:: Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme ::

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to be see beyond the usual — become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom.
— The Art Spirit by Robert Henri

As Fall is approaching here, the leaves are turning a golden hue with some bursts of oranges and deep purple… it is already starting here. The peak of the season is usually near October 15th here in southern Québec, and this date varies with the latitude that you are living in. A book that I often delve in is The Art Spirit as it is profoundly spiritual in an artistic sense. Henri must have been a wonderful teacher, and I do hope that some days, a very few perhaps, I might inspire my students as Henri inspires me!

These flowers were photographed by a famous writer here in Canada, Kim Thuy and she won the Giller prize for her book Ru. Her first photograph were of these flowers in their fragrant bloom (which I have posted before), and the second photograph is the flowers with the petals falling… I thought that it was appropriate with our imminent fall season. She mentioned this quote to me when she sent me the second photograph. “Presque arrivées à leur destination”. Well said Kim! This painting is part of the next exhibit that I will be taking part in November 2018 that is called Square Foot Exhibition. All are welcome. #squarefootexhibition2017.

Paper: Fluid 100
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Fountain Pen: Carbon Desk Pen EF
Location: Reference photograph here in Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: The lopsided pine ::

La Barre and other Musicians
9 May 1663.
At Mr Jarvas’s my old barber, I did try two or three borders and periwigs, meaning to wear one, and yet I have no stomach for it, but the pains of keeping my hair clean is so great. He trimmed me, and at last I parted, but my mind was almost altered from my first purpose, from the trouble that I foresee will be in wearing them also.

I have been reading a booklet entitled: Costume in Art by the National Gallery in London and the themes are quite funny sometimes as you can read in the above two paragraphs. Every century has its own moments of pain…

Met up with two of my sketching friends, Mai & Linda at my Cegep today. The weather was gorgeous and the friendship too! I was also glad to give a tour of my beautiful campus and in the afternoon we moved on to the McGill part of the campus to sketch some farm silos. Had a nice day.

Paper: Hand•book Field watercolour journal
Colours: Q. Gold, B. Sienna, B. Umber & Ultramarine
Location: Cégep John Abbott College, Québec, Canada

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:: Mont Calvaire ::

PAYS
J’ai vu le soleil se lever
dans tant et tant de pays
je ne savais plus lequel
était le mien
le jour oscillait
lampe incertaine dans ma nuit
le rif le souk le môle
la vallée millénaire
bergers de l’Atlas
boutre coutre Seychelles
je l’ai vu se coucher
le jour passait comme une flèche
et chaque soir me frappait en plein coeur
comme le dernier
— Gérald Godin, Québec Poet

20160628-sailboat-lake-2-mountains-jane-hannahMont Calvaire is the highest peak looking northwards from Hudson across the Lake of Two Mountains. Calvaire in French is a Québécois swear word as French Québécois swear words mostly stem from Catholic artefacts and the different synonyms are used regionally. Some synonyms for “calvaire” are calvâsse, calvinsse, calvinouche, calvinus, calvinisse, calverasse. 

The lake was named Lac des Médicis in 1612 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, then renamed Lac des Soissons about 1632. By around 1684 French colonists named it as Lac des Deux Montagnes. The name refers to Calvaire Mountain and Saint-Joseph-du-Lac Hill, the two highest peaks of Mont Oka that face the lake on its northern shore. (Information taken from Wikipedia).

Paper: Fluid 8″x8″
Colours: Sennelier Primary Yellow, New Gambodge, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine
Location: Sandy Beach, Hudson, 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

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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

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:: Who loves trees? ::

WHO LOVES THE TREES BEST?
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 -)))

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:: 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
Pencil
Location: La Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal

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:: Throwing clay ::

Sensory perception is the silken web that binds our separate nervous systems into the encompassing ecosystem.
— David Abram

We went to a pottery workshop today and it was very very nice! I had never “thrown” clay before, and it was very interesting. I woke up this morning at 6:15 am to wash, make coffee with my Corning percolator (which exploded on the gas burner, which I never figured out why) and left for 7:15 am to pick up my very good friend Hélène at her house and then drive off to Hemmingford for Ronald Pothier Potier’s Workshop that was starting at 9:00 am. He gave us a course on the history of clay vs pottery, how it is found in nature, gave us several demos on how to make balls and center our pieces in order to create something. I went in this workshop just wishing to learn the process with the result being secondary… even tertiary. To close one’s eyes and just try to centre the piece was worthy of a whole month’s work… just centering the piece gave me an immense sense of satisfaction. I knew though that I needed to try and create something in the short time frame. Throwing is difficult as it is physically demanding in the sense that wishing a piece to go upwards is very different than just letting a piece go up…? By the end of the 6th piece, it just happened. Easily, without physicality and the piece created itself… and me, sitting there… looking at its form emerge, just tweaking it the way that I thought that it wanted it to go… and it was a piece! I think that I created a candle holder -)))

What I cannot get over is the fact that I did not take any pictures whatsoever of the beautiful space, place, pieces and people. How could I have forgotten to do that? So instead of showing you one of my pieces, I just did a quick sketch of my husband watching TV and he just turned into a woman’s profile. I do have problems with profiles — haha! — I must be tired -)))

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:: Learning: never too late ::

I have to feel an empathy toward the subject, and desire to form a relationship with it, as I am inevitably affected by the feeling or mood.
— Dion Archibald

This is so funny as when I saw Shari’s post today I could not help myself from laughing as we must have been on the same wavelength as we painted the same subject today. Quite the subject I might add as this is a painting of my oldest brushes that I have in one special container that I bought years ago in Cuba. As you can see some of these brushes are haywire and not very usable, but still, they stand proud. I am still practicing the techniques that I have learn recently in Charles Reid’s DVD. It is funny as being a teacher, sometimes you wonder “how could the students not get this?” after many explanations…. and sometimes the answer to this is that they are not ready to receive that info, they are not mure enough… as was I many years ago when I was hearing some of these principles. Everything in its own time I guess and it is never too late to learn.

Paper: Arches Paper CP 6″ x 9″
Colors: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna Raw Umber, French Ultramarine
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Learning Watercolor Brushes

Jar of watercolor brushes

:: Contour drawing ::

The only way to have a friend is to be one. — Ralph Waldo Emerson I bought Charles Reid’s DVD (downloadable) on painting flowers and he shows us his method of drawing with connecting dots without lifting the pencil, very very slowly. Here is the LINK if you are interested. The first image was a practice one for me and the second one I will be painting it in tomorrow. You will notice that in this contour drawing, when there is a shadow it does not delimit the edge of the vase to the shadow…. it becomes one big shape. And the shadows are all drawn in (something to remember for me). In the end, I find that the thickness of my lead pencil 4B is too thick and I should have used either a 1B or a regular HB… for next time -) We will see the result tomorrow… I was so glad not to be teaching today as I prepped for two of my classes and finally got two course outlines down pat and ready for my review tomorrow. I have promised myself that for the coming 2016 year not to worry about my painting/drawing works, if they are good or bad, worthy or not, saleable or not, frameable or not… none of that! I intend to enjoy the fact that I can paint and that I will paint, rain or draught, sun or overcast, plein air or in my car, in my kitchen studio or in the living room, I just will.

Vase contour drawing in pencil

Contour drawing

 
Contour drawing in pencil of flowers

Flower pencil drawing

Happy New Year :: Bonne année

Happy New Year :: Health, love, wisdom & a long life.

Here in Rigaud the winter light is crisp and we are under a foot deep of white snow and even the birds seem to be rejoicing. At least 12 goldfinches are perched on one feeder and the constant to and fro of the chickadees and nuthatches makes looking out the window a marvel of fluttering wings. I love this.

I will not be talking about resolutions for the new year but a bit about continuing to do what I do well in life and stop doing what I am not very good at… This past semester was a difficult semester for me and I had to fight against low energy levels and lethargy and I am becoming more mindful of the energy required to create on a regular basis. If I am to create on a regular basis, I need to keep my energy levels high and not get caught up in the drudgery of deadlines and meetings at school, which become futile in the long run for me in these senior years.

Je ne parlerai pas de résolutions personnelles pour la nouvelle année mais plutôt de continuer à faire les choses que je fais bien dans la vie et d’arrêter de faire les choses que je suis moins bonne — ou au moins essayer de m’améliorer. Je voudrais atteindre une régularité artistique. Je deviens de plus en plus consciente de l’énergie nécessaire pour créer de l’art sur une base régulière, et ceci veut dire que je dois garder mes niveaux d’énergie élevés et ne pas me laisser prendre dans la turbulence de réunions dramatiques et de la corvée des échéanciers à l’école, qui deviennent à mon âge, futiles.

Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Colours: Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna & Indanthrone Blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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Happy New Year 2016 :: Bonne Année 2016

 

Home or House or Building?

To me my home is not a building with no life… it lives with us, for us. It sheds some tiles from the roof once in awhile, it pops nails when the temperature goes below -20 degrees celsius, it loses its luster if not washed properly, it ticks and tocks at night and even sometimes receives some unaccounted guests that scritch and scratch. A few years back, we rented a summer house and we left our home for a period of two months, and when we came back, it looked so lonely. Do you see your house as a living entity or is it just a building with four walls? I would really like to know some of your thoughts…

Spring Musings

For a very long time I have not been back to post anything… so now I am back. We cleaned the spa, made a fire and burned the branches on the lot, cleaned the floors inside and out, did a bit of writing for the Masters degree. The Spring day was fabulous… the buds looked like very small gifts in the trees. Suz and I went for a robust walk on the Rigaud Mountain with Pyper, we went up and up and up… and tumbled down. Nice.

Bringing down the trees

After 4 years of thinking about it, we finally decided to take down 6 trees. After asking a few neighbours, Myriam came to see us. She was wonderful and true to her word, she cut the trees down, meticulously measuring and making sure that nothing else came down at the same time, as we live in the forest and wanted to maintain the other trees. She arrived on her old Ferguson tractor, which she drove by the way, from Ste-Martine to Rigaud, about 10 kms through the old roads. Arriving with a huge smile on her face, she was ready for the task. Richard, one of our neighbours, arrived on his Cockshutt tractor, he also with a huge grin. It took them 2 full days of hard labour, but finally it is finished.