Boats, in particular sailboats, are so complex and beautiful to draw. They aren’t out on the lake yet around Montreal but that will come soon. In the meantime I have been driving along the lakeshore looking for some boats in dry dock. They always seem to be hidden behind fences and swathed in canvas, great hulking shapes waiting to be uncovered. Today I ventured further east and in Dorval I lucked upon a yacht club that was abuzz with activity and I even found a few unwrapped treasures.
There are many beautiful buildings surrounding the Vanier College campus in Montreal but I can never get a good view of them from my car. Today the sun was out and even though it was still quite cold, I ventured out to a picnic table and drew until my fingers were numb. I think that by next week it should be warm enough for me to take out my paints!
Thanks to everyone who commented or emailed me about yesterday’s post. I learned from all my reputable sources that the mystery architectural feature is called a pinnacle in gothic architecture. I almost feel that I should be offering a prize for the right answer like they do on the radio.
This is a call for you architects out there who look at this blog.
What is the feature in the middle of this sketch called?
I chose this vantage point because I liked the negative shape between the chimney, the ???????? and the looming steeple. But when I started to write today I realized I didn’t know what it was called. A spire? I’m sure it has a more interesting architectural name than spire. So please enlighten me.
Griffintown was named for Mary Griffin who subdivided the land in the area and planned out the street grid in 1804. At one time there were over 30,000 immigrants living there. Landlords destroyed most of the original row houses when the area was re-zoned for a highway but if you drive around a bit you can still find some of the old structures.
There’s not usually much going on in my suburban neighbourhood but I noticed on my way home from school today that they were clearing an empty lot to make room, I suppose, for new house construction. It was a crazy, messy scene and that is what attracted me. So I did a crazy, messy sketch.
I always tend to use the same colours for my mixes but lately I have been trying to change things a bit. My usual mix for grey is ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. But yesterday I did some experimentation and tried combining sap green and cadmium red. That made a gorgeous greenish grey. I also tried ultramarine and cadmium orange and that gave me a grey with lots of beautiful blue sediment in it. So today I just had to go back to my favourite farm at McGill’s Macdonald Campus. I knew I would find some great stone walls to try out my new mixes.
Griffintown, formerly the home of many of Montreal’s Irish immigrants, now a hub of urban development and renewal. In the 1960s large parts of the neighbourhood were demolished to make room for an expressway that ended up separating the area from downtown Montreal. Sadly very few of the original buildings remain. While I sketched endless numbers of fancy cars drove by, no doubt scouting out the best investments in condo real estate.
I am almost certain that a reflective black surface (my kitchen counter!) is the hardest thing to capture in paint. I so often put things down on it and then change my mind because it is just too shiny and too dark. But this morning after my coffee I got up the courage to tackle it, maybe because there were so many objects on top of it. And also because I read something yesterday in my Charles Reid watercolour book. “…the temptation is to paint it as dark as it actually is. But very dark values should be treated with great respect and should rarely be made as dark as they seem.”
This isn’t New Year’s but if it was I would make a resolution: to paint more people. It’s not something I get a chance to do often but it will be my challenge for 2012. Portraits in watercolour are so difficult and there’s not much chance to fix mistakes once the paint is on the paper. But here it is, the start of my New Year’s resolution.
After three days in the house I was really itching to get out to paint. This little project of a sketch a day has become quite an obsession, an addiction almost. And even though I didn’t have much time on my way to school today I did have to stop in my favourite spot in Pointe Claire for a little look up — at the sky, the bell and the beautiful steeple of St. Joachim. It was an immediate cure.