Sunday, 31 December 2017

France to Denmark September 2017

Book 3

September 15, 2017 From Brittany France to Billund Denmark

8:30 AM Camaret - Our travel day started when the taxis arrived to take us to Quimper. I had ordered two vehicles for 7 passengers per vehicle thinking we needed the extra places to hold our luggage. The first taxi to arrive was just what I had ordered. The second was a very smart sedan. Somehow they managed to get all of us and our luggage settled and we headed to Quimper. We travelled the coast road (#70) moving along at approximately 100KPH. The destination for most was Gare Quimper.
Donna, Liz and I were to board train 8720 to Gare Montparnasse in Paris. We arrived as per schedule in Paris 15:04. We were to be at Charles De Gaulle airport at 17:35 for our flight to Billund Denmark, departing at 20:35. We had some time in Paris so Liz and I ran while Donna waited at the station with our luggage to a local art supply shop to purchase half pans for my new palette. It is difficult to get this at home in our local supply store and not worth enough to order it on line and have to pay delivery. All was well, they had them and I got what I needed and we ran back to the station for our bus to the airport. Liz travelled with us to the airport then headed off to her B & B where she planned to spend the night before heading home to Canada.

Donna and I spent some time travelling from one terminal to the other before finding where we had to check in for AF flt. # 1764 to Billund.
In Billund we were met by our very special friends and drove to their home in Marslet. It was great to be home in Denmark, once again.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Painting Brittany 2017 with Anne-Laure Jacquart

August 29, 2017 I departed to Paris.
August 30, 2017 Arriving safely on Air Canada I found my pre-booked bus and headed to the city. This is a great way to transfer from the airport into Paris, inexpensive and efficient.
I was staying at the Hotel Delambre in Montparnase. This is a very small hotel that is exactly where I like to be in Paris as the location and the hotel fit my needs and my ideas of what a hotel in Paris should be like.  The watercolour sketch is what I saw from the window of my room.

We had 2 nights here before heading to Brittany. On arrival day we didn't do much but arrive,  stroll around the neighbourhood and find a place for dinner. The main job was to stay awake.  Another favourite and necessity was  to get a Gelato at Amorino so a must add to this journal page.

My first folded journal 

August 31, 2017
On day two along with two of my travelling friends I headed out to wander Paris. I have been there before, several times, but am never bored with strolling and looking. As you can see by the map in the centre of page 2 we did a great deal of walking. Some of it was around and around as we found our bearings (lost is the correct word) and headed toward the Seine. Before crossing the river we stopped at Sennelier's the amazing artist supply store on the left bank. I was looking for one colour of watercolour paint  (Gris Chaud / Warm grey Sennelier # 705) to use for the sandy colour of the buildings. Yes I can mix it but it so so much quicker to just to have it in your palette. I was successful and you will see it used in the sketch of the Palais Garnier / Paris Opera on pg. 2 and often in other sketches in this journal.  While in Sennelier's I noticed a small (4" x 6" or 10 cm x 16 cm) accordion sketch book. I had been given one as a gift (bigger) a few years ago and didn't use it as I was afraid to mess it up. This little book was perfect and so my journal began. After getting our bearings we headed to the Musee de L'Orangerie to spend some quiet special time with Monet in his beautiful amazing water lily garden. Then a stop for lunch outside of the Palais Garnier /Paris Opera enjoying almost an hour of mini sketching while we ate our lunch and watched all the people enjoying the square.  After lunch a visit to Gallery Lafayette for a little shopping and then a long walk back to Montparnasse. Tired and excited about our adventure we slept.

September 1, 2017
It is time to head to Concarneau to meet up with the others on the "Painting Brittany" workshop. Our location on Delambre was perfect as we only had a 5 minute walk to the Montparnasse train station where we were to get our train. We were travelling on the TGV departing Paris at 10:56. We had a very smooth ride in Car 18 seat 75. I was busy looking out the window watching France go by and trying to capture a little in my journal. Our train took us to Quimper where we changed to a bus. We met Anne-Laure at the bus station for this part of the journey. On arrival in Concarneau we had a little ops while we worked out how to get to the hotel from the harbour.  No taxis and the walk just a little further then we wanted to drag our luggage. The little train was not running but we got by magic a local bus that let us off almost at the door of our hotel. Our room had a small balcony with two chairs. The view was perfect looking out on to the sea. We could watch the men out hunting for mussels when the tide went out. The Hotel l'Ocean was just what we needed. They kindly let us use the big table in the bar for our nightly sharing time.  Dinner that night was in the old city. Those who had come early (our workshop started on the 2nd) walked to the old harbour and at the suggestion of Russ and Robin we found a Crepiere that they had enjoyed the night before and settled around a great round table. Time to get to know those we didn't know. We hard at one time...enjoyed each others company and were ready to return to our hotel for the night. Tomorrow we start our workshop!

September 2, 2017
Today was again at leisure. Those who didn't come early were arriving today. Our first gathering took place in the hotel bar at 6:00PM. I spent the morning with Anne-Laure in the old city. We spent some time the morning sketching. I spent a long time on this little sketch of the boats through the arch. While I did this Anne-Laure did two or three full size sketches. The old city of Concarneau is in the harbour. You cross a bridge go through a gate and then walk the streets through history. 
We met the others for lunch my first experience to have a savory crepe. It was good and I continued to eat a crepe almost every day during our trip. At our meeting back at the hotel each person introduced them self and then we shared the paint. The colours chosen by Anne-Laure for our workshop. 
She had purchased two tubes of paint for each of us. We were to bring a empty palette. Each person took a turn putting a small dab of paint from each tube in their palette. We were ready for our lessons to begin.  

September 3, 2017
The weather started out to be a challenge in Brittany, but everyone I talked to said you just never knew in Brittany if it...would rain, would it be sunny, would be warm, would be cold. We had it all. We had it all but the challenge passed from our minds as we passed from the weather to sketchers. Nothing stopped us as you will see as you follow us on the blog. Our first morning of the workshop we sat in the hotel...adjusting to the weather...Anne-Laure had some shells that she had picked up along the shore. First she showed us painting a shell using our petit gris mop brush, juicy with colour and water I think this was a lesson of the use of the brush. Something that all of us found interesting and useful. Once we had done a full page of shells with this method she asked us to pick another shell and paint the negative then add a small bit of detail making the white shell pop from the page. Amazing how many times I have spent an hour painting a shell when I could use this method and 1,2,3, success and a great looking shell!

September 4, 2017
Our day began as each day began with a workshop. Everyone was ready, everyone was excited about what we would learn next. We went to the harbour near the old village of Concarneau and found small fishing boats, all different colours. Once again we were being taught how to use our brushes. Firsts with the sable pointed round brush. Mine is a # 8 that I purchased on line from Winsor & Newton. This brush is wonderful for quick strokes and small detail. We practiced first small strokes in different colours added the dark like below and then the shadow. Wow, a small boat that looked just like the ones we were looking at.
The rope holding them to the dock was the hardest thing to accomplish. We had to get the right amount of water the right amount of paint and then quickly, add the line. I won't show you my page of little boats it was quite a challenge but certainly a lesson. From the entrance to the old city we travelled to the open harbour side where bigger sailboats were anchored. Here we were taught how to add a sailboat painting in the negative, again a quick but very amazing painting of a boat. I won't say again...that is just too much to accomplish in a sketchers time. We did it, all of us. They looked like sail boats!
That afternoon we took the local bus to Pont-Aven. We were on our own to sketch and this village full of tourists had lots to capture our interest. I sat on a bridge and took time to sketch this small house along the river. I am sketching small but what I had been taught in the last couple of days was very useful and I certainly enjoyed my afternoon as did all the others in our group who sketched, sketched, sketched.
Back at the hotel we shared what we had done that day and it was very clear that everyone was happy and learning. Just what we had come for.

Sept. 05, 2017
Today our workshop taught us how to use our brushes. We learned to puddle, paint very wet...what Anne-Laure calls "juicy!" Using the mop (petit gris squirrel mop) we watched with excitement as the loaded brush did the job of adding magic to our white paper. First one colour then the next just touch the edge and oh how beautiful it flows. The round sable is used to add clean clear colour (for those reading this from the USA "color") that can be isolated for detail. I am still working on this as I have spent many many years doing detail, nothing juicy...but I am sure you agree, it is magic.
Try now if you are where the Fall colours are it is perfect for this time of year.

Sept. 6, 2017
It is time to travel from Concarneau to Quimper. We did this trip slowly enjoying the stops along the way. Le Phare d'Eckmahl is the tallest lighthouse in Brittany. Four maybe crazy women climbed the 307 stairs. I was one of those women. I think it might have been hardest for me but it certainly was worth the climb, if for nothing else but "I did it!"
Our workshop today took place at Benedet at the beach.  We used a wax candle to start so when we painted the water and reflections from the sun and clouds the paper was left white...very easy and quite the result. A little harder in my little sketch book but on a wonderful piece of 100% cotton Arches watercolour paper it leaves a lovely feeling of the movement of water and the sun and cloud reflections.
In Quimper we found our new hotel, checked in and then went out to explore.
You couldn't ask for a better location. There is no elevator in this hotel but the staff was quite willing to help with the luggage if necessary. Once settled, together headed out to meet Quimper (pronounced 'camper' for those of us who struggle with the lovely sounds of the French language).

September 7, 2017
In tours that I design I always add a few if possible "Days of Leisure".
Today was a day of Leisure. I want to smile here because we were painting and painting is leisure...all the way. Today Anne-Laure didn't have to teach as she too was having a day of leisure. She did take us to 'Galerie 16' an amazing artist supply store at 16, Rue Amiral Ronar' Ch. Quimper.  She had arranged that we get a discount. Imagine a discount at a candy shop...a candy shop for artists. We all went and the excitement level was high. We all purchased..I think..I know I did. I found two travel brushes something I have looked for but each time I found one it was over my budget. At Galerie 16 I found a petit-gris and a Kolinsky #14 sable, just what we were using and just what I need to continue my travel journals.  I also purchased 2 sheets of Arches watercolour paper that I took back to my room and made into Sennelier travel book was almost full and I needed more little books to continue...a tube of Sennelier cobalt Violet deep Hue watercolour paint (one of the colours that we had in our Painting Brittany palette that I had fallen in love with) and a sketch set. All wonderful. Oh how I wish this shop was here in Stratford. I had to return to get cardboard to make the covers for my hand made books (you will see them further along once I have finished the pages in my Sennelier purchase). Now the fun begins. Make the books, do the sketches, find pictures for the covers and yes paste in things to remember.

NOW THE FUN BEGINS: I really enjoyed my little book of memories and tried very hard to find another book to purchase so I could continue. I didn't have any luck. In Quimper I purchased two sheets of Arches 140lb 100% cotton watercolour paper and with the help of my sister-in-law we made a book! In fact we made 3 books. I found some interesting brochures and covered the first books cover so it represented where I was. Here it is....

September 8, 2017

My first page of my first homemade mini folding sketch book. Today as you can see it is raining. Something we are getting used to in Brittany but I must say, in between the rain, Brittany was warm and sunny. Anne-Laure was very creative on where and what she was going to share in her workshops.

Workshop #5 took place under umbrellas at a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant was very kind and came out to clean off the tables (everything was so wet) so we could hold our workshop. Many of us had hot chocolate trying to warm up and of course to purchase something. It was not the warmest day. There were people walking by, rain or no rain. Our to put people in your sketches. Wow, another wonderful discovery. I am one of those people who like to paint the colour of the eyes of the people I am looking at....detail, all the way so consequently I don't put people in my sketches.   Anne-Laure said this is how you do it and we spent an hour or more sketching people. Easy shapes almost a squiggle then add a head and legs. You can see it in the example below. We also did a negative sketch of a person, that is the man in the white shirt. I can now add people to my sketches, adding life, without worrying about what they are wearing or what their facial features are like.
Everyone was rather wet this day but that didn't stop them. I went back to the hotel after lunch and worked on making more little journals and finishing this page with my glue stick. When it was time for dinner, the group came in with sandwich fixings. I had been too long inside so decided to find a nice warm place with something warm to eat. As it says, a Pizzeria Pomodor & Basilic,  right across from the Max Jacob Theatre.

September 2017 Location Quimper bus trip to Locronan

Today our itinerary said we were off to Locronan an historic village about 20 minutes by local bus #37 from our hotel in Quimper.

This exquisite village in the destination Quimper Cornouaille occupies a long-sacred spot named after a revered Irishman who settled here in the Dark Ages, but the place’s spiritual roots go back much further. From the late Middle-Ages, sail-making brought prosperity, and an exceptionally handsome architectural legacy.
Locoran has been saved and it is certainly a place if you are near that you do not want to miss. 
It was raining, this is Brittany…but we would not be stopped. We arrived to clear skies. This too is Brittany. Anne-Laure walked us through the village and found a place near the cathedral “Yannick Le Gal” in the centre of the village to start her workshop. We were here to sketch buildings.  Nice wet loosely painted buildings! She certainly has a technique that is special. I am not saying that it is easy to do, but we were doing our best and I could see each day someone picked up something and their personal style changed. Amazing! We are not Anne-Laure but we are developing.
After our workshop we were sent out to sketch. Along with Les I found a place in a lovely cobble stone road with stone buildings and beautiful gardens. I settled in on a low wall and got my paints ready. I was going to do this…I need to learn to stop and here was going to be the day I did this. I normally start out when painting with a very loose wet under coat. I think this comes from the days when I was painting in oil (way back) or acrylics (still way back). This of course is not the way you paint watercolour but I just can’t change. If I stopped at the undercoat and could work out how to get more paint on my brush at this time I think I would be closer to what I am trying to achieve. Challenges!

Lost in my challenge I didn’t notice the rain it came slowly but then it poured. I grabbed my things trying to pack up before what I had done was very wet and loose. Les was doing the same thing. There was a shop near where we were painting and out the door came the shopkeeper. She invited us to come, wet or not, into her shop. We stayed with her until the rain slowed. She told us about her village and suggested that we go to Creperie Le Temps Passe for lunch. Meeting Donna and Sandra we found the last table available at the creperie. It was warm and comfortable we of course ate crepes.

September 10, 2017 Travel day from Quimper to Camaret-Sur-Mer

Each day on our itinerary that we changed accommodations we spent the day travelling. The distance was not great but Brittany has lots to see and Anne-Laure was making sure we saw as much as she could fit in.

Out special destination today was La Pointe du Raz the most western point in France. This rocky spur with 70m high jagged cliffs resembling a ship's bow was our destination. This site offers a spectacular view of the Raz de Sein and Phare de La Vielle (the lighthouse off the Point du Raz).

Sketching is what we came for. The winds were high and it was difficult to hold paper and brush. At one point the wind picked up my palette and tossed it. Now I was sketching with a little sand in my paint. I have always found it difficult trying to capture the action of the sea pounding against rocks when plein-air sketching.  Anne-Laure solved all of that she always had a way to simplify and get the job done.  We all followed directions and happily came away from La Pointe du Raz without blowing off the cliff.

Workshop # 6 should be titled workshop # 7 now my numbers sequence is out.
Use a white candle, quickly scrub your paper where you think the water should be white then add the rock, the sea and the light house. Done and you have it!

Our accommodation for the rest of our time in Brittany was at the Hotel De France in Camaret Sur Mer. I wasn't sure about this accommodation it was a change in the hotel that we had chosen. We were told this was the sister hotel and it would supply us with the harbour location we wanted. I was so pleased when we checked in and found our room. It was perfect. There was no view but after being out all day we really didn't need one. Our meals were included dinner started at 7:00 and didn't end until 9:30. 3 courses - with lots of time in-between. We took our sketches to dinner and shared what we had done each day. Russ shared his photos we had become very much a happy family of watercolour sketchers, comfortable, warm and friends. Our chef at the Hotel De France was amazing. We couldn't ask for more.

September 11, 2017 Camaret-Sur-Mer

We spent our day in the harbour. As we had experienced since our arrival in Brittany the weather was
1. it rained
2. it was windy
3. the sun shone
4. it was cool
5. it was warm
6. more rain
7. an amazing pink and blue evening sky!

Another very special day, paint brush in hand.
It is a wonderful feeling for a part time painter/sketcher ( I spend more time at this computer planning trips then with my paint brush) to have this time and actually spend it sketching.

This was a great group everyone was excited from day one and all did their very best participating and giving everything they had learned a try.

Camaret is a fishing village filled with history. We didn't  have to go far to find something to catch our interest.

Workshop 7 (forgive me I will continue on as it says in my journal even though you know I am not correct).
Today we studied clouds capturing them with dry brush, wet on wet, negative shapes, paint the background remove with kleenex and what ever worked. The sky changed and the clouds did the same, we had everything you could imagine in a sky and following Anne-Laure we learned to capture the feeling.

The second part of our workshop was painting rocks. You know those hard things that are all along the sea. How would you quickly capture these rocks? Impossible, right? I have spent hours painting rocks as I love them. I learned on this trip that there is a big difference between a sketcher and a painter. In my heart I have always been a painter trying to be a sketcher. Hence going slow.

Painters paint paintings amazing exciting paintings and sketchers, you special people, capture what you see and feel quickly then move along recording the world.  I am still slow and don't really know if I am a sketcher or a painter.

All the years that I painted as a painter I felt I must capture what I see, everything. "Not so" said our fearless leader, it is more important to capture the feeling the light the mood then actually make a photo/painting of what you see. If the feeling is not there, do it your way. These rocks were quickly formed with a dip of my mop-brush in water and a couple of colours then slowly following the form of the rock (maybe they weren't all round). Magic!

If you are reading this and only reading for the tour you will want to know that the chef at the Hotel D' France in Camaret Sur Mer is 5 star. I don't eat fish not sure why except I am from Windsor, Ontario, Canada and the Detroit River our waterway just doesn't have what I would consider edible fish. In Camaret Sur Mer I ate fish every night and enjoyed every morsel. I will return to Brittany to eat fish and most certainly try more sketches.
Time to turn the page. The second little sketch book back side.........

September 12, 2017 Bus trip from Camaret-Sur-Mer to Huelgoat

It is time to see more of Brittany and after being to Huelgoat's magic forest I would say anyone who doesn't include this place in their Brittany holiday has missed a very very special place.

Huelgot: Lost high in the Parc d'Armorique in central Finistere, the village of Huelgoat looks sleepy at first sight, and its lake peaceful. However, descend into the Argent Valley and you suddenly find yourself amidst a mass of magical mossy boulders that have stirred the Breton imagination in fabulous ways. 

I didn't see the fairies but I knew they were there. How would you capture that feeling. Maybe it was the sun dancing in the trees or the rain making all smile as they worked with watercolour in a wet garden.

It was a tour day that included a workshop. For those of us who were doing the workshop it was another perfect day. Russ took many photos so it must have been good for him. Sandra and Donna, hiked, they had met the fairies under a toadstool. At least that is what I think. They had photos of rocks that balanced on other rocks looking like toadstools. They had enjoyed their day, hiking in the magic valley. They did get lost but they did return.

Now you must know that the rocks in this valley were HUGE! Boulders (some as big as my car and some as big as a transport) would be a better way to describe them. They were covered with a lime green moss. It is hard to describe.  I guess it is one of those things each must see for themselves.

In the forest we found a cafe. Lunch was at 'Roche Tremblant Restaurant' and yes again it was crepes.

Workshop #8
Anne-Laure started her workshop by painting trees.
1. dry brush
2. spatter painting
3. wet on wet
4. The most surprising, done with a angled blusher makeup brush

Trees are my favourite object to paint but once again I learned something new. I don't think it ever stops the learning part of painting/sketching.

On this page you will also see small boulders. Think of they as HUGE. Done once again with the mop-brush technique.

September 13, 2017 Camaret-Sur-Mer Our last workshop day!

Workshop #9
We woke to rain. This was to be our day to travel by boat to the Island of Ouessant. Half of the group decided that they just didn't want to go out on the sea during the storm. The rest joined me to walk to the dock where we were to meet our boat. We were told that the ship that closes the harbour had arrived the night before and no boats would be leaving as long as it was there. You can see it in my sketch of the day if you look closely. They returned our money and we headed back to our hotel.
Anne-Laure was not daunted by the rain, she found a comfortable place at our hotel. The sidewalk cafe was covered in plastic to keep out the weather so it was our safe harbour for the morning workshop.
Today we did two toned sketches, first in light grey just sketching shapes then with a dark value we added another dimension, it all popped out!. So simple so special.
At lunch we went to a creperie (Cap a l' Ouest), not far from the hotel. It was too early to eat but the owner opened for us and made a crepe for us to sketched. Yes even the food must be included in your sketch book if you are really journaling. I have my crepe in my workshop sketch book so am adding it so you can see how much fun it is to sketch...anything, even your crepe.
We started out sketching our coffee cup or anything that was on the table. Then when the crepe came we sketched it. I added the street scene and the umbrella later in the day. The best crepe, besides Anne-Laure's was done by Les.
That evening at show and tell, he held it up next to his face and said, "meet my brother". I have never laughed so hard there was actually a resemblance, the egg in the middle was his nose. Oh dear I am going to start laughing again.

Dinner that night was very special. Those who loved shell fish had a treat. The starter was a large plate for each person of 'fruites du mer' lobster, crab, crayfish, sea-weed, langostines and several sizes of snail "Escargot". I added a shell to my days page to include part of my meal. The main was white bean & pollock. Dessert: ice cream and sobert.  Five stars to the chef!!

Sept 14, 2017 our last day in Brittany

Today the itinerary said it was a day of leisure. A day to pack and re-pack if you were heading home. It didn't work that way, everyone was ready for another day. There would be no workshop but that didn't stop them. We headed out together as a group.   Our first stop was to the beach for a group photo.

                                                             Group photograph by Russ

You can see more photos on my Flickr page:
You can also link from my web page

Back to our last day in Brittany. After lots of laugh on the beach as we posed for our photo we walked up out of Camaret to a park to see the Alignments of Lagatjar, 65 menhits (rocks) lined up towards the sea. It has been speculated that this formation has an astronomical expalanation. Of course we sketched. It was very windy but believe it or not the sun was shinning. Then we continued along the coast, some heading in one direction others heading back following the coast to Camaret. Dinner that night: Salade de caille, Main duo de lotte au jambon and aux algues, Dessert Koving Amann.

I am hoping that everyone in this group will all meet again on another amazing sketching trip with Anne-Laure. Time will tell! Maybe you will join us?

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Paris for Women 2016

Sept. 24, 2016 Toronto Pearson Airport
I took my seat on Air Canada's overnight flight to Paris. As usual the seats were too small and the leg room too short. Now I have complained as everyone does, I will continue with my story. Not long into the flight dinner was served, I was watching a movie that was not worth the time but being hearing impaired I don't have a lot of selection in flight. This one had captioning. I won't share it with you as it really wasn't my idea of entertainment.
I put on my sleep mask, turned off my hearing aid and put my head on my pillow (I carry my own feather pillow on overnight international flights). I was asleep in that kind of sleep where you think, you are asleep but maybe you are awake.
On arrival I was ready to tour having slept at least 2 maybe 3 hours in flight. I am getting better at this each flight not sure what either the sleeping in flight or convincing myself that I slept inflight.  The young woman sitting next to me sat in her seat on boarding, put her head back and was asleep. She woke to eat her meal and then back to sleep. She slept from Toronto to Paris. Now to find out how she did that.

On arrival in Paris we were met by our pre-arranged bus and drove into the city of lights. The bus took us to the hotel. We checked in, dropped our luggage in the hall near the hotel desk. Our itinerary said that we would go to Notre Dame Cathedral as it was Sunday and where else would you go in Paris on Sunday?
We went by metro and I got my first 10000 steps walking in the metro from one station to the next. This was not a favourite on the trip for my group. Paris is best seen walking but then for those from my part of the world, walking is often a new adventure. They did so well walking for 10 days in Paris.

This blog is supposed to be my travel sketch journal so I will now add my first opportunity to sketch in Paris this trip. I hope they continue at home.

Welcome to Luxembourg Gardens, a magical park located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. It was created, beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, the model sailboats on its circular basin, and for the picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620.

A quiet time sitting in the sun looking down the long green space and gardens was a special time and a wonderful way to start my time in Paris. 

I have been to Paris many times and only visited this garden for short periods of time not to sketch just to visit.  This trip with a chance to sketch I returned and returned paint brush in hand and a smile on my face.
On heading back to our hotel from the gardens we passed this small rather deco building just before the exit gate. A chance to sit in the sun, paint brush in hand.

You can't always be out walking and looking even though this is my favourite thing to do in Paris, I did return to my room one afternoon, sit on my bed and sketch the view from my window. It is the view from most windows if you are lucky enough to spend time in a small hotel on a narrow Paris street. We stayed at Hotel Delambre in Montparnasse a great location for all our selected destinations. A 35 minute walk to Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Company cutting across Luxembourg Gardens of course. We could also catch a bus or take the Metro to anyplace on our itinerary.


Of course there is more to Paris then Luxembourg Gardens so on Wednesday we headed to the Louvre. Yes we went to see the Mona Lisa. On Wednesday the Louvre is open until 8:00 PM so it is the best day for those who want to really see the Louvre. I have been before and find the number of visitors more then I need when there is so much to see outside.  With a couple of my travellers we enjoyed a great meal in the Louvre then walked through the Tuileries across the Palace de la Concorde where a big tent had been set up to house the world  of fashion. September is fashion month in Paris! We continued up the Champs Elysees, looking in windows enjoying this amazing international shopping street. A new restaurant was to open believe it or not "Five Guys". This felt rather strange but it is an international shopping street and hamburgers are starting to become of interest to the Parisians.  Good luck Five Guys.

As I didn't date my sketches and they were done quickly as I sat with my friends in a cafe watching the world go by this next sketch was done sitting outside a cafe (where most Parisian sit relaxing with a glass to watch the world go by) near the Seine on our way back to Montparnasse after time on the Champs Elysees . I don't know the date but it was at what I thought was rush hour. The cars were coming across the bridge on the Seine from the left bank. So many cars on these beautiful old streets and bridges moving bumper to bumper. I don't think Paris was made for cars.  The wine was good and when painting there really is no time to do much more then look and sketch so I spent a lovely half hour enjoying the view, sipping my wine and sharing with my friends. Now this is Paris! Horns, wind, moist air (maybe it is rain) and talk, quiet talk.....

September 30, 2016
I do remember where this was and why I was sketching. These advertisement structures that you find throughout Paris are really very interesting and very colourful. This one was across the street on the Champs Elysees from the Marriott Hotel. It had started to rain and we were walking back from the Arch de Triomphe. What do you do in the rain in Paris? You find a cafe, one out of the rain and you order a glass of wine and watch everyone running to do the same thing. A glass of wine at the Marriott is 10 Euros but the view is worth every penny. 


For anyone reading this that is a sketcher / painter, you will know what I am doing. I purchased a new brush a 'Petit Gris', in a lovely artist supply shop just around the corner from my hotel. A very lucky coincidence don't you think? There were in fact two great artist supply shops in this area. I wanted to try my new brush which is a mop and to do this in my little journal I needed to do what I call a very loose sketch. I was sitting in a park not far from my hotel, it was cold...yes it was very cold...there were many children and their parents enjoying the park. The sun was trying very hard to stay out from behind the clouds. I was sketching quickly and this my friends is the result. Anne-Laure what do you think?

October 2nd 
Back in the park in the afternoon the weather had changed so you can see in my sketch more detail, more time. I have a terrible habit of overdoing a sketch because I sit too long in the same place. I was taken by the roof top tiles and the interesting chimney pots. The tree in the foreground even though it looks like an evergreen (coniferous) is a deciduous and each of those little dots are leaves. I am struggling with green. This green is viridian, a little ultramarine blue and some lemon yellow. I don't have it quite right. I am looking down an alley, a narrow passage between houses. I am enjoying using purple from french ultramarine blue and scarlet lake,  instead of black in my watercolours. 

Our last day in Paris, October 3, 2016. 
It is always sad to think that such an amazing time is over and on the 4th of October we will be heading home. I certainly didn't sketch enough, I certainly didn't see enough, I certainly didn't spend enough time in the Louvre or just sitting in a cafe but I certainly did more of that then I would have at home. 
This day, our last day I went with my friend back to Luxembourg Gardens.  She said that if she did anything in Paris on this last day she wanted to go back to the park have a picnic and enjoy the day. 
We walked around the outside path of the garden, left the gardens and found a wine store where we purchased a half bottle of wine. The proprietor kindly popped the cork and gave us two small plastic glasses. We continued our walk and found a shop selling what they call in Paris, street food. I purchased a baguette with cheese, ham and butter. You don't find butter used in this way in Paris, so it was a real treat. With our sandwich and oh yes a wonderful apple tart...I can still taste it...we returned to the garden found a chair and enjoyed our picnic in the sun. In front of us was the Luxembourg Palace. If you look back to the first sketch in this memory to the sketch of the Luxembourg Palace you will find me sitting in this chair to the left looking down on the palace at about the
 2nd floor.

I had been in to the art market near our hotel on Sunday. There were several artists selling paintings of this chair. I enjoyed saving myself the 42 Euros they were asking and the time looking at my place in the sun. 
It was getting warm so we decided to walk along and find a place out of the sun. There was a gardener on a large machine which made a great deal of noise and many children running around following what I think was a game set out by their teacher. My friend was reading and found it all just too disturbing to stay in that spot. With my chair finished we made one more move before heading back to the hotel. A beautiful flower garden beneath an amazing old tree. The branch held up at one end by a stake. I settled in and started to once more with my Petit Gris paint brush try and capture in a very loose style the colours of the garden. Along came the gardener and his machine. Hence we departed Luxembourg Garden and headed back to our hotel. It was a beautiful day and a colourful ending to our time in Paris. 


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Exploring the Viking Trail, Together June 2016

I have just returned from 9 days in Newfoundland and Labrador 'Exploring the Viking Trail' with 41 great travellers. This was a tour for women so there wasn't a great deal of sketching time as I had in Portugal when the group were sketchers travelling with Montreal Artist Marc Taro Holmes. The weather was rather inclement, making it difficult to stand outside without blowing away. Believe me even at my size it was hard to not get blown over. It was a wonderful experience and I must say the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are 5 star. They came to this island and many stayed, for many generations. They lived through the worst of weather conditions but shared the best of family and friendships.  They shared their music, their friendship and their history with us. I think everyone on this trip came home feeling that not only did they become an Honourary Newfoundlander by partaking in the ceremony of the Newfoundland Royal Order of  Screechers but that Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to be a special place to them.

On day one I sketched from the bus as I have done in the past...what I called mini memories. The bus was bouncing, a lot! We headed to Gros Morne National Park which is named after the mountain shown below. The snow was still on the top. At Norris Point we took a boat along the coast to experience the coast line. How excited we were...too excited to sketch...when we saw a whale.

He turned then...
he dove! and was gone

Bobbie was successful in capturing the whale in a series of about 8 photos. I hope that she will share so I can include them here. This is one of three I was lucky enough to get, I must admit I was so excited I forgot to take photos.

On the bus as the world sailed by. A short stop at the light house gave me a minute to do this mini but it was all I could do to hold my sketch book, water brush and mini travel sketch box and stay upright in the wind.

another day on the bus in Gros Morne a visit to the Arches with a stop long enough for those looking for a photo op...and for me to quickly do a mini...then we saw  our first iceberg! The trees along the road fascinated me. I watched and watched and finally using the direction of Marc Taro Holmes when he painted looking down into the olive trees in Portugal I sketched the trees along the road. A lot of painting negative space. This also was a memory painting.
Raining and cold but so much to se...we continue our journey. At L'Anse aux Meadows we first walked through the rain from one Viking building to the next it was cold but very interesting. The last building I visited before heading back to the bus to capture the mist/cloud rolling in was a long house where women were cooking around an open fire. We had a chance to try their biscuits with some wonderful partridge berry comport. Worth the walk in the rain.


Finally a sunny morning. We had time in Corner Brook at the Glynmill Inn to wander before boarding our bus to Twillingate and more rain and fog.

We arrived in St. John's on the 15th of June, still cold. Breakfast was served on the third floor of #9 Roses Heritage Inn, our home in St. John's for 4 nights.  It was too cold to sit on the street and sketch so a couple of us thought that we could find a restaurant for coffee where we might look out the window and sketch. Have you ever noticed how coffee shops don't have many places to sit that look out on a pleasant view? This was the case of Starbuck's on Water St. in St. John's so the option was to sketch the people in the coffee shop. Not a great experience, but something I should keep trying if I am going to sketch as an Urban Sketcher!

Back in St. John's on the last day of our adventure the temperature soared to 24 degrees Celsius and I had some time to sketch. I started across from our accommodation then moved back to the side of other side of the street to catch the view of the Church. St. Thomas Anglican Church was the garrison church for Fort William. While I sketched todays parishioners arrived for morning service. It was a lovely warm day in sunny St. John's. I don't think you hear that too often.

Working in my new, made by me, sketch book I had a chance for a stop by the harbour. It is nice to travel with people who like to sit and take in the sights. I could have stayed longer but Air Canada was waiting and those who had gone to the Girl Guides of Canada Trefoil Gathering would be heading to the airport to return to their homes. I wanted to hear about the Gathering and what they had done while spending the last 4 nights in St. John's.
Now to do some serious sketching. My next adventure will be in Chicago in July when I go to the Chicago Urban Sketchers Symposium. I am looking forward to this experience.
THEN OFF TO INDIA IN FEB. 2017 TO SKETCH WITH ANNE-LAURE JACQUART. Join me and Anne-Laure's workshop you can find all the information on under "Tours for Painters".

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The first four pages of my mini memories in Portugal 2016

Here I am once again trying to catch up on my blog. I have been in Portugal with an amazing group of talented painters. On return I was told by one of these people, an avid blogger, that I should post my Portugal journey and get it done now if I am to continue to show my blog address in my signature. She is right of course.

I didn't do many mini memories when I travelled this trip as it was a watercolour workshop but I will add the few pages that I did so you can once again travel along with me. I will also include paintings that I feel were close to being finished. They are in my sketch book so can be considered sketches.

Thank you for taking a look. Hope you enjoy.


Hello here we are in Alvor Portugal. An amazing little fishing village (growing daily with big white condos along the beach) that has not lost its charm as the feeling of its roots are still there in the narrow streets and exciting cafes. Alvor is in the Algarve Region of Continental Portugal. The closest airport is Faro. For us to travel there is at the time of year we went is a long journey. My flight took me from Toronto to London Heathrow to Lisbon and then to Faro. Each stop included waiting time. You do arrive tired but it is well worth the journey.

The little restaurant that we had our first lunch in Alvor on March 21 was a favourite from our last visit. A toasted sandwich of bacon and jam (yes I know :)) but my favourite with a glass of wine cashed out at 5 euros. You can't go wrong and I was in heaven. Our meal at the 'O Arco Da Velha' was the most exciting meal we had in Alvor this visit. Four of us shared a sea bass that came ready to eat, no bones, no head now tail, the normal way fish is presented if you don't ask. The chef was cooking as you ordered on his barbeque just outside the door of the restaurant. The fish came with little red skinned potatoes and vegetables. It was wonderful. In Portugal it takes a lot of time to order and receive your meal but it is worth the wait.  Eating out is a very special time, this dinner was with good friends and great wine and for someone who doesn't like!

Our first location in Alvor
1. The Alvor Church Tower, pencil and watercolour.
2. The Alvor Church Tower watercolour
Mini Memories begins in Alvor

Working around Alvor then off to Cape St. Vincent for a day trip.

In the Alvor Harbour watercolour

Day trip to Cape St. Vincent mini memory

Sketching at Cape St. Vincent pencil, ink and watercolour.

Workshop in Portimao mini memory - then a sunset champagne cruise

Workshop day in Portimao watercolour/ and watercolour.
           Another workshop day in Alvor Harbour watercolour



Small quick sketches

We went to the cliffs and down by the sea three times during our time in Alvor. Everyone loved it. Quick sketches, not my way to paint but very exciting

These two are what happens when you paint quickly...excited, green blobs across the smaller sketches below.
Back in Alvor challenged to paint a street scene looking up the hill from the harbour. I was told I was a cubist. - On the hill looking down on Alvor another challenge that I tried, painting a building through the trees.
We went to Lagos on the local bus for an adventure. This was our morning workshop in Lagos. My sketch is about a quarter of the size of the others in the group. I must learn to stand up, stand back and use a big brush.


Our trip to Monchique ended with a stop in Silves. I wandered, had lunch with some of the group and enjoyed an ice cream/gelato, coffee/galao and the sun before heading to the fort/palace to do a quick sketch. Time ran out and I had to run back to the bus but I did bring a small memory from Silves.

That catches me up except for the one full size painting, almost finished that I did in Alvor on a very cold day. I sat in the door way of a small house and looked down the narrow street to the house in the painting. So much going on. Yes for that reason I didn't finish before I had to head back for critique.
I was the most productive workshop I have participated in. Now to continue hopefully in Feb. in India.