:: Winter solstice ::

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields,
that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug,
you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says
‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871).

The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an important day for us in the northern hemisphere as this is the day that has the longest night and the shortest day of the year… so this means that tomorrow the days are starting to grow longer… already! Ancient cultures viewed this day as a day of death and rebirth. This fills my heart up with joy as the promise of spring is coming, even if it will not appear before mid-April. And to add to this day, there will be a full Cold Moon.

Here is another beautiful poem by the great Ursula K. Le Guin

In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.
— Ursula K. Le Guin


:: Ottawa and its’ lovely trees ::

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
     Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
     And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
— Housman

Had a fabulous time in Shari Blaukopf’s “Painting trees” workshop today in Ottawa. It was a short workshop, 3.5 hours and perfect! My husband walked the whole time through the beautiful streets of Ottawa and bought some food at the Byward Market and I painted the city’s beautiful trees. Wow! Shari mentioned, quite a few times, that when you paint trees you have to leave them alone after awhile and not fuddle too much with details… I tried my best not to, and hardly did I swear -))) We went straight to paints, without any ink or pencil lines… cool.

We also received beautiful presents from #Winsor&Newton too. Watercolour tube paints, a paint palette and some info. Very nice indeed.

Paper: Handbook Field Watercolour Journal
Colours: New Gamboge, B. Sienna & French Ultramarine
Location: Plaza Bridge, Ottawa, Ontario

Intertwined :: Entrecroisés

These two trees seem to have lived for a very long time, side by side, looking over the beautiful Lake St. Francis (now thawing) and perhaps having at one moment in time, only the wind, birds and a few human beings passing by them. Now there is a booming sailboat club right next to them, an asphalt road and many passersby. Times change but these type of friendships last. The snow is receding at a very good rate and we can start seeing water appearing on the still frozen lakes — finally!

Ces deux arbres semblent avoir vécu depuis bien longtemps, un à côté de l’autre, regardant le très beau lac St-François (qui est toujours gelé). Dans leur passé, ils étaient tout probablement accompagnés du vent, de la pluie, du soleil et quelques humains qui passaient. De nos jours, ils côtoient le club de voile de Valleyfield, avec une route en asphalte passant devant et beaucoup de personnes en balade. Les temps changent mais les amitiés, des fois, restent. Finalement la neige descend, oohhhh que lentement et sûrement, et l’eau commence à apparaître sur les lacs toujours glacés.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook
Colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna & Cobalt Blue
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Parc Marcil in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec, Canada


The majestic tree :: Arbre majestueux

I am the voice of wind
and wave and tree,
Of stern desires and blind,
Of strength to be…
— Charles G. D. Roberts “Autochthon”

Trees have longer lives than ours and were here before man. How strange to me that we do not see them, are blind to their majestic grace. So here is an ode to all of the trees of this planet, our lungs! I am grateful for their existence. Painting inspired by Arthur Rackham.

Les arbres vivent plus longtemps que nous et étaient présents sur cette Terre bien avant nous. Comment étrange que nous ne les voyons presque plus, leur grâce ignorée. Voici un ode à toutes les arbres sur cette planète, nos poumons! Sans eux, où serions-nous? Peinture inspirée par Arthur Rackham.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Pen: Sailor Desk
Ink: Carbon Ink


Peter Doig II

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” 
― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Yesterday I drew with a fountain pen one of Peter Doig’s paintings named Red Boat (Imaginary Boys). This painting has been labelled under the “Magic realism” genre which made me smile and was completed in 2004. What I learned while trying to emulate his painting is this… he uses strong vertical lines for his forest as well as for the sea, which was quite surprising and has given me a new way to paint… so thank you Peter Doig!

Hier j’ai tenté de dessiner une peinture de Peter Doig nommée Red Boat (Imaginary Boys). Cette peinture est catégorisée sous le genre du “réalisme magique” qui me fait bien sourire et a été complétée en 2004. Ce que j’ai appris en essayant de l’imiter est qu’il utilise des lignes verticales fortes pour sa forêt et aussi pour la mer! qui est assez surprenant. Donc il m’a ouvert les yeux à une nouvelle façon de peindre, donc merci Peter Doig!

Paper: Travelogue Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Gray
Colours: French Ultramarine, Aureolin Yellow, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Alizarin Crimson


The Snow has Arrived :: La neige est arrivée

I started painting 7 months ago, always using the same steps. First, I draw with a 2B or HB pencil, then go over the lines with a fountain pen (either black or grey ink) adding more detail, and once the image is complete, I then paint.  I was scared of letting go of the ink drawings… and of their secure containment of the image. I have been hanging on to this system for dear life… as I have tried to go directly from pencil to painting, with disastrous results… until the snow arrived!

I do not exactly know what or how it has happened, but since the snow has arrived it has given me the freedom of seeing the negative shapes of the objects instead of painting the objects themselves (positive shapes). When I was drawing in ink, I would be painting the positive shapes… and with the snow, I am looking at the “effect” of the shapes with the snow… thus the negative shapes. Anyway, hope you like these as I am having alot of fun ;-) I did add some ink lines after the painting was done, to give it a bit more detail.

Une peinture peinte de la fenêtre de notre salle de bains… et non j’étais bien assise sur une chaise! Juste pour dire que la neige m’a permise de peindre d’une toute autre manière… au lieu de peindre les objets, je peins l’effet des objets et/ou l’effet entre les objets… difficile à expliquer par contre. Je crois que mon explication en anglais, est plus facile à comprendre (excusez-la). Mes étapes sont les suivantes. J’ai dessiné avec un crayon 2B (ou HB) ensuite j’ai peint avec l’aquarelle et j’ai finit avec ma plume fontaine pour donner un peu plus de détails. Voilà!

Paper: Larolan Watercolour Sketchbook
Watercolours: Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith
Colors: Cobalt blue, New Gambodge and Alizarin Crimson
Pen: Pilot Flexi Grip Fountain Pen EF
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey