Monday, July 18, 2016

Sea, Sand, & Sun, 1

Grandma's Bootcamp always includes a stay at a Mediterranean beach where campers swim, play, and even go on a parachute ride. 
It's only an hour away from home, and although I drag my feet (I do not tan, I tomato), the few days at the beach provide a break in routine and everyone is happy. I always take plenty of self-entertainment.

This year was exceptional. While I sat sketching people at breakfast with a swimming pool in the background, a Frenchman said "I've always wanted to do that. May I sit down?" And so, I met J.-C., a Parisian, and we chatted about Paris, materials, and techniques. 

We sketched every morning after breakfast in an idyllic setting (no overflowing garbage at this hotel). 

J.-C., who incorporates his own cartoons into his job, "signed" my sketchbook with a delightful drawing.--> 

Sketching seems to be a good conversation starter at a beach hotel. How much time can you spend on a beach and not be bored silly? People would come talk with me, including kids. 

Donia (in the middle), who likes to draw, "signed" my sketchbook as well.--> 

Truth to tell, I only got salt water on me once, but, I did do a few laps in the pool before breakfast everyday. The kids loved the beach and the pools. Mr. M, whose skin had a grayish tint after his hospital ordeal, came home with a lovely tan and a smile, a picture of good health. Guess I can't complain!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Paris Urban Sketchers

I got a chance to meet up with the Paris Urban Sketchers the day after I arrived in Paris in April.

They had scheduled a meeting at the Parc de Sceaux for the Hanami or Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.

It seemed that all Parisians of Japanese origin had come to picnic under the lovely old cherry trees of the Parc, which put on an amazing show of pink.

The cold weather and threatening gray skies did not seem to bother anybody except me. It was very cold.

Three days before my departure, I was able to attend another outing at the "Grand Train," a sort of railroad cemetery with some lovely old locomotives. It had been converted into a sort of park/picnic area for families...and thankfully, there were no tourists. I sketched a group of women with a locomotive behind them in my recycled, trashy sketchbook/journal using watercolors and brush pen.

Then I started on a beautiful red locomotive in excellent condition. This I had to finish later as it started to rain.

Seeking shelter in a nearby café, we sat around tables that the owner kindly lined up for us, and shared sketchbooks and stories. I surreptitiously sketched a Parisian sketcher at the other end of the tables and then asked her to sign. Thank you, Estelle.

And so, I would like to send a big "Hello" and "Thank you" to the Paris Urban Sketchers who began and ended my visit to Paris in such a wonderful way. My blessings are many...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Paris and Comics

Fortunately, there were some moments in Paris that were almost light-hearted, even pleasant.The "Polishing" class at Sketchbook Skool prompted me to use a comics style to record a funny conversation. True story:
And again, I recorded an interesting day in Paris that included a museum, a good meal in a restaurant, demonstrations, and falling asleep over my stitching...
Paris is such an interesting place!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Book of Etudes, 1

Ahhhh, do not despair--stitching still takes up most of my time. I stitched my way through April and May; in fact, I did much more stitching than sketching. I'm "writing" a "Book of Etudes" ("Studies"--memories of violin practice books from 40 years ago), a sort of textile sketchbook. 

I needed easily portable stitching to go to Paris and this project has been tugging at me for awhile. Yeah, I know, I know, I have a rule in place that says I have to finish things, not start new projects...but this was the call of the wild--high adventure.

The rules were simple: only hand work with an emphasis on abstracted, fairly simple needle-turn appliqué motifs and embroidery. I have wanted to explore the mixture of appliqué and stitching for a long time. 

So I cut 5 black, or black and white, fabrics 8" x 12", put two temporary safety pins down the middle to hold them all together in a book, thus having pages of 8" x 6". And I left raw edges...which I may or may not regret. I chose some fabrics and threads that sang to me and carried the whole mess around with me in a small plastic sack in my purse.

I first stitched in place small rectangular pieces of fabric onto the background, then added larger pieces to appliqué.

The back side is equally interesting, a sort of shadow page that echoes the appliqué motif and stitching on the other side.

The pages can be read in any direction.

Did I say simple shapes? Admittedly, I have a tendency towards complexity.

Each page in the book requires more work and ruminating--so many possibilities. And despite the constricting circumstances of April and May, I was able to fly high thanks to my Book of Etudes.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Home Again, Home Again...

Jiggety-Jig. Of course, I'm delighted to be back home and Mr. M. is now on the road to recovery and breathing well. Although this was an extremely difficult six weeks, we met with kindness and caring everywhere.

My sketchbook/journal was a recycled student's paper from last year--regular typing paper, nothing precious, do-anything-you-want type of journal. The idea of incorporating memories of Tunisia into this record pleased me. In the airport, I sketched Mr. M. in his wheelchair.

In the airplane, I played with decorative lettering on the cover. 

In another sketchbook with good paper I recorded my husband's first day after surgery. Full of tubes, groggy and somewhat puffy, he had to sit in a chair most of the day to help with breathing.

They had him up and walking almost immediately and so things seemed to be going well after a week in the ICU. There was talk of transfer to a regular room.

However, there was a complication (pneumothorax) and I found him the next day sedated and once again intubated. Although I could see that the ICU staff was on top of it all and very competent, it was still a hard day. I went back to my "Aparthotel" and ate chocolate. Some days require chocolate...

Another week in the ICU and then finally Mr. M. was moved to a regular room, and miraculously, all the tubes and bandages disappeared.

And so, after another two weeks in the hospital, the big day came when a gaunt-looking Mr. M. could leave.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for your support during this difficult time. 

And I am indeed grateful to all the people at the Marie Lannelongue Hospital who worked conscientiously and with dedication to save the one I love.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Out of ICU

After two weeks in the ICU, my husband is finally in a regular hospital room. His endarterectomy went well. All the tubes have been removed and he is now on the road to recovery. I spend afternoons with him, mostly stitching along with a bit of sketching. I am mostly unplugged, but hope to be back soon.

We have much to be thankful for...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Getting Ready

The suitcases are packed. We leave for a Parisian hospital soon. After sinking in the quagmire for so many months, I feel like we are finally moving forward.

In line with my Finishing Rule for 2016, I completed a bag that will go with me. I did the panels for it when I made my recycled bathrobe (here) way back in January 2012 (gulp!). A couple weeks ago I added the sides and strap (old jeans), put in a lining with a zippered pocket, and sewed in a zipper across the top. I've been test driving it lately and it holds all the necessities, such as stitching, sketchbooks, and art supplies. I will be able to self-entertain for hours on end.
And so, we face another mountain to climb, but with hope. See you on the other side...