It was a very tranquil half hour that I spent with Melanie today — me quietly drawing and Melanie reading her book. After a while I realized that we had both been silent for a very long time. I was totally absorbed in my drawing and Melanie seemed to be at a good part in her story. And it was only when I returned home and my sketchbook was open on the counter that I realized that her face reminded me of someone. It took a while to figure out but then it came to me. Her face was like a Renaissance madonna. Maybe it was the pose — the slightly tilted head, the downward gaze, the gentle features. Don’t misunderstand my comparison to that period in art history. I don’t mean that my feeble attempt at portraiture was in any way close to a Renaissance painter. I just mean that there is something about Melanie’s face that is from another time.
I’ve been waiting to draw Alice for some weeks but puppies don’t sit still for too long. I final caught her curled up for a late afternoon snooze, and managed to finish most of the drawing before she rolled over onto her back, oblivious to the fact that she was the model for today.
It’s a gift that the snow has come early this year because I don’t have to search for what the white shapes will be in my sketches. The weatherman promised some breaks of sun today (those radar maps never seems to be accurate!) and I was hoping for shadows in the snow but the sky was overcast, making for a very flat scene. Despite that I was happy to be out in my car sketching the day. I have painted this street in Ste. Anne de Bellevue many times. I’m always attracted to the little sliver of river at the end of the road and, although I didn’t capture it convincingly, an oh so tiny reflection of the houses on the other side.
I usually paint little still lifes in my kitchen where there are multiple sources of light — light from the window, lights in the ceiling, lights over the counter — and this results in all kinds of weird overlapping cast shadows, some diffuse and some quite defined. I started this sketch in the morning with only natural light hitting the tops of the fruit, but I had to leave for work before I was done. When I finished it later in the day the daylight was gone and the overhead lights cast much more defined shadows on the cutting board. There’s really only one solution to this problem: quit my day job and get my sketches finished in one sitting.
It’s hard to find colour in the winter landscape. On a cloudy day there’s warm greys and cool greys and sometimes a pinkish tinge in the sky over the lake. You have to sit and stare for a good long time to pick up the subtleties.
It was a good day to try out some new brushes that just arrived. I bought a set of Scroggy’s Loose Goose brushes and it turns out that they are exactly what I was hoping for to create foliage and branches. The floppy squirrel hair does all kinds of unexpected things. It seems to have a mind of its own and that keeps me from making branches that are a little too tidy and predictable.