In my bubble

Has recommended by our public health, every household has been living in a ”bubble” for many months now – general rule, no outsiders in one’s home.

So with the confinement, eventually the bubbles and now the curfew, we have a lot less distractions and more time on our hands. It took me some time getting use to it all but now I appreciate having the extra time to contemplate and reflect on what’s next, or even to do a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing.

So, in the last weeks, I’ve decided that this is the year to put it all to use – the pens, pencils, sticks, brushes, paints, and all the different kinds of paper. My head is full of ideas and I want to take at least 10 to 15 minutes every day to put them on paper. Sometimes, I might look at a sketch for weeks before I figure out exactly what will become of it.

This is my first series entitled ”In my bubble” that I chose to do in the Pantone colors of the year: Illuminating and Ultimate gray. I love the vibrant yellow!

My mission this year is to experiment, use all the colors of the rainbow and, most of all, have fun, fun, fun!

A lot of snow

At last!

Last weekend we finally got our first snowstorm of the year, the kind with big snowflakes. And after 24 hours we had about 30 centimeters of snow (approximately 1 foot).

And the nature lovers were out walking, skiing or playing in the snow.

A lot of Montrealers were inspired and snowmen and sculptures appeared all over Montreal in parks and on lawns.

Check it out: https://www.lesacdechips.com/2021/01/17/les-photos-incroyables-de-montreal-remplie-de-bonhommes-de-neige-apres-la-tempete-de-neige

A little bit of snow

A few days before Christmas we got a bit of snow. I was hopeful that we would have a white Christmas.

Sadly, it rained on Christmas day, and the day before, and it felt much more like a warm Spring day.

Maybe next year!

Autumnal greys

No more leaves. The cold has arrived and winter will officially be here in a week. There is no going back.

Even without the sun and a lot less colors, there is still a lot to see: lines and curves in the landscapes, and waves and reflections in the water. And I saw a few courageous mallard ducks on the river that are staying put for winter.

Nature is lethargic and resting. And the monochromatic landscapes allow my eyes to also rest from all the colors of this past fall and before the bright winter whites.

I can’t wait to see what the river and its surroundings will look like this winter – a whole new environnement.

I can’t wait for the bright winter whites!

Disappearing act

The horizon has disappeared.

A few weeks ago, I woke up to this enchanting scenery and it reminded me of Maurice Carême’s poem that beautifully describes the phenomenon.

[original version in French]
Le brouillard a tout mis
Dans son sac de coton
Le brouillard a tout pris
Autour de ma maison
Plus de fleur[s] au jardin,
Plus d’arbre[s] …

[my translation]
The fog has put everything
In his cotton bag
The fog has taken everything
Around my house
No more flowers in the garden,
No more trees …

I love the faded background that gives the scene a mysterious vibe.

It seems like I am at the end of the world!

My winged neighbors

The Île-de-la-Visitation nature park offers a network of paths ideal for strolling and observing species of shore birds. Together the nature parks form a vast network of protected natural areas on the Island of Montréal.

I was able to take these photos on the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park or along the Rivières-des-Prairies. These birds are all migrant species and can be observed during summer on all the shores of the Montréal island. They all left, by now, and are surely on their way or already down South.

  1. The Great Blue Heron, one of our largest, most picturesque avian migrants, stands more than 3 feet tall and is very impressive when it takes flight [wingspan around 6 feet]. It often stands motionless as it scans for prey or wades belly deep with long, deliberate steps. It may moves slowly, but the Great Blue Heron can strike like lightning to grab a fish.
  2. The Black-Crowned Night Heron is without a doubt the darling of the Île-de-la-Visitation nature park, from mid-April to mid-October. Although it is most active at night or at dusk, it is frequently observed in the open, perched on a low branch overlooking the river or keeping a lookout on the emerging rocks near the rapids during the day.
  3. The Canada Geese are fairly easy to see swimming in open water, resting near shore, or grazing on lawns. When migrating, they fly in large V-shaped flocks and can travel more than 1 000 km in one day. More and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round.

This summer, I also witnessed groups of 4 to 10 large vulture-like birds gliding above my home everyday. I couldn’t identify them until I was able to take a photo. After enlarging the photo on my screen, analyzing the details and doing a lot of research, I recently figured out that they are turkey vultures (with small bald heads covered in red, wrinkly skin). They move so fast that all my photos are out of focus but still I was able to recognize the head and the beak [wingspan around 6 feet].

They are not vultures per se, but they play the same ecological role, i.e. they are carrion eaters. They are excellent gliders and can be seen gliding for hours with wings fully extended (no flapping required), which is exactly what I witnessed. They are majestic gliders!

Autumnal yellows

I recently moved next to the Rivière-des-Prairies in Montréal, where there are parks almost all along the river (40 km). There are rapids and an electric power plant where the waters are turbulent and hynoptic. I am also close by the Parc nature de l’Ile-de-la-Visitation which is another magnificent park.

I decided to move before the pandemic and before we went into confinement. That is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have enjoyed walking by the river almost every day and am thankful to live in such an enchanting environment, especially during these trying times.

Yesterday was a surprisingly hot day for this time of the year – the sun was shining, there was a warm breeze, a lot of people were walking and cycling, laughing and smiling, and the smell was almost sweet. A perfect day!

Now is the best of fall – there is as much leaves on the ground as in the trees. I walked for at least 2 hours – I didn’t want it to end. It’s probably the last hot day for a long time because today it’s cold.

I will remember this day in those harsh cold days to come.

Remembering

My dear mother passed away a few years ago. I miss her very much, miss spending time with her talking about drawing and the arts, and miss the twinkle in her eyes.

As she grew older, she felt the need to pass on some special souvenirs that either belonged to her as a child or to her mother (handmade wish cards & handkerchiefs, for instance).

My mother loved to send us wish cards for numerous occasions, and since I lived far away we exchanged letters regularly. She appreciated that I took the time to choose pretty papers and often told me so.

While looking at these souvenirs and letters, I decided to assemble some of them in a collage. I used a photo of her, pieces of a letter that I find particular funny, sweet and loving, handkerchiefs that were somewhat damaged, a wish card, and some washi and textured papers.

Her letter is in French which is my mother tongue – English is a second language for me. I had the chance to grow up in a small village on the border of the United States and to learn both languages as a child. However, expressing my thoughts in English is not as easy as in French still.

My grandmother passed her love of art and her talent to my mother who passed it on to me and many others in our family – I feel I owe her. I don’t know who passed it on to her though, never thought of asking.

She was known to be a very respectful woman and never talked badly about anyone. She lived in her own house, made a garden every year and painted until she was 90 years old.

For my grandmother’s collage, since I didn’t have a letter from her, I chose one from a friend that related to the scene of the photo (on vacation at the lake). As both my mother and I, she loved flowers and that’s why I had to feature them in both collages.

I think of them often, especially since I’ve succeeded to spend more and more time creating over the last few years.

I wish they were here.

Portraiture

I initially studied photography mostly to become a portraitist.

I learned that in order to capture someone’s state of mind, personality or essence, it is of the utmost importance that the person is approached respectfully and feels at ease – luckily, that was easy for me. It is a privilege for me to spend a moment with another person of any age or background and, in the process, discover another world.

Some of my most enjoyable shootings were spent with children. They are usually naturally at ease and spontaneous, and thus unpredictable – and that’s the fun part. Observing without expectations is key.

And observing people, I can’t stop doing (on buses, in parks, on the street, everywhere). I have a database of faces and facial features in my mind. If I see a face or a feature that ressembles no other I have seen, I am in awe.

So many faces, bodies, people!