“The Baron in The Trees” by Italo Calvino

“Cosimo was in the oak. The branches were waving, high bridges above the earth. A light wind was blowing; it was sunny. The sun shone among the leaves, and to see Cosimo we had to shield our eyes with our hands. Cosimo looked at the world from the tree: everything was different seen from up there, and that was already an entertainment. The avenue had a completely different prospect, as did the flower beds, the hydrangeas, the camellias, the small iron table where one could have coffee in the garden. Farther on, the foliage thinned out and the vegetable garden sloped down in small terraced fields supported by stone walls; the low hill was dark with olive groves, and behind, the built-up area of Ombrosa raised its roofs of faded brick and slate, and ships’ flags peeked out from the port below. In the background the sea extended, high on the horizon, and a slow sailing ship passed by.”

-Italo Calvino, The Baron in The Trees, translated by Ann Goldstein

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South American Memories

In the last year I’ve gotten into a habit of mainly posting my one-off drawings and paintings to Instagram, reserving this website for completed comics or comics-related announcements. I have just now realized, however, that as a result of this I have left no record here of my epic trip this past January to the “Cono Sur” of South America: Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, three fantastical and enchanting countries that I miss very much. Here, then, are a few of the sketches, either in pen or oil pastel, that I made on location of these places, many of which felt to me oddly familiar, like a reworking and jumbling together of various memories of the kind that occurs in dreams, held together by a tenuous logic that snaps apart upon waking.

Cerro Bellavista, Valparaiso, Chile

Extremely long and steep staircase in Valparaiso

Port of Valparaiso

Houses on stilts in Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile, looking like a Newfoundland of the South

Interior of the Iglesia de San Francisco in Castro, Chiloe, a huge church made entirely out of wood.

Street in Montevideo, Uruguay, with the brownish Rio de la Plata in the background (although admittedly it is not quite that brown, the exact colour eluded me this time)

51260317_482130068987160_775319460390109184_nA steady hand on the tiller of the Presidente Sarmiento, an 1897 Argentine naval cruiser moored at Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. Photo credit to my Porteña guide in Buenos Aires and up-and-coming Borgesian autora, Belén Debuchy.

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A Private Audience

A Private Audience


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Registration open for my Fall classes at the Visual Arts Centre!

This beautiful visual rendition of Harold Monro’s beautiful 1914 poem “Overheard on a Saltmarsh” was created by Linda Dyer, a student in my Fall 2018 Drawing and Illustration class.

I’m excited to once again be teaching two classes at the Visual Arts Centre in Westmount this Fall: “Illustration de bande dessinée/Comic Book Illustration” on Thursday evenings from 7pm-10pm and “Dessin et  illustration/Drawing and Illustration” on Friday mornings from 9am-12pm. Classes begin on September 26 and 27 respectively and go for 12 weeks. They will be taught in both English and French. Here are the two brief course descriptions that can be found on the VAC Fall/Winter program:

Dessin et illustration/Drawing and Illustration

Begin your exploration by illustrating a simple phrase or poem, and progress toward a more involved comic or graphic project. Learn basic skills of illustration, from initial sketch and design, to addition of ink, line, wash, and watercolour. A unique voice and style emerge as you see your own stories come to life on paper. Materials include ink, watercolour, charcoal, etc. Prerequisite: some basic drawing skills.
Materials not included. https://www.visualartscentre.ca/register/?action=course_detail&course_id=5396

Illustration de bande dessinée/Comic Book Illustration

Combining images and words, comics are an exciting, accessible means of storytelling and self-expression. Learn basic illustration skills, including expressive figure drawing, inking, layout, character design, and storyline, which will then be brought together in the creation of your own short graphic book. The development of a unique voice and style will be encouraged. Prerequisite: some basic drawing skills.
Materials not included. https://www.visualartscentre.ca/register/?action=course_detail&course_id=5397

Registration for courses at VAC is now open! For more details and/or to download their full Fall/Winter program, go to https://www.visualartscentre.ca/school-of-art/

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“Le cheval de bleu” by Marcel Cremer

“Le cheval de bleu” [The Horse of Blue] is a children’s play originally written in German by the Germanophone Belgian author Marcel Cremer (1955-2009). A new French-language production of the play, a collaboration between Théâtre de la vieille 17 and Voyageurs Immobiles, Compagnie de création under the direction of Milena Buziak, premiered last weekend at the Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins theatre in Ottawa. This premiere was paired with the launch of an illustrated print edition of the play published by Lansman Editeur (Carnières-Morlanwelz, Belgium). I did the illustrations, some of which appear below (click on images to enlarge).

Cheval de bleu 1Cheval de bleu 2Cheval de bleu 5Cheval de bleu 6Cheval de bleu 7



































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“Rimbaud Warriors” by Richard Gaitet in stores now!

Richard Gaitet’s “Rimbaud Warriors,” out today from Éditions Paulsen, recounts the author’s journey by foot from Charleville, France to Charleroi, Belgium, retracing the route taken by Arthur Rimbaud in the fall of 1870. It was during the course of this adventure, the second of his great escapes from his family home, that the sixteen-year-old poet found the inspiration for what would become some of his most famous poems.

Wrapped around the bottom half of the classically French off-white, minimalist cover is a bright red book jacket featuring a drawing of the “Tintin of poetry” by yours truly. Another of my drawings appears inside. Click here for more information on “Rimbaud Warriors” on the Paulsen website: https://www.editionspaulsen.com/rimbaud-warriors-2054.html


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“Il cardillo addolorato” by Anna Maria Ortese

A cover idea for a hypothetical new edition of an Italian novel I just finished reading, Anna Maria Ortese’s 1993 “Il cardillo addolorato” (translated into English as “The Lament of The Linnet.”

Near the end of the eighteenth century, three wealthy young gentlemen from Belgium, the jovial merchant Alphonse Nodier, the beautiful and idealistic sculptor Albert Dupré, and the jaded but ultimately large-hearted aristocrat Prince Ingmar Neville take a pleasure trip down to Naples. Here they meet -and are each in turn besotted by- a wealthy glovemaker’s daughter, Elmina Civile, who appears to be moved by a mysterious determination to reject all possibilities of joy from her life.

Ortese’s storyline is intentionally convoluted, offering ambiguous and endlessly contradictory accounts of events and of the relationships between its various actors. Though I arrived at the end of the novel with only a very confused grasp of what I’d just read, the characters, descriptions, and overall atmosphere of the novel cast an undeniable spell. “Il cardillo addolorato” felt to me a little like stepping into a rococo painting, into one of those gauzy fantasy worlds which, in their knowing insubstantiality, seem to be calling attention to the mysterious void that lies below their surface. As Ortese says of literature and rhetoric in the introductory chapter, “they are golden, chiseled doors, the handiwork of the goldsmiths of dreams. But, once opened, it is only life, dark and cold, that one finds at the foot of the staircase, groaning like water. And you too, my curious Reader, will see, as you follow this story, how behind it there is nothing at all. All you will hear, down there, is a miserable glug-glug.”

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