May 26, 2015

Great Shari! Today, at Plein Air. A beautiful day. I painted an ornamental arch built over the bridge, will post soon as I get my scanner going again.

The Sketchbook

There’s a group of plein air painters that meets every Tuesday in the summer at different scenic spots around Montreal. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I hope to join them as often as I can this summer. Today’s meeting spot was Parc des Ancres at Pointe des Cascades in Vaudreuil— literally a park filled with over 100 old anchors and maritime artifacts from the abandoned Soulanges Canal. I was in the mood to paint water so I found a good viewing spot and tackled the derelict lock and the water seeping through it. I don’t think I’ve ever painted falling water so this was lots of fun. These outings are open to all so if you are interested in dates and locations send me an email and I’ll send you the list. Painted on a quarter sheet of Arches paper.


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Plein Air 2015

April 21, 2015

If any of you are in the Montreal area this summer, join us!

Plein Air 2015

Year 21. The Magic is still working, so we still after all these years don’t want to change much. We’ll return to many of our favourite sites. Same rules as before: there are none. We want only your camaraderie and your enthusiasm. You are welcome to come to as many or as few as you can.

. Open to all artists. Pass it around to your friends. Free. Sites with entrance fees are noted.

. Meets Tuesday at a new site, 10AM until the last one goes home.

. Your choice of medium, what you can carry, plus your lunch.

. No rain checks. Unless there is a weather warning to stay home – go for it. A 40% chance of rain means a 60% chance of sunshine. If not, paint the rain. We’re often very lucky.

. No reservations. If you plan on attending, just show up.

May 19 – Bois‑de‑Liesse ‑ the historic Pitfield House. It’s still early enough to catch the spring perennials in bloom around the pond. Or the long sweep of lawn or the interesting houses down the lane. 9432 Gouin West, just west of Autoroute 13. Metered parking.

May 26 – Parc des Ancres. A large collection of large anchors in a park surrounding the old canal, the Soulanges bike path, and a waterfall. A side trip is worth exploring for a photo op at the Theatre des Cascades, an old village setting. From the 40 or the 20, take the new 30 to exit 9, follow the signs to Pointe des Cascades. At the flashing yellow, keep right onto rue de l’Aqueduc. Free parking near the gazebo.

June 2 – Cap St Jacques, 21115 Gouin. Not the farm, the beach through the western entrance. The Chateau Goyer is very paintable, along with a few rustic houses and the beach itself. I thought it best to go just before school’s out, less crowded and no extra fees beyond parking. The canteen won’t be open yet, so bring lunch.

June 9 – Baie D’Urfe Town Hall. There is a beautiful rock garden here, with ponds and water plants. The Town Hall building itself is charming, and from here you could walk over to the park on the bay to view either the boats or Fritz’ Farm. Highway 20, exit Morgan road to the end.

June 16 – Parc-nature de l’Ile-de-la-Visitation. 2425 Gouin. Historical houses in the Old Ahuntsic area. My favourite spot is the mill ruins behind the Maison de Meunier * where some of us have lunch at the (very crowded) outdoor cafe. Past Papineau to Gouin [one-way] follow the signs to De Lille. *Best street side parking here.

June 23 – Sandy Beach, Hudson. There is an enchanting maze of footbridges and lookout decks over a meandering stream, with a panoramic view of lake of Two Mountains, and sailboats. Beach Road at Stephen Shaar Community Centre (washrooms, parking). The entrance is just past the tracks at the iron gates and the large map. If the parking is full, there’s more at the Jack Layton Park on Halcro road, keep right at the end of Wharf road.

June 30 – Maison Valois on Valois Bay. 331 rue St Charles, Vaudreuil Dorion. A small park with great views, especially from the smaller island (cross the small bridge). A wide open stretch of lake of Two Mountains with the bridge in the distance, even a view of the church spire, plus sailing boats and kayaks, terraced lawns and interesting houses, and water lilies in season.

July 7 – Greenwood, 254 Main Street, Hudson. A beautiful historic home built between 1732-1860. Now a Centre for Living History. Their famous phlox should be in bloom this week. Rte 40, direction Ottawa, exit 26, right on Bellevue, left on Main. Entrance fee $5. or annual memberships.

July 14 – Centre de la Nature Laval. 901 ave.du Parc. There’s a colorful mini-town at the Village des Arts but my favourite is still the rock gardens, the swan and geese in the pond, the gazebos and paths up by Parking Lot #4. rte 440 to 125 south.

July 21 – Coteau-du-lac National Historic Site. One of our first favourite places. Rolling hills overlooking rapids, ship skeletons and fishing holes, with a neighbouring millhouse, a terrace overlooking the falls. A famous hotdog stand Le Caveau on the corner.20 West Exit 17, south to the end, turn right on Chemin du fleuve, to 308A on the left. $3.40

July 28 – Ste Anne de Bellevue Canal National Historic Site. There is so much to paint: the boats, the locks, the bridges, the roof lines of the clustered shops and restaurants and tourists on the promenade. A good viewpoint is at the park itself, across the locks. Or the small park near Christie street. Highway 20, exit Ste Anne de Bellevue.

August 4 –Pointe du Moulin. Ile Perrot. There is still so much to paint here. On highway 20 to Ile Perrot turn on Don Quichotte right through to the very end. The mill is difficult to paint – it has become a challenge that draws artists back every year. Free on Tuesdays.

August 11 – The Lachine rapids, in Lasalle. The best view of the churning rapids, in a well-groomed park with small bridges through bird sanctuaries and gnarled trees, against the backdrop of the city. Take the river road. It becomes Lasalle blvd, and just east of Bishop Power is the parking lot, between 5th and 6th ave.

August 18 – Ile des Moulins Park in Terrebonne. A picturesque island setting with a cluster of old stone buildings. Stroll by the river for the rapids, or the historic lane now the hub of gourmet restaurants. Autoroute 25 north, exit 22 E to rte 344, chemin St Louis. Well sign posted. Note: rte 440 in Laval merges with highway 25.

August 25 –Paint and Picnic at Cap St Jacques. 20099 Gouin West, drive all the way to the last parking lot, by the Ecological Farm and the Maison Brunet. Bring your own lunch and/or “pot luck” if you’d like. The ruling is “alcohol permitted as part of a picnic with meals”. Bring a “Show and Tell” of your favourite plein air work (which doesn’t have to be this year’s and might not be a great painting but have a great story to it.).

Pathwords: Snow in April

April 7, 2015

pathwords - snow in April 001

I was definitely overcome by cabin fever and I can feel it in the atmosphere in this one. Snow in April, how unfair. The good news though is that I spent many hours clearing out old paper stock and found these fragments of tissue paper with a series of cats looking very bored. At least I have company.

Pathwords : Tenalach

March 2, 2015

pathwords -tenalach 001

Tenalach (Irish): “The relationship one has with the land, air, and water. A deep connection that allows one to literally hear the Earth sing.” I’ve recently adopted this word, and bring it to mind when I go for walks in the woods or down by the beach. And now I can hear the Earth sing!

I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if I had been brought up owning this word in my everyday language. I would have been a lot more mindful of how the earth connects with us as we pass by her.

The next book

February 10, 2015


the next book 001

Is that a working title? Or maybe I should call it that, even after it’s finished when I’ll be working on another next book? Interesting.  I haven’t finished Pathwords yet by a long shot. My books often take more than a year to finish. But this one came about by accident, while absentmindedly putzing around in the studio. It’s not only the wrong size but it’s the wrong format. What was I thinking? Well, I guess I wasn’t thinking at all.


January 2, 2015


pathwords - depaysement 001

Though  I could use the word “homesick”, dépaysement has a richer meaning. In French, it is technically used for “out of one’s country”.  But in an emotional context, it goes deeper.  In fact, sometimes it’s good news. It’s that feeling of being far away from home, butterflies in the tummy, too strange. Sometimes when I travel I get a sick feeling, wishing I was back home in my cozy little house again. Yet sometimes, I’ve been very far from home and felt perfectly at home. Castles in the south of France – yes, I’m sure I’ve been here in a past life. My first time in New York City  I knew my way around. Sometimes the very strangeness of a place thrills me. Yet sometimes, strangeness throws me into a feeling of despair, as if bits of myself have faded away, and I can’t breathe, can’t ground.

I like that there is a word for this, at least in another language. It means I’m not crazy, that this is a shared human experience.

Pathwords: Bon Courage

November 28, 2014

bon courage 001

As a bilingual Anglophone in Quebec, there are words I use in either language that just don’t translate in the same spirit or intention. It isn’t unusual, therefore, for us to drop a French word or term in the middle of an English conversation, knowing the other person will catch the meaning immediately. “Bon Courage” is one of those words. I’ll use it when wishing good for someone going through an ordeal – an exam, a move, a confrontation, a medical procedure, even a bereavement. It’s more than luck, since it isn’t luck that will get you through the ordeal but your own inner reserves of courage, heart, stamina, and the work you have put into it. And when it is said to me, I go off feeling encouraged , knowing I have friends at my back, sending me good vibes.


November 19, 2014


pathwords3 001


Wordless Wednesday. Sometimes the words are silent.

Pathwords – Iktsuarpok

November 14, 2014


pathwords2 001


In this new bookart, I’m collecting interesting words from other languages to adopt as my own. Perhaps not to drop into casual conversations; that might appear a bit affected. But the English language suffers from not having an equivalent word for many things, particularly, I have found, words that describe our soul. Words shape our selves, our souls. They make us see and feel things in different ways. They connect us to other people by sharing parts of ourselves, if only by saying “I know that feeling!”

Ikstuarpok is an Inuit work meaning “to keep looking outside to see if someone is coming”.  I know that feeling too well. It drives me crazy. Every five minutes I’m looking out the window to see if a friend has arrived in my driveway yet, or down the street, if I know their car. Sometimes, it’s with restless anticipation, looking forward to an evening with friends.  Sometimes, as in a service call, it’s with annoyance. An entire day can be wasted in restless waiting, no matter how busy I keep myself, or how much I accomplish while waiting. My eye constantly drifts over to the window, every sound grabs my attention.

And a few times, it has been with crushing fear. Which I imagine would  be the case for the Inuit waiting for a loved one to return home on the frozen tundra, a blizzard, and whatever other dangers loom in their land. The horrible feeling that something has gone wrong. It’s a universal feeling,


November 12, 2014


pathword1 001


I’ve started a new bookart. It’s smaller than my last ones – 11” x 9”, opening to 11″ x 18″ on double spreads. I don’t know yet if this is the opening page, but it is the first one I’ve finished. Not that I ever  “finish”. I tend to like an unfinished look, which tends to go more with the mixed media collage techniques I use. Here I have used paint, magazine cut outs, paint skin, and hand painted unryhu papers.