Category Archives: Great city or places in the world

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.









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



Merry Christmas 2016

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.


OAG, Toronto, photo by Mary Anne Sullivan

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.


Kleo. pencil sketch of dog


Merry Christmas and thanks for your support throughout  2016, Linda

Paris, 2016

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.

Cagnes Landscape with Tree c.1925-6 Chaim Soutine 1893-1943 Bequeathed by John Levy 1977

Cagnes Landscape with Tree c.1925-6 Chaim Soutine 1893-1943 Bequeathed by John Levy 1977

Montréal has a connection to this painter, “Soutine Settled over Bargain Meat“. A good read about the business side of art.




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

Old but Frunctional, watercolour, Hahnemūhle 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.

In the Studio, Durtal, France

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





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.






Santigo Rusiñol, Boats on the Seine, oil, 1894

After the Zbukvic workshop, I have Saturday and Sunday mornings free before I leave for Montréal. Chi Mai has offered to show me a part of Paris I have not seen in previous trips. We start by buying the best croissant in Paris at  Les Gateaux et du Pain. The plan for the day is to walk from Gare Montparnasse to La Seine. La touche Française continues, it is the weekend of the  Journées Européenes du Patrimoine  en Île-de-France with free entrance to cultural events and museums.

ink sketch in Venezia Sketchbook

First, we stop for a quick sketch in the square Saint-Germain-des- Prés. We sit on a bench in front of Bernard Palissy statue; I sketch in ink with my Lamy pen. Palissy was famous for his unique ceramic pottery. In 1563 he received the title of King’s Inventor of Rustic Ceramics and following this award Catherine de Medici commanded him to decorate one of her palace in 1567.


Within 20 minutes we are off, making a brief stop to view the Wallace Fountain on Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This is one of many public water fountains designed by Charles Auguste Lebourg and financed by the Englishman Richard Wallace. A recognized world symbol of Paris. Most of the fountains still provide potable water from March 15-November 15.

Place de Furstenberg Paris

Place Furstenberg photo by Chi Mai


Place de Furstenberg ParisA quick turn here and there, we arrive at Place de Furstenberg to hear voices rehearsing for a free concert under the trees. Another sketch in pencil in my Venezia sketchbook. Just to our left the studio home and now museum of Eugène Delacroix awaits us with no line up. The last residence of Delacroix from 1857 until his death in 1863.There is a quiet serene garden adjoining the home, a great place to sketch but not today.

Niki de Saint Phalle photo by Chi Mai

Niki de Saint Phalle photo by Chi Mai

Onward, I catch a glimpse of a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle ( 1930-2002) in a gallery window. A French-American model, sculptor, painter, filmmaker and perfumer. I recalled the images of earth mother referred to as “nanas” with big bodies and small head. I remember the quote a mother figure is both a creator and destroyer which was shared by her contemporary Louise Bourgeois. Her love of making these sculptures would cause fatal emphysema from toxic polyester fumes in 2002.



We see the  Beaux-art de Paris l’ecole nationale supérieure 14, rue Bonaparte is open to the public. No line up here and in we walk to architecture, sculptures, library, paintings, busts and anything related to the beauty of art. Time for a rest before the rainstorm hits. We sit next to the Seine and sketch. Big dark clouds are threatening thunder and rain. Time to be quick and take the metro.

Sunday morning, free lectures at the La Coupole at 11am by Thomas Dufresne, art historian and member of  the historical society of the 14 arrondissement where the brasserie is located since 1927. The art decor interior is exceptional and little has changed since it’s beginnings. The patrons during these years are household names like Jean-Paul Sarte, Simone de Beauvoir, Hemingway, Picasso, Coco Chanel and many more with their black and white photos adorning the walls.

Campaign to save the kiosques in Paris

Campaign to save the kiosques in Paris