Just line

The last time I drew with a dip pen was probably in university, and I forgot how much fun it is to use. The rich blackness of the china ink is something you can just never obtain with a marker, as well as the varied line widths that result from pressure on the nib. I sketched this building on Boul. René Levesque (south side near Fort) that has always reminded me of a classic haunted house. It’s brick with light coloured quoins (I had to look that one up) but I can’t find any info about the history of the building. If you know what it’s called or anything about it, I’d be interested in hearing.


Head and shoulders

If I lived in Kitchener, Ontario, I would be heading straight to THEMUSEUM to see Getting Naked, an exhibition of more than 120 nudes from the Canada Council Art Bank collection. It looks like a really interesting show of works that aren’t often on display, and if you want to read a little about it, there’s a good review in the Globe and Mail. It might have helped to see the show before yesterday’s model session when I struggled to paint Christian. This week, instead of trying to draw the whole body, I focused on his head and shoulders. It seemed like a more manageable goal in the thirty minutes that I had.


Save the date for Stewart Hall

It’s going to be a busy spring/summer for Urban Sketchers Montreal (I admit I am happily looking forward to anything with the word summer in it). In May we have Draw me a Mountain, a sketch day and exhibition on Mount Royal and now I’m happy to announce a similar event for early summer. On July 5, Urban Sketchers Montreal has been invited to a sketch day and exhibition at Stewart Hall — Pointe-Claire’s Cultural Centre situated in a gorgeous historic mansion on the shore of Lake St-Louis. It is an absolutely stunning spot to sketch, in all seasons! Together with Marc Taro Holmes, Jane Hannah and Raynald Murphy, I will be exhibiting sketchbooks and framed works from July 5 to August 30 in the Project Room of the Stewart Hall Gallery. Everyone is invited to sketch with us on that day and display sketches in a group vernissage at the end of the day. Hopefully the weather will be great, and all the snow that I sketched on the grounds this morning will be gone. More details to follow soon.


Farm melt

There isn’t much colour in the landscape today, but if you look carefully there’s a lot of beauty in the subtle hues of late winter. This was painted mostly with Raw Sienna and Indigo, with a bit of Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna added in to warm things up. Size: 8″ x 12″.



“Finally!” seems to be the word of the day from the people I pass on the street. And because we’re not hidden inside hats and parkas, we can nod, smile and acknowledge the fact that spring might just be on its way. And there’s a joyous sound outdoors too. It’s the happy drip of snow melting — from trees, off roofs, under cars. It’s definitely a day to paint puddles.

Painted on Canson Moulin du Roy, from my car studio, WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN!



I really enjoyed reading the responses to my question from last week about the ideal time for a pose in figure drawing. Some people felt that twenty minutes was good because any longer than that and they would add in too many details. Others thought the half-hour pose was perfect, and a few wrote that at least an hour was necessary to have time to really study the figure and experiment a bit more. I also liked the point that Dominique Gaillard made (she runs the figure drawing sessions at both Centre Georges Vanier and UQAM) which was that the more practice you’ve had, the less time you need. Makes perfect sense. I briefly considered working on a smaller size sheet today but it just didn’t seem right to try to cram all of Johane onto a postcard-size piece of paper. Canson Moulin du Roi, size: 12″ x 16″.


Half road

What is it about this street in Lachine that attracts me to sketch here? It’s probably a combination of things. First of all, there’s the mysterious perspective that pulls you in and makes you wonder what’s lurking on the other side of that hill. Secondly, it’s the shape of the sky formed by the buildings — a shape that’s broken up in an interesting way by the utility poles. Thirdly — and this is something I only realized after I scanned the sketch — is the pattern of wires that knit both sides of the street together. And the last reason is one I’ve talked about before, when I painted in this spot for the first time in 2012. If you are curious, you can read about it here.