There was a blob of leftover paint (Cobalt Violet) on my palette from yesterday’s crocuses which got mixed into today’s wash for cast shadows and again to darken the sides of the tangerine that were facing away from the light. I can see why artists might like this pigment. The properties that I find so odd (pale, pasty, gummy), if used at the right time, can work to your advantage. For example, when painting yellow in shadow I always darken the paint with its complement, which is purple. Usually I use the tiniest dot of Thalo Purple, but since that’s such a strong colour you have to be very careful not to add too much. Instead it might be worth it to experiment with this Cobalt Violet which I am fairly certain would not overpower the yellow. I think it will take a few more trials though, before I decide if this will be a permanent addition to my palette.
Cobalt Violet is a new addition to my palette but one that I am not quite used to. It has a very strange consistency. More like a paste than a paint. I mixed it with Cobalt Blue to get the crocus colour, and that worked out well but I can’t think of another pigment that has the same properties as this. It’s a beautiful colour and one that I could quickly get accustomed to for shadow mixes. If you use it, I’d like to hear if you have had the same experience as me. The brand is Winsor & Newton.
When I’m sketching in an industrial area I’m a bit reluctant to get out of my car, especially on a quiet Sunday when no one is around, so today I painted in my car. I don’t remember exactly how this happened but at one point my car started to roll forward into a ditch. With paintbrush in hand and watercolour block on my lap, I had a moment of panic. But reflexes kicked in and I dropped the brush, grabbed the hand brake and stopped the roll before the point of no return.
A few days ago someone sent me a link to a really informative comparison of drawing pens by illustrator H Locke on the Jackson’s art supply site in the UK. If you love trying out different types of pens you might find this interesting too. It also reminded me that I haven’t used my Pentel Brush pen in some time (that’s one of the pens that was tested) so I used it today (along with a Pitt Artist Pen) when I had a bit of spare time at the museum just before they politely asked me to leave at closing time. There’s a great view and a comfortable bench facing the backs of the buildings on Sherbrooke Street.
People always ask me how I find the time to do a sketch every day. Sometimes I take a lot of time to complete a painting (or ruin several before I post anything!) and other days I just spend a few minutes doing something quick, like a pencil sketch of my dog. There are also days when I stop what I am doing for a time (like garden cleanup today) and draw my activity. What’s important for me is that I draw everyday. In a great online interview with my friend Marc Holmes he says basically the same thing. He keeps a sketchbook in his bag and draws wherever he is. I guess for both of us the advice is the same. Just get out there and draw!
This was a weird experiment to see if I could make a painting from two types of solid forms whose natures are so inherently different — hunks of crystal ice blocks and massive rocks. Transparent versus opaque. Dark versus light. Cool versus warm. I painted this on location, in full sun, which is not ideal but since this phenomena may not occur again any time soon I had to get out there and attack it. Painted on Arches Rough 140 lb paper, 11″ x 15″.
Two days ago I was looking for a good location to sketch the cracking ice on Lac St. Louis but when I got down to the shore, to my great disappointment, it was all gone. Today a friend emailed me a few photos of where the ice had ended up, so I made my way there this afternoon. I don’t know if this happens every year or if this was a freak occurrence, but for a good distance the ice was piled up along the waterfront in Dorval and people were gathering to take photos or just to gawk. With some of the chunks at least a foot thick and four feet across, I can only imagine what the sound must have been when this happened. I found a bench to set up on because there was no place close by to park and sketch from the shelter of my car, but with the wind blowing icy gusts on my palette (and my face) I had to pack up after about 30 minutes and finish the last details in the warmth of my house. I have never sketched outdoors in a colder situation than this, but I have also never sketched a scene as brilliantly gorgeous as this either.
Alice is the perfect model. She holds her pose for a long time, her hourly rate is quite reasonable and she needs no breaks for food or a smoke.
With the warm weather today, I thought it might be a good time to try out my new plein air easel (shown below). I went down to the lake hoping to see the ice starting to crack, but with the sudden heat it was almost all gone! I found a bit of it trapped in between the docks at the yacht club but even in the short time that I was painting the mini-icebergs were starting to sink. The easel is one I’ve been coveting for a long time. It’s the Eric Michaels Plein Air Pro, purchased in advance of my workshops out west. It’s light, fits into a carry on/backpack and takes about 8 seconds to set up.
My intent was to take some photos at the opening of the LAA group show on Friday night but it was pretty busy and I never got around to it. Instead I did a sketch of the venue today. Fritz Farm is a great old house, built in 1910, and perfect for the exhibition. As I was sketching it, it occurred to me that this was the first time in five months that I’ve painted bare ground. Except for a few patches in shady spots, the snow is mostly gone, and with a weather forecast of 24°C tomorrow, that might be it until next year.