In from the cold

Almost every day Alice (the dog) and I walk through these woods near my house. On a sunny day in the winter the light in there is both warm and cool at the same time, but the views can only be accessed on foot. After the dog had her exercise, I returned to the woods with a pad and some water-soluble pencils. At -9°C I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint, but I did stand and draw for a little while. I tried using a Koi water brush but it turned to ice once it hit the paper, so I drew and only added a bit of water when I got home. Despite the cold, it is still more exciting to me to paint the changing light in the woods than to take a photo and paint a static view of the same scene.


Experiment in blue

This isn’t my usual way of painting, but I was in the mood to try something a little different today. I painted wet-in-wet on 300 lb Arches paper, which I don’t use very often, (and certainly not for experimentation), but I have some old stock that I wasn’t even sure was good anymore. I wanted to try some soft snow shadows, so I wet the paper completely (only one side is necessary with this thick paper), and then painted the sky and snow shadows with a big flat brush (2″) loaded with Verditer Blue. It’s an interesting blue that I think is a good substitute for Cobalt in winter scenes and I’ll definitely be trying it again.


Disappearing panorama

It’s been a while since I sketched the view of Montreal from the 5th floor of the school where I work. I usually do this when I have a long break between classes, and that hasn’t happened in some time. But this semester I find myself with an excessively long break, and on brutally cold days like today when even painting in the car is not an option, this location is ideal. There’s a heater at my feet, a wide window sill for my paints and sketchpad, and often a group of students looking over my shoulder, chatting with me as I paint. It could be worse. On most days, the view is clearer, but there were snow squalls all day today so a soft apparition of the mountain appeared and disappeared as I painted. Magic.



Blue Monday

Blue Monday. The third Monday in January. Supposedly the most depressing day of the year. I assumed the concept was concocted to give radio announcers something to talk about, but Wikipedia says it originates from a press release put out by a travel company back in 2005. None of this has any connection to my day though, except that it gave me an idea for colour in my sketch. Painted on a snowy Monday in Montreal, in a Fabriano watercolour sketchbook, mostly with Cobalt Teal, Verditer Blue and Indigo.


Draw wherever you are

In my frustration at not having much time to get to life drawing classes, I have been carrying around a thin sketchbook and some pencils in my bag, hoping to draw some faces when I have a moment. I was at a nursing home today and drew some of the people listening to the music. My chair was at the back of the room so most had their backs to me, but I got in a few good profiles.





Cemetery road

It happens quite often. Just as I’m about to finish a painting a few people will walk into the scene at the right time for me to add them in. This cemetery is full of dog walkers (some who stared at the strange intruder painting in her car) and these two appeared just as I was packing up. I grabbed my brush and with a few strokes, placed them on the road. Painted on a Saunders Waterford Cold Press block, 9″ x 12″.


Two guys at the window

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, right? I pushed myself this morning to do a little sketching at Starbucks because I never draw in interior spaces. I used a small Canson sketchbook clearly not made for watercolour, and painted with the black from my little Van Gogh travel watercolour palette. This little scene looked ideal when I started to draw (and Starbucks was empty), but it turned out that it was where people wait in line for their lattes, so the display was often blocked by customers. I forced myself to stick with it though, because, like some sort of bitter-tasting pill, it was good for me.