France Sketches: Abbaye de Chaalis

The Abbaye de Chaalis is a Cistercian monastery, the church of which is now in ruins. It must have been enormous, it had 25 chapels and in the abbey’s heyday of the 1300s the abbots were very successful indeed between the game in the woods and the fish in their many ponds. They also had the benefit of money being donated constantly by their local congregation! Now the grounds belong to France and you can visit the works of art–mostly Italian–and the abbot’s chapel with frescoes by Francesco Primaticcio. We got there at nightfall (before 5pm in winter, such a short day!) and I did a sketch of the chapel through the ruins of the church.

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Heart Attack

One week to the day after returning from a month-long trip to the west coast my fiancee suffered a heart attack. Luckily he was at work where many people were near and able to help him; not out on his own on a run, like I had suggested he take the night before. What followed was a series of events so large that my small, scattered brain is still trying to fully comprehend. By the time I dropped off our daughter with a friend and made it to the hospital, he had already come out of surgery that removed the block in the artery and placed a stint. He transferred to the ICU and was weak, but recovering, when I left again to take our daughter home to meet the babysitter…this is when inexplicably he went into cardiac arrest and needed resuscitation.

That night was the most scary, he had so much trouble breathing.

Feeling so much better the following day, he was able to sit up and take liquids. The next day he transferred to the recovery floor in Cardiology and was able to get stronger over two days. That’s when I was able to draw him, which was a welcome calm in the middle of a storm of stress, confusion, and activity.

He was fitted with an external defibrillator and was able to go home for real rest…he’s much stronger now but still needs to take it easy. A few weeks from now we’ll be able to get test results back that will tell us of his heart condition, cholesterol and artery health, and we can consider rehab and next steps.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement while we worked through this!


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France Sketches and Photos: Les Grandes Écuries and Potager des Princes

The Grandes Ecuries in Chantilly had a fantastic dressage demonstration. I’ve taken dressage lessons. It’s hard as heck, and that’s even when your horse is feeling compliant that day! Dressage horses take a good 6 years to train, and need to be mature before starting, so you really have to choose wisely. My sassypants 16-year-old Morgan mare improved from dressage training but it was safe to say we weren’t going to go much further than that.


Watching professionals–horse and human alike–is really spectacular.


The stables are lovely. The outdoor arena was spacious and the weather couldn’t be beat on that day.


The museum itself held many exhibits, one of which had caricatures of notable jockeys, trainers and owners.


And the Potager des Princes was the garden of the Duke of Chantilly. The gardens are beautiful as they are developing this museum; it’s especially geared towards children. Many breeds of rabbit were featured as prince food.


Commission for Karen

Karen contacted me for a very special Father’s Day commission for a trio of lovely individuals: her husband, son, and their beagle. Her son adores his daddy, and loves the romping outdoorsy aspect of summer. I think we have a farmer on our hands with his love for daddy’s ‘tractor’ (Lawnmower) and barns! I produced 3 roughs for Karen to choose from, below.

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She went with one of the more fantastical ones, much to my delight!


Here are a few close-ups:



Thank you, Karen! What a wonderful family you have!

2014 World Cup Sketches: Germany v. Ghana

Wow, after a super boring first half the second half was ON FIRE. I always cheer Germany, but Ghana wanted this and played a really good game. They wanted it bad–I was disappointed with how Germany played at first, none of the swift organized teamwork that I saw in 2010. It seemed like they were so non-athletic compared to Ghana. I loved the strut! You earned it, lads! That German keeper was ticked.


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2014 World Cup Sketches: France v. Honduras

Let’s all take a moment not to remember, or even think about, the train wreck that was France during World Cup 2010. Whew! A refreshingly good game from France yesterday, and the way Honduras is going they’ll have a full deck of yellow cards by the time they are eliminated! Such bruisers. Have fun watching from the sidelines, Palacios!


And let’s keep an eye on Benzema, France #10!