Last night at life drawing

My favourite sketch of last night’s life drawing session was when I got bored drawing the model and started drawing the other artists in the room. Aino was so focused on completing her oil portrait that she didn’t see me drawing her at all. It’s really fascinating to watch someone paint — something we almost never do since we are usually so focussed on the model ourselves. Aino leans in to see the details in the model’s face, then she makes a stroke or two. She changes the colour on her brush and leans in again to measure, to check, to compare. Two or three strokes go down and then the cycle repeats itself. The brushes in her hand are in constant motion. I found the process of drawing her much more interesting than drawing the model, perhaps because of the intensity of her focus compared with the passive pose of the model. Something to think about for next session.


Here are some of the drawings I did of our model Paul, before drawing Aino.




Positive negative

It just keeps on snowing in Montreal. The positive is that I keep on painting snow scenes. The negative is that I have to keep shovelling and cleaning it off my car.

Painting this scene was a positive/negative scenario too. I don’t use masking fluid so I had to paint around the snow on the foreground branches, leaving those bits of white paper which required some careful painting, stopping the background trees at strategic spots and then starting them again. Even though I don’t use frisket, I do sometimes add dabs of Titanium White watercolour at the end, which you might be able to spot. By the afternoon much of the snow on the road had melted so I’m glad I did this early in the morning. Hopefully I’ll be able to get another snow scene in tomorrow. Painted on Saunders Waterford, 15″x 11″.


Dog walk

I was out early this morning, sketching a snowy scene in Pointe Claire. I suspect that winter is not entirely over, but as it warms up the snow gradually gets dirtier and the sludge heaps that are left are not very pretty to paint. In the morning I share the street with the dog walkers who look at me suspiciously, parked in my car with a sketchbook resting on the steering wheel. What could I be recording at that hour of the morning, they wonder. Little do they know that it is them.


One Week 100 People: the final dozen

My total output of people drawings never even approached 50 this week. It’s midterm and there was just too much to do at school. But I was determined that today I would churn out a few sketches so I carried my sketchbook with me to the hair salon and followed that with a visit to McDonald’s.


My people sketches always tend to be a bit flat, like cartoon characters — the heads too small, not enough distance between eyes and ears — so my goal today was to capture volume.


The tools I am using are not very precise — a brush pen and a water brush which often releases too much water — but I like that. You can’t get too finicky with the brush which means you have to move on to the next sketch.


Today was the first day I felt like the drawing was loosening up, perhaps because it’s the end of the week and I’m more relaxed.


Most of the people at McDonald’s sit for a long time so I was able to draw a little bit slower than on other days. I kept on drawing even if I had a false start, like the sketch of the older gentleman with the baseball cap.


My favourites from the week are the last two because I feel I captured a bit of character as well as volume — the lady who was having lunch and listening intently to her daughter tell her that a woman seated behind was drawing her, and the older man who spent a good long time staring into space, just contemplating life.


I really believe in the process of constant practice with drawing, and like last year during this challenge, things do start to happen after a few dozen sketches. Have a look online (do a search using #oneweek100people2018) and see what other people have been sketching. You’ll see what I mean!

Interview in this issue of “The Art of Watercolour”

I’ve been buying the beautifully produced “The Art of Watercolour” magazine for many years on the newsstands, so when they contacted me a while back for an interview, it was quite a thrill. As always, this issue is packed with great articles. The print edition will be around until May, and it’s also available as a digital download. Many thanks to Caroline Duchesnes for this!Cover and page.jpg

OneWeek100People: Days 1 & 2

Yikes, I have a lot of catching up to do if I hope to get to 100 people by Friday. I guess I’m busier at school than I was last year.

I started off this challenge at Tim Horton’s on Monday morning and spent a bit of time drawing there. It didn’t go as well as planned because I left there without a free donut, but I did manage to sketch a few people.

What I love the most about this exercise is trying to develop the skill you need to capture people quickly. You never know when they are going to get up and leave, so I try to put in the big silhouettes first, and if they stick around I add details and tone. I should have been working in colour because the guy on the right was wearing a bright red shirt and a white and red striped tie.


I tried to draw the people waiting in line for coffee but the line moved quickly and I had to give up most of these part way through. But that’s the challenge, right?


Today I drew in the school cafeteria, where the students make great models. This time I used a water-soluble brush pen and a water brush. At the end of day two, I’ve sketched 14 people. See what I mean about catching up?


Sunday afternoon dog drawings

I thought I might do a detailed drawing of Alice chewing on a bone, but quickly realized that this would be more like the thirty second poses at the start a life drawing session. As soon as you draw the quick gesture, the model changes position.SundayDog1At some point Alice grew tired of the bone and got up, hoping for a walk. When I told her to sit back down, she grunted and turned her back to me. This was a good opportunity for me to practice foreshortening.
When the leash still did not materialize, she turned herself around, sat on the bone, and stared at me. By the time I got around to drawing her eyes, she was starting to nod off.
SundayDog3Her final act of defiance was to fall over and play dead. And then she got her walk. SundayDog4Sketched on Stillman & Birn Nova Series tan paper.