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

Galerie Carlos, Old Brewery Mission

My Wall Space at the Old Brewery Mission

An opportunity to show some of my recent paintings will take place this month from June 7 to July 19 at the Carlos Gallery, 915 Clarke St., Montreal. My paintings will be displayed in the Gallery at the Old Brewery Mission for their clients, staff and volunteers. This space is not open to the public.

I enjoyed the creation and painting of the canvases; all inspired by my plein air sketching in watercolour this past year. The paintings are here to enjoy. My hope is they start a conversation, a shared laugh or perhaps a memory of our beautiful province. It is my pleasure to be invited.

Charlevoix Triplet

Une invitation pour présenter mes récentes oeuvres m’a été transmise ce mois ci; du 7 juin au 19 juillet à Galerie Carlos, 915 rue Clarke, Montréal. Les tableaux sont présentés à la Galerie, à the Old Brewery Mission, pour leurs clients, leur personnel et bénévoles. Le public n’a pas accès à la Galerie.

Sky, Water and Earth

L’inspiration de tous ces tableaux vient de mes aquarelles créés ” plein air”. J’espère qu’ils débuteront une conversation, créeront un sourire ou mieux, un souvenir de notre superbe province. Ce fut un plaisir de recevoir cette invitation.

Bain d’Oiseau

Snow Days

Nice Space, Thank Bernard

 

 

Charlevoix, Qc, 2017

The region of Charlevoix is a destination for outdoor painters. Canadian landscape painters, Charles Gagnon (1881-1942), James Wilson Morrice (1865- 1924), A.Y. Jackson(1882-1974), Bruno Côte (1940-2010) to name only a few, have painted here.

For us this year, no snow storm, freezing rain or bone chilling winds to hinder us. The morning is warm and sunny, we stop to visit at “Le Forgeron ” which is located half way up the hillside overlooking the village of  Saint-Irénée. We are welcomed with an offer of coffee, parking for the day and a panoramic view of the village and St. Lawrence River. Kindness of this sort is greatly appreciated.

St.Irénée, watercolour, 2017

By the afternoon the weather is holding with sun and a clear vista. I decided to drive to the village of Saint-Joseph-de-Rive and then sketched the row of houses on the northside of the railway tracks.

Houses on the north side of the tracks, watercolour, 2017

However, the following day rain and fog are threatening but hold off for the morning. Just enough sketching time in the village of Baie Saint Paul.

Ice Jam in the Bay, watercolour, 2017

Western Skyline, Baie Saint Paul, watercolour

On our final day we travelled north to Saint-Hilarion and Le Pied-des-Mont. We settled on the hill looking down on Ferme Caprivoix. We see the snow showers in the distance moving slowly in our direction, so time to paint.

Ferme Caprivoix, watercolour, 2017

My friend and wholesale supplier of Caran d’arch water brushes presented me with a new tool for sketching. This water brush pen has a 15ml fibre brush and a 20ml reservoir. It is a practical tool with the reservoir providing enough water from the pump to pool on the paper before adding pigments or alternatively squeezing the tip and then dipping in pigment to draw fine lines. Another good addition for minimal equipment when you need to travel light.

Village House, Les Eboulements, watercolour, 2017

If you visit the area ” a must see “is Les Jardins de Quatre-Vents, Malbaie ( tickets sold out for summer 2017). A documentary, The Gardener, 2016  by Sebastien Chabot is available for viewing this summer throughout Quebec and Canada.  A wonderful film about a world class garden, right in our back yard.

http://lepetitseptieme.ca/tag/quatre-vents/

Pont de Lune, Les Jardins de Quartre-Vents, Malbaie, Qc  credit for scene from the documentary, The Gardener, 2016

You can follow  Sebastien Chabot on Facebook for up to date information on the film.

Sculpt in Charlevoix , August 27, 2017  from noon, Domaine Forget, Saint Irénée, Sculpture Garden, Free, families welcome.

Show up and try this art form.

Day Trip, Mx

A  day trip to Tequila takes about 3 hours from our village. After about three quarter of a hour on the road we stopped in Compostela for breakfast at Camaheur Cafe II on Juraez.  It was plentiful and inexpensive – a good reference for next time. Before heading off, we visited the town plaza and quickly realized this needs another visit on another day. A sixteen century cathedral, the statue of Apostle Santiago, equestrian statue, a water fountain for the birds, bandstand plus a lovely manicured park to sit around and enjoy.

We arrived at Tequila and head to the modern distillery where the blue agave plant is roasted, fermented and distilled and bottled. Originally the Aztec fermented the agave plant to make the beverage octli with the alcoholic content of our beer. The town plaza has a stone church built in the 18th century, two beautiful large angel guarding the entrance and comfortable shady benches for us. Here again we needed time to explore and appreciate the architecture, statues, and surrounding stores but time is not endless this day.

 

Another day, we visit Compostela which is about 44 kilos from our village. We take the local Pacifico bus to Compostela, it is an inexpensive and reliable mode of transportation in Mexico. This bus stops outside of “Centro” a 10 minutes walk or taxi brings you to the town plaza. We enjoy the walk looking into several leather shops filled with sandal, western saddles, riding chaps and other equestrian needs.

As a tourist, we went for breakfast at Camaheur Cafe II not the main one on the square but on Juraez with a beautiful view of Sierra Madre in the distance as we walked the one block.

The town plaza is the jewel of this town.

 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Circus, Jockey, 1898, Harvard Museum/Fogg Museum

As happens,  when I was looking for more information on the equestrian statue in Compostela, I find this wonderful drawing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and this leads to Harvard Museum/ Fogg Museum,  Drawing: The invention of a Modern MediumPlease, take a look at the site if you have an interest in this medium and maybe visit the exhibition on until May 07, 2017.

Here a few of my sketches from February 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs, Mexican style

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.

Clothing Boutique, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2017

Promenade, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2017

Snack Bar, LaPeñita, watercolour, 2017

Food Stall, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2017

Waiting, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2017

Eateries and other fine things

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.

Cafe La Ola, Guayabitos

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.

Frog Fountain, La Peñita, watercolour, 2017

 

Homage to all Mothers, Guaybitos, watercolour, 2017

 

Goddess of the Sea, Guayabitos Beach, watercolour, 2017

 

Passage to Ocean, quiet time for musicians, watercolour, 2017

 

 

Year of the Fire Rooster 2017

 

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.

Fire Rooster, inspiration from Japan, O’Jay ,watercolour, 2017

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.

Isauro Huizar, Fantasy animal, street http://ihc.mx/STREET-ART-2009

Cock-Horse, Greek Pottery, 540-530 BCE, Altes Museum, Berlin

Happy New Year 2017

Places to eat and sketch 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.

Ricos Tacos, watercolor, Guayabitos,

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.

Shovel and Wheelbarrow, watercolour, 2017

The early morning fish market is still happening up and down the beach. They start at sunrise and are closed at 10:am.

Beach Fish Market, watercolour, 2017

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.

Passage way, watercolour, 2017