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Tofino, Bc



Tofino,Vancouver island, Live to

Tofino is located in Clayoquot Sound with an ancient human footprint for at least 5,000 years. Part of this history belongs to the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations  who continue to live here and trace their heritage back 4,200 years. Captain James Cooke claimed the area for the British; although, the Spaniards had preceded him. The Spanish influence remains today with the names of many islands and places. In 1792, Captain Vincente Tofiño, a hydrographer, was part of a Spanish expedition to sail the ocean and inlets around Clayoquot Sound.

Until the early 1970’s Tofino was accessible overland from Port Alberni though a logging road. To-day it is paved and it hugs cliffs and lakes so progress is slow with “pull outs” for slower than the slowest vehicles. Named an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tofino has a variety of activities; surfing, hiking, storm watching, bear and whale watching, sport fishing and most recently the 2nd stage of Amazing Race Canada. Besides my favourite pastime of sketching the eating was superb. Fresh local produce is cooked simply or elegantly. For supper the Schooner or Sobo are my favourite eateries here.

Here are some of my watercolour sketches.

Sketchbook, Tofino, 2014

2nd balcony, Tofino Motel, 2014

fog, dock at Tofina, Bc

fog, Tofino, Bc

Less Fog, Tofina, Bc

Less Fog, Tofino, Bc

Waiting for Departure, Tofina, Bc

Waiting for Departure, Tofino, Bc

Summer 2014

My sketchbook is a place to draw, experiment and enjoy. It a place where ideas germinate. Last year I sketched at the Cuckoo Trattoria garden in Coombs, BC and in Montréal, St.Louis Square.

Cuckoo Trattoria, Vancouver Island

Cuckoo Trattoria, Vancouver Island

The Cuckoo garden is intimate with buddha statues, lots of greenery, potted Japanese maples. A water fountain descends softly into an elongated pond. Time passes endlessly for me. But other visitors pause and leave quickly to have lunch, buy a plant or a garden ornament.

St Louis Square, Montréal

St Louis Square, Montréal

St. Louis Square (1876) is surrounded on 3 sides by Rue Du Square-Saint-Louis and the busy, Rue St. Denis. It is tranquil but has an air of excitement with colourful Victorian row houses, commercial shops, busts of  Octave Crémazie  and  Émile Nelligan. Here children play, put their feet in the fountain while adults, dream, gossip or sleep on near by benches.

This spring, using my sketch book as reference I painted scenes from Cuckoo Trattoria garden. When I transfer my memories and watercolour sketches to canvas, I laboured over colour, proportions, representation. My sketchbook liberates these inhibitions, you are happy the weather is dry, happy the people relax and stay, happy the pencil and paint flow with easy.

Water is the current theme of an exhibition of paintings at The White Flag Gallery,  from July 11-August 16, 2014. The below painting is my part of the gallery exhibition. If you are in or near Brockville,(Ontario) please visit, you will be warmly welcomed.

Linda Denis, Water Garden, Monday

Linda Denis, Water Garden/Monday, acrylic on canvas, 12×12 inches, 2014

Mackenzie King Estate, Gatineau park, Qc

Mackenzie King (1874-1950) was Canada’s 10th and longest serving Prime Minister. He is remembered for his odd ways: consulting the crystal ball and talking to his dead mother. His head may have been in strange places but his heart was big. He bequeathed his summer home with 231 hectares in the Gatineau hills to the Canadian people. The garden elements distinguishes this place and many feel it is haunted by King. The ruins are from London’s Abbey, Ottawa’s British American Bank Note ( demolished in 1936) and other bits and pieces of bygone buildings.

My thought is he listened to elder Dan George and gave us Mackenzie King Estate.   Nothing belongs to you, of what there is, of what you take, you must share.

I sat on the porch step of his former summer home and sketched the stone lion statute attached to a flag pole. This place requires many hours to sketch and many days in different seasons.

stone lion, Mackenzie King Estate, Qc

stone lion, Mackenzie King Estate, Qc

acrylic, 30x30, 2013

Lion’s Head, acrylic, 30×30

The lion symbol is strong and protective and this month he became part of a garden series I am painting.



Where does the light come from?

So many times when you put your painting up for a critique the question is asked,”Where does the light come from?”. Recently a seasoned artist and teacher said it comes from everywhere.  I like the idea of it being an unanswerable question. Academically, all will tell us to be sensible and look at the shadows cast by the sun or the street lamp. It a gift to forget the rules.

C.B. Liddell writes about this, Nihonga: without the Hand over the Eye in the Japan Times. She states,

At its essential level, art is a battle between the eye and the hand; the first representing sensory input, the second artistic habit and convention. When the hand outweighs the eye, art can become over-stylized, clichéd, and eventually dead.”

So when I sketch, I accept this way of thinking and enjoy the scenery before me.

Plein air à la carte

sketch, pond at Pitfield House

Moulin Légaré, St. Eustache, Qc

sketch, Moulin Légaré, St. Eustache

House, Bois-de-Liesse, Parc Nature

sketch, House on grounds of Bois-de-Liesse

Les Éboulements, Qc

For many years, usually the first or second week of April a group of plein air painters make their way to Auberge de Nos Aïeux. Some like the comradeship of a group outing while others do their own thing. In the evening after supper the comments start:  Water is deep, here we climb over snow banks or wow you nailed it. Yes, we need to get in touch with nature.

Allison Robichaud makes the pilgrimage to Les Éboulements every year. This year he brings with him his most recent book, titled  Plein Air Painting by a Plein Air Master. It is a great read, loaded with helpful hints, advice and stories. He sells the book at cost : 25$  delivered by post. Here is his email,  robisnow at   Below are a few images of Allison paintings completed this spring. The snow was plentiful, the fog heavy and the wind bone chilling.

This spring I went to paint at the local church, the big one on the hill not the small sailor’s church at the edge of the river in St-Joseph- de- la Rive. The church yard is empty and lots of space to park and I get out of the cold blowing wind. In the past an elderly lady comes to chat with me but not this year. She tells me about the theft of doves and angels from the tombstones. Then we talk about all the young children buried here. As she says, it only in recent times that we have our children for life. I feel melancholy and start to paint the Angel with the missing leg.


Linda Denis, Cast Iron Angel Tombstone, oil, 2014

Linda Denis, Cast Iron Angel Tombstone, oil, 2014