Montebello workshop: a short recap

I’ve just returned from hosting a three-day location sketching workshop in Montebello, Quebec. It’s the first time I’ve organized an event like this where everyone stays at the same hotel, sketches together all day and enjoys dinners after the workshop. I really enjoyed the experience of getting to know the participants (some have attended previous workshops and others were new) because instead of everyone going our separate ways in the evening, we had a chance to eat, talk and discuss the day’s painting.

RockPileMy idea for the three days was to spend one day painting landscape, one painting water (the grounds of the hotel are on the Ottawa River) and one doing a street scene. This demo of rocks and trees is from the first day, when we painted landscapes. On the second day the plan was to paint the waterfalls at Plaisance but in Quebec, in the summer, plans don’t always work out because the weather can alternate between downpour and torrential rain — and true to form, it did. Instead of painting inside the hotel, we grouped ourselves under the awnings of the outdoor terrace and painted looking out at the gazebo and the (sopping) hotel gardens. As you can see in the photos below, that day’s critique was held around the hotel’s iconic hexagonal fireplace. The (sunny) final day was spent drawing the little houses along the main street in the village of Montebello. A great group of experienced artists made the teaching really fun, and it’s certainly a format I’d like to repeat (minus the rain!).


Picnic Vernissage

I’m really thrilled to be part of the City of Pointe Claire’s Picnic Vernissage this Sunday, July 5. In collaboration with the Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Urban Sketchers Montreal will host a sketching day on the grounds of Stewart Hall Park starting at 10 am and everyone is invited to sketch with us. At the end of the day we’ll exhibit our sketches from the day in the gallery.

At the same time, starting at 2 pm, we’ll have the opening of the exhibit “A Sketch in Time”. Along with Jane Hannah and Marc Taro Holmes, I’ll be exhibiting sketches and sketchbooks in the Project Room of the Gallery.

The weather for Sunday is looking great — warm and sunny — so I hope to see you there. There will even be live music and ice cream from noon onwards!


Water line

How much can you achieve with one wash of colour? In this ink and wash sketch, I wanted to convey the image of the pole, ladder and granite blocks that are pale at the top but dark and moss-covered at the bottom where the tide waters go up and down each day. I started with an ink drawing and then painted with a wash that was quite light at the top. As I painted downward I kept adding paint into the lower wet area— blue, green and rust all combined to give that mossy effect. When that initial wash dried, I painted the cast shadows and a bit more texture on the upper rocks. The little darks between the rocks were the final step. I suppose I could have painted it rock by rock but I wanted it to look like my sheet had been dipped in dark water — more like the pole and the ladder had been— and this seemed like more of an effective way to do it. Sketched in a Travelogue Watercolor Journal, 5″ x 8″.


Sirop d’érable

On this really cold and rainy day at the end of June it warmed my heart to see how many people came out to Urban Sketchers Montreal Sunday sketching. Truthfully, I wondered if anyone would show up in such miserable weather but there were at least a dozen of us diehards (parkas and scarves and rubber boots on) and even some new faces. Even though we were sheltered from the rain at the Jean Talon Market, it was still mighty blustery. This coming September will be the third anniversary for our Montreal group and it’s great to see that it’s still growing.



There’s nothing more vibrant than a field of canola in bloom. I was visiting a friend who moved to a house in an agricultural area and this is what I could see from her back deck. If I lived there, I’d paint that view and the vast sky just about every day. This was sketched on some Canson paper left over from my Craftsy course preparation — long strips of paper that are perfect for little landscapes.


Martin 16

I had a little time today to take some shots of work in progress that I will be using for my workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore. The workshop is called “Big Brush Colour: capturing that first impression” and this was a perfect example of what we will be working on in the class.

When I arrived at the Pointe Claire Yacht Club this morning, the instructors were setting up the Martin 16 sailboats. These boats are built to allow children and adults with disabilities to sail (and leave their wheelchairs behind). I did a quick pencil drawing because I knew the boats might sail away at any moment. The first wash that I put on surrounded all the white sails, and as you can see, it’s pretty loose at this stage.

Martin16_Step1 In the second step, I started to add the shapes of the darks (the row of trees behind the boats, the darks under the docks and some of the reflections.Martin16_Step2 I was pretty fortunate that the boats stayed there for a long time so I was able to put in some detail. The colour may be slightly different since the final painting is scanned — not photographed in the field like the earlier phases. And how did I know when it was time to stop? When I glanced up and the boats had sailed away.Martin16_Step3

Gloucester Harbour

Can you understand why I love the harbour scenes in Gloucester? It’s this contrast of big shapes and small ones, lights and darks, straight lines and curves that make it so fascinating and so much fun to paint. I worked on this by starting with the big shapes of the sky, the buildings, the boats and the water. Then I added the details like the reflections, the dark shapes between the pilings, the windows and the shadows. Good thing I started with those big shapes because when I was about halfway through a huge fishing boat pulled in to unload and blocked about 3/4 of my view. I was able to complete the details mostly from memory and partially from the bit of the scene that I could still see. Painted on Arches 140 lb CP paper, 15″ x 11″.



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