Europe, first month

It’s been more than a month since we left Montréal for our months-long trip to Europe. How time flies! We spent the very first week of our trip in Paris (which I visited last year but Paul has never been). It was mostly cold, cloudy and occasionally rainy. I wasn’t at my best but we still had a lost of fun walking around the city, visiting the Louvre, having picnics everywhere! After this first week, the adventure began: we went on the road, visiting parts of France (Normandie, Bretagne), moving from place to place with our rented car, and sleeping in it! I can say we sleep fairly well! We are very careful when it’s time to transform the car into an hotel (ha!) and I can already tell you that we don’t regret our decision to travel this way! It gives us total freedom to decide where and when to go, to move or to stay. We check our budget regularly and it’s going really well so far, which is quite reassuring after a month on the road!

I was looking forward to that feeling when you’re in an unknown country where people speak a foreign language… expatriated? So I was very much looking forward arriving in Spain! I understand Spanish up to a certain point and this is excellent practice! What struck me first when we arrived in Spain are the mountains! They are splendid and make the landscape completely different from France where it’s very flat, at least where we’ve been. I love the new landscape! Having grown in the Laurentians (region in Québec, Canada), I am used to a mountainous landscape and I love it. I realised, arriving in Spain, how I missed the mountains! They are quite different from the ones I know, though. Ours are soft and very round, here the mountains are sudden and abrupt. They remind me of the mountains of Monteverde in Costa Rica!

The Spanish are absolutely charming, and we get on well with the little Spanish remaining from my Spanish classes and the google translate app ( and that will be even more useful in Germany and the Czech Republic !!). Coffee is delicious here, and I treated myself to café con leche (latte) and tortilla (potato omelette) in the first spanish rest area where we slept. We have been lucky so far since the beginning of the adventure on the road, we find working wifi relatively easily, and thanks to Paul who did tremendous work in preparation of the trip ( he read all the travel guides and compiled the information on a map he created in his computer… a lot of programming, I’ll let him explain it to you in good time). We know what we want to do and see! Paul is the chief organizer and I am the master photographer! 🙂

We were very motivated before the trip to blog regularly, but we have come to realize that travelling as we do is a lot of work! So we have decided that we wanted to live and experience this moment at our own rhythm, and so we put te blogging aside, but we haven’t forgotten it ( i have to mention that my computer is kaput, and with the speed of free wifi it is very difficult to add photos to the blog posts and takes a lot of time and patience (read frustration)). Maybe we’ll have more time to blog in the future!

In the meantime, here are a few dreamy pictures from the last weeks 🙂

My art journal

Today, I would like to tell you about my art journal practice.

At that time, I was going through my art journals to gather all the notes I had taken on journal keeping and drawing inspiration for a project

For me, my sketchbook is a travel journal, a sketchbook, a journal, a portative studio, it’s the place where I record my everyday, where I experiment and where I express my feelings. I have kept an art journal for more than 10 years already! My practice has made me discover watercolor, a medium I adore and that I use daily now. At the very beginning, I showed my journal to very few people so it was a private space still (except for my grandmother: I used to tell her to look but not to read and she just read everything haha).

Watercolor on the beach

I began my first “official” art journal at the end of high school, when I participated in an exhibition project with my arts teacher and other students. This project changed my life and my perception about arts: we met practicing artists, visited exhibitions, galleries and museums, and we realized artworks around a theme very inspiring to young people (and not so young): it was called À Part Être (it evokes appearances, being, rejection). The title of the project  inspired us unique and various artworks and throughout the project, we had to document it using a journal with notes, sketches, and we even had a disposable camera! It was a months long project that really marked me in terms of what it means to be an artist.

Drawing/painting with neocolor II crayons and watercolor

In college, I began my second official art journal. I had a teacher that made us all do those sketchbooks/journals during her class (she bought them at the dollar store so there was no stress about ruining good paper). We had to fill 5 pages a week every week, and she told us to put everything in it: our art class notes, projects sketches, grocery list, etc. This is more like how I use my art journal now. I was looking for inspiration and found Danny Gregory. I call him my guru. His philosophy is simple: draw your life, the everyday objects, and draw directly with ink (no sketch!). It really resonated with me and I began to draw everything, things that didn’t seem worth it or interesting before, but that mark moments and times in my life (shoes, a particular handbag, my coffee cup, etc). Those discoveries fed my art practice. I later discovered other artists that all have a very unique and personnal art journal/journal/sketchbook practice, and an universe of possibilities. I’ve had periods when I am not very motivated and my inspiration is low, but I never stopped. So in college I began this magical art journal practice, I kept it mostly for myself or sometimes showed it to my family but it was mostly private.

An insect wing I found and glued with transparent scotch tape and some decorative washi tape

University: Ha, I miss you. When I was a university student, my art journal became very interesting with all the artists I was taught about, among other things. I asked my friends a few times to draw me something during class, so I would have a trace of that moment and that person. My practice really has developed at that time with everything I was seeing and learning. I was told once by a french exchange student at school that what I was doing was simply nothing, because in France they had to fill a journal like mine every month or week (so, make a lot MORE). At that time, I was filling a journal every 3 months. I didn’t write a lot but I tried to note down important things happening in my life or in life in general. Something my grandmother told me is to keep a diary because we forget everything.

Pink coffee

My art journal became much more public during university because my friends wanted to see it, and it made me happy to share my art (can’t be an artist if you don’t like showing your artwork!), so I was censoring myself enough so anyone could look and read through my art journal without problem. And it was fine, it is part of my path and I experienced having a “public” art journal. I used my art journals in quite a few class projects, so I also received reviews from my teachers on what is normally a private and intimate thing.

Drawing of my favorite pens and fountain pens

Since I finished school (almost 7 years now), I show and share my art journal a LOT less (almost not at all!). So my art journal became a space that I have total control over, it doesn’t go around a table or a class in stranger’s hands, I show it to almost no one now. I realize that I regained intimacy. I am rediscovering my personal journal, my private thoughts, and I do whatever I want, I write whatever I want without censorship or thinking about what would other people think. Taking back control. I don’t think about others, only about me. This is a learning, that took me years and is not finished. The realization that this is not a public space but is now a private space came slowly, and it feels like discovering a new language within me. I think it’s magical to discover that I can draw whatever I want, I can try and fail, and nobody has to know because it’s mine, it’s my secret space and I control access.

Architecture drawing practice

I would have liked to know what I know today when I was a teenager, having an art journal would have helped me so much when I was bullied at school or when I was depressed and anxious. Maybe I wasn’t ready? It is a time investment, time that I am used to take so I don’t think about it anymore (it’s a habit!) but I am proud of my consistency and to have kept this habit. I feel productive when I fill my art journal with random doodles and ramblings, lists, ugly (and pretty) drawings, paintings, infinite sketches of my watercolor kit. It all makes me happy. When I haven’t worked in my art journal for a few days, I feel incomplete. Even if I don’t make 8 paintings a week, my art journal is also a work of art in its way. A series. Depending on the context, it can be an ordinary diary, but it is also a transformation of the everyday into artwork.

Let’s keep thinking and experimenting.

Life is beautiful. So is art.

Palette and its drawing (I have a few palettes)

Drawing and watercolor of autumn leaves

The cover of my latest art journal: a picture I took with my phone, printed with photo paper and glued with washi tape and duck tape

Drawing with sharpie

Drawing and watercolor from pictures I took on the road in Maine with my mom, and some collage

Boston map and business card from a bakery

Drawing of a Salem building, on a pamphlet about the Salem witch trials

A portion of my art journals: I have a lot!

Drawing and watercolor

Drawing and watercolor


Roadtrip down south

On the road

On the road

A few weeks ago, I went on a small trip with my mom to get out of the city and the everyday life.

We began by going to the Maine to refuel in a place we know and love. We went to the sea to listen to the soothing sounds of the waves, and the following day we went on the beach. We also went to our favorite restaurant there, slept, relaxed under the sun, and drank cocktails! Vacation life 🙂

Me and my mother

Me and my mother

Morning face in Wells

Morning face in Wells

Installed to journal and draw in the hotel

Installed to journal and draw in the hotel

After our short trip to Wells, we decided to visit Salem to enjoy the fresh autumn weather and sun. Salem is a beautiful city, there are a lot of magic and potions shops, psychics studios and whatnot. We mostly visited on foot, so we didn’t do any paying attractions or museums.

Finally, we went to Boston! Another beautiful city, completely different from Salem and Wells. The the mix in architecture style (very old and new) is super interesting, and I loved the old red bricks buildings we could find everywhere.

During this trip, I took my pictures thinking mostly of models to draw architecture later. We can always get better and I like to work on different subjects, and before the trip I was thinking about architecture! I want to get better and broaden my creative field so new possibilities arise.


Starting an entomological collection

Recently I signed up to take an extra biology class at my university, BIO6441 Systématique des Insectes (Insect Systematics), an advanced course of entomology. The main objective is to learn insects’ families through the elaboration of an entomological collection (scientific designation for pinning insects in a box).


My colleagues and I went two weekends ago to the SBL (biology station I briefly introduced in a previous post) for the beginning of the class. On the menu: hunting as many bugs as possible. Indeed, we need to build up a scientific collection composed of the greatest variability of insects as possible.


Tablet containers are great to temporarily store your specimens!

We swung all weekend our butterfly nets in open fields, in woods, on lakes shores, on the road, in a peat bog: even under water! We caught as much little creepers as there was, while being besieged by hordes of mosquitoes, horse flies and deer flies. For as much as we were outside, the warm sun kept the insects active and catchable: it began raining coincidentally (and fortunately) when the hunt was finished.


Beautiful wasp.

In short, I had a great weekend with amazing people and hunting conditions. Now the biggest work begins: mounting all my specimens and trying to identify the species. Over the course of the summer, I’ll have many opportunities to grow my collection, the class will only start again in September. I’ll try to post some pictures for you guys, feel free to comment below if you have any question about building an entomological collection: it’s a lot of fun and discovering! Enjoy the pictures!



Moth on the surgical table.


My big bumblebee.


An assortment of dragonflies + a small moth.


Some soft bodied insects + an intruder in alcool vials. From left to right: lady bug larvae, dragonfly larvae, stonefly larvae, caterpillar, damselfly larvae, spider, other caterpillar and caddisfly larvae (out of the picture).


A close-up of the damselfly larvae.