Bear Mask

Telegraph Cove Resort is a perfect little horseshoe of magic, if you happen to be in the process of learning a new way to travel. I mull over a few different ways to tell you about this journey to the far north end of Vancouver Island… such as — Was it a Sketch Voyage, A Soul Journey, A personal Wobbly Marathon? I could say much about these aspects and probably will in future posts, but right now I’ll just try to keep it simple.

It was Fabulous and Fun….!!!

It looked like this from our window:


And this:

View 1

Sm Black Jan 2014 022

It was so concentrated, and I could scooter around every bit except for the small entrance to the marina – almost a full circle of boardwalk. Voices laughing, hints of French and German amongst the conversations, not a TV in hearing or sight. Eagles and Ravens and Bears.. and more. Rustic, historic, and bags of charm. Peace and quiet.



A bit of a surprise to herself, my companion Kim learned to sketch. She is already a maker of fabulous encaustic books, I didn’t think it was much of a stretch.


Sketching and bookmaking in the Restaurant


Kim’s sketch of a Kayak

I can’t travel the way I used to, but it is a big fat waste of time to work up a misery over that fact. Better to embrace the extra planning, the limitations-that-aren’t and ignore any pinchy faces – mine included. There are many magical places yet to be found, without and within. It was hard……. and it was easy, and many people made it happen, so lucky am I.

Heartfelt thanks to the Supreme Helpers of Freedom:

Travel companion, Gimpy driver and Sherpa – Kim Oka and her Pug Ruby.

P1020242travelling pug

The generous loan of the Ford Escape  with Air Con!! by Jenny.


All the sweet people who lifted/pushed the scoot every time I was stuck. Which was alot. You all wandered off as if it was nothing :)

GoGo Elite

Julie. You know. <3




Sm black opus 2014 013blog

On the longest day of the year I sat in my sun-filled yard and sketched this blackberry flower. There are scads of them, a gajillion, I would say, their robust prickled vines snake out and grow visibly as I sit there – at least it seems so. I believe we are in for a bumper crop this summer, which is very good, because once they are picked, bagged and frozen they will be most welcome on the shortest day of the year.

Mourning cloak blog

Last June one of these beautiful friends landed on my shoulder.


It was a lovely surprise, but I didn’t think too much about it, I just thought it had been battered and tattered in the cool wind and rain. This spring, when I saw a fresh strong butterfly in the shrubs around the Arts Centre in Sechelt, I did a little digging


They are born with the tatters, they are native, and were possibly given the poetic name “Mourning Cloak” by Scandinavian or German settlers, though no explanation as to why. It doesn’t matter, I love the name. I also think it amusing that Nymphalis Antiopa is a brush-footed butterfly, called this due to their hairy front legs. :)

Ella asleep

Many a happy hour have I spent combing through the vast wealth of visual and technical knowledge that Roz Stendhal freely shares on her website Roz Wound Up. I discovered her in “An Illustrated Life” and admired her drawings and journal pages so much, she became one of the first blogs I hit the “follow” button for. OK, she is obsessive, and quirky, but she is sooo sweet – and talent leaks out of her every artistic endeavour! If you dig back far enough into her blog, you find the time when she had a brain injury and had to retrain her effected drawing skills. Which she did. Amazing woman. She remains to this day in my main toolbar, quick reference and bags of inspiration just a click away.

Roz’s Sleeping Pet assignment for Sketchbook Skool:

Surprisingly easy with Ella, after a massive run in the forest she can crash out on the couch for hours. The crazy Potcake Dingo turns into a big stuffy toy.

Ella Roz

The Jack, on the other hand, is a bit of a challenge. He is such a twitch I was lucky to get just the ears. And such sweet ears they are. I cannot believe he is 13 years old. Sammie.

Sammie ears Roz


This afternoon, minding my own business in my front yard, I was reading a Coté Sud in the warm sunlight. I am not usually a fan of the drop-by visitors, but I don’t mind the quiet furry ones.

This would be my definition of Serenity.

Magnolia petals blog

The actual title of this sketchbook page is “Magnolia Petals: After Tommy Kane – Genius of the Crosshatch”. He is a Master of the Uniball pen. Not only was his demo video highly informative, but it was very amusing to see him in a Tiara. Sorry, only those who take Sketchbook Skool get to see the whole thing, but the Lemon Test drawing which is the result is here. And his book, “An Excuse to Draw” is quite amazing. I read it cover to cover and still want to see more. Also, the book has a great introduction by Michelangelo, worth the price alone.

The Quest of the Artist is to find their own, unique style, and if they copy from the Masters (or whoever resonates with them) it is usually in the beginning of their personal search. I am no different, it took years of practice to load up my current bag of sketchy tricks. It might seem a bit like going backwards to copy a different style at this point, but really I find it a very interesting thing to do. No one ever knows everything, and if they do they are deadly boring.  So, when I dive into a different style, I find it most useful to mimic it as closely as I can for the first few attempts. It is so hard to keep my own “hand” out of it, and I am not always successful, but the interesting part comes when I compare my crosshatched Magnolia petals to details from some of my other drawings.

Scratchy details blog

My Skratchy Details

I see that I have a scribbly, scratchy,  smudgy style compared to Tommy Kane. I like this kind of mark making, I strive for the quickness of execution and casual accuracy that makes it a little intense. For the Tommy Kane exercise, I have to be more precise, deliberate, take my time and s l o w down. Not easy, and I suspected I would be irritated. I sat myself down in front of a few of my essential belongings, and I put in some hours. Five hours, including bathroom and food breaks. Most assuredly NOT my normal way, but as I get into it, it turns out to be quite relaxing.  And I enjoy it. Time well spent in contemplation and I want to do more…

Coffee fullblog

So, I seem to have added a new technique to my repertoire – Zen and the Art of Sketchbook Maintenance. Who knew? I wonder if I get a Tiara now, I’ll have to ask Tommy…


A new Journal is essential. Particularly when it is handmade by your friend, has an encaustic cover which smells of sweet beeswax, and comes wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of Lavendar. Kim Oka has just opened her Etsy site, but I was lucky enough to have mine delivered in person. I LOVE it. I have always used Opus student grade sketchbooks, and thought they were fine, but the heavier mixed media paper in this book is far, far better and much more fun to use – I won’t be going back! Look how it takes the watercolour – no bleed through – and the pencil crayons go on like a dream.

Onions web

Of course I had to make a pencil holder for my pencil crayons which I rarely use, but have hanging around all over.


I knew there would be a week with Koosje Koene, they are her specialty. I wasn’t sure how I would like them, but they are now happily being frequently implemented. Who knew? Of course my new Electric pencil sharpener made everything about them fun.


And I still can’t stop admiring the most beautiful pencil box ever. Maple and walnut and red felt inside, silky smooth with gorgeous dovetail splines. Much sweat and skill went into this gift, thank you so much Jennifer. It is my treasure.







For the past month I have been in sketchbook heaven. Even though I identify myself primarily as a painter, I have always been a sketchbook/ideabook person. I look online for new and interesting techniques and pages, I collect books about artists journals (living or dead) and I have a special fascination for any beautiful “Carnet de Voyage”.  I love to look in other artists journals, and many of the sketchers I follow came from these two Danny Gregory books which I bought a few years ago – An Illustrated Life and An Illustrated Journey. Imagine  how excited I was when he and another artist Koosje Koene put together their online class called Sketchbook Skool !! Professionally shot videos of practicing sketchers – all the best and brightest – assignments, and instruction and sketchbook tours and even a crazy facebook group of enthusiastic peers from around the globe to share drawings with and yak with. I could not resist.


Supplies are ready.

Desk is clean.

Time to get drawing…. Page One:

Twig pen


…one must make some Mail Art of one’s sketches and clippings… Antonella da Messina is showing up in a lot of places right now…

Tiger moth blog

First Rule for surviving the inevitable miserable portion of a BC Coast winter: don’t look out of the window. Seriously, anywhere else but. Or you might see this:


..or this:


You are probably saying to yourself, Oh look, Snow – how pretty! Just what I said… for five minutes. This is not that pretty kind of snow – this snow is wet and slushy and heavy and brings down the tree limbs onto power lines so that you are stoking the woodfire all night long to keep the deep, damp chill at bay. Very Icky. No ShopRider is going down the ramp, and a wobbly person like me is definitely not going to try to maneuver in the frozen muck. A soaking wet ass is not good for a person’s dignity, best to avoid the extremely high probability in this weather.

So, once the blankets are hung over the draughty windows, (you think I’m exaggerating, don’t you?) I find it best to turn my gaze to faraway places. Luckily, I have friends who Travel. For instance, Lisa at sell your tv and come to the cinema has just spent a marvellous two months in India, and I could not resist sketching the most beautiful moth she saw on the wall where she was teaching.  The exotic sights of Ahmedabad will sooth a shivery soul.

And Julie, over at Kitchen Culinaire is gearing up for her yearly trip to Paris, so pictures of Madelines and markets and the Eiffel Tower are gracing my laptop monitor… dreamy!  A lucky group of people are in for a tour of great deliciousness, and I will be following along every step of the way. She might even spy another stamp shop while she is there and think, “I know someone who would want these..”


Speaking of postal inspiration, I have even received a postcard from Myanmar this winter – I’m pretty sure this cancelled stamp is as close as I will ever be to this enigmatic country. Though never say never…

Burma cancel blog

I affix these happy bits of travel to the board in my thinking room. A nice warm fire cheers up the house, and colour fills my grateful eyes.


In fact, last night when I was absentmindedly staring up from a drawing, my eye caught a corner of vintage pale blue… but I couldn’t think who had sent me this bit of Florida sunshine.


I flipped it over, and was reminded of a particularly difficult birthday, and the warmth of many friends who made it completely better.


Winter? What winter… in fact did you know the light is already coming back??




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