Yellow canopy

The canopy of leaves that covers some of Montreal’s streets bathes everything in a soft light, making it quite a beautiful time of year to paint. This was sketched on Henri Julien in the Villeray district, at lunchtime. I was parked on a corner with an unobstructed view of the pedestrians walking along rue Faille. It’s amazing to me how many adults were in full Hallowe’en costume, during the day, with no children in tow.


Rusty darks

I’m always drawn to this mysterious little house, partially in shadow and partially in light, tucked tightly under the rail bridge in Sainte Anne de Bellevue. I never seem to have enough time to check out what’s in this building, but I suspect it has something to do with Parks Canada and the locks on the canal that are just to the left of this that link Lac St. Louis and Lac des Deux Montagnes. The rusty darks are the bridge make some great shapes to paint with my rigger brush. Painted on Saunders Waterford.




October boatclub

With a bit of time, on good paper, in a warm studio, with no wind and with a limited palette, I repainted yesterday’s scene of Pointe Claire Village at dusk. The limited palette: Cerulean Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Indigo, Alizarin, Burnt Sienna and Ochre. Now that I list it, it doesn’t seems that limited, but it is mostly blues with just a touch of warmth in the trees. The reason for the limited palette: there was hardly any colour at that time of day. Mostly highlights and silhouetted darks but a general absence of colour.


Village at dusk

I’m just back from a vernissage of work from the Art Rental Collection at the Stewart Hall Gallery. I think it’s a great concept: rent the work first, live with it a while and if you like it, purchase it. There are over 100 works (paintings, prints, photos and drawings) in the show, including two of my paintings (The Windmill and Poppies Today) and the show is on until November 23.

My sketch today didn’t come out exactly as I had hoped. I was returning home from the show along the Lakeshore in Pointe Claire just before sunset, and the village was silhouetted against this great dramatic sky. I quickly parked, found a table in the park and pulled out my sketchbook. There wasn’t really time to draw much — I was losing the light, the wind was fierce and I was looking into the sun — but I’m glad I seized the moment. I’m not sure what I would have done differently with the luxury of time and still air. Probably painted the silhouette more finely, the clouds more delicately, the colours more cleanly. And probably wiped up the paint splashes too. But every day is just another experiment and another opportunity to try something new.



Two pairs

Sketching. The best form of procrastination while grading student assignments. It could also be surfing the web, making tea or walking the dog. 25 down, 90 to go.



Better late than never

I’ve painted this tree twice before. Once in October 2012 and then again in October 2013. I walked by it the other day and realized that I had almost missed painting it this year, and with the wild wind and rain we’ve had this week it was almost too late. Once again with this foliage, I drew the large shape of the tree first in pencil, added in the foliage shapes with paint, and then with a series of rigger brushes, I wove the dark branches in and out.


And the winner is…

I just picked a name out of a hat, well, a bowl actually, and the winner of the sketch from my 1,000th post is Doug from Colorado!
Congratulations Doug! You should be receiving the sketch very soon. Thanks once again to everyone who wrote such thoughtful notes with their entries.

Before I did the draw, on my way to school, I had time for a sketch at the outdoor market in Pointe Claire. With its withered pots of mums and dwindling apples huddled together for warmth, the market definitely has that end-of-season look. The displays of pumpkins will be there for another week or so and then — the day after Hallowe’en — the farmers pack it all up. (I always wonder what happens to all those unsold pumpkins.) There’s always a feeling of sadness when the awnings are gone, knowing that I won’t be able to sketch anything that colourful outdoors until the spring. Sigh…



I tried drawing the students in the cafeteria today but they just moved around too much. You know that feeling, when you just need to draw something easy (although circles are never easy for me). I had to pick something immobile, something small and not too challenging. I know this looks much more like a garbage can than a coffee cup but it was the simplest thing to draw in the cafeteria and I bought it at the student-run café which is always a worthy cause.


The city reveals itself

This year I haven’t been able to paint a lunchtime panorama (from the 5th floor of my school) like I’ve done in previous years. The trees, when fully leafed out, have just grown too high. Fortunately we’ve had some wind this past week, some trees are bare and now I see the city again. I tried to paint a big dramatic sky but a double-paged spread of the sketchbook (16″ across), even if I prewet it, dries before I can get the brush across it. Guess I need a bigger brush for this!


Where cloud meets canyon

Edges soft and hard. Land near and far. Colours cool and warm. These are some of the issues I am tackling in watercolour while working on the paintings of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. This section of the park is called “Island in the Sky” and even from my monochromatic sketch, you might be able to tell why. The mesa you stand on at the Green River overlook is 1,000 feet above the canyon floor and in the morning the clouds are touching land with barely any horizon visible, but the mesas you can see in the distance may be a hundred miles away. Of all the Utah parks that I have painted, this one may be the most challenging. I am almost finished the whole series and hope to post them soon.