Painting & Eating :: Peinture & bouffe

You little dumpling…
So fluffy and endearing, floating on that sea of brown,
appearing as a bloated whale.
I won’t be interfering with your buoyancy.
Won’t even be peering into the pan.
I’m waiting for the moment when you, dumpling, are dumped upon my plate,
plumped by the gravy and surrounded by meat
for me to eat. — Francesca Johnson

It was nice painting again with the Montreal Urban Sketchers today as I had not joined them for a very long time. We met at the Restaurant Kim Fung in Chinatown and I sat with people that I had never met, had a terrific brunch with all kinds of exciting dumplings and some that were very  mysterious looking and then came back home to prepare for my classes for the week. As always, when I start sketching with a big group of people I am overly excited and dip into too many colours and sometimes my paints get muddied… but no matter, it was fun. For those of you who have never eaten at this place, it is really worth a visit.

Comme toujours c’était super plaisant de peindre aujourd’hui avec les Urban Sketchers de Montréal. Nous nous sommes retrouvés au moins 20 personnes pour manger et peindre en même temps au Restaurant Kim Fung dans le Chinatown de Montréal. C’est tout un de ces défit, je peux vous le dire. Si vous aimeriez vous joindre à nous, nous nous rencontrons à chaque 4e dimanche du mois et l’endroit est indiqué sur le site.

Paper: Travelogue Series
Watercolours:Aureolin Yellow, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson & Cobalt Blue
Fountain pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey
Location: Restaurant Kim Fung — 1111, rue St-Urbain, Montreal, QC, Canada


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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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:: David Bowie’s flowers ::

I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I’m not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does.
— David Bowie

These flowers are for David Bowie and one of his songs that reached out to me the most was Life on Mars. 

Did you know that tomorrow we will have gained 20 minutes of sunlight since December 21? Perhaps that is why I am painting flowers… hum.  It has been a very mild winter up to now and thankfully everything is still deep in snow in my neck of the woods as there was less rain here than in Montreal. I am still following Reid’s videos and having fun doing so and as I am a very detailed-oriented type of person, he is loosening me up. Don’t get me wrong, I am really struggling with less details as sometimes I get totally lost in my painting… can’t figure out what is what anymore and I just go “what the heck” and trudge on, so you can see that for some flowers I was really really lost. Luckily the song “Life on Mars” was accompanying my lost sensation -) I am really learning and I feel that I have to hurry and do as much as I can for now as school is starting next week and this week meetings galore so I will not have as much time to paint. This coming Saturday I am going to a pottery workshop given by Ronald Pothier with my friend Hélène and it should be very interesting especially that it will be a first for me!

Paper: Arches CP 6″ x 9″
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Deep Sap Green, French Ultramarine
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Watercolor flowers in a vase

Watercolor flowers in a vase

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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

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:: Forgot the title ::

If you slightly squint your eyes, you will see that at least 2 and possibly 3 values of color make up any object in the natural world. Practice creating entire paintings with no more than 3 values on any object. Paint a few of those and you’ll discern a rhythm between areas of 1, 2 and 3 values. It’s a fun game.
— Cristina Acosta

Continuing on Charles Reid’s DVD, here is another watercolor painting where he explains tonal values. This is why you see numbered values from 1 to 6 at the top of the painting and this was very helpful to me as this is what I find the most difficult in painting. Sometimes my paintings have only high tonal values and sometimes they only have low… He also mentions that we should start painting with the mid-values as opposed to starting with the highs or lows. Anyway, another DVD viewing that was helpful, to me -)

Paper: Arches 6″ x 8″
Colours: Raw Sienna, French Ultramarine, Perylene Maroon
Location: Charles Reid’s DVD in Rigaud


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:: Another promise fulfilled ::

I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed… equally well. — Johann Sebastian Bach

They say that Johann Sebastian Bach worked at least 60 hours a week on his music. Pablo Picasso painted 18 hours a day. If you wish to excel in something, you just need to get going and do it -) I had promised my union JACFA that I would paint two watercolours for them… and here is the second one.

I went to Hachem’s today that opened last November in Vaudreuil and they have a wonderful array of watercolour paints and many more items. The only thing that I found lacking was the quality of watercoloru brushes… they have many low end brushes, but not many high ends. What I was looking for was another brand of Cerulean Blue as I have not been happy with the Winsor & Newton brand nor the Daniel Smith brand as they are very granular (some prefer that granular quality). I bought a Holbein and Sennelier version of these paints today and I am happy, even sooo happy, with the Sennelier version. The Holbein is quite respectable too and much less expensive. So if you would like to see how the Cerulean blue mixes well with other paints you can see it on the side of the tent, in its full glory.

Paper: Arches CP
Colours: Q. Gold, Q. Rose, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna & French Ultramarine
Location: Drawn on location in Ste. Anne de Bellevue and painted in Rigaud

Another promise fulfilled

Another promise fulfilled

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:: Singing flowers ::

If I shall sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do,
I’m sure that, for me, there would be nothing left worth living for.

— Henry David Thoreau

Charles Reid’s video was just what I needed… he takes his time, and really shows us how to dip our brush in the paints and how to put it on paper. Actually it is one of the first times that I am happy with flowers that I painted as they seem to be singing away.

When I started to paint I decided to erase haphazardly some pencil lines as I found that they were too strong (see yesterday’s post). Then what is amazing is that Charles Reid paints with the tip of the brush facing downwards towards you… I really liked that idea. The other thing that I really enjoyed was continuing the object’s color into its cast shadow, as with the small jug on the left hand side… The perylene maroon is a very strong staining colour but I love its’ intensity and vividness!

The quote from Henri David Thoreau rings true for me, as when the sun sets it is a time that permits me to fulfill my own dreams and pursuits (most of these lie within the realm of painting, reading, thinking and organizing the house). Daytime is  a time that is given to others or for others in order for them to fulfill their dreams and pursuits. In a way it makes sense as a teacher I spend most of my days thinking of my students, working for my students, preparing and correcting my students. Do not get me wrong, I am constantly thinking of how I could improve my teaching so that my students get more out of it too… but when night time arrives, I shift gears and think of my own needs -)

Paper: Arches 5″ x 8″
Colours: Q. Gold, Perylene Maroon, Cobalt Blue mostly
Source: Charles Reid Flower DVD

Singing Flowers

Singing Flowers

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:: 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

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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


Happy New Year 2016 :: Bonne Année 2016


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A promise :: Une promesse

Become friends with people who aren’t your age.
Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours.
Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class.
This is how you see the world.
This is how you grow.

I had promised my local union JACFA that I would sketch some picketing scenes during our four strike days… well… better late then never I say! I am very happy that our negotiations seem to be coming to an end, and I know (having been on the Executive for five years) that these people work very hard for us behind the scenes to give us decent wages and working conditions. So here is the first watercolour painting that I did on a cold & rainy November day.

J’avais promis à mon syndicat local JACFA que je ferais des esquisses de quelques scènes de piquetage lors de nos quatre jours de grève … eh bien … mieux vaut tard que jamais! Je suis très heureuse que les négociations semblent tirer à leurs fins, et je sais (après avoir fait partie de l’exécutif pendant cinq ans) que ces gens travaillent très durs pour que nos conditions de travail soient décentes. Voici donc la première peinture à l’aquarelle que j’ai fait par un jour de pluie froide en Novembre.

Paper: Arches
Colours (main): Q. Gold, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada


Picketing JACFA members at Cegep John Abbott College

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:: Friendship ::

You do not need a score of men to laugh and sing with you;
You can be rich in comradeship with just a friend or two,
You do not need a monarch’s smile to light your way along;
Through weal or woe a friend or two will fill your days with song.

So let the many go their way, and let the throng pass by;
The crowd is but a fickle thing which hears not when you sigh.
The multitude is quick to run in search of favorites new,
And all that man can hold for grief is just a friend or two.

When winds of failure to start to blow, you’ll find the throng has gone —
The splendor of a brighter flame will always lure them on;
But with the ashes of your dreams, and all you hoped to do,
You’ll find that all you really need is just a friend or two.
You cannot know the multitude, however hard you try;
It cannot sit about your hearth; it canot hear you sigh;
It cannot read the heart of you, or know the hurts you bear;
Its cheers are all for happy men and not for those in care.

So let the throng go on its way and let the crowd depart;
But one of two will keep the faith when you are sick at heart;
And rich you’ll be, and comforted, when gray skies high the blue,
If you can turn and share your grief with just a friend or two.
— Edgar A. Guest

Some people have good bones. To explain further, I was simply watching TV tonight and there was an interviewee that had such good bones, that I got up, and decided to draw her quickly. You know that type of face that has a solid foundation (skeleton) and seems just right? The eyebrows are not too widely set, the mouth is not too wide or too thin, the chin is firm without being square? Well here she is.

I have not drawn or painted in a very long time and the reasons are numerous… but what I am very grateful for is that my 91-year old mother is now safe and sound in a home that she chose, surrounded by many acquaintances and some friends. I guess that the number of friends that one has is not very important as one is all we need, do we not? If we have one good friend, what could we ask more? Two? Three? Twenty? No. I think that one good friend is enough. The poem that I cited above is taken from one of my Dad’s favourite poetry books.

Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Fountain Pen Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


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:: Stressful Times ::

What one has most to work and struggle for in painting is to do the work with a great amount of labour and sweat in such a way that it may afterward appear, however much it was laboured upon, to have been done almost quickly and almost without any labour, and very easily, although it was not.
— Michelangelo

The public sector in the province of Québec which includes teachers, nurses and public employees are sitting at the negotiation tables and what I can see from afar is that there is no negotiations going on… the government has decided to go on austerity measures, even though they are giving themselves pay hikes of 55% per year. Argh! Anyway, while we were striking last week, I practiced some of my people drawing skills.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Location: John Abbott College, Québec, Canada


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:: Hirschfeld the line King ::

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.
— Phyllis Diller

If you type in Google images the name “Hirschfeld” you will find an artist that is a line king! Beautiful flowing lines, some in amazement, some in comedy, some tragic… oooh! What lines that he could draw. So here is my small line drawing of a thinking man.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Twisbi Classic EF
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


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:: Doing nothing ::

“It takes a lot of time to be a genius.
You have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.”

— Gertrude Stein

Well today I arrived earlier at work and decided to draw this out sitting in my car. If someone had been watching me, they could have wondered what I was doing for such a time… as I am pretty sure that I appear to be doing nothing.
I work on a beautiful campus, and there are many little hidden gems just waiting for me to discover them. Here is one of the roads on part of the McGill Campus leading up to an intersection of sorts that leads to my part of the campus. There was a very soft light today juxtaposed to the harsh angles of the buildings that called out to me. The leaves are falling now and not many remain…

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Twisbi Classic EF
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: John Abbott College, Québec, Canada


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:: Models ::

Photos transcribe life
while paintings translate life.
— Edgar A. Whitney

Students make the most amazing models as they seem to be unaware of their surroundings. My favourite sketch today was of the two girls sitting at a table, with the one on the left sitting straight and the student on the right just looking soooo tired… A very typical scene at Cegeps.

Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Twisbi Classic EF
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Cégep John Abbott College, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada


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