Friday, June 14, 2019

Sketching at the Local Greenhouse


The staff, the airy greenhouse & the plants 
welcomed us Sketchers
to the Aubuchon Hardware Store & Nursery. 
I asked the worker above if we would be in the way.
"No problem," she said. 
"If you get in the way, we'll just water you.
It was an idyllic spot of light, color, and happy people. 
(Except for the flies, the little black flies.)
Local professional gardener Kate pulled up in her truck. 
I'm in awe of her, her artistic talents, her knowledge,
& her strength. In the old days of my childhood
only men had trucks & tools like this!
You could spend days sketching individual plants!
 After our greenhouse visit we went for lunch
at the local café & diner. There we discussed 
our sketching experience & other matters of interest.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Maine Country Road Trips

Road trips in the countryside from Midcoast Maine. 
An idyllic corner on earth.
This is the region of many small, organic farms, 
2nd or 3rd generation of back-to-the landers:
Blackbrook Farm, Many Hands Farm, 
Sunnyside, Aqua Terra, Royal View Farm...
Many of the farms supply the food coops 
in Belfast & Brooks &
 sell their produce at farm markets and
the beloved Common Ground Fair in Unity. 

The views from the hilly roller coaster roads 
leading from Belfast to Unity, Brooks, Jackson, Monro
take my breath away!

A frequent road trip out of Belfast: Route 1 South.
Last week, like a kid on summer vacation
I was so excited to drive down to Rockport with a friend.
While she went to the doctor, I sketched out the window
of a café. Then we went to the Guini Ridge Nursery
across the road road to buy plants. 
To do a little farming of our own! 

For other posts on Farmers Markets and The Common Ground Fair, click on these in Labels.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Quebec City and Sketching People


No matter where I go to sketch, 
if there are people nearby
they will most likely enter my sketch.
In Québec Ctiy we had our annual library date 
at Bibliothèque Claire Martin 
housed in the former St. Matthew Church.
I have mentioned this church in previous posts about Québec.
The Franco American Museum includes a restored chapel.
It has lots of ornamentation, but I went right for a figure,
an elevated sculpture against a wall.
Here is the figure of me, at one of the altars.
 It's officially no longer sacred 
so tourists can wander all over the place. 

When we had our other library date 
at the large Bibliothèque Gabrielle-Roy
(see previous post)
I found a book I've always wanted to own:
Un peu de Paris by illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé. 
He is a master of depicting human nature
through simple line drawings 
as well as nature-nature & architecture. 
He is my number one favorite illustrator
 dans le monde entier
I photographed a few pages.

 Oh the humor, the expressions, the brilliance!
 We used to watch a TV show when I was a kid,
"People Are Funny". I didn't really like the show,
but that title was a theme for my mom & me.
And People are Loveable too.
••••••••••••••••••••••
I've signed up for a figure drawing group
to hone my skills. Not a class,
just artists drawing from a model. 
I studied figure drawing in college classes 
a LONG time ago. I am anxious.
What if everyone else is a super talented,
experienced artist?? 

(I'm good about advising others
to not compare themselves,
but mon Dieu
I have to apply this attitude to myself!)

For my other Quebec City posts, put it in the search bar, 
or click on the labels, "Québec City" and "Québec" 
that are on the side. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Library in Québec & a French Translation of Love That Dog



Perhaps one doesn't think of a public library as thrilling...
but I WAS thrilled 
visiting the newly rennovated Bibliothèque Gabrielle-Roy 
in a lower, non-touristic section of hilly Québec City.
I found a French version of a favorite all-time book, 
Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech.

They totally changed the title. 
Translation is such a subjective art form. 
 They added illustrations. I did not prefer this.
The beauty of the non-illustrated original is 
in the words & the story.
They added borders & changed the location of the poem
"The Red Wheelbarrow".
I did not prefer this either.
The original book is pure & unadorned. 
The formatting & the white of the page 
work beautifully with the story, which is in verse.

Do read Love That Dog & you'll see!

(Like Jack in the story, I'm enjoying expressing my opinions!)



It's a beautiful book for adults, as well as for children.
 Poetry is the art form I least understood in school. 
The wonderful Miss Stretchberry, through Love That Dog
has helped me as an adult to understand more!
It says that Sharon Creech is an award winning author. 
But, unlike in the English version,
 it omits the information that she was a teacher. 
That is so important to this book! 
Love That Dog is used in many classrooms, 
along with her other books. It is about teaching,
finding one's voice, expressing oneself through writing,
feeling, learning, growing...

(See her website & her social media 
for more about teaching with her books.) 

My complaints aside, 
I'm thrilled that French language readers
have the chance to love this book by Sharon Creech
& that I found it at Bibliothèque Gabriel Roy in Québec!


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

La Tour Eiffel • Bon anniversaire! (edited re-post)


 

Above: I turned a corner in the 7th arrondissemnt
and caught my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.


Today Paris is celebrating the 130th birthday 
of the Eiffel Tower!


This is a re-post from September 21, 2012 
with some changes in the original text.
                                     
"Qui aurait dit il y a 130 ans que La Tour Eiffel deviendrait le symbole de Paris?  
130 ans et pas une ride!" (Site: Paris à Sortir)

 

Paintings by Maurice Utrillo and Raoul Dufy.

From Chez Toi en France, a bilingual children's book.

 
 Delauney was obsessed by La Tour Eiffel, painting at least 30 versions. 
He appreciated it as a radio tower & symbol for global communication 
as well as for its beautiful design.
This book is in a series on arrondissements of Paris. 
Gorgeous watercolors are by René Oghia.


 
ABC de Paris: Découvrir la capitale est un jeu d'enfant           
by Raphaëlle Aubert
Minou, a children's book in English, illustrated by Itoko Maeno. 
Features many Parisian landmarks.
 9 images in the Paris Calendar by Cavallini & Co. 
feature the Eiffel. 

When I first went to Paris it seemed like a cliché, 
& I almost didnt visit it. 
But was thrilling. 
Far more original, complex , & magificent than I had imagined!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fountain Pens in the 21st Century

For any one pleasurable tool or object that existed in the past, there are now gazillions. 
And so it is with Fountain Pens.

There used to be "A cup of coffee". Now, well, do you remember the scene in You've Got Mail where Nora Ephron inserts a little essay: "The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee..."   

I love drawing & writing with fountain pens & now I'm learning to hand letter and to practice my penmanship. 
I love the mechanics of fountain pens, the care & cleaning of fountain pens, the memories of my father's & my grandmother's fountain pens. I love the memory of my own first fountain pen. With the Schaeffer Cartridge Pen I only had to decide on a translucent color for the barrel (red, yellow, blue, green or clear). Blue or blue-black ink. The simplicity!

These days I spend a lot of time looking at varieties, varieties & more varieties. There's a whole vocabulary in "The Fountain Pen Community":  "Piston filler", "converter", "hard starts", "work horse pens", "wet writers", "holy grail pens", "feedback"... There are conventions, penmasters, online "Rock Stars" (Brian Goulet, you know who you are), reviews, comparisons, instructional videos...

Bricks & Mortar pen stores are scarce. I've been known to travel to Boston to The Bromfield Pen Shop just so I can actually hold & try a pen before buying it. 

There is a site called The Pen Habit, another called the Pen Addict.  I've learned online that there are people who own hundreds of pens. There are pens that cost tens of thousands of dollars. 

I try to keep my pen "hobby" manageable, but the pens online do call to me, with their pretty colors & smooth flowing inks. And, as with so many products now, there is the promise that there is one more pen out there that will be even more perfect than any I own... that sparkling new pen that will change my life forever! 

For other posts I've made that include pens, click on the label, "fountain pens".

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Mornings in Paris: A Delicious Memory



In Portland there used to be a most adorable, friendly & FRENCH café called 
Mornings in Paris. 
To see a post I made in 2012 about my old favorite café, 
click here.

The lovely & gracious  French owner, Isabelle,
eventually moved the café to Kennebunk.

One time we drove down to see her, but she wasn't there. 
So I spontaneously wrote her a letter in French 
with a little observational sketch & left it with the barista. 

I just learned online that she sold the business in 2017 to a British couple...
she is spending more time in France...
The only certain thing in this world is change, they say. 
But I don't always like change...

...Sketch souvenirs help. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Rose Windows



 My first visit to Paris: 2003.
And my first conscious travel journal, 
with encouragement from my French teacher at
The Language Exchange in Portland. 

Never EVER could I have imagined the complexity,
the grandeur, the art, & the spiritual feeling of
Notre Dame de Paris!
In 2003 I broke down & cried before one of the rose windows,
for its beauty.
In 2019 I cried  to see Notre Dame de Paris in flames.

My 2003 journal sketch of the window is rough & inaccurate.
And along with my notes, private.
But spending extended time in the cathedral was sweet,
& the journal pages bring the experience back.

Recently I've been making ink drawings based on photos. 
But the photos seem to be only a point of departure.
During that 2003 visit, one of my companions said
that the windows are like giant mandalas. 
That & more.
Let us hope that they & the cathedral 
will be restored for future visitors.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Café With a Fellow Sketcher


I met one of The Sketchers at a café downtown...
She is our steadiest & most persistent member
& a total inspiration.
It's so nice to sketch with someone else...
We draw, we chat a little...it frees my process...
Takes the pressure off that my brain wants to impose.

That's my Kakuno fountain pen 
filled with Platinum Carbon waterproof ink. 
The pen is very inexpensive,
but draws super well on Moleskine sketch journal paper. 
It felt like the pen was drawing rather than me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sketches From the Back Seat

In early March I got to be a passenger along Route 1 
heading south! 
 So many times I've driven that road, sneaking glances.
So I took the opportunity to sketch! Of course!
Composing sketches while moving quickly is in some ways
like putting together a puzzle. 
I grab elements from the landscape as it whips by
and fit them in on the page. 
By the time I'm drawing individual parts
they are memory images,
but with actual references in the moving landscape.

I added some colored pencil notations in the car
and later I painted lightly with watercolors.

Observation lists 
also come in handy in such fast situations. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Snippets Not Sketches


 Back to playing with watercolor snippets & now, 
watercolor buttons. Buttons-bullets-chips-charms-dots...
Coincidentally I painted my dots at Dot's Café, 
unaware of the connection until later.  Fun!

                       
They were inspired by Robinsunne,
a local artist & teacher.
She makes "paper charms" in sandwiched pairs. 

Like beads, they embellish her journals.
To view one of her video tutorials
click here. For creating her paper pockets, another link.



A store bought envelope with 3 pockets,
inspired by Robinsunne's 
Tri-fold Pocket Journal Making Techniques
as seen in the linked videos.
The envelopes were intended for my color snippets,
(in the 1st photo), but there were too many, 
& I didn't want to hide them.
I think I'll put in some secret messages instead. 

I have some plans for my paper buttons.
Maybe you, Dear Readers, have some ideas...
Ideas or not, please do leave me a comment!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Full Moon Rising

I made a point of watching the moon rise, 
the last night before Spring officially turned. 
I sketched quickly from the upstairs window.
This gorgeous ball,
moved quickly as she rose.
Forget science, forget tanky machines & flags 
on the moon, THIS was the poetic moon 
of childhood wonder & awe!
A sketch, once she was higher and...
again, color was added from memory. 

 
I prefer to sketch & write notes.
But sometimes I'm grateful for my little camera. 


 
She is called The Full Worm Moon,
March being the month when earth worms begin to appear.      
   (Well, maybe not in Maine.)
Also The Sap Moon, when maple sap begins to flow...

 Below: Same place, the next morning.
The sun was now taking the moon's place, 
rising in just about the same place, to the East. 
 And while we had slept the night before,
that old moon had worked her way 
across the southern night sky, toward the West.
I went out to see her before she set behind western tree tops.
She was the same size as the night before, 
but she had on a misty, softly lit robe,
instead of her dazzling nightime party dress.

Springtime! A new awakening!