On Thursday mornings I have one hour to paint before I go to class so most of this was done during that time. I tried to capture the street scene with the most simple of shapes, adding a few finishing touches like the power lines during my lunch hour. The sky was pretty dramatic at that hour so I started with a pale raw sienna wash and then added my cloud colours into the wet. For the darker clouds I used a classic Ron Ranson mix of Alizarin and Payne’s Grey and then added some ultramarine, dabbing with my cloth to reclaim some of the whites. If you like painting skies I would highly recommend Ranson’s book “Ron Ranson On Skies“. I found it at a used bookshop but it seems that it’s still available at Amazon.
Isn’t it wonderful to peel the wrapping off a new sketchbook? Each page pristine, smooth, full of potential. This is the last of the three Travelogue sketchbooks I received as a gift from Gretchen in New Hampshire and I’ve spent all summer and fall filling them up. Thanks again Gretchen!
Last night I refilled my travel palette with fresh paint and dipped into my alizarin crimson, azo yellow and cobalt blue for this sketch. Sometimes I choose a limited palette because I want to create some interesting or unexpected colour mixtures, but today I limited myself to the primary colours because the scene I was sketching was all reds, blues and yellows. I’ve been waiting to sketch the corner of 9th Avenue and St. Joseph in Lachine but until today could never find parking at the right spot (this happens often but I am patient!). I love the architectural ornamentation at the top of the building with all the shingles, bricks, window ledges and dormers. I’m not sure if this is a style unique to Montreal but I’ve sketched these types of details all over the city.
The maple on my neighbour’s lawn is absolutely on fire — ablaze with yellows and reds and all the colours in between — but you wouldn’t know it from this sketch. I have a choice of five or six sketchbooks of all sizes and paper surfaces in my bag on most days but this was clearly the wrong choice of paper for fall foliage. It’s too smooth to do a big wet wash and too yellowish to allow the colours to pop. But I guess if I hadn’t told you, you might just think the foliage was soft greens and yellows.
A bit of bad planning at work here — I started drawing the foliage against the fence and when I got to the wheelbarrow it was planted right on the seam of my sketchbook. But I stuck with it anyway, knowing that the composition would have been more successful a few inches to the right.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve picked up my Moleskine sketchbook, the one with the yellowish paper that fights back when you try to paint on it. You actually have to be forceful to get paint onto this. Scrub it first with a first layer of wash and let it dry, then apply paint very gently. But I like the book despite the struggle. It can take fine brush details that other sketchbooks can’t, and once you conquer its resistant surface, you can get several layers of darker paint onto it.
Having a three-day weekend is a special gift because the extra day gives me time to paint and I used it to take to the road with Laurel and Marc Holmes. Marc and I packed up our paints and easels, Laurel her camera, and we took the ferry crossing from Hudson to Oka Park.
I’ve run into so many people this week who remark that each glorious day that we have in October is a bonus and I agree. When you live with five or six months of winter you have to take advantage of these days. Marc and I set up facing a swampy area of the park but I’m not sure quite why we chose this tangled mess of branches, leaves, pond scum and reflections to paint. The bird life in the park was lively — we spotted some sort of hawk, a heron, a pileated woodpecker and geese honked overhead for most of the day. If the weather continues like this into the week I may just have to get out my easel one more time!
It’s time for a celebration. This is the two-year anniversary of the start of this blog. Well, actually the real day was yesterday but I mixed up the dates! Frankly, I think that as long as I am within the week I can still claim it.
There have been ups and downs —like today when I did a horrible sketch at the harbour on my way home from school — but most of the time I’m still happy that I’ve stuck to the plan. I’ve brought painting and drawing back into my life and met some fascinating people on the way. And every time someone asks if I am going to continue, I just say “I’ll do one tomorrow and we’ll see after that.”
Today while I was sketching Jeanne came by to talk to me. Leaned right into my open car window, smiled at me and said, “Vous en allez à l’école?” (You’re going to school?) “Oui”, I said, puzzled. “Combien de jeunes vous enseignez?” (How many young people do you teach?) “Beaucoup!”, I responded. But the strange thing is that I have never met Jeanne before and there is no way she could have known I was a teacher. I had no schoolbag on the car seat, no ID card, and I’ve never met her before today. What do you think of that?