There are so many reasons why I am intrigued by this corner and keep returning to sketch there. The buildings are set at all angles, the road veers to the left and then the right, and on a sunny day there’s a glowing light on the corner house. There’s also something mysterious about this corner, and possibly what gives it that mystery is also what makes it slightly dangerous. Interesting characters are always coming around the corner. My intention was to do a car sketch for a bigger painting but I had to complete it at home. One of “interesting” characters in the neighbourhood turned out to be slightly menacing, standing in front of my car, waving his hands to block my view and possibly trying to intimidate me. Maybe he didn’t appreciate me hanging around in my car, watching the action at the corner. Good thing my camera was not visible. Anyway, I got the message and completed my sketch at home from a photo reference that I quickly snapped when he ducked into the shelter of a building to light a cigarette.


They always come back

It’s relatively easy to complete a drawing of a posed model. You keep on working while the model holds the gesture and at some point you are done. But if you are drawing people who aren’t posing, they can get up and leave at any moment, or at the very least, change their pose. My sketchbooks are filled with half-finished drawings. One valuable secret I learned at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Santo Domingo a few years ago is that most people who are hanging around one place for a long time, seated or standing, will eventually come back to their original pose. Take the student I was drawing today. He was sitting at one table for a long time, then got up to chat with another group of friends at another table, and then eventually come back. The pose was never exactly the same but I was able to get enough information each time to complete the sketch. You’ll notice that the back of his shirt has lines going in all directions. That’s because he never put his arm over the bench again quite like that again but never mind. I got my drawing in.


Clear and bright

In celebration of the great sawing off of the cast on my painting hand I went out to do some car sketching today. It’s super cold out there but I preheated the car well and was able to do a quick capture of the light on the statue near the convent in Pointe Claire.

It’s not often that I add new colours to my palette but I’ve been trying out Indanthrone Blue (sometimes called Indanthrene Blue) and I like it enough to make it a permanent addition. It’s darker than the other blues I have and mixes beautifully with Alizarin Crimson for shadows. A warning if you decide to buy it: I can’t confirm this but apparently Daniel Smith has a redder tint than Winsor Newton (according to


Without warning

Without warning the power went out at my house this morning. On one of the coldest days of the year. When I ran out of all the other things I could do in a cold house, I decided to draw the culprits β€” the hydro guys transferring the wires from the old utility pole to the new one. What a day to have an outdoor job…


Drawing conclusions

I set out some teacups today to practice one of my weaknesses β€” drawing circles in perspective β€” and I spent some time looking, sketching and correcting what I drew. In the end I think my circles are acceptable, which leads me to conclude that sometimes I just don’t spend enough TIME… looking, sketching and correcting when I am drawing circles in perspective. Doing this type of exercise is a bit like practicing scales for musicians. You just have to keep coming back to these basics.


Farm birds

Do you remember when the Peter Finch character in the movie “Network” yells out the window “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”? That summarizes how I feel about having a cast on my painting arm. So I grabbed up all my painting gear, piled it in the car and went out to do a sketch. It’s not as sharp and clean as I would have liked and there are some compositional things that could have been better but at least I got out there. There’s only so many still lifes an urban sketcher can do!


As one

Something I think about when I am painting a bouquet like this is to group flowers of the same colour into one preliminary wash. For instance, there are three or four purple flowers at the bottom of the sketch. My first purple wash is one shape that includes all the flowers. Later on I put in some darks that separate the petals or the larger flower shapes but I start them as one.