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.


Thursday, 15 October 2015

To Paris October 15, 2013

On Oct. 15, we said goodbye to the country and headed to Paris. I enjoyed my journey with my pen and my mini memories.
Along the route we passed clusters of villages, all the same at least that is what it looked like from the bus. The rolling hills and golden fields each village had a church steeple. It was a bright morning sky even though the weather person said that it was going to rain today!

We arrived in Paris dropped our group off at the hotel and then hopped into a taxi and went to find our accommodation. We had rented an apartment, 20 Rue Saint Sauveur, and were excited to see that it was all we hoped. It was. Our friends from Denmark were to meet us there. Their flight landed at 14:45 at Charles de Gualle . They hadn't made arrangements for their transfer so spent time looking around the airport. They were approached by a man who said he could take them to 20 Rue Saint Sauveur and they thought the price was right. Always a problem at airports. They accepted a ride and travelled into the city with a non-licensed driver. They probably paid more then they should of but the adventure was interesting and they arrived safe and sound.

You can see that the second mini is looking out the window at our apartment. It was into a court yard. We spent the rest of our holiday enjoying Paris.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Oct. 14, 2013
Monet's Garden...An amazing day.
No painting in the garden is allowed except by special permission. Our guide was especially good. I felt I really had a door opened to the life of Monet and his family.

Things I remembered she said:
Monet had 6 gardeners on his 8 acres. The water gardener had to wash the leaves of the waterlilies in the middle of the night, so Monet if he wish to paint could capture the light reflecting off them. They were near a dirt road with lots of traffic, causing lots of dust.

Visiting the garden is wonderful and an experience most times of the year. Spring for tulips, Summer - waterlilies, and Fall - asters, daisies. Summer of course is the busiest time of the year for tourists. In July and August you could wait in long lines to move from one garden to the next through a tunnel, single file.

The Benches in the garden were designed and built by Monet. They looked brand new!

He painted light and did a series of paintings in the pond / waterlily garden. Ten paintings at one time to reflect the change of light every 7 minutes.

I will take my sketch book next visit as I saw many school children carrying theirs and some of our group had a pleasant time sketching near Monet's home.

Walking in the garden is like walking in his paintings, it would have been difficult to stop and not see it all.

The following sketch was in the village of Giverny before we went into the garden. We were asked to sketch something and then pick out a small part of it and paint it. This was to show us how many paintings are in one and how important it is to simplify.
It really is amazing when you give it a try. Even more so when you are painting you actually remember to do it.

continuing on

Did you ever think that if you left something the necessary information to continue, when you are ready would not be there? That is what happened here. I have been trying and trying to get back to sharing my travels but just couldn't work it out. BING it came to me.

Hello all!
When I left you it was Oct. 10, 2013. Imagine. I was travelling in France on a watercolour workshop.

So here we are it is never too late to share the excitement of travel. As you can see by the notation on the side we were in Honfleur October 12-13 2013. Our accommodation the "Le Hotel Cheval Blanc" was right in the harbour and we couldn't ask for more. The weather wasn't the greatest but our spirits were high so out we went paint brush in hand.  The next page in my sketch book is a sketch and if far from being done so I would include it. What you need to know is what is written around the sketch. Oct. 13, 2013 forecast sunny to cloudy, mostly cloudy and cold but so much to see, so much to paint - blue shadows pink midtown, lunch on my own 'crepe poullette at 'Creperie des Arts ' Our day included a visit to the Musee Boudin, a popular stop for artists out to capture the essence of Honfleur. The Sainte Catherine's Clock Tower an amazing wooden structure in the middle of the main square had all the history that you could want. My problem was I spent too much time worrying about the perspective and not enough with my brush. Next time I will work faster. It is certainly an interesting challenge.

Samuel Champlain departed from this harbour in 1608 to the Americas where he founded 
 Quebec City" 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


April 23, 2014
I am preparing for my watercolour workshop in Turkey with Atanur Dogan. After adding all the watercolour paper, brushes, paints etc. I am forced to take a carry on piece of luggage also. Not great for a traveller. I should be able to do 18 days, with just the carry on, but then .. I will be back here to finish the trip to France. In between, I am hoping to post while travelling in Turkey.
Till then!