Miami Beach & New Years wishes

Happy New Year and a healthy 2012 to everyone!

I just returned from a week in Miami Beach and have some new sketches to post. It was great to be drawing outside instead of in my car! I could actually move my elbows while painting. But I forgot how everything dries so fast in the heat. If you put a clear wash down and then expect to drop colour into it, forget it! The wash is dry before you can get the colour on your brush. Plus I had to mostly put away the cool blues in my palette and use the warm ones. So I used up lots of cerulean and manganese but not so much cobalt or ultramarine. Except in these beach umbrellas…

Umbrellas on Miami Beach

Cape Cod

It’s fun to revisit some of my older sketches because of the summer heat I feel when looking at them. Most of my recent work has been done on cold days, shivering in my car and mixing up washes of assorted grays. When I look at this I remember the smell of the wild roses on the path leading to the beach.

Cape Cod

Big Sur

One of my first watercolour teachers was Ed Whitney. He was 95 years old when I studied with him (as did many American watercolourists). He taught me so much about the design and composition of a painting. One of his ideas that stayed with me is to create unity in a composition through repetition and by using variety in shapes. The words he kept repeating were “a mama, a papa and a baby shape”. Sounds pretty hokey to me now but I never forgot it.

Big Sur

The studio

I have a lot of things in my studio that I don’t use much anymore. Especially felt markers. When I studied graphic design in university we drew everything first with our markers. We had one of every colour and several for skin tones. Many shades of gray too. Of course now we do everything on computer so these markers are pretty much obsolete. But they still work and I can’t bear to throw them out.

My studio


Here’s another one from an older sketchbook, done on a trip to Prince Edward Island. Beautiful red cliffs on a very windy day.

Malpeque, Prince Edward Island

From the farm

Here is another one from an older favourite sketchbook. Recently I have been working in a Moleskine watercolour pad but this was done in a Holbein drawing pad — a beautiful spiral book that ties with a ribbon. There’s something wonderful about finishing a sketch and making a bow to close the book. Before I discovered the Moleskines these were my very favourites because they take washes beautifully without warping and you can also draw in them (the paper is much smoother than a regular watercolour paper).From the farm

Crane Beach

I thought that during this busy holiday season I would upload some old favorites, since I may not be able to post any new sketches this week. This was done overlooking Crane Beach in Barbados. The waves were really wild that day…

Crane Beach, Barbados