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For the last six years, there is an event that takes place in Montreal, called the Montreal Mural Festival. Since its creation in 2013, Montreal has become a world leader in public art and contemporary urban art.

 

The event celebrates the international urban movement. There is live art, live music, exhibitions and artists talks and the festival has become an important gathering of the artist community.

 

This cultural celebration takes place mainly around Saint-Laurent Boulevard which is Montreal’s main artery. This year, this 6th edition took place from June 7th to 17th.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go and visit during the festival but the art is outside and free for anyone to see and enjoy. There are now over 80 major works of art created by the participating artists of the Festival.

 

I thought I would share some of the photos I took today. Outside of the event’s schedule, I just found out there are some walking tours every Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The time I spent there today was truly inspiring because of the different styles, the quality of the works, the feel, impressions and messages they leave you with, the tremendous amount of details and intricacies. It was truly impressive and we probably saw only about 25% of the works. A good reason to go back!

 

If you are interested, there is a map here

 

For more information on the walking tours, click here

 

All photos ©Suzanne Bélair

 

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I have been travelling through Croatia for two weeks now, starting in Dubrovnik, on to Split, the Plitvice lakes and finally Zagreb where we arrived 4 days ago.

We have visited many museums all super interesting, and galleries, especially that of Ivan Mĕstrović, the most famed Croatian artist, set up in his summer house in Split and depicting his drawings and many of his sculptures. Entrance also gives you access to the Kaštelet, a small fortress that houses his works of religious theme on wood, they are set in the chapel that still celebrates mass every Sunday according to his wishes when he donated the property.

What I want to share today is a children’s exhibition set in the Grič tunnel, under the upper town of Zagreb, specifically the neighbourhood of Grič, also called Gradec or Gornji Grad. This tunnel was first built in 1943 for use as a WWII air-raid shelter and has not been used a lot since.

The central hall is connected by two passageways to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south. In 1990 it was used again for hosting one of the first raves in Croatia, and also functioned as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence. In 2016, the tunnel was opened to the public, serving as a tourist attraction and hosting cultural events. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gri%C4%8D_Tunnel_(Zagreb))

A few entrance ways:  

We were so lucky to find the entrance that is not easy to discover when you are walking and don’t have the specific address, and to find it was hosting the 22nd Children’s Garden of the City of Zagreb exhibition. Here are a few pictures of the event that finished on the day we visited.

I love the fact that this city puts emphasis on art at an early age. Back in the days, they made drawing classes compulsory for all. I don’t know if this is still the case, but you see children in museums and galleries a lot more than at home, and they are very interested in discovering art, asking questions and listening to answers, learning.

Art should get back into schools in a big way. It is an extremely important part of education and helps in developing a critical mind and an eye for beauty no matter its form. Creativity, improved motor skills and confidence, perseverance, focus, are a few of the benefits of learning and practicing art for children. It is an important part of their education that unfortunately is being increasingly ignored by our government here in Quebec and Canada.

I hope it changes one day and art finds its rightful place in our education system.

 

All photos and text ©Suzanne Bélair

 

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Two Exhibitions

Here are two spring exhibitions I am participating in :

The first one is for the wonderful Spring exhibit from the Lakeshore Association of Artists I am part of. This year again, approximately 45 artists will exhibit at the Fritz Farm Community Center, located at 20477 Lakeshore road in Baie d’Urfé H9X 1R3. One third of artwork sales and all raffle tickets sales will be donated to NOVA West Island, a non-profit health care organization that supports the people of the West Island, offering services such as palliative and oncology care, grief programs for children and adults, home support and adult day centers.

The opening takes place tonight on Friday, April 20th from 7pm to 9:30pm and the exhibition continues on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd from 10am to 5pm.

Do not miss this special event! It will be my pleasure to see you there on Friday night and Sunday morning.

The second exhibition brings together for the first time in Drummondville «the elites of contemporary representational art», the members of the Institut des Arts figuratifs who exhibit from April 19 to April 29, 2018. The vernissage will be held Sunday, April 29 from 3pm and all the exhibiting artists will be present.

The Axart Gallery is situated at 219 rue Hériot, in the heart of downtown Drummondville. The gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday from noon to 5 pm I will be there on April 29th with my colleagues from the IAF.

Hope to see you there !

Suzanne

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“What brings a smile to your face?” I was asked this simple question the other day and here was my answer:

My grandchild!

The love of my life is two years old.

Câlin Mamie, huggies for Mamie

Everything about him makes me smile

His smarts, his sense of humour, his beauty, his energy

His ruff and tumble attitude

Everything about him!

I decided to write a book for him. It might take me a while but the story is fully written and I started on the 17 illustrations I planned.

Here are some of the first colored sketches for this project:

As a next step I will paint these that are all drawn on gessoed canvas paper.

Think about what makes you smile and see the effect it has on your mood.

Best to you!

Suzanne

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Connected by Suzanne Belair

Connected
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

My inspiration for this artwork was the coming spring

 

For this painting, I wanted lots of textures and to show the flow of energy between all the animal and plant worlds. Insects, fish and birds are connected. Doing the endangered birds paintings inspired me to complete the two loons I saw in the paint strokes of the background. There is a couple of loons that come to nest on our lake each summer and we get to witness the chicks being carried on their backs and their interaction all summer. They are majestic! I wanted to portray their return and their habitat, their lifeline and also their excitement at coming back here.

 

In the painting, a large butterfly is close by, they are looking at fish in the river below, and the plants they use for nesting are represented. They will soon mate and there is an explosion of leaves and joy at seeing summer on its way back, at witnessing life!

 

Because of its great public appeal, the Common Loon (Gavia immer)  is an iconic Canadian bird specie and one of the best studied birds in North America. Many organizations (non-governmental) are dedicated to conserving this species since they are widely-recognized symbols of northern wilderness and indicators of aquatic health. Both individual loons and the overall population seem resilient and able to tolerate landscape alterations, habitat disturbance, fishing practices and pollution, which is good news.

 

Loons are found throughout Canada, breeding on quiet, freshwater lakes of 5–50 hectares in size. They are an important top predator in lake ecosystems and their wail call is one of the most identifiable bird calls heard around lakes. It symbolizes wilderness and solitude.

 

When you hear the loon, you know summer has arrived.

 

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Invitation Art Exhibit

This is an invitation for the wonderful Spring exhibition from the Beaconsfield Artists Association which I am part of. The exhibit will take place at Centennial Hall, 288 Beaconsfield blvd in Beaconsfield. More than 50 artists are participating and we are partnering with AMCAL Family services.

AMCAL Family Services operates from a systemic, strengths-based, solution-focused theoretical orientation.

In all its programs, services, and staff training, the agency takes a holistic approach to its clients, and a multidisciplinary approach to collaborate with other professionals and community organizations.

AMCAL’s programs & services identify clear goals, employ parent-supportive practices, & develop strategies to promote positive change and healthier families.

To find out more about AMCAL, follow this Link

The vernissage takes place on Friday April 6th from 7PM to 9:30PM and the exhibit continues Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th  from 10am to 5 pm.

 

Hope to see you there !

 

Suzanne

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Yesterday, I had my creative writing workshop. I have been writing non-fiction for many years. I started this workshop a few years ago and it motivates me to write short fiction pieces as well now. The class is very interesting and useful if you manage to be alert for the full two hours.

 

The man who leads the workshop is quite special, having worked for over 30 years as an English teacher and writing throughout his life. He credits his supporting mother for going into this field. He claims she was always respectful of his interest in reading and writing from the time he was a child. His knowledge of the language and his attention to our reading are quite extraordinary, and his comments are always pertinent and on point.

 

Anyhow, he came up with a statement yesterday that took me out of my comfort zone: “When you get to be a certain age (over 60), you realize you are stuck in certain patterns and no matter what you try to do to change them, they always come back.” Hum!

 

Well, it might not have been said exactly this way but this is what I got from it. When I told him I found this very discouraging, he rephrased the statement talking about our patterns of writing but I think his thought ran a lot deeper than this.

 

Strangely enough, just that morning, I had been walking and pondering my own struggle with change specifically that of my moods and the sadness that sometimes engulfs me. And just that morning I was thinking back to my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and on, realizing how I had not changed that much over the years. My anxious core is still the same despite all my attempts to be less serious, more relaxed, less worried, to focus on the positive and forget the negative.

 

I am a perfectionist and no matter what I do to change this, I always go back to it and it has been so all my life. What happens when you are a perfectionist is you tend to focus on what can be improved instead of what is good.

 

I often say I have learned to live with this, to accept it, but whenever I manage a week of:  “I am letting go, I can do it, it’s all good”, I go back to rigidity with a vengeance, especially with myself. It is a constant internal battle for me.

 

This week, I spent some time working on a painting I started in 2016, a semi-abstract that is turning into a semi-realistic piece (Isn’t that the same?). For months, it leaned against the wall, staring at me, in creative limbo. I wanted to put a lot of textures and show the flow of energy with birds and flowers, a sort of large bouquet.

 

But once I started to paint it, I didn’t really like the concept. The painting is now going in another direction especially since I decided to include a large butterfly which I love. This often happens when there is a component missing at the planning stage and I decide to just start anyway and see where it goes. I like the element of surprise. Unfortunately I now think the butterfly will have to go…

 

Doing the endangered birds artworks inspired me to complete the two ducks I saw in the paint strokes. I decided they would be loons to bring strong contrast and because I love them. They are nowhere near finished and will end up being quite realistic. I do have hope it will eventually turn out beautiful. This piece is really exploratory and it is a long process.

 

As a side note, I saw a great demo last night with Alcohol Inks on Yupo, canvas and tile. It was quite inspiring to see the artist playing with the inks without focusing on a specific result. Liberating!

 

Finally, how is this all linked together? The demo last night gave me hope, hope that things CAN change and that I can relax and lose that perfectionist streak in painting as well as in life one day. So here I am sharing this unfinished work that is moving in one direction even if I am very unsatisfied with it for now. But it will get better.

 

You cannot lose hope that you can change or improve for this is what Life is all about. I get the pattern thing and I also agree with the fact that it is difficult to change permanently but I refuse to give up hope that we can better ourselves. After all, Life is about movement and impermanence, we are all “Works in Progress” so everything is possible!

 

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