I am finally getting around to loading some images from my week in Cuba where wifi is painfully slow so all I could do was upload a few images to Instagram. I didn’t manage to get all one hundred done because I was getting a bit frustrated with only beach folk to sketch and wanted to sketch some of the interesting people I photographed in Havana. I’ll hopefully get around to those this week.

I did all of these very quickly, on average about 5 minutes each, in ink only without any pencil first — and I went back later to add a bit of colour to some of them. It was a great challenge and I’m glad I accepted it. I really enjoyed the feeling of being part of the sketching community and seeing the variety in others’ work. And, of course, I learned that daily sketching is the best way to learn and to improve — I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer to developing that daily habit.



I’ve decided to take up the challenge launched by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel to sketch 100 people next week, Monday to Friday BUT I’ll be on the road so…. it will be tricky trying to squeeze this in between some travel sketching and some quality time with monsieur. I will just do my best and see what happens! I will need to make choices… and I will be reminding myself to choose what brings me joy.

Last Sunday I practised at a play reading, thinking this would be the perfect setting with the cast perched in front of me for 90 minutes. I sat off to the side and quietly sketched in  ink — no pencil, which was a bit scary and I really botched the first person! After, I had time to add some colour with my water brush, did a few head sketches and put it all away.

At the end of the play their manager and photographer came rushing up to me and I had a moment of panic, wondering if I’d offended them but no — they were eager to see what I’d produced because they’d been watching from across the room. They were thrilled and insisted on showing the players what I’d done. One of the players thought I’d been busy taking notes — they were so impressed by my little sketch even though I kept saying, ‘but I’m just a beginner, it’s only for practice, really, I goofed up here and there…’ Still, they gleefully snapped pictures of my work. As embarrassed as I was that they saw my work, I was also thrilled to see their pleasure.

Their play, Refuge, is going to be wonderful — at the Firehall Arts Centre starting March 18. It’s a very moving and timely piece about the plight of immigrants seeking refuge in Canada and based on the story of a child soldier from Eritrea.




My word for 2017: Choice


I’ve finally settled on my word for 2017. It was going to be ‘no’ based mainly on growing feeling that I say ‘yes’ too easily to too many people and things and that I need to focus more on what is important…. I need to say ‘no’ to TV news, FaceBook, sugar, worrying, etc. However, good friends have chosen much more positive words: ‘yes’, ‘careful’ and ‘hope’ and my ‘no’ just felt too negative.

Then this week ‘choice’ came up several times, notably on Brainpickings but also in yesterday’s yoga class and in my ‘Happy People’ sketchbook. Rather than thinking yes vs. no, I need to feel the power and freedom of having choice — in retirement, it is one of the greatest joys to have time to do what I wish, but it is also easy to waste that time.

So, after a good year of letting myself do whatever I felt like, I am ready for more self-discipline in order to start accomplishing more. I need to put more time into learning and drawing and painting. I need to make better choices on how to spend my time.

2016 was a tumultuous year politically speaking and I got swept up in both the Brexit and US election results. The French elections are coming up this year and I intend to cast my ballot. It is all quite disheartening and I will choose to focus on the positive and to stay away from reading and watching all the negative news about Mr Bigstuff, Mr. Poutine, and the EU.

Instead I will choose lightness, laughter, literature, music … writers, painters, musicians, comedians, actors, and poets. I choose to be inspired by their creativity in order to create my own; in short, I will choose joy.

Pen and ink

I’ve felt the need right from the start that I need to work on drawing and tonal values. I completed Betty Edwards’ book on drawing with the right side of the brain, but still, I felt the need to draw more. I was inspired by Rosemary Washington’s drawing project and shared the idea with my friend Linda. Together, we each chose a book and began on November 1st. I chose 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People and have been motivated by Rosemary’s example and Linda’s company to draw each day. Some days I’m really rushed and less satisfied with the results, but other days I’m happy to snap a photo of my work and email it to Linda. So thank-you, Rosemary, for your inspiration — and as you find comfort in In Praise of Idleness, I hope to stay focussed on these simple secrets of happiness.

Going Coastal

I’ve been reluctant to get back to sharing my progress for a variety of reasons but then I realized how many blogs I follow and decided to jump back in the water.

At the end of the summer we did a pair of road trips — one up to the top of  Vancouver Island and another from Quebec City to Halifax and back via Cape Breton, PEI and NB. Canada’s two coasts share a wild beauty, but there is a different feel to each. We covered over 5,000 km on beautiful roads that wound around coastlines and through forests, hills and mountains.

I kept a pair of journals, one a 3×5 Moleskine and another 8×11 Opus, and have decided to share just a few images.

At Yellow Point on Vancouver Island, there is a very large tree stump that was flung up on the rocks many years ago by what must have been a very high winter tide. I did a rough pencil sketch then went in with a Micron Pigma pen and added a bit of colour.


We headed up to Comox and wandered around Seal Bay, disappointed that there were only two seals but this heron was elegantly perched on the rock for ages making it easy to sketch him.


In Telegraph Cove we signed up for the whale tour and were impressed with this colony of sea lions, noisily moaning and groaning on the rocks. We did see two pods of Orca as well as a crazy group of dolphins — hundreds of them! — as well as a huge Grey Whale.


On the east coast we enjoyed Peggy’s Cove, especially the scattered granite in the area — huge boulders perched on hills and in the coves –testament to the power of the moving glaciers thousands (millions?) of years ago.


We enjoyed driving back to Quebec along the St. Lawrence under warm, sunny skies with autumn mist on the river. We stopped here to picnic and I took the time to sketch the village church and the great rock formations along the river bank.



Staglieno Cemetery

This is another sketch of one of the statues at the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. It reflects what I am feeling after learning of the death, two days ago, of a young man I know who was diagnosed with a brain tumour on July 21 last year. His surgery was just three weeks before mine and he was an inspiration to me. He had survived leukaemia and had been cancer free for eight years, a brilliant and creative young man with a wonderful life ahead of him. As I have said repeatedly, I was incredibly lucky and I owe it to people, like Ben, who face so many challenges  with courage and grace, to live my life with compassion and gusto. Today, I can pause and feel grief but then I need to get on with it and do like Ben to give it all I’ve got.