51 minutes 15 seconds

My car radio is a great companion every day when I paint. Today I listened to Glenn Gould play all of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, all 51 minutes and 15 seconds of it. This was some kind of Leap Day treat by the radio host but I’m not really sure why because neither Gould nor Bach were born on February 29.

And although I have listened to this music many times I never realized how much Glenn Gould hummed while he was playing. I kept looking behind me to see who was in the back seat until I realized it was the pianist himself. You can listen to an excerpt here.

In the back of the Pionneer

Snowplow break

The snowplows were having a day off today. No more snow to eat up on the road so they are waiting until tomorrow when more of the white stuff will fall.

Snowplows during lunch hour


St. Paul and St. Pierre

I was parked at the corner of St. Paul and St. Pierre streets in Ste. Anne de Bellevue (we have lots of saints in Quebec), happily starting this sketch, when I heard the squeal of brakes and frantic honking behind me. I was blocking the way for a school bus driver who was trying to turn the corner. So I threw my sketchbook across the car seat and in my rush to make way for the bus, my palette and sketchbook flew to the floor. Once the bus went by I circled the block and came right back to my spot, picked my stuff up off the floor of the car, and started again.

The corner of St. Pierre and St. Paul streets

Snow cones

I went back to my neighbourhood demolition site today thinking that it would be quiet on a Sunday morning and I could get a good view of the heavy equipment and the dumpster. But this has to be the busiest strip mall in town. The parking lot quickly filled up and at least four different cars blocked my view of the snow cones at one time or another.

Snow cones and dumpster

Heavy with snow

There are some new paint additions to my travel palette this week. And they have wonderful names like New Gamboge and Aureolin. I ordered some half pans from Daniel Smith and I was able to add eight new colours in the spot where I used to carry my travel brush. I haven’t been happy with the colours that I added in December, especially the yellows. The lemon yellow and cadmium yellow are too opaque, almost like gouache, and not at all good for mixes. But with the addition of some beautiful transparent yellows like the two above, I should be ready for spring.

Heavy with snow


There’s a big snowstorm in Montreal today. I painted this from my office window during my lunch hour. A few hours later when I was getting ready to leave for the day I couldn’t even see those apartment buildings in the distance.


Against the wall

The difficulty is in the simplicity. I heard that on the radio today used in reference to music. A musician may spend years practising a piece in order to make it sound effortless. The same is true of watercolour. You want to put the colour down cleanly the first time, hitting all the right notes of colour and value when your brush touches the paper because you can never get the white back after it’s been touched by paint.

In back of Clyde's


They were knocking down a building at a strip mall near my house today. It’s amazing how many people love to watch demolition. Car after car stopped nearby, people got out and watched for a while, and in the time I did this sketch a whole building disappeared.



I admire the artists who leave large areas of a painting unfinished, allowing the viewer to imagine what they might look like. My tendency is to colour in all the areas with the paintbrush, just like in kindergarten. But that can sometimes be boring, especially when the subject is very linear, like these railings or the stones on the building. This is my attempt at getting away from painting between the lines, at least in some areas.



Through to the sky

This little old farmhouse has a roof that looks like it might collapse at any time so I figured that now would be a good time to capture it. In fact there is already a big hole in it and I like that you can see into the interior and then out to the sky again.