Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lisbon - Azulejo Museum & Mosaic Sidewalks

It's been over a month since we've returned from our trip to Europe. This year we left quite late in September to visit Greece. The weather was much cooler and more stormy than normal in Athens where we mostly stayed but also quite rainy in Lisbon during our stopover on our way back home. Not fun for walking outdoors but perfect for visiting museums.

I have become more of a modernist in my taste for art gazing as well as art making and The National Azulejo (Tile) Museum we visited was quite a refreshing change from Europe's traditional museums, monuments and churches which often display lavish baroque style paintings, sculptures and ornate decor. Although the building itself is colonial in style, the actual indoor galleries are bright and airy and modern. The selection of tile art displayed is also quite diverse ranging from classical blue style to colorful neoclassical and geometric designs.

Walking around Lisbon was a beautiful experience. Exquisite architecture and design are present in all areas of the city including the buildings decorated with tiles, the horticulture, the fountains and the mosaic designs in the stone sidewalks and squares. The whole trip was a visual feast that has inspired me to appreciate design on another level. My photos in this blog are only a tiny glimpse of this city's beauty. Hopefully next time we visit Portugal it will be warmer with more sunshine :)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Botanist's Journal

In March, I decided to become a friend of the The Montreal Botanical Garden - Space for Life so I could visit whenever I want but also to enjoy certain other privileges like a magazine subscription, access to botanical documentation and books from their library, invitations to friend's workshops, access to special presentations and other various discounts. However the most important reason why I joined was to have somewhere to go that I loved, to learn more about botany and devote more time to keeping a journal of botanical sketches. Where else would I go if I wanted to create botanical art?

This past June the gardens began a summer long exhibition of oversized prints showcasing eighteen illustrations of world-renowned botanist Francis Hallé as well as hosting other activities and presentations related to his work. This was just the inspiration I needed to begin. Like many of us, a quick snapshot with our smartphones to save for a laterwhenIhavetime moment to actually draw by hand is common but I am tired of putting it off. So here I am, instead of going straight to my digital tools, I started using pencils in a dedicated art journal instead of drawing my ideas and observations on scraps of paper. I have a long way to go and as always I struggle to make time for art but I am motivated. I am not a botanist nor do I consider myself a botanical artist at this time, but for now I will focus on exploring leaf anatomy + design through drawing from observation in my art journal and to see where it takes me:)

You can find out more about Francis Hallé at The Montreal Botanical Gardens here!
Some sketches from my my botanical art journal:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Echinacea Project

Getting back into my creative flow after a busy autumn and Christmas, and I have many projects still in progress but which I look forward to sharing soon. I take too much time to plan everything in my life and these first botanical projects were very important to me and although I didn't obsess with perfection, I did struggle with many decisions about my process and defining it, even though I know it will evolve. I also needed to become more familiar with Facebook and Instagram for business as well as learning more about managing an Etsy shop. These things take an enormous amount of time, at least for me, to understand and learn how to operate and I have only made baby steps but that's ok. I have learned to accept my slow pace with dignity. Having only one item in my Etsy shop isn't where I wanted to be at this time but I am moving forward with enthusiasm and my business Facebook page and Instagram page will soon be a reality as well.

The flowers for my echinacea project, inspired by my Montreal Echinacea Balcony print, will be in a flat, top view arrangement, with the petals rendered in colour pencils and the flower centres drawn with vector shapes and lines. I will go more into detail about why I love using this mixed technique in a future post. Because of the importance of this flower in nature for pollination and for it's uses in natural healing therapies it has become a more meaningful goal and experience for me to create these flowers. The echinacea's rounded head which appears to be simple in design, is quite complex and challenging to recreate in a drawing. The ray florets of the flower centre grow in a specific spiral pattern well known to biologists and botanists as the golden ratio or Fibonacci sequence. I laboured for many frustrating hours trying to achieve a proportional arrangement which wasn't working for me so I went back to my own photo reference (above) and after careful observation, I realized once again how perfectly imperfect nature is. I drew from my photo reference instead of geometric calculations and everything is coming together now. Check back for the reveal of the completed flower in my next post coming soon :)

Like many creatives, and from my experience as a technical illustrator, I like to do research and become familiar with the subjects I draw not only to benefit my artwork but also to gain knowledge about new things.  Botanical art inspires me to develop my drawing skills further in a new direction but also to gain new knowledge about plants and botany which I know very little about at this time except for some houseplant and basic flowerpot gardening. The diversity and benefits of plant life is infinite and ever-changing and I am truly excited about continuing on this new journey of creating botanical art to enrich my life and hopefully to also to give back by becoming more involved with conservation and biodiversity projects in my community.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Filario - My New ETSY Shop

I have new Etsy shop! It's called Filario ! Filario is a Greek word for "little leaf" and my inspiration for the name has come from my recent interest in botanical life. Leaves usually play a supporting to flowers but they are a very important part of plant life and we sometimes don't notice how beautiful they are. Of course flowers will also be a part of this project as well. I am looking forward to finally create art that can be sold as prints for anyone to enjoy

Click on the SHOP link to your right or visit my shop here: Filario Art Prints

Saturday, July 8, 2017


My posts are few but my art projects are moving along slowly. Busy spring puts a halt to my creativity but I am patient. Taking photos helps my creative mind stay active but I still can't dedicate myself to a sketchbook yet. However, I was able to squeeze in this little postcard design I submitted to Uppercase Magazine for Issue 34.

Montreal is my hometown and is often referred to as balconville in the summertime by many Montrealers who spend their summer vacations at home, often on their balconies, relaxing with friends or cultivating their tiny flower gardens. I adore the vintage balconies in the Plateau area and I included in my design, the Montreal echinacea which was unveiled as Montreal's official flower last year, a hybrid created by a Quebec breeder to attract bees. These flowers will be planted all over the city for Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations.

I found out early spring that there was an open call for a "Greetings From" or "Wish You Were Here" postcard design for Uppercase Magazine's summer issue and I thought what better way to commemorate my beautiful home town on it's 375th birthday than with a illustration celebrating vintage architecture and the Montreal echinacea flower. This image will be available as a print in my new ETSY shop coming soon in August. Follow me for more news on this blog or on Instagram.

Reading on the Balcony
My Dad on the left 1959 - balcony of one of his first apartments in Plateau area
Me and my cousin on the right -1966, balcony of our apartment on Bloomfield ave. in Park Extension

I have very fond memories of spending time on balconies. As a child, windows and balconies were fascinating to me because I could observe (for hours) the changing sky, squirrels and birds, the rustling leaves or snow covered trees and neighbourhood life through the seasons. My favourite activity on my balcony was of course reading and it still is. We've lived in a few different homes and they all had balconies. Later on as an adult, my husband and I bought our first home in the west end of the city without any balconies. Although it was spacious, it just didn't feel right without a balcony. We sold it and moved back closer to the city and bought another house with a balcony front and back surrounded by giant trees. We've lived there ever since. Balconies are essential for our home especially to a native Montrealer like me!