The view from the Lost Gulch trail in Boulder, Colorado is quite dramatic. Way in the distance you can see the white peaks of the Rocky Mountains, appearing and disappearing in the clouds, and below that a series of hills getting darker and greener below me. I didn’t have much time up there — snowflakes were starting to fall — but I managed to grab a few minutes with brushes and paint to capture the drama.
It’s much too nice in Denver. Bright blue skies, trees leafing out, tulips in bloom, people eating at outdoor cafes and wearing shorts. That means it’s sketching outdoors weather. Except I’ve forgotten the accessories required for that, including bulldog clips for holding pages down in the wind. And a hat. It will take a bit of time to adjust to being outside. But all of that is really unimportant when you have a view of the big Colorado sky above the white-capped mountains. (Excuse the poor iPhone shot please.)
Spring hasn’t really arrived yet in Montreal but I know it will soon. That means it’s time to plan some summer sketching workshops.
For the summer of 2015, I will be trying something new. After several years of holding sketching workshops in urban locations (where we sometimes get stranded on the street during rain showers), I’ll be giving a workshop in a more rural setting that also includes hotel accommodations. That way, if the weather doesn’t cooperate we’ll have a choice of indoor locations and sheltered spots. The venue is the spectacular Le Château Montebello resort, situated midway between Montreal and Ottawa. To find out more or to register, email me at sblaukopf (at) gmail (dot) com.
My workshop is called Big Brush Colour: Capturing that first impression. The workshop details and registration info are all on the site and registration opens today!
There’s a retired man in my neighbourhood who is constantly shovelling the snow outside his house. His driveway is immaculate — even during a storm — because he’s always out there with a shovel. In spring I see him shovelling the snow off his lawn and carrying it onto the street. I, on the other hand, eagerly seek out these patches of snow on grass. I love how the remaining whites provide the lightest values in a sketch and in fact, I miss the snow when it’s all gone. You see, snow makes it easy when you are thinking in terms of lights, midtones and darks in a sketch, and even though I am looking forward to spring, I will miss the patches of white that help me compose the picture.
I don’t know Mario. He was sitting across from me at the doctor’s office this morning. I heard his name several times because he was having a little snooze while waiting to be called, which could explain why he was such a good model. What is the first line you make when you draw a face? For me today, it was the line of the chin. The way his head jutted out of his sweater seemed to define his slouched posture, so I started with that. Of course it is a bit strange to draw the face from the bottom up, but sometimes it just happens like that.
Yesterday it was so warm outside that my neighbour washed his car, kids were on bikes and except for the remaining really high snowbanks, there were patches of brown grass and even green shoots coming out of the ground. The streets were alive with activity. But then this morning we woke up to another snowstorm — the tail end of an even bigger system hitting the Maritimes. On the radio I heard a lot of griping about the never-ending winter. And it’s true, it has been long. But I chose to look at it as one last opportunity to paint snow. From my kitchen window I could see the clay pots under my oak tree. They had reappeared yesterday and disappeared again today. As I painted, the snow melted before my eyes so I’m glad I seized the moment.
It’s starting to look like spring on Mount Royal. I saw one runner, two cyclists, three spring skiers and four very fat raccoons (not counting the one who popped out of the trash and tried to scare me while I was paying for parking.) I think it won’t be long before the gloves come off and we can sketch outdoors again. If the forecast is right, the temperature will be in the double digits tomorrow in Montreal, and for the first time in quite a while, this will be on the positive side of the thermometer. It’s about time.