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Drawing with a Paris meetup group

Posted on May 3, 2015 in Paris | 0 comments

2015_05_03_Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris

What I liked most about this museum were the display cases, beautifully crafted out of wood, glass and metal, and the way they were so precisely lined up in the rooms, creating strong lines of perspective to draw.

Musée des Arts et Métiers

The museum had a lot of scientific instruments to measure stuff, and some early airplanes, and bicycles, and a Foucault’s Pendulum, which I promptly read up on Wikipedia. I had heard of it before, but couldn’t have explained what it was. Now I know a little bit.

Musée des Arts et Métiers

I drew some objects that I didn’t really understand at all, still I thought they were beautiful. Sometimes I don’t really want to know how a thing works, I am happy to be ignorant, I just appreciate it for its aesthetic appeal.

On May 3, I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers (that means something like “Museum of Arts and Industry”, I think) to join a meetup group called “So sketch — carnets de voyage” that I joined and drew with last year when I came to Paris. So I recognized at least one person, the organizer for this event.

After about two hours of touring the museum and sketching, we reconvened in the lobby and moved on to the very nice museum cafe to have a drink and talk more about sketching and what we are all doing in Paris. Out of the 7 or 8 people, there was probably only one French person present, but most of the other people live in Paris permanently.

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A long walk along the Seine

Posted on May 2, 2015 in Paris | 0 comments


Even on a rainy day, you can still take your wedding photos along the Seine with the Notre Dame cathedral as a back drop. I did it slightly differently, Jeff and I got married in a 70-seat British Columbia pioneer church in a Salmon Arm outdoor museum, the RJ Haney Heritage Village & Museum.


The famous cathedral, it’s rather quiet around it on this day.

This photo of R.J. Haney Heritage Village & Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor. This is where Jeff and I got married.

On Saturday, May 2, I had a late breakfast in small bistro near the Marché d’Aligre. It was so late that they were out of croissants, I had to make do with a chunk of baguette. That’s the problem with my Paris schedule, I work from about 6 pm to 2 am, go to bed around 3 am, and get up around 10 am. It’s not a schedule conducive to catching the freshly baked batches of morning croissants. But luckily, many bakeries continue baking them all morning until noon or even later. So one can often find them, even with a night shift schedule.

I then walked for five hours, almost to the Eiffel Tower and back. It was a rainy, drizzly, chilly, but somehow lovely day. I had the bank of the Seine almost to myself. I stopped for pastries at Eric Kayser behind the Musée d’Orsay and had beyond a doubt the best chocolate éclair of my life. (Did I mention I came to Paris in large part to eat?). I also popped into the Louvre (I love saying that) to apply for an annual professional pass to the Louvre, but no success. They said that my VCC faculty card with my photo had no validity date, which is true. So I will request a letter from human resources. Being an instructor in a fine arts field, I get the opportunity at a reduced rate pass.

I picked up more food at Marché d’Aligre on the way back, and after a day of eating and looking at great food, made myself an anti-climactic sandwich for dinner.

Still no drawing this day… but the banner at the top shows a view of the Seine on a later, much sunnier day.

Now walk with me through rainy Paris:


On a day like this, you can have Paris all to yourself.


There are boats moored along the Seine, some are tour boats, some are available for events, some house restaurants or bars. I found a good one later, when I went out with some Paris urban sketchers: Rosa Bonheur, near Pont Alexandre III. A casual floating bar to have some food and drink, with benches inside and no table service; you just walk up to the bar and get what you want.


Even groceries can look picturesque in Paris.


Narrow side walks, Parisian poodles, women wearing foulards.


A lot of people still smoke here, and this shop woman’s behaviour is clearly in direct contravention of the Vancouver Health By-Law restrictions that say “smoking is prohibited within 6 metres of an entryway, opening window or air intake of a building or within 6 metres of the perimeter of a customer service area.” Not in Paris.


You’d think this would be a shop window for a shoe-maker, right? Well, I’m not sure it was. That is the mystery of some Paris shops.


Taking a break at one of the excellent Eric Kayser bakeries that dot Paris. Did I mention how great the chocolate éclair was? I’ve never had anything like it. But then I’ve probably eaten less than ten chocolate éclairs in my whole life. It’s not really a thing with me. But this one was.

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Turn left at the Louvre

Posted on May 1, 2015 in Paris | 0 comments

Almost there!

Presque là!

The building where I'm staying

The building where I'm staying.

I arrived in Paris on Friday, May 1. I am going to be here for two full months! I rented a 1-bedroom apartment on Airbnb, and invited all my friends to visit me. And many are coming.

After landing, I took the Air France bus from Charles de Gaulle airport, to avoid having to lug my suitcase off and on trains and metros. Everything went smoothly. I checked into my apartment at noon, then walked around the neighbourhood. I checked out the nearby daily farmers’ market, Marché d’Aligre, and got some groceries at a store. In Paris, there’s a grocery store, a cheese store, a butcher, a bakery, a wine merchant, a bar, a restaurant, a book store, a realtor, a falafel place, and at least one completely unidentifiable business in every block. Or so it seems.

Since I came mostly to consume things on the spot, I brought a small suitcase only. It has no room to bring much of anything back. I didn’t want to be tempted to buy stuff. Okay, maybe one pair of shoes.

No drawing yet. It was only my first day.

Marché d'Aligre

Marché d’Aligre, the famous street market in this neighbourhood. It runs every morning until 1:00 pm or even later, and longer on weekends.

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I believe in blasphemy

Posted on Jan 13, 2015 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Rent an oil fountain for your next Last Supper!

I drew my vision of the Last Supper after the big 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I think it really shows what’s wrong with the world, and all of us.

The killings of cartoonists and staff at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris by religious extremists last week, and the other related shootings, affected me more than most news do. It’s probably because I identify with other artists, especially with people who draw. And I’ve been to Paris just last May for the first time in 22 years, and will return there this spring, so the place is often in my mind.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the shootings, and what they mean. About how someone could get killed over a drawing. Obviously, it was a barbaric act by people who may or may not care as much about religion as they say, by people who may be violent, unstable, disenfranchised, misguided, unfulfilled in their aspirations, looking for belonging, or just ignorant tools in a greater plot for dominance. I don’t know, and I can’t relate to, or even understand their motives.

But most of all, I want to make a case for blasphemy. I am all for it. I think it is important as a tool to criticize organized religion. Religion should not be above criticism. I have no problem per se with the big prophets: Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha — they were all searching and finding a lot of wisdom to share. It’s what people have made of their wisdom, how they’ve been interpreted, that is the problem. So even if you cover yourself with the mantle of religion and belief, it should by no means give you a free pass to be above criticism, and yes, satire and parody. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. What you must not do, is physically injure, enslave or bully others.

While I personally would not take on Islam to criticize and parody, since it is not my religion, nor my background, and I don’t know that much about it, I feel completely entitled to make fun of Christianity, which is part of the culture I grew up in. I participated in the Christian religion for a while. But I don’t go to church any more because I realized it was dysfunctional, and moreover, I disagree with the whole patriarchal system that shockingly, most evangelical churches still follow to this day! So as I have been getting older, I have returned to existentialism as my preferred life philosophy. But I admit that I don’t have the final answers, and I firmly believe that you don’t either.

Here’s some blasphemy (or as close as I can get) that I’ve been sketching over the last few years. Yay for blasphemy, and uncensored art and writing!

A dream


Years of life drawing finally coming in handy

God has a plan for you too

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A road trip through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 in Burns, Crane, Portland, Somewhere in Idaho, Somewhere in Oregon, West Yellowstone | 0 comments

Road trip through the NW U.S.
From mid-June to early July, we went on a camping road trip through Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming with our VW camper van. Our prime destination was Yellowstone National Park, my first visit there. I was doing credit card size mini sketches from the passenger seat whenever Jeff was driving. The sketches took from about 1 to 10 minutes each. Some I did when we’d stopped, but most I drew quickly while passing by, having to rely on my visual memory — not a bad exercise for someone who’s not very observant by nature.

Road trip through the NW U.S.
From doing these sketches and having to really look around me, I had a much better appreciation of the changing landscape. And also that beetle-cleaned skulls are the best — if you’re a taxidermist.

Road trip through the NW U.S.
At 8 sketches per letter-size page in my sketchbook, and filling up about 30 pages, I ended up with around 240 sketches. Here are just 64 of them, probably not in exact chronological order.

Crystal Crane Hot Springs campground, near Burns, Oregon

Click on the “play” button to see the slide show below; you can also enlarge it to take up the full screen, but keep in mind the original sketches are tiny.

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Watercolour workshop with Shari Blaukopf

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 in Vancouver | 0 comments

In early June, one of my Meetup group members had arranged for the the Montreal urban sketcher and watercolour artist Shari Blaukopf to host a watercolour workshop in Vancouver. This took place on June 5 and 6; there were 12 of us, we only had a little bit of drizzle, and Shari did a great job.

The rule for me is, I don’t get much done in a workshop. I am slow, especially if I have to absorb new information. So my hope is always that something has sunk in anyway.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop I
Here’s Shari doing her demo and leaving us in awe.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop II
I enjoyed practicing grey-scale value sketching in pencil.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop I||
Practicing watercolour sketches with a palette restricted to only three colours.

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Working hard on Maui

Posted on Nov 12, 2014 in Maui | 4 comments

A vacation in Maui with my parents

I did this as an assignment for Sketchbook Skool, Danny Gregory’s “klass”. It was fun to try something different. And I had time here on Maui to do my “homework”.

To see and read all the detail, click on the image and it will take you to Flickr where you can see it much bigger.

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Mega Maui

Posted on Nov 8, 2014 in Maui | 0 comments

It’s been great to have had a full week here on Maui without any work. I have almost another week left, but yesterday a scheduled project punctually arrived in my inbox. I’ll have to suffer and squeeze in some work in the evenings here — my specialty.

Between windsurfing, swimming, snorkeling, yoga, walks at the beach, cooking and making happy hour drinks for my parents, I’ve squeezed in a bit of drawing and painting. The intense sunlight and tropical fauna here are inspiring me to go a bit abstract off and on, and to pour on the colour. I can’t help it, it’s just too hard to find gloomily-lit subjects here.

Palm trees on Maui

Scenes from Maui

Lemon Butterflyfish

Maui abstract 3

Maui abstract 1

Maui abstract 4

Maui abstract doodle 1

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Body boarders at Kamaole III Beach in Maui

Posted on Nov 7, 2014 in Maui | 0 comments

Body boarders at Kamaole III Beach in Maui

You should have seen my 84-year old mother trying to use a body board at the beach today, here in Maui. She caught a wave alright — or rather, it caught her. I took a video of her, and it was clear that she never saw that wave coming. I called out to her, but the wave knocked her over. All I could see of her for split second was one foot sticking up out of the surf. She was disoriented for a few seconds when she emerged, but she’s quite tough. I am assuming she’s breaking age records for body boarding here.

To be fair, she caught a good wave earlier. I really should have drawn her, but I was too busy worrying and filming at the same time.

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Delayed gratification sushi

Posted on Nov 6, 2014 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Delayed gratification sushi

Back in September, a fellow Vancouver urban sketcher, and old family friend, Bob, and I went out for a morning coffee to sketch, and then had sushi for lunch, to sketch. Seriously, we drew our lovely sushi plates for about 15 minutes, and only then did we eat. Looking at food and not eating it is pretty unheard of for me. But we did it, it was fun, I didn’t starve, and best of all, sushi doesn’t get cold if you wait, just iffy.

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