The inbetween days

It’s a funny time of year to be out sketching. It’s warm enough to be outside but there’s still a general absence of colour. The best I could find were a few Scilla at the base of a tree and those deep shadows on the branches that only appear in spring before the trees leaf out.


Avenue Ste. Anne

When pressed for time (which seems to be most days!) I often start my daily sketch with an ink line and add colour to the drawing. This is much faster than building up areas with watercolour alone, and if need be, can be completed later in the day. I find that the Fabriano Artistico hot pressed block takes the ink line really well but you can end up with some unusual wash effects on this smooth paper. I’ve never had this happen before but today the French Ultramarine pigment that I used was super granulating, especially in the shadow area in the lower left of the sketch. I’m not sure if this is the brand of paint (Daniel Smith) or simply the paper. I don’t mind it because it adds a kind of weird texture to the asphalt but I might find it undesirable some other time.


Mint green

I’m ready to paint some greens, really ready, but the weather isn’t cooperating. Last year at this time the buds on the trees were bursting open and I was painting bursts of yellow-green all over the place. This year the only yellow-green I can find is in the vegetable drawer in my fridge.



I would have loved to spend more time drawing all the details on these sardines but they had to be painted fast because you don’t want them sitting at room temperature for too long. You may not be able to get a sense of scale from my sketch but these are pretty small, wonderfully silvery and just waiting for a hot pan and some lemon.


Still wrapped

En route between a meeting and school, I stopped in NDG for barely 20 minutes to sketch. I chose this scene because the little bundled cedars at the base of the tree seemed like a metaphor for us Montrealers — scarves still wrapped around our necks, warm coats on — waiting for some warm spring weather. Even the buds on the tree itself seemed hesitant to emerge.


Two doors and a window

At first I drew all three doors on this church but the composition was rather monotonous and centered on the page. The second time around I subtracted one door and added the rose window. Sketched in a Moleskine sketchbook using a Lamy Safari pen with Noodlers Bulletproof Black ink.


Take two

I had to shake things up a bit today because I was so displeased with my sketch of this same church from yesterday. Lifeless! Dead! Muddy washes!

I went back to the same spot as yesterday, found the same parking spot (thankfully free) but this time I did everything differently. Instead of using a wash first and ink line second (which felt a bit like outlining) I started by trying to do a more expressive ink drawing using my Lami Safari pen and some black ink. Instead of sitting in my car, I got out and stood outside. Felt a bit like a bear coming out of hibernation. I used smooth paper from my Moleskine sketchbook instead of the watercolour Moleskine. And then I added a bit of wash to finish it up. I am much happier with this result. Even though I made a few mistakes in the drawing, I feel it has much more life.  Plus if you are sitting in the car you miss the comments of people walking by, like the man who told me “ça irait bien mieux avec un camera!” (translation: it would be a lot better with a camera!”)