I sketched this on a break at school today. The shape of the cactus made of think of something and I just now realized what it was. It looks like a whole bunch of students waving their hands to give the teacher the right answer to a question.



I spent longer than expected at the garage waiting for a battery to be changed because the tow truck driver forgot to leave the car keys with the mechanic. That gave me some time to try out some washes on a new Fabriano sketchbook I bought recently. I’ve been using it for drawing mostly but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it takes washes beautifully. Why wouldn’t it? Fabriano has been in the paper-making business since the 13th century.

Gumball machine

Sunday noon

Some days just don’t work out as planned. Like today. It was a bit of a disaster. I wasn’t expecting to spend the day in the Laurentians, rescuing a stranded teenager with a dead car battery. But I grabbed my sketch stuff on the way out the door knowing that there would probably be some time to kill while waiting for the tow truck. The stranded car in question was parked in Gus’s lot so I got to sketch Gus’s truck. And what is Gus’s line of work? Post-disaster clean-up. How apt.

Gus's truck in St. Faustin

Saturday morning

This morning I headed out with the intention of doing some sketching in the Ste. Anne de Bellevue winter market. But when I parked my car facing this little house I changed my mind. Given the choice between indoors and outdoors I will always pick outdoors. That’s probably because what I like best about this process is thinking about colour and there’s always more variety outside. In fact, I realized today that as I am driving around I am constantly mixing colours in my head. The fence along the highway was alizarin crimson mixed with a bit of cobalt blue and this morning’s sky definitely had a hint of aureolin yellow near the horizon.

Saturday morning

Friday night

The first sketchbook that I used for this sketch blog project was the smallest watercolour Moleskine, the 3.5″ x 5.5″ one. What I loved about it in the beginning was the very wide or the very tall format that you had by using both the left and the right sides of the spread. Then as I gained confidence I graduated to the bigger Moleskine and I haven’t gone back to the little one for a long time. Until today. The other thing that I love about these books is the quality of the paper. They hold a lot of wash without warping and there is a velvety dryness about the paper that makes it a pleasure to paint on. Not to smooth and not too bumpy. Just right.

Friday night wine bottle

Chased by nuns

I wasn’t really chased by nuns but I thought I might be. That’s because this windmill is situated on the grounds of Notre-Dame-du-Vieux-Moulin convent and there are “No Parking” signs everywhere. And “No Trespassing” ones in front of the mill itself. I’ve painted this before from a distance but I really wanted to get close today. I did the drawing outside in the cold because my car was facing the wrong way and I didn’t want to break too many rules at the same time (parking where I shouldn’t be and facing the wrong way). So I stood in the cold and I haven’t done that since November. I kept glancing at the convent to see if the nuns were coming to chase me away but no luck. And if you click on the link above to see what the windmill looks like you may notice that I forgot to draw the little window over the red door.

Pointe Claire windmill

Against the fence

I went to school a little early today hoping to put in a little time painting before a meeting. I had it in my head to sketch one of the two cemeteries that are on either side of our building. The parking gods were in my favour because I found a spot facing in the right direction with Montreal in the distance. Painting the middle ground was a bit challenging though— the fence, the headstones and a messy tangle of branches growing against the fence.

Headstones against the fence

A true Canadian

I am a true Canadian. I know this because when I saw this retro CBC reporter bag I had to have it. I figured if it was roomy enough for reporters to carry around all their stuff, it would be perfect for all my sketching supplies. It’s made of thick canvas, has a padded shoulder strap and even has a stitched crown on it. Very fitting for our beloved crown corporation. And I was right. It is perfect for all my stuff. Except that I forgot my paints inside the bag and when it came time to put colour on this sketch I had to root around my studio for my other palette.

CBC bag

So bleak

Slushy. Drippy. Bleak.

A Montreal winter is so beautiful when the air is cold and the snow is pristine. But when it warms up, or worse, starts to rain, everything turns to mush. Today even the silos were dripping.

On a day like this it’s difficult to know what to paint. There’s an overall greyness to everything. No plays of light and shadow. And it’s hard to pick out details in the flatness. So it becomes more of a study in values, of finding the lights, the darks and the midtones.

Silos on a bleak day

Working with a model

Today I felt like an art student again. I went to the Sunday life drawing studio at Université de Québec and spent three hours drawing the model. Everything from 30 second to 20 minute poses. I managed to do a lot of drawings in charcoal and graphite but getting  those on the scanner is a bit of challenge. I would have had to scan them in about 10 sections each and then stitch them together in Photoshop. More time than I have to spend. Instead, here is a watercolour that I did during a fifteen minute pose.