Painting Crystal

My reward for finishing classes was a day spent in downtown Montreal, and of course it started with a bit of sketching. I found a café with a window seat and a view of Crystal Massotherapie. There are plenty of things to sketch in St. Henri but I couldn’t resist the shadow on the letters and the wonky windows on this building. There’s nothing with this much character in my usual neighbourhood sketching spots. Sketched on Canson Montval paper, 5.5 x 8.5.


Magnolia season

Magnolia season is too short. The flamboyant blooms open and are gone before you know it. Since most of the trees are on people’s lawns in my neighbourhood, I had to drive around a bit to find one close enough to the road to paint — I couldn’t very well set up in someone’s front yard with my sketching supplies. Since the blossoms are very light at the top and intensify in colour closer to the stem, the best way to tackle them is to wet each flower with clear water and then go in with pure colour near the stem (I used a combo of Permanent Rose and Permanent Alizarin Crimson). The lighter pink is created as some of that pure pigment mingles with the clear water and travels up the flower.  Sketched in a Field Watercolor Journal, 8″ x 8″.



There’s an embarrassment of riches out there. We went from grey nothingness to colour in such a short time. Flowers markets are open, trees have the tiniest bits of green on them, magnolias are blooming — but when the boat go in the water, that takes precedence over everything else. I knew today was Big Crane Launch Day, when the boats move from land to lake, so I went out with the intention of sketching that. But there was so much movement around the cranes, and the boats stay in the air for such a short time, that I moved back to my usual spot and sketched Prescription instead.


Our lady of the harbour

“And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers.”

I haven’t posted a link to a song in a long time but here we go. It’s Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, a favourite of mine with an interesting connection to the statue I drew this morning. I’ve sketched Notre-Dame-de-Bons-Secours Chapel (the Sailor’s Church) from both inside and outside, but never realized until I did a little research today that “our lady of the harbour” from the song lyrics refers to the Star of the Sea statue atop the church. She’s been greeting sailors entering the port since 1893. Pretty cool fact for a Leonard Cohen fan to find out.

Sketched in a Bee sketchbook, with a water-soluble Pilot Fineliner.


Half eaten

A friend bought this new variety of pepper with me in mind. She was thinking that I might like to sketch the red and yellow striped exterior, but when she went to retrieve it from her fridge, she found that her daughter had eaten most of it. That was fine with me because the inside is even more beautiful. I sketched it in an old Moleskine sketchbook using Sap Green, Hansa Yellow and Organic Vermillion. Shadow was created using leftover paint from yesterday’s birch trees.



I went out to Macdonald Farm to sketch today, hoping the rain would hold off long enough to paint. I have sketched there so many times you would think I’ve painted everything, but I always find something worth drawing, even if it requires spending a little time circling to find the right view. In a few days, when this cold air mass that is hanging above us finally moves on, the trees will explode with colour. I can’t wait to sketch that first green canopy. Sketched in a field watercolour journal, 8″ x 8″, (made by hand•book paper co).