Square one

Today on my between classes break I sat on a bench outside my school, hoping to find some unsuspecting student to draw. (Unsuspecting is always better  because most students walk away if they realize they are being drawn.) By the time I got out my pencil and sketchbook and looked up, I realized someone was drawing me. He saw that I was also drawing and we gave each other a nod of acknowledgement. Eventually he came over and we compared sketchbooks. Aaron (in the drawing at top) is a Communications student at my school and he was practicing quick gesture drawing, timing himself at 30-second intervals with his phone. It was great to compare notes, and have a chat about our Urban Sketchers group, which he hopes to join. When it was time for him to get back to class I continued to draw.

Why is it that drawing people never gets any easier? Every time I have a long break from figure drawing, it feels as if this is the first person I have ever drawn. Today it did get a bit easier the more I practiced (if you go from the first to the third drawing you can see that the lines are smoother and more confident) but boy does that figure drawing hand (or it is the eyes?) get rusty.

SquareOne1

SquareOne2

SquareOne3


The Village

This week I’ve been sketching in an A4 Moleskine, the big horizontal book with the old paper that I liked so much when I started to sketch (not the newer Art Plus version). I bought this book many months ago, but because it’s quite expensive (in Canada at least) I think I’ve been saving it for something special. That seems a bit silly to me now so I threw it in my bag at the beginning of the week and have been using it every day. It’s a bit like rediscovering an old friend and I’m happy to get reacquainted.

TheVillage


Market break

This semester I find myself with a long midday break in my Friday teaching schedule. That means one thing. I have time to get to the Jean Talon Market to sketch! What a great time of year to revisit my favourite Montreal sketching place after a long absence. Abundance is the first word that comes to mind. Overgrown zucchini, boxes of fat tomatoes, the first shiny apples, blueberries ready for jam… it was hard to decide what to sketch. In the end it was determined by what I could see from a spot at the picnic tables where I had a view on all the comings and goings and a place for my coffee as well as my paints.

MarketBreak


Art by the lake

If you live in or near Montreal, I hope you’ll be able to join me next weekend (September 6 & 7) at Art by the Lake, the annual outdoor show of the Lakeshore Association of Artists. It’s at quite an amazing location — 50 artists set up on the lakeside grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe Claire — and a wonderful way to spend an early September afternoon.

This will be my second year taking part in the show and hopefully this year will be easier than last when the wind blowing off the lake was fierce. It took all my strength to keep my canopy from flying away and knocking down all my paintings in the process. As with all the shows that the LAA puts on, a portion of the proceeds will go to a worthy cause — in this case a scholarship for a  John Abbott College art student. The show runs from 10 am to 5 pm on both days so please come out to say hello and see all the wonderful artists in our group.

BoatsBytheLake


Garlic ‘n lime

In today’s sketch I used a technique I practice often in landscape painting but not too frequently when I paint a still life. My first wash (the warmish one) covers everything except the white areas that I want to save. The subsequent layers of paint, applied in glazes, are used to build up the mid-tones and darks. The hope, of course, is that that first warm wash will unify the sketch and that the garlic and lime will flavour a Mexican meal.

GarlicnLime


Dog Day afternoon

On my drive home from work I heard on the radio that today is International Dog Day. I celebrated the event by taking my dog for a walk and then sketching her. As you can see it took her a while to get comfortable.

DogDayAfternoon


Back to school sunflowers

It was a bit of a shock to get back to school today, both for me and for the students. It’s one of the nicest days of the summer and I think we were all in a bit of a daze to be back in the classroom. The start of the school year also marks the end of being able to work on large paintings, at least until the weekend. I took my sketchbook out to paint some sunflowers and ended up painting them two ways.

SunflowersA

The first sketch was in my regular sketchbook. I quickly realized two things. 1: Sunflowers are hard to paint because the dark centres create a hole in the composition. 2. I have been spoiled by working on good watercolour paper for the last month or so and now it’s very difficult to go back to working in a book.SunflowersBThat led me to redo the sunflowers. 1. I wanted to solve the problem of the dark centres. 2. I needed to work on some good paper.

I moved to another room (so as not to have the flowers in front of me) and started again. From my sketch I did a simpler sketch and this time instead of the having the centre of the flower as the darkest shape, I added an even darker area behind the flowers. I think that solved the problem of the hole. I also tried to keep the yellow of the flowers as a more unified and simpler shape. These are sunflowers, after all, and their essence seems to have gotten lost in the first sketch.

 


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