How the book Carnets du Vieux-Montréal evolvedOver the past four years, my friend Yvon and I often sketched together outdoors in Old Montreal. After a drawing session he would post his sketches and historical notes on his blog. My Old Montreal watercolors would also at times appear on my blog site. Over a few years we both had accumulated a large file of drawings and watercolors. He had researched the history of the region extensively. One day while chatting over coffee we decided to suggest to the editor of Les Heures Bleues to publish our vision of Old Montreal.
Our table top book, the Carnets …
A carnet is a French term with the dictionary equivalent of ‘notebook’ which in English carries the connotation of notes one writes in a blank or ruled book. However, in the book-publishing milieu the French term Carnets de … can include more than just written notes; it can also contain drawings, sketches, paintings and/or photos along with hand-written text. The closest English equivalent terminology I can think of is ‘A Picture and Word Journal’. Therefore, the Carnets … or Journal … as a tabletop book can present varied themes such as: Carnets du Cirque or Carnets d’automobile. The Carnets can illustrate a town, a region or a city such as: Carnets de Paris or Carnets de Montréal for example.
How the book is organized
The editor of Les Heures Bleues approved our project and determined the deadline. We organized the book as simulated walking tours which we called Randonnées. There are four of these: Place Vauquelin, Palais de Justice, Place d’Armes and Hors Circuit (sites outside Old Montreal boundaries). Between 144 pages there are 77 numerically identified historical stops with notes. Watercolors, drawings and text are pleasantly interwoven in a table top soft cover format.
A word about the watercolors and drawings
Almost all the watercolors in the book were painted on site. Sometimes I added color later. However, as the May 1st 2011 deadline approached, we noticed that I had not yet painted certain important scenes. I could not wait for warmer weather to do so comfortably, so I often donned gloves, tuque and warm boots and sketched outdoors between January and April. My water colors would have frozen had I added color outside so I sometimes found the closest coffee shop after having sketched to warm up and add the color. Although working on site is sometimes uncomfortable, both Yvon and I feel that there is no better way to capture the feeling and sense of a scene rather than using photo references exclusively.
The text and organization of the material
I cannot praise enough my friend Yvon’s organizational skills not to mention the countless hours he spent researching the history of Old Montreal while I amused myself drawing or painting in the Old Town – a much more pleasant task than his. He wrote all the text, combined these with the images and finalized the all the last minute details while I was vacationing in Europe in October. We hope you will enjoy touring Old Montreal through our artist’s eyes. We will be signing our book at the Salon du Livre in Place Bonaventure November 19th and 20th between 1pm and 3pm. The Montreal book show is on between the 16th and 21st.
Hoping to see you at the Salon,
Raynald Murphy and Yvon Masse
Note: To purchase a copy of the book click here or contact one of the authors.