Here is what my table looked like at the Da Vinci Arts Fair. I was
selling blank cards of my pen and ink drawings and some knitted scarves (too bad I don't make jewelry, because I'd have made a killing...Sigh...)
Our daughter Valérie got married in October. I decided to draw the
lovely memory I have of that day, the guest tables with my daughter
Julia in the right foreground, and a close-up of the young couple lost
in their own enjoyment of the moment.
These drawing are closer to sketches because I wanted to be as
accurate as possible. While we were chatting one day, I took a few
photographs of Judy on the front porch and of Louis standing inside the
ornate front door. I then made light landmark points on the paper with a
pencil, and carefully worked with my pen inlude lines where I wanted
them. When the drawing was finished, I erased all the pencil marks.
I like clowns at the circus, but thinking of the most stereotypical
thing about clowns, the ironic image of the Sad Clown, I decided to work
on two scenes that would incorporate such a clown.
So here is a
shabby circus tent, and a close-up of my poor clown having a Bad Day,
where, -rather than being the funny one-, he is the one in dire need of
entertainment. Next to him, there is a cage with a small monkey (I just
couldn't resist the bad pun...).
A drawing lazily done during a meeting with some friends one evening.
Mary M., our hostess showed us her studio space in her fairy-tale
house, then served us a delicate cake decorated with a pink rose made of
frosting. We then spent the next few hours enjoying each others'
company talking about what mattered to us on a personal level. For the
second drawing, I tried to draw Mary G.
Looking at these images reminds me of this evening with friends.
One day in February 2005, my brother Sébastien took me for a drive along the valley of the Meuse in Belgium. High up, near the top of the forested cliffs bordering one side of the majestic river, one could see the ruins of a castle. In answer to my question, Seb said this castle was called Poilvache (a funny name in French), and offered to drive up to it.
After crossing the Meuse
and driving uphill on windy roads, we arrived to a wide clearing
covered with snow. A path off the side led to the old castle. Unprepared
for a hike, I had put on a pair of Converse high tops
that morning; they promptly got soaked as we got out of the car and
started walking through the thick snow. After a short hike, we got to a
high wall and a locked gate: access to the fortress was closed for
another couple of months.
With Seb's help, I climbed over the
wall, and we set off to explore the grounds. We were alone, with only
the sounds of our feet disturbing the leaden silence. It was dusk. The
entire valley was open below us, with the sinewy silver path of the
large river down below. The sun was a dull pink through the filter of
the fog coming in with the night. It was blood-chillingly cold. The
ruins of the roofless dungeon stood three floor high, huge open walls
punctured with window openings.
In my mind, I could see how it
must have been, some 500 years before, when men huddled around fire
camps or tended to their horses. The unimaginable torture they must have
endured, wet clothes, frostbitten limbs, dark nights, the forest where
And we, visitors from another time, in the silence
all around, could hear horses neighing and the sounds of a garrison
settling down for a night long gone, but the biting cold was
My studio had humble beginnings as a workshop or storage space for
one or another previous owner. When I first saw it on the day of the
real estate open house, the late morning light reflected in the colorful
glass pebbles mixed in the gravel gave the building a magical look.
eagerly climbed up the steps, expecting to find a wonderful art
workspace. My fantasy came to a crashing stop when I opened the door:
boxes and old furniture piled up everywhere, water dripping from the
One of the first projects we undertook after we moved in
was to clean this outbuilding. It was a dark, unwelcoming place, dirty,
home to hideous spiders and carpenter ants. It took quite a while, but
it eventually got cleaned up, painted inside, redecorated, with new
floors installed and sealed.
The studio is now a great work space to share with students and friends, with enough space to store art supplies, visual journaling books, large tables and chairs, and many objects, even vintage items for resale... It is a magical space!
The people who walk along on Hwy. 99/McLoughlin Blvd. in Oak Grove
are rarely what one would call sophisticated; it's more like poor and
working class who cross the road to take the bus. So, as I made a turn
onto McLoughlin with my car, I was a surprised to see a middle-aged
woman, dressed in flowing linen New Age style clothes with tribal
patterns, a woman like one would see in Southeast Portland, not out in the gritty suburbs.
I was sitting in the dining room at New Seasons
when my attention was caught by an older woman who was talking to an
adolescent girl. The scene was banal: two people sitting at a table, and
yet, there was something very unpleasant about this woman, the contrast
between her falsely benevolent attitude, the small bear in her pocket,
When it comes to drawing, there's only one way that comes naturally
to me: Pen and Ink. I got to think about what I like to draw freehand
from imagination, how I would represent something from memory, and how
it would look different from observation...
I wondered if beyond a
broad overview drawing, one could get a glimpse at something else,
something deeper, more detailed... This was the start of a series of
unrelated drawings, all tied by a common approach, a view from afar,
then at close proximity.
So, one day in 2011, armed with a few pens, a 2H pencil, and a small Bristol pad,
I just started drawing. This scene slowly took shape, first a bench,
with a girl sitting, and then trees all around. Who is this girl, and
what is she thinking?
I have a nice collection of wedding dresses, but the most outrageous one is a 1980s Jessica McClintock dress that fits no definite style category: a close-to-the-body tight-fitting knee-length sheath with a high neck, mixed lavish embroidery, and at the back, a cascade of fabric flares reminiscent of a Belle Époque bustle!
There is in fact no bow at the back...
The other dress in my sketchbook is the one that my daughter Valérie has chosen as her wedding dress: a classy, elegant, 1950s (I think) pleated polyester knit dress with an embroidered lace bust and collar.
Thanks to Netflix, I discovered a fun TV show called Pawn Stars. Based on a simple premise, - people sell things to get quick money -, the show give a fascinating insight into the workings of a pawn shop in Las Vegas. Expect the unexpected, and enjoy watching the store employees bicker constantly.
I did these character studies while watching reruns; they look like caricatures because the TV medium is static, allowing me to go over lines and keep the drawing "cleaner" than a sketch.
Well, that fantastical creature just appeared on the page...
Call me naïve, but I just found out that "Buffy Malone," the name I came up with years ago, the most outlandish made-up name I could think of as an example of an unlikely mix of Pop Culture and Italian ethnic, - a name I have extensively used in various humorous stories I've written, - is actually the name of a real woman on Facebook (...and she kinda looks the way I'd imagined my own Buffy Malone...)!