Music from Quebec sets us dancing

Pierre-Luc Dupuis, accordion and harp player. He's seated in this sketch, but he was just about to stand up and do a little dance.
Pierre-Luc Dupuis, accordion and harp player. He's seated in this sketch, but he was just about to stand up and do a little dance.

One of the reasons we wanted to visit the Port Townsend area was because it is the home of the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, a week long fiddle extravaganza featuring workshops and performances by some of the best traditional musicians in the Americas.

Synchronicity was working in our favor this March. Centrum, the force behind Fiddle Tunes, had hosted a three-day intensive workshop on music from Quebec, and the teachers were three lads who form the group De Temps Antan. Thursday night they played for an old fashioned Québécois-style dance. I’d found out about it before hand and bought tickets. Glad I did; it was sold out.

It was fantastic. These three young men are hot musicians (and easy on the eyes too). This is high-energy music; like good rock music, it forced my feet into motion and I danced sets until I was dizzy. When I got tired of dancing I tried to draw the band, but they were in such constant motion, all I could manage were gesture drawings (tiny because all I had was a tiny note book).

Éric Beaudry was guitarist and rhythm section for the band, keeping time by stamping his feet (called foot clapping or podorhythm).
Éric Beaudry was guitarist and rhythm section for the band, keeping time by stamping his feet (called foot clapping or podorhythm).

After I came home, head still swirling with music, trying to figure out  3/2 rhythms and crooked tunes, and feet still clapping and clattering, I tried to sketch portraits of the lads based on my gesture drawings, and, to be honest, watching them on YouTube videos. I never could get André Brunet, the fiddle player right. He was in constant motion, even more than the other two musicians, and that’s saying something. The box player was fond of standing up and dancing while playing.

I’m just posting the drawings of the accordionist Pierre-Luc Dupuis (seated in this drawing) and the guitar player Éric Beaudry.

Get their cd, or better yet, keep track of where they’re playing and go see them. They’re terrific!

Artist on vacation

Looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca at 6 a.m. Canada was just a low dark stretch across the water.
Looking across the Strait of Juan de Fuca at 6 a.m. Canada was just a low dark stretch across the water.

Californians wanted to know: Why are you going to Port Townsend in March? Isn’t it raining enough for you here?

We left California in a rainstorm (rare for California), and arrived in Port Townsend in a rainstorm. I don’t mind the rain. After having lived under the grimly sunny skies of California for the last decade, it’s nice to once again see a sky with some kind of personality.

And boy, the sky showed her colors the first day we were here. Big clouds stretched from horizon to horizon. They poured rain, hail, even a bit of snow, and I painted and painted all morning, trying to capture the light, the clouds, and their movement over the water. I’m not used to painting skies. In California I rarely look at the boring blue; if I lived here, I think I would only paint skies.

We’ve got a great hotel room; it’s a carriage house suite actually. Painting in front of the picture window is like plein air painting, only warmer and with a cup of tea.

Watercolor done on Strathmore postcard.
Watercolor done on Strathmore postcard.

Later in the morning, the clouds broke up a little. But Canada was still a long, low spit of land across the Strait. That evening the sky cleared and we realized that the clouds had been hiding mountains—ranks of huge, gleaming, snow covered mountains.