:: Little Tree ::

      A little while, a little while,
The weary task is put away,
And I can sing and I can smile,
Alike, while I have holiday.
     Why wilt thou go, my harassed heart,
What thought, what scene invites thee now?
What spot, or near or far,
Has rest for thee, my weary brow?
     There is a spot, mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.
     The house is old, the trees are bare,
Moonless above bends twilight’s dome;
But what on earth is half so dear,
So longed for, as the hearth of home?
     The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The thorn-trees gaunt, the walks o’ergrown,
I love them, how I love them all!
     Still, as I mused, the naked room,
The alien firelight died away,
And from the midst of cheerless gloom
I passed to bright unclouded day.
     A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreamy, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side;
     A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air;
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere.
     That was the scene, I knew it well;
I knew the turfy pathway’s sweep
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering sheep.
     Could I have lingered but an hour,
It well had paid a week of toil;
But Truth has banished Fancy’s power:
Restraint and heavy task recoil.
     Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by,
And back came labour, bondage, care.
— Emile Jane Bronte

This morning, just before my morning class, I had a little time to draw this sketch of a little tree in front of my parked car. It rained a little today and I had little groups of students for my first class and I am coming out of a little cold. Apart from that, everything is looking good as Spring is upon us! Up to now it has given us fair amounts of rain & cold, but next week they are announcing for 18C… a little improvement over the past few days. I Photoshopped out some little blue lines that had seeped in from the underside of my paper as this morning I did not have my sketchbook with me…


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Redpath Museum with USK:Mtl

     A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.
     A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.
     A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.
— Jean-Pierre Simeón

Felt really good today to be back with the Montreal Urban Sketchers, drawing & painting & sitting with at the beautiful Redpath Museum in Montreal. I had not really painted since the Christmas holidays & I felt quite rusty… funnily. Painting or drawing is not at all like riding a bicycle. Once you have learnt to ride a bike, after a few pedal pushes, your body settles immediately in the long-ago strides, a physical memory. Drawing or painting on the other hand is a discipline, which means that you have to do it on a daily basis if you wish to progress. I remember that when I started painting, I found that the maximum amount of time that I could go without drawing (and not losing what I had gained) was 3 days… after that, the eyes were less keen on colours, the hand was less coordinated… so I knew today where I was heading & because I knew, it was fine! I had expected it & it happened.

A woman came to sit beside me while I was painting & she herself did the same thing. We painted in cordial silence, until one of us decided to ask the other their name… and lo & behold, we realized that we had been friends on Facebook for over a year, had never met, that each one enjoyed the other’s art & thus in our encounter, we found a mutual respect & liking.

Right now, as early night is upon me and the sun’s rays have disappeared, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I have been acquiesced to live long enough to enjoy the moments that I have left.

Colours: Buff Titanium, Yellow Ochre, Goethite & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Redpath Museum, McGill Campus, Montreal, Québec, Canada

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#OneWeek100People2017 :: Day 2 ::

Claude Debussy
“Rien de trop”: that is the artist’s motto. Instead of amalgamating the instruments for mass effects, he throws into relief their individuality or delicately grafts one timbre on to another, without anything of their true nature being spoiled. Like the Impressionist painters of those times, he paints with pure colours, with that delicate sobriety that spurns all harshness and ugliness.
— Romain Rolland

I managed to draw 20 more people directly from TV, which is not as good as drawing “live” people in real situations, which I love best, but still second-best. Probably that this is my last day of this weekly challenge as tomorrow I will be in intense correcting mode and for the rest of the week we will be moving back all of our furniture to where they belong… no more camping in the living room — yeah!

Today I found it more arduous as my head is preoccupied with the daily ins-and-outs of workers coming in and letting the doors open, banging doors banging noises in the house… I just want a bit of peace. Soon I know!

Moleskine Sketchbook 3.5″ x 5″













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One Week 100 People 2017

La maison du clair de lune
Le boisé saura les protéger

    En veillant sur leur intimé
    Ici la nature est généreuse
    On oublie la ville et le rossignol  chante
L’horloge ne compte pas les heures
    Et le soleil te donne toutes ses heures
    À leur manière, les saisons
    T’ofrent es frissons
J’entends la tourterelle triste

    Certains jours ça existe…
    Par contre, la mésange
    Toute heurese bat des ailes
Le parfum des fleurs

    À l’été, donnera des couleurs
    Les maîtres de la maison
    Auront de tout nouveaux horizons.
Avec souvenirs, veillera en paix

    Arrêtant le teps si elle le pouvait
    De l’ennui, elle ne rira
    Car ici, Dame Nature allège les tracas
Et le vent, dans sa douce voix

    Laisse passer le bonheur entre ses doigts
    Et d’un duvet doux
   La brise répète cachez-vous, c’est pour vous.
–Poème de Marie Dionne, ma bien-aimée et ancienne voisine qui me manque beaucoup.

I thought that it would be fun to participate in this fun challenge. Started by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel, it’s called One Week 100 People, and the goal is to draw 100 people in one week (March 6-10), as well as share your drawings using the hashtag #OneWeek100People2017.

So this challenge is to draw 20 people per day for 5 days. You can sketch “live” or in front of your TV, or from YouTube or even yourself for 100 times — sounds fun, does it not? As this week is the March Break for me, I do not have access to the unlimited number of students that I usually have… so I deciced to draw from the TV. Not ideal, but there is no alternative for now. What I noticed is that my student usually keep their coats on during class… or at least some of them do. They keep their hats on, their coats, scarves, etc. it must have something to do with our Quebec temperatures I guess…and add alot of pizzaz to a drawing! When watching TV, especially The Voice, there are no scarves, hats or coats… which is a bit more boring… tomorrow I will try to find a show that has more diversity and that is people oriented — do you know of any that I could watch?

I decided to “draw” with a fountain pen as this is my preferred medium and even though I do not have much time, the renos are still going on strong, and I have piles of student projects to correct, tonight at exactly at 9:00 pm I decided that while listening to The Voice, I would sketch out the participants… and here they are. I wonder if some of you can guess who is who? In a sense a challenge such as this one is really helpful as it forces you to draw people, which I am not a great fan! And it is making me to start “liking” drawing people… I see this day in and and day out in the classroom. Students coming into class saying that they “hate” typography or drawing… and I wonder how can you hate something when you do not know it? Try it first, and then we will see…. and I have to admit that by drawing people, it grows on you -)))














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:: The Projectile ::

The Projectile

We sipped tea.
Politely musing on possible reasons for the success of my books in your country.
Slipped into talk of pain and humiliation you find occurring, and recurring, in my stories.
And that element of sheer chance.
How all this translates in terms of sales.
I looked into a corner of the room.
And for a minute I was 16 again,
careening around in the snow in a ‘50 Dodge sedan with five or six bozos.
Giving the finger to some other bozos,
who yelled and pelted our car with snowballs, gravel, old tree branches.
We spun away, shouting.
And we were gonna leave it at that.
But my window was down three inches.
Three inches.
I hollered out one last obscenity.
And saw this guy wind up to throw.
From this vantage, now, I imagine I see it coming.
See it speeding through the air while I watch,
like those soldiers in the first part of the last century
watched cannisters of shot fly in their direction while they stood,
unable to move for the dread fascination of it.
But I didn’t see it. I’d already turned my head to laugh with my pals.
When something slammed into the side of my head so hard
it broke my eardrum and fell into my lap, intact.
A ball of packed ice and snow.
The pain was stupendous.
And the humiliation.
It was awful when I began to weep in front of those tough guys while they cried, Dumb luck.
Freak accident.
A chance in a million!
The guy who threw it, he had to be amazed,
and proud of himself, while he took the shouts and back-slaps of the others.
He must have wiped his hands on his pants.
And messed around a little more before going home to supper.
He grew up to have his share of setbacks and get lost in his life, same as I got lost in mine.
He never gave that afternoon another thought. And why should he?
So much else to think about always.
Why remember that stupid car sliding down the stupid road,
then turning the stupid corner and disappearing?
We politely raise our tea cups in the room.
A room that for a minute something else entered.
— by Raymond Carver & poem dedicated to Murakami, one of my favourite authors…

I have not been active on my blog for awhile now and I just wanted to give everyone a heads-up that I am still here & alive! It has been an awesome beginning to the 2017 year, even though extremely busy. In mid-December, while I was working in my office, my husband came in to announce that we were starting the renos “now”. “Now” I said? And he said yes… within 2 minutes, I was already starting to move books from their shelves, putting them in the few boxes that we had, he was already sawing at one of the floor boards… oooh! What a start! So since then, we are in a huge reno mode that has not stopped. My house is totally tipsy turvy… sometimes I cannot even find my dog, as he does not seem to like all of the ins-and-outs that are happening amongst the workers that spring up at every hour of the day on “his” territory. One good thing about renovating in winter, is that the workers are all free! And when you call them, they arrrive. Very different from a summer renovation.

So I took the time tonight to sketch the front of my fireplace that is inundated with books and mostly 3-ring binders… as we are moving the office from the réz-de-jardin to the first floor, and the bedrooms are moving down. There are mostly perks to this. The réz-de-jardin faces the brook and the main area of our property, it stays fresh all summer even if the temperatures reach high humidex levels and it is very very quiet as there is a 3 acre area of forest free of any human activity.. cool! And lastly, this area opens up to a main screened-in porch that is tucked away in a nook — quite wonderful for sipping your morning coffee or your afternoon tea -).

Soooo, here is the mumble jumble of a part of my living room. Enjoy and hope to be back in shape and ready to sketch in about 3 weeks time -)


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:: Troublesome yellows ::

“My life … runs back through time and space to the very beginnings of the world and to its utmost limits. In my being I sum up the earthly inheritance and the state of the world at this moment.”
— Simone de Beauvoir

Alas, I have heard many times how watercolorists (and myself) complain about how difficult it is to make good greens, without creating a mud puddle. So I decided to look at all of the yellows that I have at my house, and study them in a methodical fashion.

So my method was to create a rectangle and put a black line with a Sharpie permanent marker and then add a first layer of the colour. Then wait until it is completely dried up and then add a second layer on the top left-hand side of each colour (a dab of paint).

What I am looking for is this:
— That the lightfastness number is 1 (not 2) so that the colour does not fade in time;
— That the colour is completely transparent;
— Ideally the least amount of pigments. One pigment is ideal…

Best cool transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is from Sennelier Primary Yellow, Serie 1, Lightfastness 1, PY74

Best warm transparent yellow with good lightfastness:
— My best pick is Daniel Smith New Gambodge, Series 1, Lightfastness 1, PY97+PY110
AND Daniel Smith, Quinachridone Gold, Series 2, Lightfastness 1, PO49 (DS says that this colour is semi-transparent) but to my eye it seems totally transparent! Maybe that I am getting old -)

Surprisingly, I did not think that New Gambodge would be completely transparent but they were. Both Winter & Newton and Daniel Smith had very good results, however the Lightfastness number for W&N was 2, so I have eliminated it.

The two yellows that were the coolest were W&N Bismuth Yellow and DaVinci Hansa Yellow Light and they were both semi-opaque.

So here is the chart that I created & I left the resolution at 150 ppi so that you could zoom in to see what I am talking about.

If you have not had the chance yet to read Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing and if you are also wondering about your muddy colours, then this is a must-have book. Her chapter 3 on Octanic Colours is fabulous and she explains, in my very condensed explanation, that when you mix two colours together, that you must look at the primary color that you are using and what other color it is made up of (red, yellow or blue). For example, Aureolin Yellow (has blue in it) and Winsor Blue (has yellow in it) therefore these two colors will make great greens as these colors are octanic. Cadmium Red (has yellow in it) and Cadmium Yellow (has red in it) therefore this works! French ultramarine (has red in it) and Alizarin Crimson (has blue) in it, etc.


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:: Huntingdon ::

What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between.
— Robert Motherwell

The other day I went with one of my friends for a car ride to the Huntingdon area & I took quite a few reference photographs for just in case that I would need them for a winter day like today. Here in Rigaud it was freezing rain this morning, then ice pellets and will probably snow again tonight. Luckily, we only had four hours of blackout and it was during the night, but my husband has put some wood in the fireplaces, put in more gas in the generator, the candles are close to us and it is cozy. We are ready!

Paper: Handbook Travelogue 8″ x 8″
Colours: New Gambodge, Cerulean Blue, Goethite, Burnt Sienna, Deep Sap Green, French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Huntingdon reference photograph


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:: Mighty pine king ::

The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.
— J. R. R. Tolkien

I have painted this pine many times before as it is totally gorgeous to me & it is but a few hundred meters from my house & easy to get to. The weather was just awful here in Québec today as it started in the morning with ice pellets, then freezing rain and tonight the weather forecast is for snow. I painted this pine tree for one of my colleagues that asked me to paint it for her and also as part of the 7 Paintings in 7 Days Challenge that is going on on Facebook.

I am not sure if I like the colour  Hansa Medium Light as it felt too opaque for me. I used to love using Aureolin Yellow & since I followed a workshop with Jane Blundell I learnt that it is not lightfast! I will have to find a substitution for Hansa… if anyone has any suggestions for a cold yellow that is transparent, I would appreciate it!

Paper: Saunders Waterford 8″ x 12″
Colours: Hansa Medium Light, Burnt Sienna & French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: Deatramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Reference photo in Rigaud

Pinus Strobus L. — Pin strobus — Pin blanc — White pine.


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Health, love, wisdom & a long life!

Listen to the wind, it talks
Listen to the silence, it speaks
Listen to your heart, it knows.
— Proud native american

I wish all of you Health, love, wisdom & a long life!

I went back today to my all-time favourite spot to do some plein air painting (from my car I might add) and the mountain of Rigaud  stirs my heart. This New Year has me in a retrospective & prospective state of mind and I am sitting sandwiched between these two states, which I fancy. I like thinking back, and I also like thinking forward. I anticipate the opening chapter of a new semester with my students & I regret the closing of another chapter of my life, where age seems to defy me! I am relishing my semester break & already  it feels as though the sun is giving off its soft rays a tad longer every day. Life goes fast & slow, new friendships appear & old ones disappear sometimes, family grows and then shrinks. My pillars are the practice of the arts & the fulfillment of knowledge which are dear to me & keep me rooted.

Paper: Arches Cold Press 8″ x 6″
Colours: Q. Rose, Deep Sap Green, French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
Fountain Pen: Platinum Century 3776 (the height of Mount Fuji)
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud Mountain, Quebec, Canada


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:: Crack of Dawn ::

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen

Listening to the beautiful music of Brahms this afternoon, it snowed all morning and the temperatures have peaked to more comfortable temperatures, I painted the same picture as yesterday, adding some daylight to it as by now we all know that starting today the days are getting longer! Yeahhh!

Paper: Handbook Travelogue 8″x5″
Colours: Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna, Indanthrone Blue
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk
Ink: Artementis Document Ink Black
Reference photo: Eric Girouard


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:: Beginnings & Endings ::

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

     Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
     My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
     He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
     The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
— by Robert Frost

Today is the beginning of winter as the Winter Solstice has officially arrived about 45 minutes ago (5:44 am). I welcome this day every year as I know that by tomorrow the days will start growing longer… and Spring will be around the corner even if still far away. At the end of February I will start feeding my houseplants. Every season brings in new hopes, new beginnings & endings. It is the beginning of the holiday season, flu season, family reunions & festivities with friends & family, it is the end of a teaching semester, of a sketchbook and of yearly resolutions… these will pass and make place for new ones this coming New Year. As the day is at its longest night, I will stay up late tonight, watching the night & the stars, cherishing its deep shadows.
Paper: Travelogue Sketchbook 8″x5″
Colours: B. Sienna, Cobalt Teal, Indanthrone Blue
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Ink Black
Location: Reference photograph taken by Eric Girouard
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains the solstice this way. “It has the fewest hours of sunlight in the year.The word solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still.”At the winter solstice, the Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position. However, a few days before and after the winter solstice, the change is so slight that the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon” on Winter Solstice at the latitude called the Tropic of Capricorn.”
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:: Wishing you Peace, Love & Joy ::

Ev’rybody’s talking ’bout
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
Hit it
C’mon, ev’rybody’s talking about
Ministers, sinisters, banisters and canisters
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Popeyes and bye-bye, bye-byes
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
Let me tell you now
Ev’rybody’s talking ’bout
Revolution, evolution, masturbation, flagellation, regulation, integrations
Meditations, United Nations, congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
— John Lennon
Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″x8″
Colours:New Gambodge, Q. Rose, Red Sennelier & French Ultramarine
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada
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:: Beautiful silent skies ::

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. (Hans Jean Arp)

When I want to see huge, beautiful skies there is one place to go in my region and it is just between Rigaud and St. Clet. The skies are always luminous, grand and silent as they stretch west towards the sunset surrounding St. Polycarpe and St. Telesphore! I must have painted this sky many times up to now and here it is an older post. There is always a sense of awe that chokes me a bit in front of these immense skies… an inner peace.

I have been cooped up in the house for the past four days as the flu has hit us… the sniffles, coughing, sneezing and nose blowing type of sessions where you just want to lie down and sleep, and when it is time to sleep, you are wide awake! Have you ever had this? In a sense my husband and I were well timed as it started one day apart from each other, so I did not feel guilty binging on Netflix.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Journal 8″x5″
Colours: Burnt Sienna, Q. Rose, Raw Umber & French Ultramarine
Location: Route 201 between Rigaud and St-Clet, Quebec, Canada.


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:: Three hats for one ::

Get yourself a mirror and paint your own portrait, over and over.
It’s a great chance to experiment, you’ll discover things about yourself,
and you don’t have to pay the model!
— Susan Avishai

Last night I was in the mood for drawing older men with hats, or at least that is what attracted my eye while surfing on Google. Without any live models with hats in front of me (my husband did not feel like putting one on and refused to be my model — he was intent on the soccer game) I drew from reference photos… very handy in these circumstances.

Most of my portrait drawings in the past I was trying to make them portrait perfect, and tonight I tried finding their distinct personalities. The last one is the best one in my point of view. I think that I will try what Susan Avishai says about self-portraits… it might just be very interesting!

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″
Pen: Pigma Micron 1.0
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada




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:: Square Phillips ::

“Aurora borealis
The icy sky at night
Paddles cut the water
In a long and hurried flight
From the white man to the fields of green
And the homeland
We’ve never seen.”
— Neil Young

We are quite lucky in Montreal to have so many beautiful landmarks, and Phillips Square is certainly one of them. There is the monument of King Edward VII, the Hudson Bay building and the beautiful Birks building, Christ Church Cathedral (neo-gothic) which is the focal point of my painting, Saint Patrick’s Basilica and many more of great beauty. A great place to sketch, even though it was freezing outside and right after I had finished my drawing I had to zip back home and continue correcting as the fall semester is coming to an end. I drove to Avenue des arts to buy some painting materials, and they were closed. Yikes! I took a picture of the Montreal Urban Sketchers group this morning as Shari was explaining to newcomers what we were about and some new info for the year 2017.

And now back to a frenzy of correcting!

Paper: Travelogue Handbook 8″x8″
Paint: Q. Gold, B. Sienna, Cerulean Blue and some Q. Rose and Phtalo Blue
Location: Square Phillips, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


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:: Urban Sketchers newspaper article ::

For those of you who have not had the chance to read the article in the newspaper La Presse, here it is! Pour ceux et elles qui n’ont pas eu la chance de lire l’article dans le journal La Presse, le voici -)



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: Montreal Urban Sketchers in La Presse :

My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn’t write
What the night penciled in.
— The Book of Longing (2006)

Today there is a fabulous newspaper report in the Travel section of La Presse on the Montreal Urban Sketchers. They have showcased the works of six urban sketchers from Montreal and in La Presse+, which is free if you have an iPad, you can see more information on the International Urban Sketchers and much more. What a great honour and a thrill to see this. Thanks to our leaders in this organization, Shari & Marc -)


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:: Ultimate Chroma ::

You should often amuse yourself when you take a walk for recreation, in watching and taking note of the attitudes and actions of men as they talk and dispute, or laugh or come to blows with one another… noting these down with rapid strokes, in a little pocket-book which you ought always to carry with you.
— Leonardo da Vinci.

Since Jane Blundell’s Workshop last month I have really been thinking hard about watercolour paints and how I should be using them. One of the many things that I learned was that Alizarin Crimson has a high lightfastness therefore we should not be using it as it will fade with time. I had been using this colour for many years now, and I am so happy to have learnt this… amongst many other things too. Permanent Alizarin Crimson is fine though, even though it is a synthetic blend.

For many years now I have been looking at the excellent website Handprint.com and there was a section that I told myself that when I had the time, I would surely test it out. And finally I tested it out today, even though I had no time, and it was much easier than I had originally thought that it would be. It is called “Learning how dilution feels” on the site and can be found under the link “The secret of glowing colour“.

I started with a tiny teaspoon that I filled with tube paint… which one did I use? Well, the one that I have tons of at my house and that I will not be using anymore for anything else than for tests. Alizarin Crimson. So I filled up the tiny teaspoon and with a synthetic brush I put that quantity on my clean palette. This is the “Raw” version 1:0. Then I added 1 tiny teaspoon of water and mixed it well to the paint, and this gave the 1:1 ratio of water and paint. The texture was one of molasses or corn syrup. You can easily follow what was the next step, huh? Well the colour started singing at 1:3 (cream texture) and this is where it started beading too! From 1:3 to 1:6 (milk texture stage) the colour had attained its maximum chroma and I was thrilled to see this. 1:7 and 1:8 were really nice too and at ratio 1:9 it started feeling watery… fine for some instances, but the colour had definitely lost its chroma. At ratio 1:12 blooms started appearing, a sure sign for me anyway that I have overwatered. Wow! I loved doing this as I always have problems of overwatering or underwatering my paintings… hard to find the right balance! Hope that you enjoyed this test -)

Colour: W&N Alizarin Crimson
Paper: Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook 8″x 8″


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:: L’île noire ::

That painter who has no doubts will achieve little.
— Leonardo da Vinci

It is snowing outside in my forested haven & it is the third time this season. It fills my joints with pain and my heart with some sort of joy as the snowflakes are amazingly light and fluffy, dancing in the night. It has begun…

Painting at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal last Sunday, I happened to be standing in front of my favourite scottish pub l’Île Noire which to me has the best floaters in Montreal. First I must add that I am not a beer drinker… or a beer connaisseur… I drink beer once a year and only if I am in this iconic scottish pub. A floater, for those of you who might not know, is a mix of Guinness and Harp… however, it is not a mix as the Harp floats on top of the Guinness. If you have never tried this, you should!

Colours: French Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna & New Gambodge
Paper: Handbook Travelogue Journal 8″ x 8″
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: BANQ in Montreal, QC, Canada


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Oh boy, what a shock!

Meraki [may-rah-kee]
Meraki is doing something with total love and pure soul.
It is leaving a little piece of yourself in your creative work.

This morning I woke up at 5:00 am and as I was getting up I noticed that the light outside was very bright and I mustered to myself: “Is it a full moon?” Lo and behold, there was crisp white snow on the ground. I woke up my husband so that he could see this too. What a shock! I went back to bed and when I got up at around 7:00 am it had melted away… fiou!

I was early today at the Grande Bibliothèque and I drew two scenes… the backstreet of St. Denis where houses and establishments meet. This is where many people walk in from St. Denis street to warm up and head for the bibliothèque so I had alot of onlookers commenting on what I was drawing (at the bibliothèque we are only allowed to draw, not paint). At noon I was finished so I headed back home as I still had some correcting to do. Once my corrections done, I painted in the colours from memory. I only met two other Montreal Urban Sketchers and many passsersby asked me what was happening as they said that on the 4th floor there were many people painting… I explained and they seemed pleasantly surprised.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue 8″ x 8″
Colours: Yellow Ochre (WN), Venetian Red (DS) and Cerulean Blue (WN)
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk EF
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Grande bibliothèque de Montréal, facing west


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:: La grande bibliothèque ::

“Each of us is an atlas of sorts, already knowing how to navigate some portion of the world, containing innumerable versions of place as experience and desire and fear, as route and landmark and memory.”
— E. B. White, found on Brainpickings.org

The Montreal Urban Sketchers are meeting tomorrow at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal and at this very moment they are predicting partly cloudy and the rain finishing for 7:00 am. We can always go outside if the weather is warm, even though they are announcing 9C maximum. Brrrr… we are not used to this as our bones are still in warm weather mode.

One of my favourite pine trees just lies about 500 feet from my house and today even though it was rainy, it was singing. The wind gently lifted its arms and it seemed as though it was looking up to the sky. I do have imagination, I know!

Paper: Handbook Travelogue 8″ x 8″
Colours: Yellow Ochre (WN), Venetian Red (DS) & Cerulean Blue (WN)
Fountain Pen: Platinum Desk EF
Location: Rigaud, QC, Canada


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:: Traditional Colour Wheel ::

“In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.”
— Jane Hirshfield, poet.

Four pears painted with a traditional colour wheel theme, as seen below. What is weird is that I really have trouble with backgrounds… they seem so easy, but to me they are not! I am also impatient and never wait for the watercolours to dry… so you can see that result with the top right pear bleeding into the bottom one. Humph! No matter, this exercise was really beneficial for my brain, my heart and my weary and tired eyes after prepping for two new courses from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm today. November is looming and the correcting frenzy for my courses has already begun. My heart is soothed as I read excerpts from Robert Henri’s book The Art Spirit. In his book, he says: “Art is life, an expression of life, an expression of the artist and an interpretation of life.”

Reading and thinking about Robert Henri made me think of Jane Blundell’s workshop as she noted that when we practice watercolour painting, we should actually be testing out water intake versus pigment. If you dip your brush once in water and shake it three times… look at the result. If you dip your brush twice… what happens? If your brush is dry, that is pure watercolour… which we rarely use or only use at the end, to put some calligraphy onto our painting.

Handprint.com also has an excellent section on these exercises.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook
Colours: Da Vinci Hansa Yellow Light, Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlet & Winsor & Newton French Ultramarine
Location: Rigaud, Quebec, Canada



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:: Different techniques ::

I found I could say things with colors that I couldn’t say in any other way – things that I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keeffe

During Jane Blundell’s workshop this weekend, we drew and painted from a reference photo using different watercolour techniques. During the workshop I did not really kow where she was taking us, but she knew “exactly” what she was doing. Bravo Jane -)

Techniques used: Toothbrush flecking, salt on wet canvas, watercolour pencil shavings dropped on wet pear, indenting with end of brush, dip pen brushed on with colour to create stem effects.

First we need to look at what we are painting and decide then if we need a warm or a cool blue… and onwards for the three primary colours. I then painted the background colour with Cerulean Blue (cool) and Q. Gold (warm) going over the six pears. I then “lifted” with a Scott Towel the bottom right pear in its entirety first (as it was the lightest one) and then lifted out the highlights from all of the other pears only.

The top left pear I used Goethite pigment first and then finished with Raw Umber as these are granulating pigments that will enhance the dots on the pear. One of the techniques was to use salt on a still wet pear (see pear at the bottom left–even though I forgot to add it in when it was time to), then the bottom right pear has three grated watercolour crayons dropped onto the wet pear.The top right pear we used an underlying green colour mix that we mixed ourselves and topped it with its shadow equivalent (adding red to the green mix), the middle pears I did with one application and the right middle and I could have taken the end of my brush while my pear was still wet to create dents in the pear and the right hand middle pear I had to wait until the pear dried fully before putting in the final crimson mixed with phthalo blue-green pigment. Fiew! I am amazed that I can still remember all of the steps without having to look in my notebook -) Was great fun and I would redo it in a jiffy!

She also spoke of the different water textures that we can expect… from directly from the tube, to butter, to coffee, to milk and then weak tea.

Paper: Arches Cold Press
Colours: Quinachridone Gold (DS), Goethite (DS), Pyrrol Crimson (DS), Burnt Sienna, Cerulean Blue (W&N), Raw Umber (DS), Viridian (DS).
Location: Centre communautaire de Lachine, Québec, Canada


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:: Jane Blundell’s Workshop ::

In art and dream may you proceed with abandon.
In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.
For nothing is more precious than the life force & may the love of that force guide you as you go.
― Patti Smith.

What an incredible weekend filled with watercolour demos, instruction, theory & practical hands-on exercises… which I have not finished yet, I might add. Jane Blundell is an amazing watercolour teacher — her speciality is really colours and the theory behind it, but she is also an amazing artist. We were 11 students at the Centre communautaire de Lachine which is perfect workshop space… we all had good chairs, good tables, good lighting and it was mostly quiet… apart from a few musical bursts that were flowing in from downstairs as there was a wedding preparation going on, and eventually the ceremony started.

I received so much information that my head is still whirling, in a good way. One of the things that I retained is that when starting a new sketchbook, as the first page is always daunting, why not create a colour wheel of your present palette? An idea… She also made us create five different colour wheels, going from bright clean colours to earth colours and then we had to apply that colour wheel to a pear painting, only using those three primary colours — the triad. Here is one example. We painted from a reference photo and the aim was to get the colours down and not try to paint perfectly… with that I am quite good! Ask me to mess up a painting, and I can! Well joke aside, it was really nice to do and the only ting that I would change is the background colour … I should have put a cool colour combo in the background and that would have helped the foreground to move forward… as everyone knows that warm colours move forward and cool colours move backwards? Just testing you -)))

Paper: Travelogue Handbook Sketchbook
Colours: New Gambodge (warm), Sennelier Red (cool) & French Ultramarine (warm)
Location: Centre communautaire de Lachine




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:: Dancing Barefoot ::

Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith

She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection
She is connecting with he
     Here I go and I don’t know why
I flow so ceaselessly
Could it be he’s taking over me
     I’m dancing barefoot
Headin’ for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
It makes me come up like some heroine
     She is sublimation
She is the essence of thee
She is concentrating on
He who is chosen by she
     Here I go when I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly
Could it be he’s taking over me
     I’m dancing barefoot
Headin’ for a spin
Some strange music drags me in
Makes me come up like some heroine
     She is recreation
She intoxicated by thee
She has the slow sensation that
He is levitating with she
     Here I go when I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly
‘Til I lose my sense of gravity
     I’m dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come up like some heroine
     Oh God I fell for you

Oh boy! Preparing new courses takes everything out of you! I prepped my courses this morning, corrected on Saturday as I have been working six days weekly since the semester has begun… and this has been gruesome and is taking its toll. Today I actually had the time to squeeze in a small drawing, made quickly and so out of tune that it came out rusty-looking -) My hand-eye coordination was simply not there. In frustration, after three different tries, I settled on this version even though it is not up to par.

However would you like to know the most amazing thing in this whole affair? I feel elated and content-)  Why is that do you think? I do not really know… but as I grow in age and wisdom (huh-huh) the process is more important than the result and in art, the process is everything. The act of drawing relaxes me like no other activity can… apart from playing music and perhaps tai chi. So just doodle away tonight or tomorrow or on the next day as it feels so good -))) Love it!


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