Kamouraska, Bas- St- Laurent, QC

This month we spent 4 days in the Quebec village of Kamouraska. It is a plein air painter’s destination but also fulfills my needs to have gourmet food, interesting architecture, beautiful sunsets, and friendly locals. The food trail begins with the restaurants-L’Amuse Bouche, Côte Est Cafe, Bistro de la Mer/Poissonnerie Lauzier, the bakery-La Boulangerie Niemand, the brewery- Tête d’Allumette Microbrasserie, the chocolate shop, La Fée Gourmande.

The village architecture is influenced by what settlers had in France and the need to adapt to what the lower St. Lawrence could supply. The Côte Est Cafe is located in the original Presbytery built in 1848 with a “neo-classical influence”.  The former court house built in 1888 is located midway on the main street and often called the “chateau” but in the tourist information they are more specific saying ” second empire, la renaissance française”. As all French Canadian villages the church is the heart. The recent building was constructed in 1912, after four previous churches perished, by the architect Joseph-Pierre Ouellet with a “neo-renaissance influence”. For an interesting insight into this village the booklet  Carnets de Kamouraska ( french only) is an informative source.The text is by Paul Louis Martin and illustrations by resident artist Anne Michaud in watercolour and ink.

My contribution on how I see the village is through my sketches in watercolour & gouache on Arches and Fabriano paper. My interest in gouache started with my Chinese painting workshop last month. At the time of buying my supplies I was told gouache would be a good substitue for the required Chinese paint. Liam Quan Zhen our instructor, quickly, told me this is the sequence, watercolour, chinese paint, gouache. So I put aside my gouache and bought the required paint brand, Yasutomo. Liam pointed out the need to read the label on artist quality paint. A common colour name is not enough if you want exact results. For example, when he called for vermillion the number on the tube is #51 or phthalo blue #57 or light green #55. He pointed out the need for pigment colour index names and numbers   Often paint colours that have the same name or slightly different name can vary greatly once on the page. If you wish to have similar results to your instructor pay attention to the brand name and paint type.

Sketching from street bench, watercolour & gouache, 2017

Sketching from Church parking lot, watercolour & gouache, 2017

East Shoreline from Wharf, watercolour & gouache, 2017

Tide is Out, watercolour & gouache, 2017

Former Palais de Justice (1888), watercolour & gouache, 2017

 

 

My Autumn 2017

Our Tuesday plein air group returned to Terrebonne, Île des Moulins

Île des Moulins, Terrebonne, watercolour, 2016

It is August 22 and another day with the forecast of rain. However, early in the day around 9 am the sun is trying to shine so maybe the weather man or woman is wrong. Just as I begin my sketch, large drops of rain hit my paper and within minutes more and with this …. I settle for my watercolour sketch of 2016. There is a silver lining, the cafe across the street Impressions offering moules et frites with a side order of mayonnaise. Delicious and all in with beverage under 20$cdn.

Café Impressions, Île des Moulins, Terrebonne, QC

A three day workshop with Chinese American painter Lian Quan Zhen in Corbeil, Ontario ends the month. The desire to learn the Chinese brush strokes and Lian’s approach to watercolour takes me to this small town on the outskirts of North Bay. The first day is the use and technique of the Chinese brush, Chinese paint and ink on rice paper to render hollyhock flower. Later, we move on to painting birds in flight. The last two days are spent learning Lian’s watercolour techniques. To be brief, he favours certain primary triads, quality watercolour paper and masking liquid. Here is my finished product.

Piebald and Bay Horses, watercolour on Arches paper, 14 x 21 inches, 2017

In September, our Swedish cousins arrived for a visit and introduce me to the founder of the Swedish Contemporary Art Movement, the painter Ivan Aguéli (1869-1917). A close friend of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin makes him a “must know”. For myself, this art of the landscape is simple, direct with the colours put down with conviction of truth. What else is needed to succeed!

Ivan Aguéli, Landskap, canvas mounted on cardboard, 23x 32 cm

Ivan Aguéli, Lanskap Med Gult Fält, canvas, 20.5 x 23 cm

How high is the water?

This summer is wet, humid and cool. But on Tuesday, when we sketch outdoors the rain clears and gives us a few hours of sun and clear skies. We all have noticed the continuing high levels of river water throughout this summer. This spring we had abnormal high level of flood water from the Ottawa River which attributes into the  St. Lawrence, at the westerly tip of Montreal Island. Here in Quebec, the St. Lawrence River is often referred to as the “Fleuve”. The french take pride in knowing the difference between a fleuve and a rivière- Ce n’est pas une rivière . C’est un fleuve. My take on this is the English vocabulary of river does not designate the grandness of the St. Lawrence.

At St-Anne-de-Bellevue the water level in June in certain parts was over the boardwalk and later in the summer over the ‘tie up’ area for boats in the locks.

Waiting for the Lockmaster, watercolour, 2017

At Coteau-du-Lac, the St. Lawrence River is flowing high and quickly, covering rocks and the feet and ankles of willows along the shoreline.

Willows on shoreline, watercolour, 2017

When we painted at the Parc des Rapides, in Lasalle we were restricted to the entrance area. The island and bird sanctuary has a large steel gate with a notice “closed due to high water levels”. The following excerpt is taken directly from Montreal.com and will give you inside to why we enjoy this park.

The Parc des Rapides is a 30-hectare waterside park, containing marsh, pools and walkways and stretching out into the St. Lawrence River.
Located in Lasalle, at the foot of 7th Avenue, the park gives unequalled views of the river rapids, with a view across to the Heron Island bird sanctuary. The park allows the walker to really get out on the river and observe the birds that are the main focus of the park: 225 species are said to have been observed here, and the flora is also diverse and interesting. Many avid bird watchers and nature photographers find this park an unequalled site of interest so close to the city.

The Parc des Rapides is part of the Lachine Rapids ecoterritory, which extends over the park, Heron Island, and parts of Nuns’ Island downstream.

If you want to see Great Blue Herons in the Montreal area, in an area accessible by public transit, this is one of the best places to go. It’s the largest heron species in North America and the birds look especially majestic when taking flight.

If you are interested in this area and the bird sanctuary this site is helpful. ( les ami du parc des rapides).

Montréal Skyline from Parc des Rapides, watercolour, 2017

Pointe-du-Moulin & Vieux-Montréal, 2017

Many of us continue to enjoy the Tuesday plein air organized by Linda Drewry. This past week we spent a beautiful rain-free day at Pointe-du-Moulin, Notre-Dame-de-I’île-Perrot. The historical park is in summer mode offering tours of the windmill and visits to the stone farm house. Some of the staff are dressed in period costumes. So, when the lady of the house came and sat in the doorway, I decided she needed to be part of my sketch.

Old Stone Farm House, Pointe-du- Moulin, watercolour, 2017

This past Saturday August 5 Montréal artist Marc Taro Holmes organized an informal gathering with Australian artist Liz Steel and French artist Anne-Laure Jacquard  at Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal. All three are ardent sketchers and instructed workshops at the recent Chicago 2017 International Urban Sketchers Symposium. This was a stop over before heading home and an opportunity to sketch and visit our city.

Thanks to Chi Mai Vo for the photos

The day started with a downpour of rain, an ITU World Triathlon at the Old Port, incredible road traffic and street closures. I arrived late at Place Jacques Cartier to see only two ladies sitting on a bench with sketch book in hand from Upper State New York. As Marc said, “We’re easy to find- just look for people with sketchbooks and drawing boards!”

Eventually, everyone used the same strategy and with the rain gone and the sun out a final gathering at Jacques Cartier Place completed the day.

 

 

I am always aware of my environment as I sketch and today was no exception. I heard the cheers of the nearby cycling and running portion of the triathlon. Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya won the Montreal triathlon. He completed the 1.5 kilometre swim, 40 kilometre bike ride, 10 kilometre run in one hour 47 minutes 50 seconds. The women’s race was won by Australian Ashleigh Gentle with Canadian Joanna Brown of Ottawa in fourth.

 

 

 

City Hall, Jacques Cartier Place, watercolour, 2017

Nelson’s Column, Place Jacques Cartier, watercolour, 2017

 

 

July 2017

Plein Air, Greenwood House, Hudson, Quebec, 2017

“When clouds appear like towers the earth is refreshed with showers”. Throughout Quebec this summer we know this saying; we have daily downpours, showers and thunderstorms but regardless we find dry time to sketch outdoors.

Linda Drewry continues her Tuesday plein air outing  This past Tuesday we sketched at Greenwood House, Hudson, Quebec. Most of us have tried several times to paint this house and we always manage to miss or misplace a dormer, forget about aligning roofs, doors and chimneys.  A quote from their website helps explain this source of our problem with the origin and the house’s many roles and additions. Perhaps, we have a partial excuse for our faulty work.

Jean-Baptiste Sabourin first settled the Greenwood property in 1732. The original Sabourin homestead still stands and forms part of the house. The property remained in Sabourin hands until 1820. At that time, John Mark Crank Delesderniers purchased it. He intended it to be both a residence for his son, Peter Francis Christian, and a general store and trading post. In the 1840’s, it served as the first post office in the area. Greenwood was extended eastward on two occasions, in the 1820’s and again after 1860″.

Now the property and house belongs to the public when the last owner Phoebe Nobbs Hyde left it in her will to the Canadian Heritage of Quebec. For opening hours and events visit their website.

Below are my sketches from the south side of the house.

House and gardens, late morning, watercolour, 2017

 

House and garden in afternoon after four gardeners gave a weed and trim, watercolour, 2017