What’s on the menu?

These days in Montreal you don’t know what you’ll wake up to. Rain, ice, snow? Could be any one of these or all three in the same day. Last night I turned out the lights to the sound of rain but woke up to a perfectly white, spray-painted snow city. The beauty of it made me gasp.

I haven’t painted the Chocolatier Marlain building yet this year, so I headed out to see how it looked this morning. As I took out my pad of paper, a big snow plow parked right in front of the shop. I think the driver lives upstairs because he left the engine running for a good long time while he went in for coffee refill. I started the painting from the left side because that was all I could see, and then completed the door and the stairs later when he returned to his cab and drove off.

Lettering on buildings or signage is always an interesting challenge when I’m out sketching. Marlain has a signboard with a menu of frozen dishes that I wanted to put in, but if you paint the words perfectly they become a distraction. They way I treat them is to paint them partially so they look like letters, but not so perfectly that you can read every word. Occasionally I go back to darken bits of the letters, but not all of them.  And if you are interested in lettering and signs, have a look at Suhita Shirodkar’s wonderful sketches of vintage signs in and around San José where she lives.




18 Comments on “What’s on the menu?”

  1. karim waked says:

    OMG! Uncanny Shari B. Love u XOK

    •••Karimobile 514 9944433


  2. Judy Sopher says:

    Another great winter painting. I agree with writing so it isn’t really that clear. And I am a bad letterer-is that a word? I think it adds to the painterly quality of the sign.


  3. Great tip about lettering. Lovely sketch. I like how you’ve used the paper texture, it really helps convey the quality of the snow and ice.


  4. Bernadette says:

    How do you handle the color of the buildings you paint? Are your choices true to the buildings or do you choose a neutral for composition sake?
    Thanks for posting. I am encouraged to draw and paint looking out my windows….because of your inspirational work. I appreciate you.



    • Hi Bernadette. I do sometimes take liberties with the colour of the buildings, but these are quite a bit similar to reality. The building is dirty white stucco, so I have to be very subtle with the whites. The clean snow is whiter than the dirty white building, but the difference is very minor. Thanks for writing.


  5. Susan Power says:

    What a wonderful result!


  6. Oh, what a wonderful snowy scene. I can just imagine sitting there waiting for the snow plow to move out of the way. lol Nice wintery colors and shadows. It feels cold!


  7. rosjenke says:

    Brilliant again. You make every cold snowy scene inviting 😀


  8. I love the white snowy snow!


  9. anne farmer says:

    All of the above, so true – but I also think the slightly taller than wide format works really well.


  10. linder322 says:

    I always love your paintings of this chocolate shop. This one is just a wonderful view and use of color. Your subtle palettes are always inspiring. And how are their chocolates?


  11. Lee Kline says:

    Spot on, Shari. Your winter paintings always remind me of what we are missing down here in Florida. Our seasons change also, but not so dramatically. This is beautiful. And your note about the lettering is exactly how we graphic design students of many years ago were taught to render text in our (then) hand-made layout presentations. Make it look like lettering but not so clear that it can read as anything.


  12. Ellen says:

    Hi !
    One of my favorite subject of yours ! Thanks for painting it again !



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