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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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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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Forest confection by Suzanne Bélair

Forest confection
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic & Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

I am sharing this painting today to make a point about exploration when it comes to making art.

 

As artists we often feel we have to paint certain subjects or in a certain style expected by our viewers, buyers, galleries we deal with, etc. It is true that viewers come to expect a certain type of production from an artist. But we must be able to explore and break these boundaries in the studio.

 

I have been watching some friends that are now dabbling in faux stained glass and this inspired me to paint this small forest. I love working with inks and enjoyed making the lines and defining the areas.

 

I started with a textured background. I use the flexible paste by Liquitex to texture my canvas. This insures it won’t crack over time.

 

When you feel like painting something that is unexpected or new to you, go for it. Especially if you feel some anxiety at the start, you might think, “I could never paint this” or “If I do it, I’ll never show it to anyone”. Well, if you think this way, you must try it because it might turn out to be the key that unlocks your next series or the next step in your painting process.

 

This self-censoring we go through is what eventually leads to a creativity blockage. All the assumptions and self-judgements should be examined and questioned if we want to move forwards in our art.

 

We all get inspiration, our imagination sometimes sends us wild images that we often disregard as unimportant or not “fitting in” with the image we want to project of our art. It is in our best interest to follow these seemingly random suggestions we receive through intuition and imagination.

 

Life gives us a seed and our job is to make sure it grows. Artists often feel like they are carrying the “burden” of creation, that they are responsible for every stroke, for every decision regarding what goes on the canvas.

 

But it is not so, we need to relax about it because it you think you are responsible for everything, then the process of painting presents endless opportunities for mistake and your success or failure becomes your full responsibility. It is indeed a heavy burden to carry. Painting becomes stressful and aren’t we painting to enjoy ourselves?

 

When you take the attitude that you do “what needs to be done” because you’re following your intuition and this is where it wants you to go, you become free.

 

When you listen to the voice of intuition, you are listening to nature, to your own self and it is leading you ahead, always learning and living.

 

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Watching
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic on canvas 8 X 8 in

Another week gone by and we are definitely getting closer to spring and summer! How great is that!!

In my last blog I mentioned that the group Artist for Conservation, which I am a part of, has decided to concentrate its effort in 2018 in bringing to light  endangered bird species, so we decided to get involved in our first international collaborative mural project. This installation will comprise the world’s 678 endangered species of birds and will be the artistic centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress to be held in Vancouver in August 2018.

This is the second species of birds I signed up to do: the Collared laughingthrush(Trochalopteron yersini), which is can be found only on the Da Lat plateau in Vietnam and is on the IUCN red list of endangered species since 2000.

It is a striking colourful bird that features a black hood with a silver ear patch and measures between 26 and 28 cm (10-11 inches). It had already been on the threatened and vulnerable species list since 1988.

There seems to be information missing when it comes to this bird’s habits. Flocks are small, comprising of only 4-8 individuals. It is a resident of “dense undergrowth of primary and evergreen forest, secondary growth and scrub bordering forest” according to IUCN, and occupies a narrow range for altitude (between 1,500 and 2,440 m).

The population has been declining due to habitat loss and degradation but there is a lack of survey in the area to help define the extent of it.

According to IUCN, there has been a government resettlement program that has greatly increased human pressure on the Da Lat plateau. Forest degradation and fragmentation have increased because of it, logging, shifting agriculture, fuel wood collection and charcoal production being the main culprits. In certain areas, all land below 1,500 m is now logged or under cultivation. Higher up, the broadleaf evergreen forest is being cleared for coffee plantations in the “Da Nhim Watershed Protection forest”.

There are conservation efforts underway in Chu Yang Sin and Bi Doup Nui Ba National Parks since 1986, but not nearly enough to ascertain the survival of this beautiful bird since there currently are no real protective measures.

Reference: http://www.iucnredlist.org

To find out more about Collared Laughingtrush click here

For more details on this mural project, click  here

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