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.


In the distance

Last time I went to the farm at Macdonald College I noticed the silhouette of John Abbott College in the distance across the frozen cornfield. So I went back there today but I had the sun in my eyes. And it was really hard to keep my feet warm. The cold wind blows right across those fields and right through my car.

In the distance, Ste. Anne de Bellevue

Back to school boots

This was back-to-school week for me. That means I sometimes can’t get outside during daylight hours to do my daily sketch : (

I have to admit that I’m a little bit addicted to painting outdoors now, even though the cold sometimes defeats me. But I love the changing light and shadow. And listening to music on my car radio. So I was a little bit depressed today at being stuck indoors but I did manage to find a bit of time on a break between classes. These beautiful red boots belong to Jocelyne, my office partner. I hope she doesn’t mind that I painted them.

Red boots

Some people

Some people are so neat. And prompt. And organized.

We had a big wind storm on Tuesday in Montreal. It blew down a lot of branches and the howling kept me up half the night. Now my backyard is a mess. And it probably will be until spring. But I noticed last night while walking my dog that this fastidious neighbour had picked up all his branches and bundled them soooooo neatly for the garbage collection. A by-the-rules kinda guy.

On another note, I want to mention that the cold won today. It forced me indoors to finish my sketch. I guess my car didn’t have enough time to warm up since I was sitting around the corner from my house. At one point I noticed that my paint was acting kind of weird and then I realized why. There were ice crystals on my brush. And the wash puddles on my palette were frozen. Time to pack up and move inside.

Branches from the storm

The old cattle barn

This is the century-old cattle barn at Macdonald College and this venue is definitely my new favourite place to paint. Facing this building is the new cattle barn and outside of that there are cows! So as soon as it warms up a bit and I can emerge from my car, I will be sketching those cows. There’s also a swine barn and a poultry complex (which I painted a few days ago) and even a farm equipment museum. So maybe I’ll even get to draw some pigs and chickens.

Old Barn, Macdonald College, McGill University