Dutch houses

Although my head is always buzzing with ideas as to what to draw next, when I actually come around to doing it, my brain melts. Unless I am very determined on a certain idea, I sometimes struggle when I’m in front of a white page or a bisqued pot. And here’s where Pinterest makes life a helluva lot easier for me. To have a “stash” of saved images to inspire me is priceless. Like this gorgeous photograph of the old quarters of the Dutch city of Groningen:

Which inspired me to do this quick watercolour:

NOTE: the photograph of Groningen was taken by Akbar Simonse.

Place des Vosges

Last time I was in Paris was unfortunately for a short 12 hours. Over half of which were spent in meetings. Still, between 5pm and my Eurostar back to London later in the evening, I managed to meet up with a good friend from Canada who coincidentally was in Paris for a holiday. As time was tight,  we decided we’d just go for a VERY LONG walk through the city….and ended up in the Place des Vosges!

Built in the early 17th century, la Place des Vosges is the oldest planned square in Paris. And, as you can see from my awesome sketch below, it’s gorgeous. But, in my opinion, what makes it even more special is the fact that it has had a very impressive list of residents live there, including the French writer Victor Hugo and the evil and super nasty Cardinal Richelieu from The Three Musketeers.

In what seems to be a whole series of bowls of Parisian buildings I absolutely adore, herewith my Place des Vosges bowl:

NOTE: The brilliant panoramic image of the Place des Vosges is from Wikipedia.

Beacon Hill

I foresee this as one of many posts about Boston… Although I briefly mentioned my visit here, one small post is definitely not enough. In a nutshell, I fell head over heels in love with the city. Such elegance, amazing history, architecture, setting, food (I ate 2 lobsters in one go, mmm…), shopping, people… I could go on and on, so for the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about Beacon Hill.

Beacon Hill is a neighbourhood just north of Boston Common and famous for many reasons: distinctive red brick Georgian architecture, history and notable residents, both past and present. Louisa May Alcott lived in number 10 Louisburg Square:

John Kerry also lives in Louisburg Square:

Wikipedia tells me that Uma Thurman, Carly Simon, Michael Crichton and Sylvia Plath are also among Beacon Hill’s notable residents. Who wouldn’t want to live in one of these houses?

One of the key sites within Beacon Hill is Acorn Street. Famous because of its cobblestone pavement, it is apparently one of the most photographed streets in America:

Naturally, I HAD to do a painting of one of these lovely houses. Instead of doing it in my usual watercolour, I recently discovered casein thanks to this amazing book by Stephen Quiller. It talks in depth about the various watermedia (watercolour, acrylic, gouache and casein) and the latter just fascinates me. After buying the colours mentioned in the book yesterday, as soon as I got home I began to test this wonder media and here’s the result:

Trinity Bellwoods

Remember this?

Well, I thought I’d have a second try at it, and lo and behold this is the final result (apologies for the darkness of the image, I am really bad at taking pictures):

This time I used white ink on blue Japaneze Kozo paper which I purchased at the Paper Place. It’s an amazing shop in Toronto’s Queen West and has everything a crafter with even a slight interest in paper could desire. I hadn’t even heard about Kozo paper until I stumbled into the shop and was greatly surprised. It’s very thin but can take wet paints incredibly well.

It will soon be framed and given to a good friend for her birthday, as she was the person who suggested I actually draw the gates to Trinity Bellwoods in the first place. Hope she likes it!

Time

Today is my birthday and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time, how quickly it goes by and how much can be achieved in a little snippet. So, to begin with, look at this lovely view:

It’s my village, lost in the mountains in the north of Spain, where I spent my summer holidays. My friends and I had a fun afternoon drawing it. But not your average landscapes, no, we wanted to see what happened if we drew it for 1, 2 and 4 minutes. The pictures below are chronologically placed, and I must say, one certainly got better as time progressed!

Then we decided to do something even more daring – not look at the paper nor lift the pen while drawing and this Miro-like beauty came out:

And last but not least, yours truly busy at work.

Barcelona

When I meet people in Canada, there is a certain question that is posed to me: So, where are you from? After living in the UK and Australia, I have a rather British/Aussie accent. But when I reply and say Spain, it’s not something people expect to hear. After a short linguistic explanation, I am always curios to know if they have been to Spain. More times than not, people reply saying they have and the city they’ve visited is Barcelona.

If there is a distinct feature about Barcelona, it’s its Gaudi architecture. Above is a watercolour I recently did of the Casa Batllo. Apparently Gaudi died knocked over by a tram on his way to see the football, tragic…

Cabbagetown

I once attended a lecture where they stated that the west ends of cities had the most beautiful architecture as it was where the wealthy lived – apparently it has something to do with the wind. However, in the proper east end of Toronto is Cabbagetown.

Referred to by the New York Times as the highest concentration of Victorian houses in North America, Cabbagetown is simply magnificent. I have not been near a pencil, marker pen or brush for a week and a half and the quality of my sketch is rather poor I’m afraid, but I hope the pictures below show a glimpse of this beautiful neighbourhood in Toronto.

Perspective

How to create perspective when I don’t use a ruler and can’t draw a straight line for the life of me? Practice! This view of the borderline between the Old Montreal and the city’s financial district was perfect for such an exercise. Not too convinced about the results though, I think all this perspective diminishes the whimsicalness of my drawings somewhat…

Trampoline Hall

Mondays are usually very nondescript, first day of the working week (ergh), and still a full 4 days to go until the weekend. However, once a month, on the first Monday of each month to be precise, Mondays are AWESOME. Why? Because it’s Trampoline Hall night!

Trampoline Hall Lectures take place at the Garrison. The night comprises three lectures: the rule is the lectures can be on anything as long as the speakers are not professionals on the subject. After each lecture there’s a Q&A and the whole event is hosted by Misha Glouberman, who is just downright brilliant. Elizabeth Barret-Browning, How To Be An Arsehole, Artistic Temperament or Forgetting Important Things are just a few of the random lectures I’ve attended.

Each lecture series is curated by a different person who, not only chooses the 3 lectures for the night, but is also responsible for the design of Trampoline Hall’s homepage and the tickets. Below is just a selection of how different they can be. Next series is in early July and you will definitely find me there!