Wednesday 23 April 2014


April 23, 2014
I am preparing for my watercolour workshop in Turkey with Atanur Dogan. After adding all the watercolour paper, brushes, paints etc. I am forced to take a carry on piece of luggage also. Not great for a traveller. I should be able to do 18 days, with just the carry on, but then .. I will be back here to finish the trip to France. In between, I am hoping to post while travelling in Turkey.
Till then!

I should have brought a chair!

October 10, 2013

The weather was co-operating today! Our instruction was to walk down the main street of Hambye past the shops and find a location that we would like to sketch.

I walked looking for someplace that I could sit as I didn't have a chair. At the end of the village was a sloping hill at one side of the road and at the other, a view of the countryside. It wasn't the view that caught my attention but the number of people coming and going from a house in the distance.
Old people, young people, driving, walking, carrying food! The sun was shining and it was a beautiful scene. I sat to paint. The small building across the road from where I was sitting caught my eye. I learned later that it had been the bread ovens for the village. As all things, in our changing world it was no longer in use.
The sun bounced off it's tiled roof and the hills behind were oh so green.

People heading to the gathering stopped, talked to me (in French ) smiled pointed at my work and tried to share with me something about what I was doing, or maybe where they were going. It was a special time. We seemed to understand each other in a simple way. We were all happy to be out in the sun and enjoying the day. I don't know why they were heading to the house down the road but decided because of all the smiles that there was a very happy occasion taking place. I will continue to feel that sunny day and the sunny feelings.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Five in one hour!

October 10, 2013, Chateau Hambye

When you are taking a workshop there is always something new that excites you and Lin's direction today was just that for me.
"Challenge: Paint/sketch 5 things in the Chateau that interest you, in one hour!"

Off we went. One hour is a very short time when you have to make a decision on what you feel would be a good addition to your memories and help you create great paintings back in the studio so there was no time to decide. Find a place where you could sit and get to work.

My first sketch was of Anna's (our host) liquor cabinet. It was in the corner of the formal dining room.
Covered with a purple and gold cloth and certainly had a feeling of the vintage of the house. I am wondering now how I managed to sketch five things in the house in the time allowed. I started in the dining room, moved to the kitchen where next to the huge cooking fire place hung the chestnut roasting pan and the fire place spit winder. I am not sure of the names of either of these two things but they both had the age of the house. There was so much to sketch but I wanted to experience more then the kitchen and the dining room so moved to the foyer.

In the foyer I found another of our group. I found a place to sit and settled down to sketch what I thought would be a very good reference of the house. As all the furniture had been found and placed by Anna and Rob when they renovated the door locks were there, and by the look of them had been added to as the necessity for more security came to Chateau Hambye by each owner and since the beginning. So many bolts, handles and latches!  I am not sure if each night they slide all the bolts but it certainly gave you a feeling that you were safe for the night if they did. I think it took me longer to sketch this lock set then anything else. Loved it!

I had four and needed five. Time was running out and so was the space on my page. I found a candle stick in a built in wall cupboard in the games room and quickly sketched it between the spit and the lock.

We now could look back at the history of the house, store our liquor, lock our door, turn the cooking spit in the kitchen fireplace, roast chestnuts and do it by candle light.

A great way to remember where you have been!

Over the fireplace was written:
What does that mean? I really can't tell you but it did add the age that we all were looking for to our beautiful home in Normandy.

Monday 7 April 2014

Dinan the French home of Harry Potter

October 9, 2013
If you are travelling in Normandy and have time to stop in Dinan, you certainly won't be disappointed. I was amazed at the feeling that we had arrived in Diagon Alley. It rained on and off all day but in between we enjoyed the architecture, the conical shaped sorting hats that top many of the buildings and the low slung over hang of the large beamed buildings all take you back to a time that would have been very comfortable with those who shopped in Diagon Alley.

This is very much a tourist destination but on our day to visit (probably because we were there in October) the number of tourists we had to share it with were very few.  I love it when you don't have to dodge large tour groups. Shopping was at its best here and the cafes and restaurants warm and cozy.

A downpour sent us quickly to a small cafe. Lunch is served until 2:00 and dinner is 7:00 - 9:00PM.

Painting is the object of this trip so a page in my journal was a must. We stopped in the Place Des Mercers, Creperie "Le Connetable" giving us a place to capture the square. Coffee was 3 Euros 50. We really needed hours in Dinan as there was so much to see so much to paint/sketch but then we didn't have hours so two sketches was quite an accomplishment for me. I did take many photos with the idea of returning to Canada and spending time adding more exciting memories to my journal. Always a dream but not something that I do.

Welcome to Dinan, Normandy, France.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Back at Chateau Hambye

October 8, 2013
This was a very exciting day in our itinerary. Prior to departure Lin thought it would be a good idea and a way to save some money, to break the group into two cooking groups and each group would plan, shop and prepare our evening meal. Chris and Eleanor took on the job of kitchen chief. Our day began with Rob taking Bruce, Eleanor and my self off to the next town to shop. Eleanor was prepared with her list and we just did the running. I did stop long enough to buy a top to replace the one my marker marked the day before. I had my first piece of French clothing! I purchased it in the grocery store as I might have done at Zehrs in Stratford. This one was a George not a Joe. When I got home and Walmart opened in Stratford, I saw on their sign that they too sell George. Maybe my top is not so French.

Back at the Chateau with our shopping Eleanor directed the preparation of our evening meal. I washed dishes as the others in my group chopped and diced under her direction. It does take many hands to prepare a meal for a group our size. All the preparation was worth the effort. It is a special opportunity to prepare a meal in a kitchen such as the Chateau's and then share it with a group as special as this one.

While I was working in the kitchen the non-kitchen staff were out painting. I started this painting of the Chateau while I enjoyed some sun in the driveway. At each break from dishes I picked up my paints and headed back out. It was interesting to paint as it gave me an opportunity to really see the beautiful Chateau that was our home while in Hambye, Normandy, France. I didn't finish it but it is full of memories.


Sunday 16 March 2014

Urban Sketchers

Its official I am considered an Urban Sketcher! Check out their web site, they are painting the world.
Me too!

Friday 14 March 2014

Mont St. Michel, Normandy

October 7, 2013 

Today we headed to Mont St.Michel! We were going to paint so I packed my bag of sketching material and boarded the bus with all the other excited group members. I had done some research so knew a little about our destination. Our teacher, Lin Souliere had been there before and was looking forward to returning. It was her suggestion that we spend the day at this amazing location. 

I know why now!

This painting is by workshop participant, Beverly Morgan, on return from Normandy. You can see more of her paintings on her blog. 

Our bus (18 passenger)  travelled along quickly and it wasn’t long before we could see off in the distance a mountain, no a hill, no an island with a hill….there it was Mont St Michel (English translation - St. Michael's Mount) .

Parking then walking, take your walking shoes, you don’t get too close to the entrance so need to be prepared. You feel like you are entering a mid-evil fortress that is still the home of those who built it. Duck your head, turn left or maybe it was right, and you are in the village of Mont St. Michel. There is so much to see, so much to experience it is difficult to sit in one spot and paint. Sorry Lin, I know that was the idea.
We decided to climb while we still had the energy, all the way to the top. We walked by the shops, looked into the restaurants but kept walking up. Cameras at the ready but then you had to remember to push the button and it was hard to do that as you were so busy looking.

I wish I could share with you my paintings that I did in my mind as I climbed. When I get home from one of these trips I am supposed to head to my studio and paint. That is the idea, collect lots of information, do lots of sketches, feel the moment and return to paint.
I would love to call myself an artist but first I am a traveller. Painting as I travel is the best way to collect memories. Doing this blog helps me to prepare for printing my travel journal. I use photos and sketches along with what I have shared with you and I have what I feel is a very very personal memory.

On the way down we stopped in a small café for a glass of wine. Two painters sitting at a table paint brush in hand, spent a wonderful hour or so capturing the view. 

We had planned this day with time to stay at Mont St. Michel long enough to have our evening meal before heading back to Chateau Hambye at days end. We were to meet the bus in the parking lot at 8:00 PM. There seemed to be a problem that we hadn't expected.  All the restaurants at Mont St. Michel closed around 2:00PM and didn’t open again until around 7:00 PM. We wouldn’t have time to have our evening meal and we were too early to find our driver for the trip back to the Chateau. In France many restaurants serve meals and many restaurants, serve snacks. We found one of these snack places and had a relaxing meal. (crepes) Certainly not what we had in our minds for dinner as we were dreaming of a small café, overlooking the water, high up on the Mont where we could experience a fine French repas, while we watched the sunset. We must go back prepared to stay for this experience.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Little folk among the vines

We are still on day one and a new assignment has been given. Our time has been shortened. We are to find something in the garden that we would like to add to our sketch books. I couldn't resist this guy.
He was almost covered with the vines. His saucy face peaked out, just enough to let me know he was there and I should capture him in my memories.

Monday 24 February 2014

Windows, always interesting.

On day one, as you saw in my last posting, we were sent out to paint a sketch. A quick watercolour of something that interested us. This is very exciting when there are 10+ painters all doing the same thing looking for the most interesting place to paint. Most of the group went to the garden. I joined another painter and found a table to spread out my things. It is difficult to travel with too many supplies and most of the time it is not necessary. There is always the time that you want to settle in and a chair would have been a added bonus. This trip only had one day that I ended balanced on the edge of the road, uncomfortable but lost in my painting. You will come to that down the road.

We were staying on the grounds of the chateau. It wasn't the most glorious day but we were in Normandy and we had come to paint. The sun was hiding in the clouds when we started around 2:00 in the afternoon but by 3:30 it was out to welcome us.
Some of the painters had travelled with a companion. Shell the husband of one of the group, arrived with tea. How special. I was sitting in the garden on the back of the chateau. As always windows interest me so I decided that the window looking into the lounge would be what I would paint.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Watercolour Workshop in Normandy France Oct. 2013

It seems like time just isn't on my side. I planned to do this blog while I travelled. Then I planned to do it when I got home. Here we are four months later and I am just getting started.

Our first day of our workshop took us to the grounds of our very special accommodation. We were staying at Chateau Hambye, in the village of Hambye, Normandy.
We spent a week at Chateau Hambye. This was day one. Our instructor Lin Souliere, sent us out to do a quick warm up sketch. As you can see, I was busy with household chores so didn't get too much accomplished. I have included it as day one because I wanted you to see how little one could do and still have a great travel memory.