It is a pleasure to see individuals setting up and doing business here. Not much equipment is needed to set up the store front. It can be an old fishing boat moored on the beach; an existing wall with a few hangers, some rope and you have a clothing boutique; a space on the beach gives a food stall, plus add a large umbrella, smoking briquettes, a few stools and the groceries.
Food is the link amongst all of us. Beach food, street food, quick food and gourmet food are thriving in this small Mexican village.
Cheuy is on the beach pushing his wheelbarrow filled with local clams and oysters. We continue to buy from him at 50 pesos a baker’s dozen. We are told “do not eat food from beach vendors” but we do.
There is a congregation of food vendors on the beach where you can buy shrimp and fish brochettes served with rice and beans. Tasty and a generous portion makes it a great lunch. The price varies but starts at 50 pesos .
The best coffee is on the main throughway, Cafe La Ola. Barista Arturo serves cafe au lait, cappuccino or expresso and if steamed milk is one of the ingredients you get the art of the day. Closed on Thursday. Prices start at 40 pesos.
In the past week, we had the opportunity to visit Tepic, Nayarit. A gourmet supper was enjoyed at Emiliano, Zapata 91 Ote. Centro. It lived up to expectation and it ranks very well against the best. We enjoyed an appetizer of octupus and shrimp followed with a main course of clams and white fish in a bouillabaisse sauce accompanied with a basket of homemade bread. The ambiance of our evening was enhanced with live music by a local pianist and the art work of Manolo Roca offer to draw our portrait.
Earlier in the day we had a few minutes to enjoy the Plaza de Armas in Centro Tepic. There is a lovely water fountain surrounded by spouting frogs framed by the silhouette of the Tepic Cathedral, Our Lady of the Assumption. The neo-gothic façade is an important architectural feature of the city. I returned to La Peñita and was happy to find on the median strip a simple water fountain with 4 identical frogs. It is not as grandiose but when a local coconut vendor offered me a comfortable chair, I took up the challenge to sketch these frogs.
This January 28, 2017 the Lunar calendar celebrates the year of the Fire Rooster – focused, motivated and “cocky” . If your sign is a rooster – enjoy yourself it is not happening again until 2029.
There is an abundance of free roaming poultry here in this village. It should be an easy assignment to sketch a few but they are quick on their feet. I thought maybe wait till twilight but the Mexican proverb is “be prudent when walking or standing under roosting poultry, if the hen lets loose and soils you are in for bad luck but if the rooster lets loose and soils great luck is coming your way”.
Here is my interpretation completed in watercolour on Arches paper taken from Japanese artist O’Jay.
The Rooster is an intergrated part of Mexican culture. Mass of the Rooster “misa del Gallo” is part of Christmas Eve activities. The rooster is positioned on the roof of the stable in the nativity scene. There are a many version why the rooster is part of the Catholic sermon.
I continue to enjoy looking at street art and murals. Mexican multi disciplinary artist Isauro Huizar is one of those gifted artists able to balance architecture, design and art. His fantasy animal of half rooster and horse adorns the public wall of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. This hybrid creature is depicted on ancient Greek pottery and referred to as Hippalectryon. The pottery vessels depicts the horse head first and the hind quarters is a rooster including plumage, cone and talons, contrary to Huizar’s version.
Happy New Year 2017
I return to my small Mexican village to avoid our harsh cold winter. Now, I can walk to my favourite places to sketch.
First stop is Ricos Tacos where the lady owner loves to decorate her establishment- a true visual artist. She loves greenery, orchids, recycled tires, flashing lights. On the menu are huaraches, pellizcadas, quesadillas.
Then to the town plaza where it is business as usual; Monday is market day until late afternoon, on a daily basis vendors pass through with all your beach needs and more. I see the flan man selling his ” wife’s recipe ” at 20 pesos and buy a wedge. This year workers are building by hand a permanent platform for the musical and dance fiesta starting later this month. It is an enjoyable space to watch the social landscape and listen to mass at the adjacent church.
The early morning fish market is still happening up and down the beach. They start at sunrise and are closed at 10:am.
We are squeezed between the Pacific ocean and the Sierra Madre. As I walk along the beach I look towards the mountains and the passage way is waiting to be painted.
Winter is here with days of cold winds and snow squalls. This being said, the train was a good option for a trip to Toronto to see Mystical Landscapes; Monet, van Gogh and More at the Ontario Art Gallery. Toronto is just as cold as Montreal but we decided the 20 minute walk from the train station was just what we needed. As we approached the gallery we enjoy the sweeping glass facade by Canadian born architect Frank Gehry and a huge outdoor sculpture by British Henry Moore. The gallery has over 900 sculptures and works of Henry Moore.
Mystical Landscapes has a wide selection of paintings by artists from 15 countries covering the period from 1880 to 1930. The eye catching names of Monet and van Gogh are the show stoppers.
There is a wide interpretation of mystical and spiritual landscapes in the exhibit. For example, Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele Landscape with Ravens, 1911 is dark and raw. Juxtaposition is the French painter Maurice Denis, La solitude de Christ, 1918. Here, the bright warm colour choice for the landscape reinforces the sole figure’s passive position and offers safety to mankind outside the sanctuary of the church. At this time, Europe was experiencing the first war from 1914-1918. Maurice Denis was a Symbolist and theoretican of the Nabis movement. In the same space we look at Post Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, Vision of the Sermon -Jacob wrestling with the Angels, 1888. The choice of colours and complex religious story made it Gauguin’s first masterpiece. Bought in 1925 for 1,150 pounds by the National Gallery of Scotland it is now one of their finest purchases – Gauguin had offered to give it to the Church of Pont-Aven but “naturally they don’t want it”. The rooms are filled with paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Piet Mondrian, Edward Munich, James McNeil Whistler, Paul Gaugin and many other lesser known artists.
The Canadian painters; Tom Thomson ( 1877-1917). Lawren Harris (1885-1970), Federick Varley ( 1881-1969) and Emily Carr ( 1871-1945) are well represented and it will be nice to hear the comments from Paris when this show opens on March 13 at the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
As Christmas nears we celebrated the life of Cleo on our farm. She was a dog of unknown breed found at the SPCA over sixteen years ago.
Merry Christmas and thanks for your support throughout 2016, Linda
The Old Brewery Mission receives the homeless women and men of Montreal and is always in need of money. Artist Sue Porter and Artist Karen Hosker have organized a lunch and art sale to fundraise.
This Saturday November 19, thirteen artists will offer for sale four pieces of art 12 inches by 12 inches each for 140$. You are invited to the Hosker’s private residence at 232 Chemin de Senneville, Qc from 11 am to 4 pm. Please come, buy art and have a light lunch of soup, bread and a sweet for 5$.
Here are my four paintings
Linda Denis, Square Art
The 2017 jury for the Art Rental at Stewart Hall Gallery have completed their selection. The vernissage is this Sunday October 30, 2016 at 2 o’clock. I am happy to have my oil painting Kamouraska as part of the collection. It was painted while the tide was out, to show off the lush green vegetation that grows under the salt water. Food forager know all about the marine greens in Kamouraska: beach peas, goat’s beard, sea parsley, sea spinach and sea asparagus.
An added bonus this year was the detail from my painting Tidal Flats Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive on the 2017 Invitation.
Please visit the Stewart Hall Art Gallery: Hours, Monday through Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free admission-accessible by elevator
176, chemin du Bord-du-Lac/Lakeshore, Pointe-Claire, Québec H95 4J7 www.pointe-claire.ca
After my week at Durtal France, it was “a must” to spend a few days in Paris. A friend recommended the Hotel des Bains in the 14 arrondissement of Paris. It is close to the Montparnasse Train Staion, shuttle bus to airport and metro. The clean cosy rooms are small but there is everything for an average traveller; updated bathroom, flat TV screen, WiFi and a comfortable bed.
The street and immediate area has all needed amenities. There is a drugstore, small bistros with good food and wine, boutiques selling leather goods, women clothing, and a swim suit shop with Arena – a brand not available in Quebec but so chic. Best of all, are two art shops – Dalbe and Adam Montmartre both within five minutes of the hotel specializing in a variety of watercolour paper, paints, oil and printmaking supplies. On Saturday morning there is a market for fresh produce, mostly vegetables and meats. Every Sunday there is an art market referred to as the “marché de la création”. This open air art market started in the early 1900’s when it was called “la horde de Montparnasse ” and also known as “Le Marché aux Navets” since the artists shared the same ground as the vegetable farmers. In days gone by artists such as Modigliani, Soutine and Chagall had stalls here. I adore Abstract Expressionist painter Soutine ( 1893-1943) for his paintings full of texture, colour, and shapes. He lived a frugal life and only after the Barnes Foundation bought a substantial number of paintings was he able to be financially secure. The worse was to come under the Nazi occupation of France with Soutine a registered Jew. He sought refuge and with help from friends he hid in several small provincial villages.This tremendous stress aggravated an old ulcer; he died during surgery in Paris.
Montréal has a connection to this painter, “Soutine Settled over Bargain Meat“. A good read about the business side of art.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some sketches completed during the summer at Linda Drewry’s favourite Tuesday plein air sketching group.