Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall sketches

After a long hiatus, I felt the need for some encouragement and decided to take a sketching class at the Montréal Botanical Gardens. The instructor guided us through a process that included writing a few lines about what we wanted to convey with our drawings. I found that really useful, not only to unblock the hand but to better frame the subject and to select the emphasis points.
I worked with pencil and non-permanent ink, but decided to apply a touch of color at the last of the three sessions, on Sunday October 17.

Chinese Pavilion. The color theme for this year's The Magic of Lanterns is blue.
Small bridge at the Japanese Pavilion
Japanese Pavilion
Pagoda at the Chinese Pavilion

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Around the neighborhood

Three sketches done with ball point pen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sunday

We had a quiet Easter Sunday at home: church in the morning, homemade brunch, and lots of sketching by the Lakeshore Cultural Centre in Pointe-Claire, a West Island suburb of Montreal. My daughter and I packed a box of drawing supplies (sketchpads, watercolors, markers, brushes, pencils...) and sat on a bench overlooking the lake. I love this spot because there is a great view of the Saint-Louis Lake. It was a perfect afternoon for a walk to enjoy the warm weather and the breeze. My first sketch was of a maple tree, and later I drew a group of seniors sitting on lawn chairs close to the water (they were having a rather heated debate about physiotherapy!) The sun was setting and mosquitoes clouds began to rise. For some reason, they had a preference for the young sketcher by my side and left me alone to draft a general view of the lake and the distant church. She managed to finish her sketch despite the buzz, color and journal entry included, I am so proud of her!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fruit cravings

This week my body was really craving for lots of fresh fruit, but instead of heading to the market in the first place, I went to dig into my desk drawers to find this sketch from the 2007 sketchbook...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The church before the rain

I usually make an effort to avoid talking or writing about the weather, but this year we have had an unusually short winter in Montréal, and now it feels more like the end of April than mid-March: there is no more snow in the streets and our sunny week came to an end with some showers. I managed to do this sketch of the church before the rain came. It was a very pleasant time that to spend with my daughter, a real urbansketcher-in-a-bud.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Downtown Montréal was all lights and music on Saturday, Feb 27th, as thousands of people took to the streets to participate in one or more of the 180 cultural activities that ran through the night. I made this sketch at my first stop while listening to the contagious rhythm of gypsy music.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Conference at the Woodwork Hall

More than a decade ago, when I landed in Montréal, my attention was captured by this building but never actually researched its history. Fast forward a decade: a conference happened to take place at Université du Québec à Montéal inside the Woodwork Hall (Salle des Boiseries). I asked if anyone knew what part of the former church we were in, but no one seemed to have more information. Knowing that in Montréal, and the whole province of Québec, education used to be in the hands of the Church until the 60's, when the Quiet Revolution occurred and a lot of changes took place, I assumed the church was purchased by the university during this period, when schools and colleges became under the responsibility of the State and a lot of religious buildings were repurposed. To my surprise, I discovered that St-Jacques Church was in fact Montréal's first Cathedral! It was consecrated in 1825 and burned down in 1852 (along with 1200 other buildings). They eventually built Mary Queen of the World Cathedral and proceeded to rebuild St-Jacques to serve as a parish church in 1857. The building endured two more fires and reconstructions, until it was purchased by the University in 1973.
During my research, I came across this photo which shows how the block looked like in 1976. St-Jacques spire and transept, considered historic monuments, as well as Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel, were later integrated into the University campus.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

At the park

Every time my mother comes to visit I ask her to bring me literary magazines, so I can read essays, short stories and poetry in Spanish. There is something about a magazine that allows you to read also the pulse of the society where it has been edited that make them more attractive as presents than books, especially when books are more readily available from local and internet bookstores, but having subscriptions for 3 or 4 foreign magazines could be pricey... Anyway, I took my magazine to the park two weeks ago, with all the intention to read it cover to cover while sitting on a bench and enjoying an hour of sunshine, but while reading Benedetti's Huellas the itch to sketch was overwhelming and voilà... Glossy paper is great for Staedtler pigment liners and it doesn't buckle too much with a very light wash of watercolor (applied today).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drawing and experimenting

While trying to focus on drawing with pen and avoiding pencil (or mostly, the temptation to erase), I could not resist giving this sketch a touch of color, but the only pigments available on my backpack were a pack of Pilot Highlighting markers, the kind you can remove by friction. Although I felt the need, I was very hesitant —read afraid― to apply color. It happens every time: I really have to muster up the courage to apply a few touches. Oh! How I admire those with a bold sense of color! (Just look at Miguel's sketches here) Sometimes I ask myself if I could live in a black and white movie, but then a little voice tells me to remember that I used to love all the visible light spectrum, so, what happened? Well... somewhere along the road my "color sense" got kinda blocked, or spooked. So I must cajole it gently to come back to reason and treat itself to the brand new tubes of watercolor that have been patiently awaiting for it to raise from its depression. I wish to become a fearless sketcher, a free soul to experiment with tracing, estimating, measuring, highlighting the features and essence of what captures my curiosity and desire to understand this world.
(And the little voice whispers: That's enough blogging, aren't you supposed to sketch?)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The West Gate: Montreal Chinatown

A quick escapade to Chinatown to eat at the Noodle Factory, a tiny restaurant on St-Urbain Street, between Viger and René-Levesque. Had wonton soup and steamed dumplings, just the right thing to warm me up!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finishing touch

Shadows are trouble for me. It seems that I can not get the right amount of contrast without darkening the whole area, like it just happened with one side of the church. Well, it is just paper, right? Back to the drawing board, with more practice and observation, but if anybody knows of a good book about light and shadow please let me know!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Memory Lane: Turin

I hve the key to my friends apartment, 74,000 lira, three tramway tickets, 30 available photos in the camera, one notebook, one journal, a blue felt pen, a map and a water bottle. Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento Italiano, here I come...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Memory Lane: Barcelona

I've been down Memory Lane with the help of old sketches. I could say that I took up sketching and journaling during that trip to Europe. My friend guided me through her hometown and took me on day trips along the Costa Brava and Costa del Sol. A few years later, she moved to Germany, and although I have made plans to visit her there, the trip has never taken place. I called my friend before Christmas but were greeted by the voice mail. My German is poor, but I did recognize her voice, so I left a message. She called back, to be greeted by my voice mail and the dance went on for three more calls!!! Christmas went by without communication, but 2009 could not finish without exchanging a few words, so the fourth time when I could not find her in Germany I tried Barcelona. I did find her at her old place, sharing time with her family. We talked for an hour, and yes, now we'll continue our conversations by e-mail.
Carrilló at the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya and Sitges Beach, Costa del Sol.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cutting out procrastination

Today I was fighting against the well established habit of staring at the screen, browsing around page after page. The journal was right by the computer, asking to be opened, the pen was willing to be a faithful companion in this fight, so I closed the laptop, wrote a page and made a drawing. Nothing fancy, just to get me out of this procrastinator's mood that sticks more often than I'd wish.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A recipe for 2010

Does the perfect balance exist? I wish I knew the right one that works for me. I feel far from finding the right dose of drawing, writing, reading, learning, social activities, volunteering, family time and chores that makes me feel satisfied. It looks like life does not come with a recipe, but in the meantime we ought to try a few. Last week I discovered a recipe for chocolate cookies that yielded a wonderful stack of chewy little treasures, so here is the Everyday Matters Challenge No. 75 - Draw the ingredients and/or process of a favorite recipe - and journal about it.