ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Monday, April 23, 2018

Last Days in Vancouver

In my last post I mentioned the three check-in bags I needed for my last teaching trip. Here's a photo, and it shows why I love staying in hotels when I teach. Hotels have elevators and they usually have luggage carts so that all bags can be moved in one trip. Some hotels even have someone on staff to help with luggage. Staying in someone's home is always more difficult. There are often stairs to negotiate, and often the person billeting me should not be carrying my heavy bags!! I've come home with major shoulder issues from doing it myself. Aside from that, I also find some quiet time to myself essential to keep fresh for the job. When you travel as much as I do, there is a certain comfort in staying, once again, at a Best Western Hotel. I always know there is going to be a microwave and fridge. That is really helping me stay on my healthier eating plan. If I'm tired at the end of the day, I can get in my pajamas and loaf around in my bed if I want to.

The day I left my hotel in Surrey, the magnolias were in bloom in the driveway, and look at the colour of the sky!

As I headed toward Vancouver, I noticed more clouds moving in. I was on a search for cherry blossoms. I did find them all over the place, but did not find any sights like the ones in the tourist brochures. Everyone had recommended I go to Arbutus Street. I did, but there were few cherry blossoms. I think the many days of rain had taken them down. Here are some I photographed in downtown Vancouver.

We had full all-out rain on one of my days. I stayed at the Best Western downtown, right near English Bay (just like last summer). This was the view from my room. I spent a fair bit of time hanging out with my friends Jean and Neera during my time there. 

Vancouver is a Foodie's paradise. They have fantastic coffee shops and roasteries. Fun to sample them and watch people.

I visited the place where the snobbiest of the coffee snobs hang out, Revolver Coffee. I really would like to try their four-shot espresso sampler, but I am afraid that with that much caffeine I will have a massive panic attack!

Pure Bread is, hands down, my favorite bakery anywhere. The sheer variety of goods is overwhelming and the quality outstanding. The buckwheat sour cheery scones are to die for, as is the flourless chocolate cake.

Mink Chocolate serves drinking chocolate just like the European cafes. Yum

We went for pretty good Spanish tapas. This is Paella cooked in squid ink.

There's a really healthy, crunchy-granola feel to some parts of Vancouver, and it is easy to find healthy food there.

One rainy morning my friend Jean taught me how to knit. My grandmother taught me 45 years ago, but I haven't done it since. It is hard, much harder than crochet. We'll see where my knitting career goes!

Back home in Ottawa, things are looking up. Spring arrived this past weekend and the crocuses are in full bloom. We even set up the patio furniture. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Few Days with the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild in Delta, BC

It was a good time to be on the west coast ... while my own city and province were battling freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Sure, there were frequent grey skies, but that is because it is rainy season. Rainy season also brings the buds and flowers out. I flew into Vancouver two weeks ago for a ten day period. Two of those days were spent travelling, four were spent lecturing and teaching, and the remaining four were spent vacationing. I arrived a day early because I wanted to purchase a few things locally for my classes, as well as some groceries for my breakfasts. My three check in suitcases were packed!

My engagement was with the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild in Delta, British Columbia. Delta is about 45 minutes southeast of Vancouver. On my way I stopped in Richmond, where I took these photos of cherry blossoms. 

Magnolias were blooming all over the place. This photo was taken in Surrey, BC. I stayed in Surrey for two nights as it was was halfway between my Tuesday lectures and Saturday workshop, and halfway between my two day Surface Design class.

We had a large and well-lit classroom in the Sheraton Hotel.

I brought along all of the art supplies, including Prismacolor Artist Pencils, Caron d'Ache Neocolor 2 Water Soluble Wax Pastels, Tsukineko Inks, and InkTense pencils. Hence the reason I needed so many suitcases.

Day 1 was about shading with Prismacolour Artist pencils as well as creating a watercolour effect with the wax pastels.

Day 2 was learning to paint a variety of values with Tsukineko Inks and then a little threadsketching with InkTense pencil added.

We all got together for a class photo together.

The west coast is very multi-cultural so I enjoyed a wide variety of delicious food. This Greek restaurant does wonderful salmon.

I think there was a Vietnamese restaurant in nearly every block of the city. It is one of my favorite cuisines!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Day in Montserrat

Montserrat is a multi-peaked rocky range of mountains about 45 km northwest of Barcelona. We booked a small group tour on-line to make the trip easier. Situated there is the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The Monastery is built on the site where a statue of a black virgin was discovered in the 12th century.

It's a pretty dramatic landscape! 

The funicular took us to the top of the mountain for a little hike.

We had a chance to view the Monastery, although our tickets did not include getting up close to the black virgin. You can see a photo of her from a distance in my photo below. To get up close to her there is a photo here on Wikipedia. Pilgrims make their way there to seek blessing and healing from the virgin.

A cable car took us down to the village where we found our bus to take us back to Barcelona.

I did not look down during this trip!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Gaudi & Packing Again

I spent Easter weekend visiting my father and sister in Waterloo, and now I'm packing to hit the road again. Sunday I am leaving for Vancouver and spending several days next week with the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild in Delta/Surrey, British Columbia. I've worked in a few days of vacation too. I understand the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I hope to find out where the best places to view them are and capture some photos.

Part of getting ready is lining up my artist pencils and sharpening them. It is good colour therapy. I'm also bringing Caran d'Ache Neocolor 2 Water Soluble Wax Pastels, InkTense Pencils, and Tsukineko Inks, for two days of Surface Design fun.

In addition, I am teaching a one-day class of "In Full Bloom". I've dyed and packed all the kits. They sure do add weight in my suitcases.

Here's keeping my fingers crossed that everything fits into two check-in bags that are each under 50 lbs.

Of course there are quilts in those bags too because I'm giving two lectures, one for their morning meeting and one for their evening meeting.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share just a few more photos of inspiration from Barcelona.

On our way to take a tour to Montserrat (more on that tomorrow), we accidentally got to visit two more buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, the architect who designed the Sagrada Familia that I spoke of in my last post.

Even the benches along this street are Gaudi inspired.

La Padrero is an apartment block that Gaudi designed , that was constructed between 1906 - 1912.  

Apparently there is not a single right angle on this building. It is designed in that wonderful curvacious style of his.

A bit further down this street you come to Casa Batllo, considered another of Gaudi's masterpieces. Both La Padrera (above) and Casa Batllo have received UNESCO World Heritage site designations. The area that contains both these buildings (on Passeo de Gracia St.) is a location where Barcelona's most important families set up home in the early 1900's.

Joseph Batllo granted full creative freedom to Gaudi in his redesigning of this building.

Unfortunately we did not have an opportunity to view the insides of these buildings because we ran out of time. There is just so much to see in Barcelona.