Sketching greens in Savannah

Savannah had a bit of a slow start today. Seems like most of the city was still asleep when I went out sketching this morning, no doubt recovering from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which happened on Saturday. Around noon I started to see a bit of foot traffic walking through Columbia Square where I sitting, people still wearing green wigs and beaded necklaces, but probably looking a little less fresh than yesterday.

I’m here this week to give a workshop at the Telfair Museums called “Sketching Savannah’s Historic Squares”. This is my third time in the city, but first time teaching here. So excited to have the opportunity to do this in a city that is made for sketching. I would love to be able to sketch all 22 historic squares but that is a bit ambitious for a workshop week. In fact, if you want to do justice to these beautiful urban spaces you would have to sketch each of them from four sides because most of them have a beautiful central feature like a statue or a fountain, and are always flanked by architecturally amazing houses or churches. I’d have to stay here for a month or two to complete all 88 views!

Twenty minutes at the mall

It’s been ages since I sketched people, and since the third annual “One Week 100 people” event is coming up in April, I decided to go out to do some quick people sketching this afternoon. Equipped with my 3.5″ x 5″ Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, a pencil, and a small watercolour kit, I headed to the mall, and for the price of a Perrier, I spent about 20 minutes sketching from a little café. The sketches are mostly of people walking by, but also some on a bench across the way, and one quick portrait of a man in the café who nodded his acknowledgement when I asked if I could draw him.

One of the things I like the most about this annual event — besides the fact that it forces me to draw lots of people — is that it gets me out of my usual drawing spots (my house and car) and puts me in the midst of moving bodies. I love the social aspect of it too, because over the years I’ve learned that most people don’t mind being sketched. I often show them what I’m doing and that starts a conversation. It’s rare to find an unwilling participant when I tell them what I am working towards.

If you want to get more people drawing practice, and are planning on attending the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam this summer, you might want to register for a one-day pre-symposium event called “People Mania: Draw at the Beach” with Marina Grechanik and Suhita Shirodkar. Both of these sketchers make people drawing look easy, and I think it’s going to be a really fun event.

Limited palettes, for today and for Chicago

I’m very excited to be returning to Chicago this spring to teach at the Chicago Sketch Seminar. If you don’t know much about this event, the organizers call it a Symposium-like experience but on a much smaller scale. This year there will be 18 workshops, designed for all levels of sketchers — beginner to advanced — and the home base for the three-day event is the American Academy of Art on Michigan Avenue.

My workshop is called “Bare Bones: Exploring Limited Palettes in Watercolour“. It’s a workshop that I first taught at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, UK, in 2016. This time we’ll be exploring new ways of working with colour, with the beautiful skyline of Chicago as inspiration. Dates of the Seminar are May 31-June 2, 2019, and registration opens this Saturday, March 16 at 10 am CST.

With limited palettes on my mind, I went out sketching in Pointe Claire Village today. The warmer weather is on the way and the snow is melting quickly. I wanted to sketch the watery reflections of the traffic signs in the wet street but a car parked in front of me after my drawing was done so much the colour was done from memory. Limited palette was Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Quin Rose and Quin Gold.

Winter golf

This week I’m trying out some new sketchbook paper. I bought a pad of Aquabee Super Deluxe Mixed Media paper, and took it with me for a bit of car sketching at the Beaconsfield Golf Course. I love this rock formation in winter when it’s partially covered by snow, especially on a sunny afternoon.

The pad I bought is quite large — 11″ x 15″ — but the paper is heavyweight and advertised as good for light washes. It does buckle a bit but it takes colour well, and it has a very good surface for pen or pencil. Plus I just discovered that the paper has two distinct surfaces. From the company’s website: The top side of the sheet has tooth for dry media and works well as a cold pressed watercolor sheet. The flip side has the opposite effect and mimics hot pressed sheets for watercolour and other mixed media.  I haven’t tried the hot pressed side yet but that will be next.

All in one

After I posted a few images from yesterday’s vernissage at Galerie Carlos, my friend Suhita commented: Shari, I know you’ve posted these paintings along the way on the blog, but it would be so lovely to post them in one blogpost, so those of us that can’t come see the show in person can still look at it all together and pretend we’re there. So here you go, Suhita. The whole lot of them, including the last two which don’t really fit the theme of Montreal winter scenes but are in there anyway because I like them.

Villeray sous la pluie, watercolour, 15″ x 11″
Rue Lakeshore, watercolour, 15″ x 11″
William and Ottawa, watercolour, 22″ x 15″
Griffintown, watercolour, 22″ x 15″
Carre St. Louis, watercolour, 22″ x 15″
Brothers, watercolour, 22″ x 15″
Corner Pizza, watercolour, 20″ x 16″
One way street, watercolour, 20″ x 16″
San Pietro, watercolour, 22″ x 15″
Marche Raphael, watercolour, 20″ x 16″
Blue and Rust, watercolour, 20″ x 16″
Yesterday’s Boats, watercolour, 20″ x 16″

Vernissage photos

I thought I’d share some photos of this afternoon’s vernissage at Galerie Carlos. I’ve been working on this series of paintings — mostly half-sheet watercolours of Montreal winter scenes — for the past few months, so it was exciting to see the work finally come together all in one place. The gallery is situated in the cafeteria of the Old Brewery Mission, in a really bright space with a long brick wall — kind of an ideal backdrop for scenes which so often feature this city’s red brick buildings. I had lots of help putting this together today — people pitched in to put up the paintings, attached the tags, baked cookies and just came to see the work and say hi. If you were part of that, thanks for making it an amazing experience.

Photos courtesy of Sue Porter.

Sunday sketching in Valois

Ah, can you hear that sigh of relief? It’s finally warm enough to sketch in my car again without turning into a block of ice. I set out this morning for Valois Village, and by the time I got there it was almost warm enough to crack open the car window a bit.

Laviolette is a popular corner store that’s instantly recognizable to people who know Valois well. I chose it because it’s the most colourful thing I could find in the neighbourhood. March days can be grey, even when the sun is out. There’s no sign of life in the trees and the snow that’s still on the ground is pretty dirty, so any bit of colour helps liven up a sketch. And of course if there are a few utility poles and wires in the scene, I’m a happy sketcher.