Wednesday 26 October 2016

Paris for Women 2016

Sept. 24, 2016 Toronto Pearson Airport
I took my seat on Air Canada's overnight flight to Paris. As usual the seats were too small and the leg room too short. Now I have complained as everyone does, I will continue with my story. Not long into the flight dinner was served, I was watching a movie that was not worth the time but being hearing impaired I don't have a lot of selection in flight. This one had captioning. I won't share it with you as it really wasn't my idea of entertainment.
I put on my sleep mask, turned off my hearing aid and put my head on my pillow (I carry my own feather pillow on overnight international flights). I was asleep in that kind of sleep where you think, you are asleep but maybe you are awake.
On arrival I was ready to tour having slept at least 2 maybe 3 hours in flight. I am getting better at this each flight not sure what either the sleeping in flight or convincing myself that I slept inflight.  The young woman sitting next to me sat in her seat on boarding, put her head back and was asleep. She woke to eat her meal and then back to sleep. She slept from Toronto to Paris. Now to find out how she did that.

On arrival in Paris we were met by our pre-arranged bus and drove into the city of lights. The bus took us to the hotel. We checked in, dropped our luggage in the hall near the hotel desk. Our itinerary said that we would go to Notre Dame Cathedral as it was Sunday and where else would you go in Paris on Sunday?
We went by metro and I got my first 10000 steps walking in the metro from one station to the next. This was not a favourite on the trip for my group. Paris is best seen walking but then for those from my part of the world, walking is often a new adventure. They did so well walking for 10 days in Paris.

This blog is supposed to be my travel sketch journal so I will now add my first opportunity to sketch in Paris this trip. I hope they continue at home.

Welcome to Luxembourg Gardens, a magical park located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. It was created, beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, the model sailboats on its circular basin, and for the picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620.

A quiet time sitting in the sun looking down the long green space and gardens was a special time and a wonderful way to start my time in Paris. 

I have been to Paris many times and only visited this garden for short periods of time not to sketch just to visit.  This trip with a chance to sketch I returned and returned paint brush in hand and a smile on my face.
On heading back to our hotel from the gardens we passed this small rather deco building just before the exit gate. A chance to sit in the sun, paint brush in hand.

You can't always be out walking and looking even though this is my favourite thing to do in Paris, I did return to my room one afternoon, sit on my bed and sketch the view from my window. It is the view from most windows if you are lucky enough to spend time in a small hotel on a narrow Paris street. We stayed at Hotel Delambre in Montparnasse a great location for all our selected destinations. A 35 minute walk to Notre Dame and Shakespeare and Company cutting across Luxembourg Gardens of course. We could also catch a bus or take the Metro to anyplace on our itinerary.


Of course there is more to Paris then Luxembourg Gardens so on Wednesday we headed to the Louvre. Yes we went to see the Mona Lisa. On Wednesday the Louvre is open until 8:00 PM so it is the best day for those who want to really see the Louvre. I have been before and find the number of visitors more then I need when there is so much to see outside.  With a couple of my travellers we enjoyed a great meal in the Louvre then walked through the Tuileries across the Palace de la Concorde where a big tent had been set up to house the world  of fashion. September is fashion month in Paris! We continued up the Champs Elysees, looking in windows enjoying this amazing international shopping street. A new restaurant was to open believe it or not "Five Guys". This felt rather strange but it is an international shopping street and hamburgers are starting to become of interest to the Parisians.  Good luck Five Guys.

As I didn't date my sketches and they were done quickly as I sat with my friends in a cafe watching the world go by this next sketch was done sitting outside a cafe (where most Parisian sit relaxing with a glass to watch the world go by) near the Seine on our way back to Montparnasse after time on the Champs Elysees . I don't know the date but it was at what I thought was rush hour. The cars were coming across the bridge on the Seine from the left bank. So many cars on these beautiful old streets and bridges moving bumper to bumper. I don't think Paris was made for cars.  The wine was good and when painting there really is no time to do much more then look and sketch so I spent a lovely half hour enjoying the view, sipping my wine and sharing with my friends. Now this is Paris! Horns, wind, moist air (maybe it is rain) and talk, quiet talk.....

September 30, 2016
I do remember where this was and why I was sketching. These advertisement structures that you find throughout Paris are really very interesting and very colourful. This one was across the street on the Champs Elysees from the Marriott Hotel. It had started to rain and we were walking back from the Arch de Triomphe. What do you do in the rain in Paris? You find a cafe, one out of the rain and you order a glass of wine and watch everyone running to do the same thing. A glass of wine at the Marriott is 10 Euros but the view is worth every penny. 


For anyone reading this that is a sketcher / painter, you will know what I am doing. I purchased a new brush a 'Petit Gris', in a lovely artist supply shop just around the corner from my hotel. A very lucky coincidence don't you think? There were in fact two great artist supply shops in this area. I wanted to try my new brush which is a mop and to do this in my little journal I needed to do what I call a very loose sketch. I was sitting in a park not far from my hotel, it was cold...yes it was very cold...there were many children and their parents enjoying the park. The sun was trying very hard to stay out from behind the clouds. I was sketching quickly and this my friends is the result. Anne-Laure what do you think?

October 2nd 
Back in the park in the afternoon the weather had changed so you can see in my sketch more detail, more time. I have a terrible habit of overdoing a sketch because I sit too long in the same place. I was taken by the roof top tiles and the interesting chimney pots. The tree in the foreground even though it looks like an evergreen (coniferous) is a deciduous and each of those little dots are leaves. I am struggling with green. This green is viridian, a little ultramarine blue and some lemon yellow. I don't have it quite right. I am looking down an alley, a narrow passage between houses. I am enjoying using purple from french ultramarine blue and scarlet lake,  instead of black in my watercolours. 

Our last day in Paris, October 3, 2016. 
It is always sad to think that such an amazing time is over and on the 4th of October we will be heading home. I certainly didn't sketch enough, I certainly didn't see enough, I certainly didn't spend enough time in the Louvre or just sitting in a cafe but I certainly did more of that then I would have at home. 
This day, our last day I went with my friend back to Luxembourg Gardens.  She said that if she did anything in Paris on this last day she wanted to go back to the park have a picnic and enjoy the day. 
We walked around the outside path of the garden, left the gardens and found a wine store where we purchased a half bottle of wine. The proprietor kindly popped the cork and gave us two small plastic glasses. We continued our walk and found a shop selling what they call in Paris, street food. I purchased a baguette with cheese, ham and butter. You don't find butter used in this way in Paris, so it was a real treat. With our sandwich and oh yes a wonderful apple tart...I can still taste it...we returned to the garden found a chair and enjoyed our picnic in the sun. In front of us was the Luxembourg Palace. If you look back to the first sketch in this memory to the sketch of the Luxembourg Palace you will find me sitting in this chair to the left looking down on the palace at about the
 2nd floor.

I had been in to the art market near our hotel on Sunday. There were several artists selling paintings of this chair. I enjoyed saving myself the 42 Euros they were asking and the time looking at my place in the sun. 
It was getting warm so we decided to walk along and find a place out of the sun. There was a gardener on a large machine which made a great deal of noise and many children running around following what I think was a game set out by their teacher. My friend was reading and found it all just too disturbing to stay in that spot. With my chair finished we made one more move before heading back to the hotel. A beautiful flower garden beneath an amazing old tree. The branch held up at one end by a stake. I settled in and started to once more with my Petit Gris paint brush try and capture in a very loose style the colours of the garden. Along came the gardener and his machine. Hence we departed Luxembourg Garden and headed back to our hotel. It was a beautiful day and a colourful ending to our time in Paris. 


Wednesday 22 June 2016

Exploring the Viking Trail, Together June 2016

I have just returned from 9 days in Newfoundland and Labrador 'Exploring the Viking Trail' with 41 great travellers. This was a tour for women so there wasn't a great deal of sketching time as I had in Portugal when the group were sketchers travelling with Montreal Artist Marc Taro Holmes. The weather was rather inclement, making it difficult to stand outside without blowing away. Believe me even at my size it was hard to not get blown over. It was a wonderful experience and I must say the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are 5 star. They came to this island and many stayed, for many generations. They lived through the worst of weather conditions but shared the best of family and friendships.  They shared their music, their friendship and their history with us. I think everyone on this trip came home feeling that not only did they become an Honourary Newfoundlander by partaking in the ceremony of the Newfoundland Royal Order of  Screechers but that Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to be a special place to them.

On day one I sketched from the bus as I have done in the past...what I called mini memories. The bus was bouncing, a lot! We headed to Gros Morne National Park which is named after the mountain shown below. The snow was still on the top. At Norris Point we took a boat along the coast to experience the coast line. How excited we were...too excited to sketch...when we saw a whale.

He turned then...
he dove! and was gone

Bobbie was successful in capturing the whale in a series of about 8 photos. I hope that she will share so I can include them here. This is one of three I was lucky enough to get, I must admit I was so excited I forgot to take photos.

On the bus as the world sailed by. A short stop at the light house gave me a minute to do this mini but it was all I could do to hold my sketch book, water brush and mini travel sketch box and stay upright in the wind.

another day on the bus in Gros Morne a visit to the Arches with a stop long enough for those looking for a photo op...and for me to quickly do a mini...then we saw  our first iceberg! The trees along the road fascinated me. I watched and watched and finally using the direction of Marc Taro Holmes when he painted looking down into the olive trees in Portugal I sketched the trees along the road. A lot of painting negative space. This also was a memory painting.
Raining and cold but so much to se...we continue our journey. At L'Anse aux Meadows we first walked through the rain from one Viking building to the next it was cold but very interesting. The last building I visited before heading back to the bus to capture the mist/cloud rolling in was a long house where women were cooking around an open fire. We had a chance to try their biscuits with some wonderful partridge berry comport. Worth the walk in the rain.


Finally a sunny morning. We had time in Corner Brook at the Glynmill Inn to wander before boarding our bus to Twillingate and more rain and fog.

We arrived in St. John's on the 15th of June, still cold. Breakfast was served on the third floor of #9 Roses Heritage Inn, our home in St. John's for 4 nights.  It was too cold to sit on the street and sketch so a couple of us thought that we could find a restaurant for coffee where we might look out the window and sketch. Have you ever noticed how coffee shops don't have many places to sit that look out on a pleasant view? This was the case of Starbuck's on Water St. in St. John's so the option was to sketch the people in the coffee shop. Not a great experience, but something I should keep trying if I am going to sketch as an Urban Sketcher!

Back in St. John's on the last day of our adventure the temperature soared to 24 degrees Celsius and I had some time to sketch. I started across from our accommodation then moved back to the side of other side of the street to catch the view of the Church. St. Thomas Anglican Church was the garrison church for Fort William. While I sketched todays parishioners arrived for morning service. It was a lovely warm day in sunny St. John's. I don't think you hear that too often.

Working in my new, made by me, sketch book I had a chance for a stop by the harbour. It is nice to travel with people who like to sit and take in the sights. I could have stayed longer but Air Canada was waiting and those who had gone to the Girl Guides of Canada Trefoil Gathering would be heading to the airport to return to their homes. I wanted to hear about the Gathering and what they had done while spending the last 4 nights in St. John's.
Now to do some serious sketching. My next adventure will be in Chicago in July when I go to the Chicago Urban Sketchers Symposium. I am looking forward to this experience.
THEN OFF TO INDIA IN FEB. 2017 TO SKETCH WITH ANNE-LAURE JACQUART. Join me and Anne-Laure's workshop you can find all the information on under "Tours for Painters".

Tuesday 12 April 2016

The first four pages of my mini memories in Portugal 2016

Here I am once again trying to catch up on my blog. I have been in Portugal with an amazing group of talented painters. On return I was told by one of these people, an avid blogger, that I should post my Portugal journey and get it done now if I am to continue to show my blog address in my signature. She is right of course.

I didn't do many mini memories when I travelled this trip as it was a watercolour workshop but I will add the few pages that I did so you can once again travel along with me. I will also include paintings that I feel were close to being finished. They are in my sketch book so can be considered sketches.

Thank you for taking a look. Hope you enjoy.


Hello here we are in Alvor Portugal. An amazing little fishing village (growing daily with big white condos along the beach) that has not lost its charm as the feeling of its roots are still there in the narrow streets and exciting cafes. Alvor is in the Algarve Region of Continental Portugal. The closest airport is Faro. For us to travel there is at the time of year we went is a long journey. My flight took me from Toronto to London Heathrow to Lisbon and then to Faro. Each stop included waiting time. You do arrive tired but it is well worth the journey.

The little restaurant that we had our first lunch in Alvor on March 21 was a favourite from our last visit. A toasted sandwich of bacon and jam (yes I know :)) but my favourite with a glass of wine cashed out at 5 euros. You can't go wrong and I was in heaven. Our meal at the 'O Arco Da Velha' was the most exciting meal we had in Alvor this visit. Four of us shared a sea bass that came ready to eat, no bones, no head now tail, the normal way fish is presented if you don't ask. The chef was cooking as you ordered on his barbeque just outside the door of the restaurant. The fish came with little red skinned potatoes and vegetables. It was wonderful. In Portugal it takes a lot of time to order and receive your meal but it is worth the wait.  Eating out is a very special time, this dinner was with good friends and great wine and for someone who doesn't like!

Our first location in Alvor
1. The Alvor Church Tower, pencil and watercolour.
2. The Alvor Church Tower watercolour
Mini Memories begins in Alvor

Working around Alvor then off to Cape St. Vincent for a day trip.

In the Alvor Harbour watercolour

Day trip to Cape St. Vincent mini memory

Sketching at Cape St. Vincent pencil, ink and watercolour.

Workshop in Portimao mini memory - then a sunset champagne cruise

Workshop day in Portimao watercolour/ and watercolour.
           Another workshop day in Alvor Harbour watercolour



Small quick sketches

We went to the cliffs and down by the sea three times during our time in Alvor. Everyone loved it. Quick sketches, not my way to paint but very exciting

These two are what happens when you paint quickly...excited, green blobs across the smaller sketches below.
Back in Alvor challenged to paint a street scene looking up the hill from the harbour. I was told I was a cubist. - On the hill looking down on Alvor another challenge that I tried, painting a building through the trees.
We went to Lagos on the local bus for an adventure. This was our morning workshop in Lagos. My sketch is about a quarter of the size of the others in the group. I must learn to stand up, stand back and use a big brush.


Our trip to Monchique ended with a stop in Silves. I wandered, had lunch with some of the group and enjoyed an ice cream/gelato, coffee/galao and the sun before heading to the fort/palace to do a quick sketch. Time ran out and I had to run back to the bus but I did bring a small memory from Silves.

That catches me up except for the one full size painting, almost finished that I did in Alvor on a very cold day. I sat in the door way of a small house and looked down the narrow street to the house in the painting. So much going on. Yes for that reason I didn't finish before I had to head back for critique.
I was the most productive workshop I have participated in. Now to continue hopefully in Feb. in India.