Recently I visited La Maison du Pastel. I was toting handmade paper and ink and a journal or two that I had bought on the other side of the Marais and had trudged miles to find it tucked away on the rue Rambuteau and I guess it all showed because as I walked in, the lady behind the counter looked at me and said quietly, “Le Graal.” She wasn’t wrong. I don’t even work in pastels and this room was the holy grail.
These pastels have been made since 1722 and has been in the Marais district of France since 1766. In 1878, M. Henri Roché took over the concern and it is in his family still. Currently they have 1540 tints and counting of pastels that are world famous for their intense colour and quality. (They were the pastel of choice for Degas.)
I bought a small box of half sticks. They were (understandably) expensive and as I say, pastel is not my medium of choice but how could I walk away without something, some touchstone and connection to hundreds of years of artisans committed to creating the finest tools for creating. A spell. A part of the grail.
To visit La [read more]
These are some recent illustrated journal pages from last Fall’s trip through Burgundy in France. Santé ! (Click on photo for larger image.)
And below is a flipthrough with commentary about how I made some of the [read more]
The funny thing is, some of us enjoy being isolated. I do. It gives me time to do what I already love doing: drawing, sketching, reading, making. But for others, it is a source of stress and anxiety, so without further ado, here is a list of fun, creative, and FREE things you can do to keep your mind from feeding on itself while we isolate ourselves.
Get in shape without the gym. Come out on the other side of this in better shape than when you went in.
Few things can help you now more than self-care, so when you are finished with your stress eating (and drinking!), consider doing something simple that will improve your mental well being as well as how you feel. The variety of free workout videos on YouTube is staggering. Yoga, pilates, zumba, HIIT, chair aerobics (for those who are disabled), light stretching, bootcamp – you name it. Scared to begin? Search for work outs of five or ten minutes or that are labelled “easy” or “beginner.” See if you can get your kids or your cat to join you. NO EXCUSES.
There are a variety of sites online that offer what is effectively [read more]
Last May I bought several volumes of French fashion magazine La Mode Illustrée. This was the fashion magazine of its day. A woman would buy her weekly edition that might include engravings of hairstyles, dresses, embroidery patterns, home decorating, and hats – lots of hats. When she had a year’s worth, she would have them bound in a hardcovered volume that she could then use for inspiration or to share with friends over tea.
To see a larger version, click on the photo in the gallery.
So here’s the deal. Sadly, most of the bindings of the hardbound volumes was in too poor of shape to salvage but that just gave me permission to take out the individual signatures/editions without feeling guilty. (Whew.) I am selling them like this: three (four pages – eight sides) editions per shipment. While all of the editions of this magazine are good, some are very good and I have gone through them one at a time, making packages of three numbers that include two very good ones and one okay, still pretty darn good one. The way I see it is you can cut that one up (permission!) and either cut up and/or [read more]
These are some pages that I made while in Burgundy last April. (Ha. Just finished editing and photographing them.) You can see that while I enjoy sketching and painting, I am not great at it. I sketch and draw anyway. I also rely heavily on found items from brochures, menus, maps, and whatnot. My point is, if you are hesitating to work in a journal because you think you can’t draw – NO EXCUSES. (Ahem.) Now here we [read more]
Here are recent pages, including churches and notes from Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, as well as French churches in Perpignan, the Priory at Serrabone, Elne Cathedral.
To see more sketchbook journal pages of churches, go to:
For more information on some of these lovely Romanesque churches, try:
These sketches are from my illustrated journal is a recent trip to the Burgundy region of France. There are many hundreds of Romanesque churches, built between the 10th and 12th centuries. Before then, the area had been occupied and ruled over by Romans. Then they were gone but their architecture and design influence remained and were powerful influences in the creation of these churches. It was a time of crusades and pilgrimages, both of which brought travelers into tiny villages needing accommodation, food, and other practical provisions: these churches attracted these pilgrims and profited from their donations, as did the towns around them.
Hilaire Belloc, writing about his pilgrimage from France to Rome wrote of such places that: “In such shrines Mass is to be said but rarely, sometimes but once a year in a special commemoration. The rest of the time they stand empty, and some of the older or simpler, one might take for ruins. They mark everywhere some strong emotion of supplication, thanks, or reverence, and they anchor these wild places to their own past, making up in memories what they lack in multitudinous life.”
Click on an image to see a larger [read more]
Skomer is an island off the coast of Wales which serves as a wildlife refuge with millions of pairs of breeding birds. An overnight stay is often cold, wet, and indescribably satisfying.
To read more posts about my visits to Skomer, go to:
A mess of illustrated journal pages mainly from the last third of 2015. I got behind! That is the dilemma with sketchbook journals: if you are doing it right you don’t have time for eating what you’re drawing, let alone posting it.