I sat in the window of a local cafe and sketched this scribbly fragment of a great old building. It’s sunny, but still very cold in my part of the world and it’s much nicer to sketch from the warmth of a cafe sipping a hot drink. I was fresh from a visit to the dentist and it felt good to let the freezing thaw out while I traced the lines of the limestone and brick. I haven’t been sketching very much for one reason and another–but I’ve taken on a small project which will have me sketching local buildings in the next few weeks. This is just a start–but with sun in the forecast for the next few days, I hope to post some more.
I’ve written about the Moodie Cottage before. In fact it is almost two years since I sketched it. For that sketch I was sitting in my car. This week has been far too cold for that, so this was done from a photo taken in the bright winter sun yesterday. This is the back end of the house where I lived in the 1970’s, a lifetime ago now. Susanna Moodie settled in the main house in 1840, several more lifetimes ago. Her life here, 130 years earlier, was considerably harder than mine. The house is not giving up any secrets of her time or mine–but standing solid and elegant still almost two centuries later.
It is terrifically cold these days where I live. The CBC reported that today was the coldest day on this date since the early 1960’s. -18 C with a wind chill of -30C. It’s far to cold to sketch outside–but the light and shadows on the snow are so beautiful they are hard to resist. So, I headed out with my camera and then painted at home by the fire. I’m on a quest to paint all my favourite buildings in my city. As I sketch them I learn so much about their structure and design, about the architects who designed them and the owners who preserved them. Even though I have admired these structures for years, I learn so much more with a paint brush in hand.
It is always hard for me to close up the cottage. This year it has been harder as the hot and humid weather makes it seem more like July -the July we did not have this year.
One of my favourite things about the cottage is the screened-in porch. I love to lie on the old lounge under the yellow light and read as darkness falls. In September we are usually sitting around the wood stove but this past weekend I was on the porch and outside counting the stars in the clear dark sky. It was hard to leave. We will be back to put the final touches on the close-up, but the beds have been stripped and the porch stacked with canoes, so there will be no more quiet island nights with the sole yellow reading light until next year.
Here are some photos of the last boat ride, the winterized boathouse and a couple of sketches.
I was in Toronto for a short while last week. I visited a darling new family member, headed out on the streetcar for some fabric and two new patterns at the Workroom, saw Dunkirk and did this quick sketch of the back of a building on the corner by the subway station. We have been so fortunate to have such great weather, so I am trying to fit a sketch in whenever I can.
Last week we were lucky enough to make a trip to Main Duck Island. This is a 600 acre island in the middle of Lake Ontario, (so close to the American/Canadian border that my cell phone welcomed me to the US.) We made the trip with a small group of historians and birders and a film maker documenting the last lighthouses on Lake Ontario. It was a glorious September day, the lake calm and turquoise with little wind. The trip out on a commercial fish tug took almost two hours. We walked the 1.5 miles across the island to the lighthouse keepers’ house, abandoned now that the light is automated, and the stunning lighthouse. After lunch on the shore of the lake I opened my sketchbook to document the weathered house and the famous light, hoping to capture their elegance and tenacity.
The island was once owned by John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Eisenhower. However, in 1976 the Nature Conservancy of Canada carried out the negotiations to purchase from then owner, Robert Hart, and resold it to the Canadian Government. The island is now a National Park, a haven for birds and wildlife. We saw hundreds of Monarch Butterflies on their way south and many migrating birds. With its abundance of natural beauty, as well as excellent docking facilities and trails, it is truly a Canadian treasure.
It’s been a week since I arrived home from my sketching trip in the south of France. I am gradually scanning my sketches and finishing the half-done ones. Here is the last sketch I did, one of my favourite streets in Limoux, narrow and winding as they all are, but this one with its own arch. It’s just off La Place de la Republique and on the way to the Vieux Pont, a well travelled route. I stood leaning against a wall and sketched the view, paint added later.
And here is the first sketch done the day after we arrived. Again a narrow, winding street but his time I had a bench to sit on. I was working on perspective the whole time I was there, so I hope you can see some improvement from this one to the top sketch. 🙂
I find that it is the small sketches, done quickly as I am sharing a cafe table or leaning against a wall that are the most memorable. This one in La Caunette, a tiny village with a great outdoor café.
I loved this red door alongside the town square in Camon.
A finally the view from the hills above the town of Puivert.
I’ve been away in the south of France, in the small town of Limoux. We stayed in the marvellous Le Monastère and travelled around the area to the many scenic locales. I was with a group of painters who were all working on large oeuvres–but I like best to just use my small watercolour palette and sketchbook and do ink and wash sketches. But I had some goals: 1. pay more attention to composition, 2. work on juicy washes, 3. learn to draw cars (so many urban sketches have cars and the European cars just invite you to sketch them!) and 4. fill the sketchbook with as many sketches as possible.
I enjoyed travelling to the various painting spots, Collioure on the Mediterranean my favourite, but I liked best, early in the morning or at then end of day, sitting in a secluded spot and trying to capture the life of Limoux. It beckons to be sketched. Here are a few.
I have had an old sketchbook from 2011 out this week, an early one in my collection. I’m interested in this particular sketchbook because it documents my trip to Limoux, France in the summer of 2011. I’m leaving tomorrow to return to Limoux for two weeks for more sketching. It will be interesting to compare how both my actual sketching and my approach to sketchbooks have evolved. I like the documentary quality of this one with its maps and memorabilia–but I do hope I’ll see an improvement in actual quality of the sketching. We’ll see…hope to post from my ipad when I am there.
I’ve also started to sew clothing again. I discovered Grainline patterns which are simple and well-fitting. I bought the pattern for the Willow dress which I plan to make from blue striped fabric I got at the Textile Museum sale. But I tried the pattern out first as a top in a linen/cotton blend and I am delighted with it. It’s already in my suitcase ready for France.
I know I said that I would be back with photos of my new rug. It is progressing and I would love to show you…but I have had problems with my long-time Macbook. I’m using it here, but its functions are limited. It won’t accept photos from my camera or phone and we nearly put it under when we tried to download a new operating system. It’s clear that I will have to replace her before too very long.
I’ve been spending too much time removing photos and emails and files from said laptop in an attempt to unburden it and help it do its job, but it is a tedious and unrewarding task. This is further complicated by the new operating system which has totally reorganized (jumbled?) the files. More work to sort out! So I’m taking a break to connect with a short post of my sketches.
I am in Kingston for several days on a very pleasurable mission (grandparenting) and I’ve even had a little time for sketching (so much more fun that the computer sorting!) Here are two café sketches from yesterday and today. I have no scanning or editing functions, so these are straight from the phone.