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.

Pinterest

Last night I finally populated my Pinterst page. At first I thought it would be a bit of a pain having to populate a base for me to continue adding images of things that catch my fancy on the internet. However, it ended up being highly addictive…

…and inspiring. Let me explain, in my frenzy to add images, I found out that one can “re-pin” images from other people’s boards on Pinterest. And that’s how I stumbled across this lovely watercolour by Charles Rennie Mackintosh:

And then I remembered that I actually have this book at home:

And it contains some images of his beautiful floral watercolours:

It was therefore only a matter of time that I would end up painting this last night:

Muskoka


This weekend I went up to Muskoka for the Annual Classic and Antique Boat Show. Basically it was an exhibit of amazing vintage boats, the type Scott Fitzgerald must’ve seen continuously as he wrote The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past…”

Muskoka is actually known for its cottages. Many people in Toronto go there as it’s a convenient 2-hour drive away from the city (without traffic, that is…). We went on a cruise around lake Muskoka and saw a few of these cottages, some were on islands by themselves, truly amazing.

While I was there I couldn’t help but get all excited about coming back to the city and painting a few of the boats we saw. These are just the first two of a series of boat-inspired paintings/drawings. Watch this space!

Cottaging

Last weekend was a VERY Canadian weekend: July 1st was Canada Day, making the weekend lovely and long and I spent it in pure Canadian style at a cottage in Gatineau Park. I embraced the whole experience and had a lot of firsts: kayaking, sea-dooing, swimming in a Canadian lake at all hours of the day, discovering docktails (cocktails on the dock) and dock spiders (huge hairy beasts that live on the dock). The weekend was also fueled with great food, enlightening conversations and brilliant company throughout, not to mention Canada Day fireworks!

I also discovered the incredibly comfortable Adirondack/Muskoka chairs. Every cottage has a few of them and they are among the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat on, with wide armrests, perfect to leave your drink/snack/book.

It was a memorable weekend and I was very sad to have to return to the city. As the picture below was taken, the neighbour on the other side of the lake was playing Debussy’s Claire de Lune…

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…

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!

I heart Montreal

When I first moved to Toronto, I didn’t quite warm up to it as I had expected (massive euphemism for “hated its guts”). Each time I visited another North American city, I’d wonder why on earth I hadn’t tried moving there instead… Montreal, however, just captivated me from the get go: its elegant architecture, delicious food, attractive people roaming the streets, etc. made me seriously consider retaking French lessons in the hope of moving there one day.

The second time I visited Montreal, I was already head over heels in love with Toronto and saw the city from a different perspective. Whilst I still felt very much at home there because of its European architecture,  it no longer tantalised me and I was able to appreciate its beauty without diminishing that of its rival city Toronto. This is my double take of a lovely building in the Old Montreal, it inspired me so that I couldn’t decide if I wanted to sketch it or watercolour – so I did both!

Home

Over the past 7 years I have lived in 10 different houses in 3 countries. However only a handful of them have felt like home. Home now is Toronto, Parkdale to be precise. What makes my current address so special is the fact that for the very first time in my life I am living by myself and was able to decorate the place as I wished. I’m renting  one of the attic apartments in this gorgeous turn-of-the-century house.

The neighbourhood is amazing, great local shops, friendly people, creativity in the air, park and lake nearby, seriously, this place has it all. Actually, I’ll take it a notch higher, this is probably the BEST neighbourhood where I have lived.

Never have I been so inspired to draw the building where I live – until now…