Cornfields figure prominently in the movie “Looper” that I watched last night (and I promise that there are no spoilers in this post). People are always hiding in the cornfield (or it may be cane!), emerging from the cornfield, or travelling through time and reappearing at the edge of the cornfield. That is probably why I woke up this morning with a hankering to paint a cornfield. Fortunately there is a cornfield not too far from where I live so I didn’t have to do any time travel to get there.
I drew this a few weeks ago in my Laloran sketch book. I have lots of sketch books piled up on my desk but none have paper as beautiful as this.
This tree at the top of Mont Tremblant reminded me of many painted by the iconic Canadian painter Tom Thomson. At one point while I was sketching there was also a very unusual bird at the top of the tree — a tamer bird than I have ever seen in Montreal. From my research I think it was a gray jay, nicknamed “camp robber” because of its habit of stealing scraps from the campsites of canoeists and also known to take food right out of your hand!
I was on a school field trip to Mont Tremblant with some French exchange students today. We took the gondola to the top of the mountain to have lunch and three things happened.
1. I met Japanese tourists — many of them — who come to Canada to see the autumn colours (and they were quite outstanding today!).
2. I saw some folks with easels and paints getting off the gondola, one of whom looked surprisingly similar to my painting friend Helmut Langeder. When I went looking for them after lunch it turned out it was Helmut. How often does that happen? You meet someone you know at the top of a mountain.
3. I realized I don’t know how to draw panoramas and I should have taken the panorama workshop with Simo Capecchi in Santo Domingo!
This past week I have painted a number of small street scenes in my neighbourhood — scenes that would normally be quite dull in the middle of summer — but look quite amazing and different each day now that the leaves are starting to change. Not all the trees colour at the same time. The first seem to be the beech trees (at least I think they are beech), turning bright yellow and falling at the first gusts of autumn wind. They look spectacular against a dark blue sky. The next to turn are the maples. When the sun hits the orange/red fall foliage of the sugar maples it’s like they are on fire. And the last to turn in my yard is the mighty oak. Sometimes the leaves are still on when the snow starts to fall.
I tried some new paper today. This sketch was done on a block of Fabriano cold press paper, 5″ x 7″. Last week I tried the bigger hot press block which is great when you have lots of line work but I wanted a rougher paper that would carry a large wash. It is a beautiful paper, the colour is more saturated than on the hot press and I can still draw on it with a pen. I have also been trying out a new ink colour — instead of black I am trying grey in my pen. It’s a little darker than a pencil line but not as dark as the black.
When I was at Roxham Farm a few weeks ago I went looking for what I heard was the oldest maple tree in Quebec. Someone told me where it was (go right at the road, turn left into the woods, follow the path, etc…) but I never did find it. On the way there I saw this zigzag fence.
Montreal Urban Sketchers are tough — tough as nails. We had our first Sunday Sketching outing today at the Jean Talon Market and we FROZE. There was a cold wind blowing through the alleyways of the market — a wind that went right through sweaters, fleeces, vests and jackets. But our hardy group of nine sketched all morning and some even into the afternoon. The optimists among us were sure the day would warm up, the sensible ones found spots in the sun, and to prove how tough we Canadians really are we all ate our lunch outside on a picnic table instead of taking shelter in a warm café. The day never really did warm up but we were happy to be sketching together and in the end we all admitted that we were looking forward to next month’s INDOOR sketching location.
We had some much-needed rain in Montreal today. It was a good thing for the lawns and for me because I had a lot of things to catch up in my house. I only got out to sketch a quick one after it stopped.
I haven’t done anything in my tiny Moleskine in a long time. It was my constant companion when I started sketching almost a year ago. These days I have been working on bigger sheets, trying out new paper, working in different ways, so this was like a reunion with an old friend.
Open the book. Put down a few lines. Add a bit of colour. Done.