One man’s trash

I can understand why someone might find it suspicious that I was parked in front of their house, drawing their trash. In fact, because of the looks I received, I was half expecting a police car to pull up behind me, but there is no law against drawing in your car on a street with no parking restrictions. I spotted these white canvas beauties filled with leaves while on a walk last night and had to get up early to draw them. It is amazing what you can deduce about your neighbours by what they put out on garbage day and from the look of these bags I suspect that someone works at a bakery where they use a lot of walnuts.

Honey Locust panorama

I’ve been waiting oh sooooo patiently for the leaves to fall so I can sketch a lunchtime panorama from my window at school. Until this week my view of the city was  obscured by foliage but now all that remains is the bright yellow of the Honey Locusts and soon that will be gone too. I tried to add a scroll bar to this image — something I’ve seen work well on panoramic images in other blogs — but I can’t seem to find out how to do this. Any help would be appreciated. For the technologically inclined: this is not a self-hosted WordPress site so I don’t think I can add a plug-in.


Revisiting the tree

I sketched this very same tree about this time last year. Like my wheelbarrow, the pots in my yard, the steeple in Pointe Claire, I guess this is one of the subjects I will return to often. Painted in a Moleskine sketchbook with a big flat brush and lots of Azo Yellow!



A different triad

A little shakeup took place on my palette today. I don’t know if all sketchers have the same problem but I certainly have a tendency to dip into the same wells of colour to make my mixes. Usually that includes some form of cool blue, like cobalt or ultramarine, as well as some cool yellow like Hansa or Aureolin. Today I put my usual palette aside and squeezed out some new colours for this autumn woods sketch (which I will hopefully turn into a bigger painting.) I replaced the cool blues with a warm Phthalo Blue, exchanged my greenish-yellow for New Gamboge which is much more orange, and used Carmine to complete the triad. It was liberating. And if I do turn this into a larger work I will certainly stick with this trio.


The Bovril Building

There are buildings in Montreal, and I suppose in every city, that are iconic not because of any feats of design or architecture but simply because of where they are situated in the urban landscape. The Bovril Building, at the intersection of Van Horne and avenue du Parc in Mile End, is one of these. On any other street, surrounded by brick manufacturing buildings of the same height, it might tend toward the nondescript. But in its spot on a southern facing corner, its 1920’s deco facade has no competition, and for that reason it is instantly recognizable. I wasn’t even sure what the name of the building was until I did a bit of googling and found out not only that, but also that the refurbished building now houses an odd combination of tenants: a non-profit artist’s cooperative and a Hasidic Jewish school and daycare, each with their own entrance.


Peony in pencil

If you subscribe to Watercolor Artist magazine, watch for an article I recently wrote about water-soluble pencils in the upcoming December issue. These Caran d’Ache Museum pencils are very creamy and totally water-soluble. As you can see, the colours are more electric than the mixes I usually make in watercolour but they’re perfect for the bright hues of foliage on my dying peony.




O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Robert Frost