Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Sketches, and a Canadian Camper in the Crystal Palace?!

Another great day of wandering yesterday. We shopped our way down Fuencarral from Gran Via, visited the museum of history, then cabbed our way east to explore Plaza Mayor, Mercado de San Miguel and the Palace 

True to my word in my last post, I finally hunkered down at a cafe table to sketch. We found a great little pub on Calle Mayor. Part way through this top drawing the proprietor came out to ask us to move. I tried to explain that that would change my perspective and so was not possible. He pointed out the policia who was about to write him a ticket for having his terace sprawl too far into the street.  Policía trumps perspective. We moved. 

Tomorrow we head to Barcelona. The only thing that was left undone on my must do list was visit Buen Retiro Park. Greg wasn't feeling great so I headed off on my own. I wanted to see the row boats on the lake and the crystal palace. They were goth amazing, but the big thrill was inside the crystal palace. Parked in the middle of this big open glass covered space was a circa 1960's Canadian travel trailer with BC plates! The windows were removed so we could peek inside.  It was filled with magical little mechanized puppets, both finished and under construction. One side of the camper was converted into a tiny puppet theatre, and the puppetress could be seen sleeping on the berth at the back of the trailer. She was made of wax, and was so real you could see the tiny spider veins on her legs poking out from under the sheet. There was a big odd antiquated speaker turning slowly on the top of the camper, broadcasting warmly carny music out into the glass shell.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Big FCA News and 2 More Days in Madrid

I'm opening with my big news (since I know not everyone makes it to the end of my ramblings). We got back to our little pad late last night and I decided to check my voicemail for the first time. There was a message from the Federation of Canadian Artists; my piece 'Rooftops of Montmartre' won FIRST PLACE at their annual Landscape Show!  Yes I did just yell that. I'm feeling so honored and excited. 

What an amazing couple of days. We've hit the Museo del Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and a pop up show at Cibeles spanning centuries of masters. The stand-outs for me?  All three had Van Goghs, always a fave, but the most surprising was Hieronymus Bosch. His 'Garden of Earthly Delights' (circa 1500) was for sure the inspiration for everything Dr Seuss ever drew.  It's a crazy and colour soaked depiction of heaven and hell. I wanted to buy a book with a picture of it, but  none of the reproductions came even close to capturing its magic. Pics on the internet don't do it either. You'll just have to go to the Prado to experience it.  Immediately. 

Last night we wandered up the street to Casa Patas Flamenco Show. It's like a wild passionate mix of tango and tap, opera and folk. We were wedged right up against the stage (perfect) as their feet drove into the raised wooden floor so fast and hard, the guitar player's fingers flying as three men dressed all in black sang their souls out into the darkened room. Mind blowing. 

Food continues to be amazing everywhere we go, and the architecture is spectacular. My husband continues to tolerate the endless hours in museums and is lugging around all the art books I keep buying. Full points.  We both keep marveling at how beautiful the people are here.  It's been too cold for sketching outside, but I might brave it today.  No other plans, except to enjoy the day. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spain Trip - Él Primer Día

It's 5 am and I'm nestled in my cozy loft bed on Calle Juanelo. We slept as we flew through the night, the world turning 9 hours ahead beneath us, and landed in Madrid at 7pm.  My bag caught a later flight, but we managed to round up, catch a cab and head into the heart of the city. Yes, we.  In an amazing last minute decision Greg arranged to come with me for the first week of my trip. We cruised through the city with our cabbie friend pointing out all the sites; Retiro Park, Reina Sophia, the Prado, it all looked beautiful lit up against the night sky. I love coming into a city that way. 
We met up with Emi, our airbnb host, and got settled into our little Madrileño nest. It's perfect, with brick and plaster walls, ancient wood beams in the ceiling and an adorable little terrace.  There's an ancient looking gate, heavily locked, right off our terrace which apparently leads to the massive network of underground passageways beneath the city.  These tunnels were used over the centuries as everything from wine cellars and storage to escape routes and prisons.  You won't find that in a Holiday Inn! 

We are right in the heart of things here.  Emi left us a great list of tapas bars near by, but we decided to just wander out into the night and let our Jedi knight skills find us the perfect spot. It worked. We ended up in this very cool place called China Mandarina, packed with locals, and we blindly took all of our waiter's suggestions.  It was amazing,but we both agreed that the croquettes will be on our short list of best things we've ever eaten in our lives.  

Now we're waiting for the sun to come up so we can head off, painting bag in hand, on our first day of adventure. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Carol Goes To Spain - Indiegogo Campaign

Carol's Art Residency Campaign from Carol McQuaid on Vimeo.

Follow this link to check out the details - Here's a preview: you can buy a postcard sized original linocut with watercolour for $30, and I'll mail it to you from Spain!  Campaign ends on February 16th, the day I head to Spain. 

Carol Goes to Barcelona

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Weekend at Grandmas

I've spent the past few days at moms (you'll call your mom grandma after you have kids too), hiding out with a stack of prints to paint. I leave for Spain in two weeks less a day, and will be featured in two shows here in Vancouver while I'm gone. I wanted to leave enough finished pieces that any purchasers could get what they want without waiting for me to come back. One of the shows is the Federation of Canadian Artists Annual Landscape Show. It's my first show as part of the federation and I'm  super excited to have been accepted. There's a pretty stiff jurying process to get in their shows. The other show, Urban Echoes, is a printmaking show at the Firehall Theatre. It's a four artist show, and one of the artists is my favourite printmaker and the person I took my first printmaking workshop with. I wish I could be at the openings, but being stuck on a vineyard in Spain with a printmaking studio at my disposal is sweet consolation. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Another Grey Morning - Sketch at Tap and Barrel

This is one of the million beautiful viewpoints on our daily dog walks.  As I sat and sketched this I found myself signing 'Another Grey Morning' by James Taylor.  It ain't exactly a tropical beach scene, but Vancouver has its own kind of beauty this time of year.  Plus it's good practice capturing a full range of greys.  The tiles in the foreground were fun.  I didn't relish the idea of slavishly trying to capture the pattern, so I grabbed one of those red plastic netted bags that you buy oranges in.  I twisted it into a formation I thought might work, anchored it with random objects and pounced a loaded brush on top of it.  Voila, one million tiles in 20 seconds. Works for me :-)

My show at the Cultch came down today.  It was a great experience all around.  Many thanks to those of you who came out.   I'll keep you posted for the next one.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Went out and bought all the ingredients to make butternut squash ravioli last night. Was dreaming about it all aft, picturing myself all covered in flour, laying sheets of freshly made pasta onto my new ravioli mold. Then somehow, when hunger struck and I hadn't even made the dough, going out to try the new restaurant in our hood became an obviously better alternative. Invitro is the latest incarnation in the heritage house around the corner from our place. The place is great, the food inspired (I had the pasta wth leeks and cream and we shared a bococcini salad) but chef/proprietress Sarah was definitely the best part of the experience. She's a creative soul (music, art, food), and she's pouring all her passion into this lovely little nest of a restaurant. I foresee many more cooking plans shelved in favourite of a walk around the block for whatever's on the menu.  Welcome to the neighbourhood.