What is a true eclectic to do when her passions lead her in different directions?
This is a blog for the unfocused, the round pegs in the square holes, the short-attention span types, and all those who just can't bring themselves to join the ranks and adhere to a single category of activities or interests...whether sketches, drawings and comics, fixing an old farmhouse in Oregon, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Speaker at Church (12-11-11)

A caricature is done by exaggerating facial features to a point that, although still recognizable, they look out of the norm. 

Not to make fun of people...but I couldn't help extrapolating on this person's solemn attitude, long face, and dour facial expression. 

Portrait (12-11-11)

A quick portrait of Kim E. who has a lovely smile.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I was a vendor at the DaVinci Arts Fair (12-04-11)

I was invited to apply at the Da Vinci Arts Fair and was thrilled to be accepted as a vendor.
Here is what my table looked like; 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...)

Model Call for Portland Bridal Show (12-04-11)

My oldest daughter Moso wanted to audition for the Portland Bridal Show, and asked me to take her to the model call at Benson High School. Since I was there, I figured, I might as well try out for "mother of the bride." Alas, neither of us got selected :(

While I was waiting, I did this quick sketch of the judges' table; I like that just a few lines give an idea of the bored poses.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Belgians in Portland (12-01-11)

After living for years in the Portland area, it was quite a nice surprise to find out that there is a group of Belgians who meet once a month to have a drink and chat!
The meeting place is Bazi, a small brasserie off of Hawthorne Blvd. which, despite less-than-stellar service, has the distinct advantage of offering a large selection of Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired Happy Hour menu items.
Everyone is pretty nice, and it's always a pleasure to meet, and to know that despite the language barrier (most attendees are from Flanders, while Yours Truly is from Wallonia and speaks French) we all have this small country we cherish in common.

RACC Open House (12-01-12)

What a party! The Regional Arts and Culture Council had an Open House to celebrate their move to their beautiful new headquarters in the Park Blocks. Large windows; lots of exposed bricks and natural wood.

Artist Leslie E. at left
Despite the cold, the place was packed. I walked around and observed people.

"Performance art is so powerful. How did you attach the harness?"
 It was the usual art scene, people talking and networking, drink in hand.

Signature removed to protect the Mayor's privacy.
 I was very pleased to run into Sam Adams, the Mayor of Portland. I got him to sign my sketchbook!

MAP Meeting at Rex Putnam High School (11-30-11)

Since I live within the area concerned, and curious to see what has been finalized for the McLoughlin Area Plan, I decided to attend the meeting that had been scheduled at Rex Putnam High School.
Blighted McLoughlin Blvd.
McLoughlin Blvd/Hwy. 99 is an eyesore. The necessary-evil-throughway from Portland to Oregon City, it is littered with car dealerships, parking lots, and strip clubs. There are practically no sidewalks, the traffic is intense, and is quasi-impossible to cross on foot. The focus of this meeting was to present the improvement ideas and concerns that had been brought up during several planning meetings over the course of the last several months.
Oak Lodge Citizenry
There was a large crowd present, and people were given the opportunity to "vote" on some points of the presentation given by the planning committee by clicking on audience response cards that had been provided.

Now, most of the people present seemed to be in their 50s, and a majority of them were men. Not your Portland hipster crowds, but more like the type that go hunting or fishing on the weekend. I was sitting in front of a group of reactionary Neanderthal types, who seemed to take pride in voting down anything that was presented on the screen, and were snickering like middle-school kids at terms such as "job incubator area."

One of the proposals that was met with strong opposition was the idea of Section 8 housing being built at the site of the Elks Lodge, suggestive that these people think that such housing would bring undesirables to the area. I briefly wondered whether this reflected more than just an economic class concern...

From what was said during the Question/Comments part of the meeting, one gathers that these people don't care that any improvements be done to McLoughlin Blvd. They like it as it is. I can't understand the mindset, given the trashy looks of the highway, the abundance of outdated mobile home parks that border it, and all the side streets with potholes! Clearly, we are not in Beaverton. No. Leave everything as it is. Just don't anyone touch their homes, and bring on Walmart!

As for me, I would love to see a Trader Joe's, and if there is one now on SE 82nd Ave., -McLoughlin's twin with used car dealerships and unsavory characters-, there is no good reason to not have one here also. I am sure that (at least many of) the residents in this area, such as people who live in homes in the vicinity of River Rd., would support it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Wedding (11-30-11)

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.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Victorian House (11-30-11)

I like our former neighbors, Judy and Louis H., and thinking about them, their 109-year-old Queen Anne style house in Southeast Portland, originally built by Oregon painter Eliza Barchus comes to mind.

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.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Circus (11-30-11)

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...).

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Conversation (11-30-11)

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.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Instructor (11-30-11)

Sandra S.'s smile suggests that she has a sense of humor and will not put up with nonsense... To draw her, I tried to be sparse with details, and do a linear portrait.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Castle in Belgium (11-30-11)

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 dangers lurked.
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 ever-present, eternal.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: My Little Studio (11-30-11)

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.
I 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 ceiling.
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!

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Class (11-30-11)

I find it easier to listen when my hands are busy drawing.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Molière (11-30-11)

Brilliant actor Tim Mooney's portrayal of characters from Molière's plays.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Congregation (11-30-11)

A drawing that underlines how one can feel alone in a crowd.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Fashion Statement on Hwy. 99 (11-30-11)

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.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Old Witch at New Seasons (11-30-11)

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, and...

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Little House in the Forest (11-30-11)

What is the little house hidden in the forest? Who will get to it first, the little girl, or the big bad wolf?

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Bench for Daydreaming (11-30-11)

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?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Self-Portrait (11-27-11)

...Although a common thread runs throughout, self-portraits looks different because the end result is affected by one's self-perception at the moment.
Traveler with a Heavy Heart

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alliance Française Get-together (11-21-11)

I went to the Brasserie Montmartre for a get-together organized by the French Alliance. French folk singer Tété was present (in town for a concert). I took the opportunity to do a quick sketch of him and asked him to sign my sketchbook.
French chanteur Tété

Dark-haired beauty
I did this sketch of a striking young woman who sat across from met; her hair was black, and with the eyes the darkest shade of dark, she looked like an Iranian princess who had stepped out of the One Thousand and One Nights into Modern Times...

My friend Sian A. likes to participate in French Alliance activities. I enjoyed the relaxed, informal ambiance of this particular meeting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Art Spark November Event (11-17-11)

The November Art Spark event was at Vie de Bohême, a wine bar in Southeast. I was a bit annoyed that they would charge $ 3 for a Coke with Grenadine, and their Happy Hour dishes were of the crusty piece of bread with puréed olive variety, but for 4 Bucks! 
Schmoozing for the Arts
So I hung out some and watched the crowds. It was as usual, more arts administrators than artists -everybody loves the Arts, everybody supports the Arts-. There was a tedious-looking recycling-themed Bingo game, undoubtedly to get people to talk with each other, that I didn't event want to bother with, since the room was totally dark and the cards were illegible. After a presentation by RACC staff ("I don't know what I'm doing, but I sure love it!"), some other organization with a purported recycling-cum-arts-focus called Create Plenty presented their program, with a very pregnant young woman gushing over and over about an ongoing fundraiser of some sort. Then, there was a drawing, and I won a weird bag made out of an old Joe Camel t-shirt turned inside out, with some homemade cleaning products in used glass jars (one of them with a Tostitos label still on).