Durtal, France

 

This month I travelled to Durtal, France to follow a watercolour course with Marc Folly. The village is located in the Loire Valley about 230 km south west of Paris. One thousand chateaux are located throughout this valley and Durtal has the monumental Château Royal de Durtal. It began life as a fortress situated high on a rocky cliff overlooking the valley. When the feudal wars were over the fortress became one of the palaces for Louis XIII and Catherine de Medici. In 2007 the castle was bought by politician Alain Huguenot and continues as a bed and breakfast under the name Château Royal de Durtal.

The 5 day watercolour workshop “Harmonie et Contraste” was under the guidance and instruction of French artist Marc Folly. His mantra is “draw, value and colour” which we see in all his paintings. His softback catalogue of watercolours is titled” Marc Folly, oeuvres sur papier/works on paper ” available at the artist’s website.

We had our marching orders each day and sometimes I was lost. Especially some of the french words “fiel de boeuf” which translated to oxgall a preservation and dispersing agent in watercolours. Marc’s favourite word was “up” but in reality he was pulling the brush downwards, sideways or zig- zagging. I finally resolved it as an endearing expression he used to create magic. Many french speaking friends pointed out to me the expression “allez hop” which in all probably was what he said. He frequently stressed the importance of “la goutte” which I translated as “the puddle ” – a mixture of pigments and water allowed to pool on the paper when you need time to contemplate the next action. For myself, this puddle allowed “the hand with the help of the eye” to determine when the edge would be soft or hard and the value of the colour.

Below are my results on the fourth and fifth day. I was almost there with “Sink Side ” on the fourth day until I got heavy handed with my colours around the sink and a bit beyond. Marc placed clear water on the offending area then took a cotton rag and with one swipe removed a lot of the dirty paint, let it dry and place a few corrected touches of paint.

Old but Functional, watercolour on Hahnemühle paper, 2016

Sink Side, watercolour completed on Hahnemühle paper, 2016

The fifth day, I was able to complete the assignment. Marc suggested I enlarge the orange area and it did make the colour dynamics work better in the picture plane.

Hot work, watercolour completed on Guarro paper, 2016

We all worked to succeed with each artist bringing their experience and skill sets. For myself, I pushed my mind to accept a new approach to my watercolours. In the past it was a sketch, a way to observe my surroundings; to be quick and intuitive. Now, my goal is to be conscious of the process, be patient, demand more of my tools but still retain my individuality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Days, 2016

This past week we visited the exhibition of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun ( French, 1755-1842) at the National Gallery of Canada which will end this September 11. She is a prominent 18th century painter with more than 600 portraits, 200 landscapes and this is her first retrospective. The Ottawa NGC gallery exhibition stated, “her talent, her extraordinary capacity for work and her social skills” were her outstanding qualities and we see this before our eyes as we walk through each room. Vigée Le Brun painted about thirty portraits of Marie Antoinette but with the start of  the French Revolution ( 1789-99) she fled quickly from France. Her talent and gifted skills continued to give her a portait career in Italy, Austria, Russia and England. She returned to Paris when her name was struck from the list of enemy émigrés.

Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Rose, oil, 1783

Portrait of Marie Antoinette with the Rose, oil, permanent collection Palace of Versaille, 1783

 

I received a gift of Caran d’Ache, Fancolor 15 from a friend and wholesale distributor of these products. The thin metal container is 11 cm by 28cm by 2.5 cm, is ultra light with a full range of pan water-soluble pigment: 14 in total plus a tube of white gouache, a nice mixing area and a small quality brush. I used it, as I do my regular watercolour pigments on a quarter sheet of Fabriano, cold press, traditional white, gsm 300. For myself, the small light size with a few larger brushes and water container make it an ideal plein air kit.

Plein Air, Coteau du Lac, Caran d'Arch, FANCOLOUR 15

Plein Air, Coteau du Lac, Caran d’Ache, FANCOLOR 15

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Blockhouse, Coteau du lac, Caran d’Ache FANCOLOR 15, 2016

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Mill, Coteau du Lac, Caran d’ache FANCOLOR 15, 2016

Here are some sketches completed during the summer at Linda Drewry’s favourite Tuesday plein air sketching group.

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Pointe du Moulin, Ile Perrot, East/south view, 2016

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Ste Anne de Bellevue Locks, northside, 2016

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Ile des Moulins, water spray on pond,  Terrebone, 2016

 

Free or almost free, cool places to sketch

This summer in Québec the weather is balmy and usually 30 degrees. No excuse not to get out and sketch. One of my favourite spots is the Sanctuaire in Rigaud, free but accepts donations. Shady, peaceful and usually quiet except for a yell from youngsters finding Pokémon on their screen. It is a place of meditation. Quiet is the command here but miracles do happen and need to be celebrated.

Sanctuaire de Lourdes, Rigaud

Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Qc

Another cool spot, Parc Valois, 331 Avenue St. Charles,Vaudreuil-Dorion on the water has free parking and entrance.

Parc Valois, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Qc

Parc Valois, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Qc

Worth a visit, Parc Historique, Pointe-du-Moulin, Notre-Dame-de-I’Île-Perrot, free on Monday and Tuesday.

La Pointe du Moulin, Notre-Dame-de-I'île-Perrot, Qc

Le Moulin, Notre-Dame-de-I’île-Perrot

As always, the flowers from the garden await brush, pigment and water.

Summer Bouquet

Summer Bouquet

My June, 2016

 

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Les Jardins Quarter-Vents , Malbaie, Qc, Quincyhammond.com

This past month we obtained tickets to view the Jardins de Quarter-Vents  in MalBaie, Qc. For this season 2016 all dates are full but for 2017 start to look in November at Centre Écologigue de Port du Salmon .The guides are well informed volunteers; it takes 2 and 1/2 hours; most tours are in the French language. It is a visual feast of colour, texture, architecture and designed to please the eye. No time was allowed to sketch here but I did these later in the day at St. Joseph de Rive and Les Éboulements.

St Joseph de Rive

Early Morning, St Joseph de Rive, Qc

Parking, Les Éboulements, Qc

Church Parking Lot, Les Éboulements, Qc

Le Vieux-Port de Montréal

 

Under a full moon, 21 hours after leaving Québec City the Draken Harald Hårfagre arrived in Montréal, June 19th, 2016. Last evening the 20th of June was the start of summer solstice – hot, cloudy, windy with lightning and thunder. Unable to see the full moon here we must wait for the next summer solstice when they join together June 21, 2062. Fitting, this rare phenomena happens when this viking ship is in our city.

Yesterday, I arrived at Quay Jacques- Cartier at le Vieux-Port de Montréal to see this magnificent vessel. Unbelievable, a crew of 28 crossed the Atlantic Ocean in this slender wooden craft 34 metres by 7 metres!

 Montréal, June 2015

I took my Venezia Sketchbook, Arches paper and my paint box with a few brushes. Here are some of my sketches. The hot record breaking weather and high winds presented their challenges but insignificant in comparison to the elements facing this ship and crew.

Vikings used Ravens to sight land. If land was sighted by these birds it was nearby. They are non migrational so return to ship quickly if no land in sight.

Vikings used Ravens to sight land. If land was sighted by these birds it was nearby. They are non migrational so return to ship quickly if no land in sight.

before visitation of Viking boat in Vieux Montreal 2016

Viking boat in Vieux Montreal, 2016

 

Arches paper, watercolour

Cleaning the deck, Montréal,

 

viking ship from wharf in Brockville, Ontario

Dockside, Brockville, Ontario

The Red Sail is here

The world’s biggest Viking ship, Draken Harald Fairhair. (Jan Kaare Ness / NTB Scanpix / AFP)

The Draken Harald Hårfagre has left Newfoundland and is sailing up the St. Lawerence. We can follow it thanks to a tracker installed on the ship ( have a look here ) and via Facebook. The ship will arrive June 15 in Quebec City as posted by the Captain on Facebook. Opportunities to see this beautiful ship are coming our way as it heads towards Montréal.

My hope is to see and sketch the ship. For now,  here are some of my sketches from the past two weeks.

Watercolour, Derelict Lock, Soulanges Canal, Pointe Cascades, QC

watercolour, Derelict Lock, Soulanges Canal, Pointe Cascades, QC, 2016

 

watercolour, Pointe Claire Yacht Club, 2016

watercolour, Pointe Claire Yacht Club, Qc, 2016

 

watercolour, Pointe Claire Yacht Club, QC, 2016

watercolour, Pointe Claire Yacht Club, QC, 2016

 

watercolour, Dollard des Ormeaux, Qc, 2016

watercolour, Centennial Park, Dollard des Ormeaux, Qc, 2016

 

 

 

Vikings are coming

Draken Harald HårfagreSome of us are following the Viking ship on You tube, Draken Harald Hårfagre as it sails across the Atlantic to North America this spring. First stop on Canadian soil is June 1, St Anthony, Newfoundland, then to Quebec City for June 15th, onto Toronto for July 1-3. My wish is to be able to see and sketch this masterpiece. There should be opportunities along the St. Lawrence River as she heads for Toronto.

Now the weather is warm here in Eastern Quebec, there are opportunity to paint outdoors with other artists. The Urban Sketchers of Montréal meet the fourth Sunday of each month. Artist friend Jane Hannah is one of the founding members and always mention the up coming  render-vous on her blog. This past Sunday we met at the Smith House on Mont Royal. Here is my sketch of the house in watercolour.

Smith House, Mont Royal, Montréal

Smith House, Mont Royal, Montréal,

Another great source of Montréal outdoor painting spot is a weekly list by Linda Drewry.  Click on her name and I have posted her agenda. On tuesday May 24, about 15 artists met at the parc-nature du Bois-de -Liesse, Pierrefonds. Linda Drewry was there waiting to welcome us at the Historical Pitfield Home. I decided to sketch the pond at the back of the property. Here is my watercolour.

Pond on the grounds of Historical Pitfield House, early spring 2016

Pond on the grounds of Historical Pitfield House, early spring 2016

 

 

Charlevoix Plein Air 2016

 

Purple Haze, Les Éboulements, oil, 12x24

Linda Denis, Purple Haze, Les Éboulements, oil, 12×24, 2004

The Charlevoix region is a mecca for all artists. We, the plein air artists come to translate the beauty of the people, animals and landscape with our choice of medium; oil paint, watercolour, ink or pencil.

For myself, the voyage begins in the village of Baie St.Paul  acclaimed for art, architecture, culinary specialities (local cheeses, meats, legumes) and their regional beer. The best lunch is a simple sandwich at Joe Smoked Meat, a gathering place for both locals and tourists. No matter the season, it is always open for business.

We pass the next 4 days at  Auberge de nos Aïeux, Les Éboulements. We eat a breakfast of choice; omelette or thin french crêpes with maple syrup. The supper is three courses with ingredients like cod, arctic char, boudin, followed by desserts: delicate and light.

We are here to paint outdoors but the weather is not cooperating. Monday, a snow storm brings about 4 inches of snow and treacherous driving but before we give up most have completed one or two piece. Tuesday, is heavy fog but we descend the steep hill down to St. Joseph de la Rive where we have a clear site to the village homes, shipyard, and shoreline just until  L’isle aux Coudres .Wednesday, just perfect for outdoor painting.

Below are some of my watercolour sketches.

Sailor's Church, St. Joseph de la Rive, wc, 2016

Sailor’s Church, St. Joseph de La Rive, wc, 2016

Blessed, Les Éboulements, wc, 2016

Blessed, Les Éboulements, wc, 2016

Closed for the season, St. Irenée, wc, 2016

Closed for Season, St. Irenée, wc, 2016

Shipyard,St. Joseph de la Rive, watercolour, 2016

Shipyard, St. Joseph de la Rive, wc, 2016

Shoreline, St. Joseph de la Rive, wc, 2014

Shoreline, St. Joseph de La Rive, wc, 2014

Public Spaces

When you sketch in public spaces you need to be aware of the present and let go of the doing. If an old lady is waving her shotgun from her porch or a young man is throwing pebbles, you maybe the target and maybe not. Time to move on and find another spot.

These happenings and others made me think about my senses- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Usually, I am just interested in sight. Now I pay attention to; unfamiliar smells or noises, biting insects and inquisitive people… ” people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening”.

Sebastian Stoskopff (1597-1657), French Baroque, painted this still life of a young girl with symbols of the senses. In this era there was as many things to be aware of indoors as outdoors.

Sebastian Stoskopff, Five Senses of life, oil, 1633

Sebastian Stoskopff, Summer of Five Senses , canvas on oil, musée de l’Oeuvre de Notre Dame, Strasbourg, 1633

In this small Mexican village I continue to sketch and watercolour in “seguridad”.

Passage way to Pacific, Guayabitos, watercolour

Passage way to Pacific, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016

Passage way to the beach, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016

Passage way to Beach, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016

Wall mural of Mexican symbols, watercolour, 2026

Wall Mural, watercolour, Guayabitos, 2016

 

 

 

 

Past and Present

By now if you follow my post you know one of my favourite artists is Frida Kahlo and we cannot mention Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) without Diego Rivera (1886-1957). Twice married they led a turmultous personal life but each a spectacular professional life.

Rivera was known for his involvement and participation with the Mexican Mural Movement beginning in the 1920’s. He painted big fresco murals in Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Chapingo, San Francisco, Detroit and New York City.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue%C3%B1o_de_una_Tarde_Dominical_en_la_Alameda_Central

Diego Rivera, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Almeda, central part, Museo Mural Diego River, Mexico City, fresco ,51x15ft, 1947-1948

The tradition of mural painting continues today, see video Aztec meets Urban. The choice of canvas is street buildings, lamp posts, benches; the tools of the trade stencils, freehand drawing, stickers, stencils, spray paint. Now, it is a supported and encouraged art form. Graffiti Festivals are sponsored throughout the world.

http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/270/media/images/82982000/jpg/_82982275_streetartcps.jpg

Street Art, Aztec meets Urban, 2015

Although not in my sphere of activity, I appreciate the vitality and talent of these artists.

I continue my sketching on paper and watercolour pigment along the beaches in La Peñita and Guayabitos.

View from Las Brisas, La Peñita, watercolour,2016

View from Las Brisas, La Peñita, watercolour, 2016

Meeting at Fishmonger, La Peñita,watercolour, 2016

Meeting at Fishmonger, La Peñita, watercolour, 2016

Brochetas, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016

Brochetas, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016