What I learned from you

It gives me great joy to share my drawings every day, but a secondary benefit to having a blog is the discussions that sometimes take place in the comments section of the posts.  A few days ago I shared a problem that was troubling me. In my ink drawing of The Fur Trade I miscalculated the height of the roof, leaving me with a horizontal line in the trees. I worried about it far too much, and in the end it was hardly noticeable but I asked for suggestions/comments about how other sketchers deal with their drawing difficulties. I loved the advice (and hope to remember it all) so thought I’d share some of it today:

“I might have been tempted to add an electric line”

“Usually I turn the page and then use it for fragments and small portraits or for training – like drawing parallel lines while sitting on a bus”

“I was taught that if you draw a line in the ‘wrong’ place… simply draw another line : ) My ‘mistakes’ tend to free me from the pressure of having to do something ‘perfectly’ …and that’s always a good thing.”

“I look at the parts I like and try to think about how I was feeling when I was sketching. I can then usually look back and see the just good stuff.”

“Overcoming obstacles is an art in itself”

“The beauty of sketching is that even though mistakes can and will be made, the final image still evokes memories so uniquely different than a photograph ever could. When I sketch buildings, I know that mistakes will be made, but unless they are so outright obvious that a degree of believable accuracy is lost, I just soldier on and work toward the overall image.”

“I would probably have done the same as you… hidden it with darker tones on my drawing… except that it wouldn’t have happened to me because I would never do my first sketch in pen… “

“The thing about drawing for me is that I never learn anything from my “successes.” It is my mistakes that make me want to do better.”

“Well, since you asked, just draw another line and press on, never give up on a drawing, often the final result is surprisingly pleasing.”

“There is nothing wrong with a ‘wrong’ line – it is just part of the progress. Best to accept it and allow the drawing to grow around it!”



My brown dog

I spent some time drawing with my pencil again today — at McDonald’s while waiting for a dentist appointment and then again when I got home and I drew my dog enjoying a nap in the sun. Of all the combos of paper and pencil I’ve tried, this MUJI mechanical pencil along with the hand•book sketchbook is my favorite because the pencil just seems to glide over the paper.


The Fur Trade

Does this ever happen to you? You start a drawing (and this only applies when you draw with ink, not pencil) and realize that you made a big mistake that you can’t fix? When I was drawing The Fur Trade Museum in Lachine today I put the roof line too high. You can see it in the foliage, running parallel to the new roof line. It was really tempting to turn the page and start over but that would leave an unfinished sketch in my book (which I hate), so I decided to plod on, hoping that I could somehow disguise the line or hide it in the foliage. I’m happy I continued even though there was no way to mask that line. What would you have done?


One man’s weed

Looking around in my fading garden for something to sketch today I caught a glimpse of something glowing orange in the tangled mess — chinese lanterns on a plant I have been thinking is an invasive weed and yanking out for years. After a little research I learned that it is in fact an invasive weed. But if, yet again, I had been sketching less and gardening more, the plant would be gone and I never would have discovered these.



The cooler weather in Montreal today is making me think about drawing more indoors, and for some reason I am more attracted to using a pencil rather than the Micron pen. I guess some drawings are more about the contour — in which case the pen is great — but other days the volume of things seems more interesting and then the pencil seems to fit the bill.


Parking lot

This morning the rain was coming down so hard I didn’t think I would be able to sketch outdoors at all. I pulled into a parking lot to see if the rain would pass. It didn’t but I decided to sketch the parking lot itself and in the process I discovered this: sometimes new materials help you see things in different ways. I’ve tried drawing modern buildings before but there is just too much detail in them. Working with the water-soluble graphite pencil helped me treat them as a large background shape without getting caught up in the details of windows and balconies.


Flip flop days

There is  the slightest tinge of yellow in the trees this week, as well as a stillness in the air. One look around and you know it’s not midsummer. It’s also the time of year when one day can be 30° and the next 15° but if that means I can still be outside I’m a happy painter.


There’s always the onion

Daily drawing is so important to me — it’s a bit like practicing scales — and I have often spent too much time trying to figure out what to draw. But what I draw is not really important, I’ve come to realize. It’s more important that I just get it done, no matter if I have a short time or lots of time to invest. That means that occasionally I end up drawing what I am about to eat or cook, or whatever else is on my kitchen counter.


Out of the corner of my eye

I haven’t been able to post any sketches in a couple of days because the Lakeshore Association of Artists outdoor show took up all my time this past weekend. But don’t think I wasn’t thinking about sketching!

The outdoor venue of the show, on the grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe Claire, overlooking Lac St. Louis, is about as beautiful a location you can find in Montreal, especially on a sunny day. But while I was meeting and greeting a constant stream of people going by, one eye was always on the scenery — the constantly shifting panorama of clouds, the sailboats, the stone building behind me. My sketching kit was in my bag but there was just never a moment to take it out. Saturday’s challenge was the wind. With a constant gale blowing in off the lake (and eventually bringing in some menacing clouds), many of us spent a lot of time simply holding on to our canopy poles and hoping nothing would blow away in the wind. And on Sunday the sun came out, along with all the people, so there was just never a moment even to see my fellow exhibitors or take out my sketchbook. But don’t think that is a complaint. I met so many interesting people and even sold a few paintings, which made battling the wind seem quite insignificant in the end. But Stewart Hall still had to be sketched so I made a pit stop on my way home from work today and dashed it off.


A bit of roof

Last time I sketched the roof of St. Joachim presbytery it was a really windy day but this morning was calm, cold and cloudless. A little too cold to sit outside (in fact I heard the dreaded “frost” word on the radio) so I sketched in my car, trying out a new sketchbook from Arches. It’s a beautiful, spiral bound format, filled with cold pressed 140 lb paper. A little rougher than I’m used to but also a little more sturdy.

Tonight I did some set-up for the outdoor LAA show that takes place this weekend. My canopy is tied securely in place and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the winds that were blowing in off the lake this evening don’t send it flying into the water. Tomorrow morning I’ll hang the work (about 30 paintings in all) and hope that the rain that’s in the forecast will decide to head in another direction. More news tomorrow…