moleskine Watercolour Notebook and then a couple of years later while experimenting with other papers the Moleskine was put aside as I preferred most of the other ones. This morning when I picked it up again, I decided to paint with watercolours (not India Ink) and wow! I love it again! Such a strange relationship that we have with these beautiful papers. In the same way, some of the colours that I have used in the past have been put aside to be replaced by other ones and sometimes they come back in – they are sneaky like that – wouldn’t you say?

On Sundays, while I am working or painting I always listen to music and today was an Ani DiFranco type of day. One of the softest songs is You had time…

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Paper: #27 Moleskine Watercolour Notebook
Fountain Pen: Platinum 3776 EF (the 3776 is the height in meters of Mount Fuji)
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black
Watercolours: DS Q. Gold, DS Pyrrol Crimson, DS Cerulean Chromium, W&N Burnt Sienna

Here is my present palette colours which I am really enjoying as they contain the colours that I love. The next one that I will exchange is the MC Azo Yello as I find it too opaque…

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:: Just my type of place ::

All the fine winds gone
And this sweet world is so much older
Animals pull the night around their shoulders
Flowers fall to their naked knees
Here I come now, here I come
I hear you been out there looking for something to love
The dark force that shifts at the edge of the tree
It’s alright, it’s alright
When you turn so long and lovely, it’s hard to believe
That we’re falling now in the name of the Anthrocene
— Anthrocene by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sometimes when you enter a building and you look around you and assess the place and wham! You love it? Well, this is definitely my kind of place. This beautiful grand desk filled with books, papers and of course fountain pens is just in my style. I took out my Bombay Black India Ink bottle to create the washes and am quite satisfied with the different values that it gave me, going from a soft light gray to quite dark values.

On another note, the semester is in full swing, a whole lot of correcting and prepping to do and just being present for the students is quite engaging, to say the least.

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Paper: #27 Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Ink: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink
Fountain Pen: Pilot Namiki Falcon SEF

:: Doughnuts & Life ::

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult,
but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.

— Vincent van Gogh

Why do you think that someone like me would draw doughnuts? Well, because they are spherical thus difficult to draw and paint, at least for me. So after many months of not having touched a paintbrush, these small subjects made me realize that I am sooo rusty and my eyes are having trouble judging foreshortening. For those of you in the know, you probably understand this, and these were my 5th and 6th attempts… the other ones were just good for the recycling bin. No matter, I had fun doing these. The colours that I used for the doughnut were mainly Raw Sienna & Burnt Sienna as a first wash. Did you know that there are actually poems that have been written on doughnuts? Hah-hah! Funny!

Paper: Handbook field watercolour journal
Colours: Lemon Yellow, Q. Rose, French Ultramarine Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna

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:: The Lost Words ::

“Once Upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed – fading away like water on a stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker – gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren…all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children’s voices, no longer alive in their stories.”

I have a book at home called The Lost Words and it is a gorgeous spell book. This is the excerpt on the back sleeve. “…When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter and willow. The words were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these lost words were replaced by attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions — the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual — became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world. In response, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that would conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature….”

If you are interested in reading more about this beautiful book here is a link. So with this in mind, one of the sketches that I will be asking my students to complete will be creating an acrostic poem and drawing its being for a “lost” natural being that they could not part with in this world… I chose a tree -)))

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook Art Plus Large

:: Learning to draw… ::

“We are not born focusing, it’s an acquired skill that requires initial effort and constant upgrading.”

In this day and age, with multiple electronic devices at our fingertips, it is easy to divert our attention to the technology at hand and take away our focus on what needs to be done. The word that is very popular with my students is procrastination: to postpone or delay needlessly.

So to come back to my ramblings… how does an artist learn how to draw, or paint? Is it by copying from the Masters? Is it by drawing/painting in plein air, alive with the elements? Is it by observation? Or is it with the imagination? In my point of view, all answers ring true! I would just suggest to alternate between: sketching from life, working from the imagination and copying from the Masters. And a big thank you to James Gurney who initially sent out this valuable information on his blog…

So for this coming semester, I will try to let the students delve into these three methods of drawing. For the first exercise I will ask them to draw 18 emojis… and this should be from their imagination. The second exercise will be copying from the Masters. The following apple was drawn using curving lines to show the swelling of the apple. I am relying on The Prang Elementary Course in Art Instruction. In this book, examples are shown on the left side of the page what the student is expected to copy on the right hand side. I actually redid the drawing myself as I am hoping that because I did the drawing students will relate more readily than with a very old book… hah-hah!

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook Large 5″x8″