Chocolatier in winter

There are some spots I return to sketch in all seasons. The chocolatier in Pointe Claire Village is one of those places, and it is especially nice in winter. I’m not sure if it’s the wonky building or the way the branches of the tree frame the space, but this place is really fun to draw. I always think I’ll have enough time to buy a bit of chocolate before I leave but I often draw for too long and have to rush off to work empty-handed.


Red rocks at low tide

When I was in Kamouraska giving a workshop last summer I sketched this beach, and even did a demo painting of it but never got around to completing it. Yesterday I did the planning stages for this and today the painting. This beach is quite spectacular at day’s end when the light hits the red rocks. In fact, Kamouraska is known for its sunsets and there were many times during that week when a few of us would sit there and watch as the sun set over the islands.



Yesterday I ruined a few sheets of watercolour paper due to bad planning. I rushed into a painting of the rocky shoreline in Kamouraska at sunset with no direction, and the result was poor and hence never completed. Today I took out my painting compass and did a little prep work. First I did a pencil sketch to figure out the values.



Then I did a couple of sketches in limited colour palettes to figure out the colour dominance and give the painting more unity than my first try. The top sketch is a limited palette of Thalo Purple, Viridian Green and Cadmium Orange. In the bottom sketch I used Cobalt Blue, Indian Red and Yellow Ochre. I haven’t started the final painting yet but now I know where I am going. The value scheme reads better in the colour sketch on top but I prefer the colour mixes on the bottom sketch so the final painting might end up being a mix of the best parts of both of them. And instead of a warm yellow sky it will be the cool purple one. This planning doesn’t guarantee a home run but it sure gives me a better chance.


Mustard yellow

Last week when I cleaned up my palette I noticed several yellows that I never use. In fact I didn’t even know what they were. Cadmium, maybe? Hansa yellow perhaps. A sketch of mustard seemed like the obvious choice to get rid of these mysterious pigments.


Summer workshops on the West Coast

This summer I’ll be giving workshops in Vancouver, Anacortes and Seattle, on the invitation of different groups of local sketchers. It’s coincidental that they are all in the same region, but very convenient. The Anacortes group is full but there are still a few spots left in the Vancouver and Seattle workshops. Both of these are two-day location sketching in watercolour workshops. Vancouver is on July 4 & 5 and Seattle is on July 12 & 13. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know and I’ll send you the info.


Steeple in a snowstorm

I painted in my car studio for as long as I could today but near the end the snow was coming down too quickly and even the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. I noticed that when the snow is falling that heavily there’s an absence of colour. Everything is soft, muted and a little difficult to see but my intention was to keep this to warm and cool neutrals. This is painted on Fabriano hot pressed paper with a limited palette of Ultramarine blue, Burnt Umber, Alizarin and Azo yellow.


The house at the end of the street

When I grow up I want to be able to paint the colour of white in shadow like Sargent or Hopper or Homer. It is so hard to get this dead on. It is not only the temperature of the colour but the value of it as well that makes it look just right. I was using sketchbook paper today which is really not the right way to practice this. You need a good quality paper to get the subtleties of the washes and also to allow for a few layers of glazing if need be.