August 29, 2017 I departed to Paris.
August 30, 2017 Arriving safely on Air Canada I found my pre-booked bus and headed to the city. This is a great way to transfer from the airport into Paris, inexpensive and efficient.
I was staying at the Hotel Delambre in Montparnase. This is a very small hotel that is exactly where I like to be in Paris as the location and the hotel fit my needs and my ideas of what a hotel in Paris should be like. The watercolour sketch is what I saw from the window of my room.
We had 2 nights here before heading to Brittany. On arrival day we didn't do much but arrive, stroll around the neighbourhood and find a place for dinner. The main job was to stay awake. Another favourite and necessity was to get a Gelato at Amorino so a must add to this journal page.
My first folded journal
August 31, 2017
On day two along with two of my travelling friends I headed out to wander Paris. I have been there before, several times, but am never bored with strolling and looking. As you can see by the map in the centre of page 2 we did a great deal of walking. Some of it was around and around as we found our bearings (lost is the correct word) and headed toward the Seine. Before crossing the river we stopped at Sennelier's the amazing artist supply store on the left bank. I was looking for one colour of watercolour paint (Gris Chaud / Warm grey Sennelier # 705) to use for the sandy colour of the buildings. Yes I can mix it but it so so much quicker to just to have it in your palette. I was successful and you will see it used in the sketch of the Palais Garnier / Paris Opera on pg. 2 and often in other sketches in this journal. While in Sennelier's I noticed a small (4" x 6" or 10 cm x 16 cm) accordion sketch book. I had been given one as a gift (bigger) a few years ago and didn't use it as I was afraid to mess it up. This little book was perfect and so my journal began. After getting our bearings we headed to the Musee de L'Orangerie to spend some quiet special time with Monet in his beautiful amazing water lily garden. Then a stop for lunch outside of the Palais Garnier /Paris Opera enjoying almost an hour of mini sketching while we ate our lunch and watched all the people enjoying the square. After lunch a visit to Gallery Lafayette for a little shopping and then a long walk back to Montparnasse. Tired and excited about our adventure we slept.
September 1, 2017
It is time to head to Concarneau to meet up with the others on the "Painting Brittany" workshop. Our location on Delambre was perfect as we only had a 5 minute walk to the Montparnasse train station where we were to get our train. We were travelling on the TGV departing Paris at 10:56. We had a very smooth ride in Car 18 seat 75. I was busy looking out the window watching France go by and trying to capture a little in my journal. Our train took us to Quimper where we changed to a bus. We met Anne-Laure at the bus station for this part of the journey. On arrival in Concarneau we had a little ops while we worked out how to get to the hotel from the harbour. No taxis and the walk just a little further then we wanted to drag our luggage. The little train was not running but we got by magic a local bus that let us off almost at the door of our hotel. Our room had a small balcony with two chairs. The view was perfect looking out on to the sea. We could watch the men out hunting for mussels when the tide went out. The Hotel l'Ocean was just what we needed. They kindly let us use the big table in the bar for our nightly sharing time. Dinner that night was in the old city. Those who had come early (our workshop started on the 2nd) walked to the old harbour and at the suggestion of Russ and Robin we found a Crepiere that they had enjoyed the night before and settled around a great round table. Time to get to know those we didn't know. We laughed...to hard at one time...enjoyed each others company and were ready to return to our hotel for the night. Tomorrow we start our workshop!
September 2, 2017
Today was again at leisure. Those who didn't come early were arriving today. Our first gathering took place in the hotel bar at 6:00PM. I spent the morning with Anne-Laure in the old city. We spent some time the morning sketching. I spent a long time on this little sketch of the boats through the arch. While I did this Anne-Laure did two or three full size sketches. The old city of Concarneau is in the harbour. You cross a bridge go through a gate and then walk the streets through history.
We met the others for lunch my first experience to have a savory crepe. It was good and I continued to eat a crepe almost every day during our trip. At our meeting back at the hotel each person introduced them self and then we shared the paint. The colours chosen by Anne-Laure for our workshop.
She had purchased two tubes of paint for each of us. We were to bring a empty palette. Each person took a turn putting a small dab of paint from each tube in their palette. We were ready for our lessons to begin.
September 3, 2017
The weather started out to be a challenge in Brittany, but everyone I talked to said you just never knew in Brittany if it...would rain, would it be sunny, would be warm, would be cold. We had it all. We had it all but the challenge passed from our minds as we passed from the weather to sketchers. Nothing stopped us as you will see as you follow us on the blog. Our first morning of the workshop we sat in the hotel...adjusting to the weather...Anne-Laure had some shells that she had picked up along the shore. First she showed us painting a shell using our petit gris mop brush, juicy with colour and water I think this was a lesson of the use of the brush. Something that all of us found interesting and useful. Once we had done a full page of shells with this method she asked us to pick another shell and paint the negative then add a small bit of detail making the white shell pop from the page. Amazing how many times I have spent an hour painting a shell when I could use this method and 1,2,3, success and a great looking shell!
September 4, 2017
Our day began as each day began with a workshop. Everyone was ready, everyone was excited about what we would learn next. We went to the harbour near the old village of Concarneau and found small fishing boats, all different colours. Once again we were being taught how to use our brushes. Firsts with the sable pointed round brush. Mine is a # 8 that I purchased on line from Winsor & Newton. This brush is wonderful for quick strokes and small detail. We practiced first small strokes in different colours added the dark like below and then the shadow. Wow, a small boat that looked just like the ones we were looking at.
The rope holding them to the dock was the hardest thing to accomplish. We had to get the right amount of water the right amount of paint and then quickly, add the line. I won't show you my page of little boats it was quite a challenge but certainly a lesson. From the entrance to the old city we travelled to the open harbour side where bigger sailboats were anchored. Here we were taught how to add a sailboat painting in the negative, again a quick but very amazing painting of a boat. I won't say again...that is just too much to accomplish in a sketchers time. We did it, all of us. They looked like sail boats!
That afternoon we took the local bus to Pont-Aven. We were on our own to sketch and this village full of tourists had lots to capture our interest. I sat on a bridge and took time to sketch this small house along the river. I am sketching small but what I had been taught in the last couple of days was very useful and I certainly enjoyed my afternoon as did all the others in our group who sketched, sketched, sketched.
Back at the hotel we shared what we had done that day and it was very clear that everyone was happy and learning. Just what we had come for.
Sept. 05, 2017
Today our workshop taught us how to use our brushes. We learned to puddle, paint very wet...what Anne-Laure calls "juicy!" Using the mop (petit gris squirrel mop) we watched with excitement as the loaded brush did the job of adding magic to our white paper. First one colour then the next just touch the edge and oh how beautiful it flows. The round sable is used to add clean clear colour (for those reading this from the USA "color") that can be isolated for detail. I am still working on this as I have spent many many years doing detail, nothing juicy...but I am sure you agree, it is magic.
Try now if you are where the Fall colours are it is perfect for this time of year.
Sept. 6, 2017
It is time to travel from Concarneau to Quimper. We did this trip slowly enjoying the stops along the way. Le Phare d'Eckmahl is the tallest lighthouse in Brittany. Four maybe crazy women climbed the 307 stairs. I was one of those women. I think it might have been hardest for me but it certainly was worth the climb, if for nothing else but "I did it!"
Our workshop today took place at Benedet at the beach. We used a wax candle to start so when we painted the water and reflections from the sun and clouds the paper was left white...very easy and quite the result. A little harder in my little sketch book but on a wonderful piece of 100% cotton Arches watercolour paper it leaves a lovely feeling of the movement of water and the sun and cloud reflections.
In Quimper we found our new hotel, checked in and then went out to explore.
You couldn't ask for a better location. There is no elevator in this hotel but the staff was quite willing to help with the luggage if necessary. Once settled, together headed out to meet Quimper (pronounced 'camper' for those of us who struggle with the lovely sounds of the French language).
September 7, 2017
In tours that I design I always add a few if possible "Days of Leisure".
Today was a day of Leisure. I want to smile here because we were painting and painting is leisure...all the way. Today Anne-Laure didn't have to teach as she too was having a day of leisure. She did take us to 'Galerie 16' an amazing artist supply store at 16, Rue Amiral Ronar' Ch. Quimper. She had arranged that we get a discount. Imagine a discount at a candy shop...a candy shop for artists. We all went and the excitement level was high. We all purchased..I think..I know I did. I found two travel brushes something I have looked for but each time I found one it was over my budget. At Galerie 16 I found a petit-gris and a Kolinsky #14 sable, just what we were using and just what I need to continue my travel journals. I also purchased 2 sheets of Arches watercolour paper that I took back to my room and made into journals...my Sennelier travel book was almost full and I needed more little books to continue...a tube of Sennelier cobalt Violet deep Hue watercolour paint (one of the colours that we had in our Painting Brittany palette that I had fallen in love with) and a sketch set. All wonderful. Oh how I wish this shop was here in Stratford. I had to return to get cardboard to make the covers for my hand made books (you will see them further along once I have finished the pages in my Sennelier purchase). Now the fun begins. Make the books, do the sketches, find pictures for the covers and yes paste in things to remember.
NOW THE FUN BEGINS: I really enjoyed my little book of memories and tried very hard to find another book to purchase so I could continue. I didn't have any luck. In Quimper I purchased two sheets of Arches 140lb 100% cotton watercolour paper and with the help of my sister-in-law we made a book! In fact we made 3 books. I found some interesting brochures and covered the first books cover so it represented where I was. Here it is....
September 8, 2017
My first page of my first homemade mini folding sketch book. Today as you can see it is raining. Something we are getting used to in Brittany but I must say, in between the rain, Brittany was warm and sunny. Anne-Laure was very creative on where and what she was going to share in her workshops.
Workshop #5 took place under umbrellas at a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant was very kind and came out to clean off the tables (everything was so wet) so we could hold our workshop. Many of us had hot chocolate trying to warm up and of course to purchase something. It was not the warmest day. There were people walking by, rain or no rain. Our workshop...how to put people in your sketches. Wow, another wonderful discovery. I am one of those people who like to paint the colour of the eyes of the people I am looking at....detail, all the way so consequently I don't put people in my sketches. Anne-Laure said this is how you do it and we spent an hour or more sketching people. Easy shapes almost a squiggle then add a head and legs. You can see it in the example below. We also did a negative sketch of a person, that is the man in the white shirt. I can now add people to my sketches, adding life, without worrying about what they are wearing or what their facial features are like.
Everyone was rather wet this day but that didn't stop them. I went back to the hotel after lunch and worked on making more little journals and finishing this page with my glue stick. When it was time for dinner, the group came in with sandwich fixings. I had been too long inside so decided to find a nice warm place with something warm to eat. As it says, a Pizzeria Pomodor & Basilic, right across from the Max Jacob Theatre.
Location Quimper bus trip to Locronan
itinerary said we were off to Locronan an historic village about 20 minutes by
local bus #37 from our hotel in Quimper.
This exquisite village in the destination Quimper
Cornouaille occupies a long-sacred spot named after a revered Irishman who
settled here in the Dark Ages, but the place’s spiritual roots go back much
further. From the late Middle-Ages, sail-making brought prosperity, and an
exceptionally handsome architectural legacy.
been saved and it is certainly a place if you are near that you do not want to
It was raining, this is Brittany…but we would not be stopped. We arrived
to clear skies. This too is Brittany. Anne-Laure walked us through the village
and found a place near the cathedral “Yannick Le Gal” in the centre of the
village to start her workshop. We were here to sketch buildings. Nice wet loosely painted buildings! She
certainly has a technique that is special. I am not saying that it is easy to do, but we were doing our best and I could see
each day someone picked up something and their personal style changed. Amazing!
We are not Anne-Laure but we are developing.
workshop we were sent out to sketch. Along with Les I found a place in a lovely cobble stone road with stone buildings and beautiful gardens. I settled in on
a low wall and got my paints ready. I was going to do this…I need to learn to
stop and here was going to be the day I did this. I normally start out when
painting with a very loose wet under coat. I think this comes from the days
when I was painting in oil (way back) or acrylics (still way back). This of
course is not the way you paint watercolour but I just can’t change. If I
stopped at the undercoat and could work out how to get more paint on my brush
at this time I think I would be closer to what I am trying to achieve.
Lost in my
challenge I didn’t notice the rain it came slowly but then it poured. I grabbed
my things trying to pack up before what I had done was very wet and loose. Les was doing the same thing. There was
a shop near where we were painting and out the door came the shopkeeper. She
invited us to come, wet or not, into her shop. We
stayed with her until the rain slowed. She told us about her village and
suggested that we go to Creperie Le Temps
Passe for lunch. Meeting Donna and Sandra we found the last table available
at the creperie. It was warm and comfortable we of course ate crepes.
September 10, 2017 Travel day from Quimper to Camaret-Sur-Mer
Each day on our itinerary that we changed accommodations we spent the day travelling. The distance was not great but Brittany has lots to see and Anne-Laure was making sure we saw as much as she could fit in.
Out special destination today was La Pointe du Raz the most western point in France. This rocky spur with 70m high jagged cliffs resembling a ship's bow was our destination. This site offers a spectacular view of the Raz de Sein and Phare de La Vielle (the lighthouse off the Point du Raz).
Sketching is what we came for. The winds were high and it was difficult to hold paper and brush. At one point the wind picked up my palette and tossed it. Now I was sketching with a little sand in my paint. I have always found it difficult trying to capture the action of the sea pounding against rocks when plein-air sketching. Anne-Laure solved all of that she always had a way to simplify and get the job done. We all followed directions and happily came away from La Pointe du Raz without blowing off the cliff.
Workshop # 6 should be titled workshop # 7 now my numbers sequence is out.
Use a white candle, quickly scrub your paper where you think the water should be white then add the rock, the sea and the light house. Done and you have it!
Our accommodation for the rest of our time in Brittany was at the Hotel De France in Camaret Sur Mer. I wasn't sure about this accommodation it was a change in the hotel that we had chosen. We were told this was the sister hotel and it would supply us with the harbour location we wanted. I was so pleased when we checked in and found our room. It was perfect. There was no view but after being out all day we really didn't need one. Our meals were included dinner started at 7:00 and didn't end until 9:30. 3 courses - with lots of time in-between. We took our sketches to dinner and shared what we had done each day. Russ shared his photos we had become very much a happy family of watercolour sketchers, comfortable, warm and friends. Our chef at the Hotel De France was amazing. We couldn't ask for more.
September 11, 2017 Camaret-Sur-Mer
We spent our day in the harbour. As we had experienced since our arrival in Brittany the weather was
1. it rained
2. it was windy
3. the sun shone
4. it was cool
5. it was warm
6. more rain
7. an amazing pink and blue evening sky!
Another very special day, paint brush in hand.
It is a wonderful feeling for a part time painter/sketcher ( I spend more time at this computer planning trips then with my paint brush) to have this time and actually spend it sketching.
This was a great group everyone was excited from day one and all did their very best participating and giving everything they had learned a try.
Camaret is a fishing village filled with history. We didn't have to go far to find something to catch our interest.
Workshop 7 (forgive me I will continue on as it says in my journal even though you know I am not correct).
Today we studied clouds capturing them with dry brush, wet on wet, negative shapes, paint the background remove with kleenex and what ever worked. The sky changed and the clouds did the same, we had everything you could imagine in a sky and following Anne-Laure we learned to capture the feeling.
The second part of our workshop was painting rocks. You know those hard things that are all along the sea. How would you quickly capture these rocks? Impossible, right? I have spent hours painting rocks as I love them. I learned on this trip that there is a big difference between a sketcher and a painter. In my heart I have always been a painter trying to be a sketcher. Hence going slow.
Painters paint paintings amazing exciting paintings and sketchers, you special people, capture what you see and feel quickly then move along recording the world. I am still slow and don't really know if I am a sketcher or a painter.
All the years that I painted as a painter I felt I must capture what I see, everything. "Not so" said our fearless leader, it is more important to capture the feeling the light the mood then actually make a photo/painting of what you see. If the feeling is not there, do it your way. These rocks were quickly formed with a dip of my mop-brush in water and a couple of colours then slowly following the form of the rock (maybe they weren't all round). Magic!
If you are reading this and only reading for the tour you will want to know that the chef at the Hotel D' France in Camaret Sur Mer is 5 star. I don't eat fish not sure why except I am from Windsor, Ontario, Canada and the Detroit River our waterway just doesn't have what I would consider edible fish. In Camaret Sur Mer I ate fish every night and enjoyed every morsel. I will return to Brittany to eat fish and most certainly try more sketches.
Time to turn the page. The second little sketch book back side.........
September 12, 2017 Bus trip from Camaret-Sur-Mer to Huelgoat
It is time to see more of Brittany and after being to Huelgoat's magic forest I would say anyone who doesn't include this place in their Brittany holiday has missed a very very special place.
Huelgot: Lost high in the Parc d'Armorique in central Finistere, the village of Huelgoat looks sleepy at first sight, and its lake peaceful. However, descend into the Argent Valley and you suddenly find yourself amidst a mass of magical mossy boulders that have stirred the Breton imagination in fabulous ways.
I didn't see the fairies but I knew they were there. How would you capture that feeling. Maybe it was the sun dancing in the trees or the rain making all smile as they worked with watercolour in a wet garden.
It was a tour day that included a workshop. For those of us who were doing the workshop it was another perfect day. Russ took many photos so it must have been good for him. Sandra and Donna, hiked, they had met the fairies under a toadstool. At least that is what I think. They had photos of rocks that balanced on other rocks looking like toadstools. They had enjoyed their day, hiking in the magic valley. They did get lost but they did return.
Now you must know that the rocks in this valley were HUGE! Boulders (some as big as my car and some as big as a transport) would be a better way to describe them. They were covered with a lime green moss. It is hard to describe. I guess it is one of those things each must see for themselves.
In the forest we found a cafe. Lunch was at 'Roche Tremblant Restaurant' and yes again it was crepes.
Anne-Laure started her workshop by painting trees.
1. dry brush
2. spatter painting
3. wet on wet
4. The most surprising, done with a angled blusher makeup brush
Trees are my favourite object to paint but once again I learned something new. I don't think it ever stops the learning part of painting/sketching.
On this page you will also see small boulders. Think of they as HUGE. Done once again with the mop-brush technique.
September 13, 2017 Camaret-Sur-Mer Our last workshop day!
We woke to rain. This was to be our day to travel by boat to the Island of Ouessant. Half of the group decided that they just didn't want to go out on the sea during the storm. The rest joined me to walk to the dock where we were to meet our boat. We were told that the ship that closes the harbour had arrived the night before and no boats would be leaving as long as it was there. You can see it in my sketch of the day if you look closely. They returned our money and we headed back to our hotel.
Anne-Laure was not daunted by the rain, she found a comfortable place at our hotel. The sidewalk cafe was covered in plastic to keep out the weather so it was our safe harbour for the morning workshop.
Today we did two toned sketches, first in light grey just sketching shapes then with a dark value we added another dimension, it all popped out!. So simple so special.
At lunch we went to a creperie (Cap a l' Ouest), not far from the hotel. It was too early to eat but the owner opened for us and made a crepe for us to sketched. Yes even the food must be included in your sketch book if you are really journaling. I have my crepe in my workshop sketch book so am adding it so you can see how much fun it is to sketch...anything, even your crepe.
We started out sketching our coffee cup or anything that was on the table. Then when the crepe came we sketched it. I added the street scene and the umbrella later in the day. The best crepe, besides Anne-Laure's was done by Les.
That evening at show and tell, he held it up next to his face and said, "meet my brother". I have never laughed so hard there was actually a resemblance, the egg in the middle was his nose. Oh dear I am going to start laughing again.
Dinner that night was very special. Those who loved shell fish had a treat. The starter was a large plate for each person of 'fruites du mer' lobster, crab, crayfish, sea-weed, langostines and several sizes of snail "Escargot". I added a shell to my days page to include part of my meal. The main was white bean & pollock. Dessert: ice cream and sobert. Five stars to the chef!!
Sept 14, 2017 our last day in Brittany
Today the itinerary said it was a day of leisure. A day to pack and re-pack if you were heading home. It didn't work that way, everyone was ready for another day. There would be no workshop but that didn't stop them. We headed out together as a group. Our first stop was to the beach for a group photo.
Group photograph by Russ
You can see more photos on my Flickr page:
You can also link from my web page www.goingplacestogether.com.
Back to our last day in Brittany. After lots of laugh on the beach as we posed for our photo we walked up out of Camaret to a park to see the Alignments of Lagatjar, 65 menhits (rocks) lined up towards the sea. It has been speculated that this formation has an astronomical expalanation. Of course we sketched. It was very windy but believe it or not the sun was shinning. Then we continued along the coast, some heading in one direction others heading back following the coast to Camaret. Dinner that night: Salade de caille, Main duo de lotte au jambon and aux algues, Dessert Koving Amann.
I am hoping that everyone in this group will all meet again on another amazing sketching trip with Anne-Laure. Time will tell! Maybe you will join us?