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

La Moulin

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

Summer Bouquet

Summer Bouquet

My June, 2016



Les Jardins Quarter-Vents , Malbaie, Qc,

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.

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.

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


Les Grandes Dames

The Chinese and Vietnamese lunar year begins today: the year of the monkey.  Since passing time in Mexico my thoughts turn to Frida Kahlo and her pet monkey.

I write “Frida Kahlo and her pet monkey” on a piece of paper because my verbal skills in Spanish are limited. Off to the local stationary and internet shop on Sol Nuevo, the main avenue. I pass my piece of paper to the gentleman at the desk. When the images of Frida’s art work comes up on his computer I point to the printer. Voilà, a copy. My mission is to copy but as always my hand and mind are not synchronized but quite contrary to each other. Strange how the hand can be so independent.

Frida and her pet monkey, watercolour 2016

A copy of Frida’s monkey, watercolour, 2016

Many have commented to why Frida chose to self portrait herself with her pet monkey. One of the most popular is the association of promiscuity and sin symbolized in the Mayan and early Christian culture. Doubtful,  “She lived as who she was, no apologies”.

In the vein of old but grandiose Dames one of the oldest hotels in our village is Jacqueline. Why not paint it when someone shouts from his van, ” show me I might buy it”.

Jacqueline, watercolour, 2016

Jacqueline Hotel, watercolour, 2016

The bandstand or the Spanish word quioscos is another grandiose sign of the past, the Victorian era. The bandstand originated in the 1800 when it was a place to gather and listen to musical concerts. Throughout the world many fell into disrepair or were demolished but not here. Both Guayabitos  and La Pentia are renovating their plaza and bandstand.


Bandstand in Plaza, La Pentia, watercolour, 2016

The Mexican way

My morning starts with latte art, a cappuccino made by barista Arturo at café La Ola in Guayabitos located on the main street near the Mini Super “Popin”. The café is closed Thursday.


Arturo, barista, Coffee and steamed Milk, 2016

Later in the morning more Mexican art. I open my email and receive a letter from my favourite and best source of art news. This girl does not disappoint and here is the proof –  Washed up:Trashed Landscape by Mexican artist Alejandro Duran.

February 2nd is a festive holiday, Dia de la Candelaria and I decided to sketch in the plaza next to The Church of Perpetual Help.

The Church of Perpetual Help, Guayabitos

The Church of Perpetual Help, Guayabitos, watercolour, 2016


Shrimp on a stick

Shrimp on a Stix, watercolour, Guayabitos, 2016

Most locals and tourist celebrated on the weekend with a three day holiday. This meant lots of vendors on the beach. The food vendors are my favourite to sketch as they are stationary with their beach kitchen. I am grateful to these workers as they do not mind me staring and sometimes measuring them up. They come over and laugh as they try to find their family in my sketch.