Winter sketching

It turns out I’m not the only crazy person who sketches outdoors in winter. In fact I’m the least crazy of the bunch because I sit in my car. Some of my urban sketcher friends sketch while standing outside in the snow. That makes me seem like a bit of a wimp, actually. Check out this post on to read about some great tips for winter sketching, including my own.

And while I have your attention, let me also take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the holiday season, the winter solstice, the new year and whatever else you celebrate. May you have many, many happy sketching moments in 2017!


Impulse buy

I went to the store to get an ice scraper and ended up with a Christmas cactus in my shopping cart. The plant was so tropical, so exuberant in its blooms and so very unlike the reality of the blustery day outside that I had to bring it home. I’m not that good with houseplants so I thought it might be a good idea to paint it immediately in case the flowers start dropping off. Painted in a Handbook watercolour journal, 10″ x 8″, using a lot of Quinacridone Rose for the blossoms.


Back porch

I haven’t done any sketching from my car studio in a long time so it felt really good to get out there today, especially since we had such a good dumping of snow yesterday. I’ve always loved the little play of overlapping shapes of this church in Pointe Claire and the presbytery next to it. With the piles of snow and the many windows on the building, there was plenty of opportunity for repetition in the design. Painted on a pad of Arches CP paper, 9″ x 12″.


From below

This was the last week of my oil class, and with a little time spent working on this at home as well, I had time to finish one more painting. Because this canvas (16″ x 20″) was larger than the previous one, it took some time to complete. With my years of experience in watercolour I’ve probably never taken longer than three hours to complete a painting, but it takes a long time to cover canvas with paint! I would estimate about 8 hours for this one.

This scene of New Bonaventure, Newfoundland was one I have painted before in watercolour, but this time I wanted to paint the view from below instead of from the hilltop overlooking the village. The pattern of pilings and mossy rocks was what I found interesting when I took the reference image, and was probably the part of the painting that was most fun to work on.

My oil painting toolbox contains a limited amount of colours: Phthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson (together they make the black), Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue and White. From this you can mix pretty much anything except for bright purples and violets. As always, I like to work with a limited palette and especially since I am just starting to learn how to work in oil, this reduces the variables quite a bit. There’s still a lot to learn but I’m setting up a space in my studio for oils so I can practice some more.



One eye watching

Alice wants a walk and I want to draw. It’s a battle of wills. For me, taking a bit of time to draw is a celebration of sorts —classes are done for this semester, which means that once grading is done I’ll have more time to paint. I sit down with my sketchbook, knowing that my model could get up at any time. Alice watches me with one eye, waiting for a sign. If I draw quietly without moving around too much, she stays put. But as soon as my chair makes a creaking sound, as soon as I close my sketchbook, that’s her signal that it’s walking time.


Car bumpers

While I was painting car bumpers from my office window, there was a bumper car incident on Beaver Hall Hill in downtown Montreal. Glad I was painting instead of driving at the time.