A Trip to the Art Store

New Watercolors.jpg

Here’s something to be proud of: I went outside for the simple pleasure of it yesterday. That’s probably not such big news for many of you, but my regular readers know that to me any outing is was an eventful outing. Originally, I wanted to go outside to make my parents happy. They both made not so veiled suggestion in my comment box this week, and I knew they had a point. On that day it was -16ºC (3.2ºF), so I decided to wait for more clement weather. The forecasting for this weekend was promising: sunny with temperatures around -5ºC (25ºF) that was my window of opportunity to get some fresh air right there.

The day went by very quickly yesterday and before I knew it, it was already well past three, and I’d still not gotten out. I needed to make some sort of plan and get out there ASAP. Typically for me, I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to do. I had in mind walking over to a lovely little park nearby. It has a massive water-fountain and I’d been wanting to photograph it for some time, and thought it would be interesting to capture it during different seasons. But then I also wanted to pick up some watercolours at the art store. I had to choose since the park and the shopping were in opposite directions and there wasn’t enough time to do both. Simple decisions like that can be agonizing to make for me. I’ve opted to stay at home over much less than that.

At that moment, I remembered my dream about Butterfly Boy and the 7 Year-Old Teenager which was clearly a reminder that I need to pay more attention to my inner child. So I thought I’d try something new and ask her what she wanted to do. “Both.” she said without hesitation “I want to go to the park AND the art store”. “But we can’t do both” I answered “they’re in opposite directions”. She started sulking immediately.

I thought: if I was a parent — a fun and loving parent — how would I deal with this difficult child? As it was, I was ambivalent about going to the art store. Normally I love going to art stores, but the only store in my vicinity is located inside a mall in the busiest part of the city. They were sure to carry everything we needed and then some, but I didn’t have the courage to face the crowds and the lighting and the music and the bad service not to mention infinite possibilities for spending too much money. And then I remembered a small mom and pop shop which is only 20 minutes from here on foot. If I took the camera with me, I would also have plenty of time to take some photos of one of my favorite streets along the way.

La rue Souvenir (Remembrance Street) is one of those little harbors of peace, a dead-end tucked away between a highway, two major arteries and church grounds. It’s mostly walk-up grey-stones of the sort you find all over this city. But there are also majestic trees and that certain je ne sais quoi… and for some reason I always feel like I’m a visitor in my own city when I take a stroll there. I checked with the kid and she was into that plan too. I put on one of my new pairs of “fat” jeans which actually have a cool design, and I decided that for now, I carry the weight nicely. A spritz of my favorite scent, Eau des Merveilles by Hermes and we were off, the kid and I.

There was nary a cloud in the sky, which was a marvelously saturated blue. It was still cold, but the sun warmed my back as I snapped away to my heart’s content on rue Souvenir. I recalled the children’s hospital just one street up. I’d been wanting to photograph those buildings, but mostly the chimney, which is enormous and on a clear day sends billowing white smoke. I finally got to snap quite a few shots there. When I got to St-Catherine street, our main commercial artery, I felt inspired to take my camera out again to snap something of interest. I normally hesitate to pull out my camera on busy streets and St-Catherine isn’t what you’d call photogenic, but I went for it anyway. What struck me was that people seem to go out of their way to avoid looking at each other in this city, but as soon as I had my camera out, I noticed that a few people smiled shyly at me, which was a nice change.

By the time I arrived at British Blue Print Art Supplies, I was in quite a good mood. How to describe that store? For starters, it hadn’t changed at all since last I’d been there, which was about 15 years ago. The first impression upon entering the store is that it’s so cramped with piles upon piles of things balancing precariously all over the place, that it seems unlikely that one would find anything at all, were one to have to funny notion of walking in with a specific idea of what one wanted to purchase. But the employee who greeted me seemed kind and understanding, and when I told him what I was looking for, instead of waving me in a general direction, he took his time to show me the variety or watercolors and patiently unwrapped packages at my request so I could see the colours. You would have thought I was buying a car with all the questions I was asking, but none of that seemed to phase him in the least. I doubt I would have gotten this kind of service at the megastore.

Of course I couldn’t limit myself to just the watercolors, which are good quality professional grade. I got watercolor pencils too and picked up a few good quality brushes, and a watercolor paper pad. Luckily for me, British Blue Print closes early, which helped contain my little shopping frenzy, otherwise I simply would not have stopped and very likely would have ended up outfitting myself in oil paints as well.

Pic by Smiler

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