Macdonald Farm half-sheets

I’ve been waiting for a good day to get out and paint some large size landscapes, and since the forecast was favourable this morning I drove out to McGill’s Macdonald Farm, car loaded with jugs of water, my French easel and some half sheets of watercolour paper. I managed to get two done in about four hours, and that felt pretty good.

The intention with these was to capture the feeling of the day — nothing too polished — more like really big, loose sketches on large paper. It was quite freeing to splash around on the paper. I didn’t even tape the sheets, just clipped them with bulldog clips at the corners and let them be. I wanted the paper to feel as free as I did, if that makes any sense.

The first painting was done at the end of a farm road where I paint often. I was really looking for a scene with some distance and depth, and these fields are more interesting in the spring before the corn comes up and there are still some unplanted areas. The sky was quite dramatic because of the unsettled weather that we’re having in Montreal this week. I tried to capture a bit of the turbulence in the clouds but wish I hadn’t gone back in with a second pass of wash on the sky. Skies in watercolour are always better when you can paint them all in one fresh wash.


I am happier with the way the sky came out on the second sheet I did. I didn’t make the same mistake of going back into the sky and this one retained its freshness. The cows were in the field so I added them in, although I’ve never painted cows before. The ones grazing move around more than I expected, and by the time I was ready to paint them they were all having a rest in the shade.

I haven’t painted on half sheets of watercolour in a long time. I find the format is often too wide for my compositions, but for open landscapes this size is ideal. Painted on Arches Cold Press 140 lb, 22″ x 15″.


63 Comments on “Macdonald Farm half-sheets”

  1. Toni Cummins says:

    They look great Shari . Thanks for the descriptions. I laughed about the cows… I had almost the same issue in Ireland. The cows were right in front me , interested in the car . By the time I organized myself , they had gone!! 😂🇦🇺

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bernadette says:

    These paintings are both exquisite. I love the puddles of water in the first work. Seems to me that the sky is telling of the coming of rain. I would not say it was overworked.
    The added cows and the fresh wash of blue sky in the second painting are elements that delight those of us who love watercolor landscapes.i am so glad to have found your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. These are great Shari. And i really appreciate the commentary on your intentions and how you went about choosing, setting up, and executing. i often feel at sea and alone out in the field and it’s nice to find some similarities in approach and get your viewpoint.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rosjenke says:

    I’m liking these again 😊 you mightn’t be happy with that sky but I think it’s stunning, as is the rest of it. I’m in awe.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. TonyU says:

    Pleased to hear you’re now in full outdoor mode. Two lovely paintings and the first one in particular could be England …. partly because of the greens but mostly because of the threatening sky and the big puddle I think!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was thinking this could be England. In fact this whole week reminded me of the weather we had last year in Galway and Manchester. Very unpredictable!!! Not a good thing for a watercolorist painting outside.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. joantav says:

    Both of these are really lovely with such a nice sense of depth! I am drawn to that sky in the first one…such marvelous colors and shapes. I like the puddles reflecting the sky as you move forward. Super pieces!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Connie says:

    Lovely pieces Shari! I commend you for doing half sheets in the field. In my continuous search for clean and varied greens, I would love to know your mixes for these two paintings.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Suzanne says:

    Both so good! Thank you for the details. I just remembered to imagine these as half sheets and not very small as on my iPad. The skies are both just right, the puddles, the tree shadows, the dugout or pond in the second. I want to drink water just from looking at the second painting.
    Just wondering Shari, did you bring Alice with you for these? Was the water for yourself, Alice, and for painting?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Suzanne, Thanks so much! I never bring Alice with me when I paint. She would be too much to worry about, chasing squirrels, barking at the tractors, chewing sticks. I walk her first and go out to paint after that. The water jugs were for painting. With large sheets like this you need to change the water often.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Judy Sopher says:

    Both are beautiful. I also like the sky in the first-and the lovely blue in the puddles. . I never was able to duplicate the lesson on skies in your course. Must watch again. I admire your working on a half sheet . Another thing I have not done in years. Can’t believe I ever used a full sheet-which I did.(One disadvantage of that is the cost of framing.)

    And thank you for your expiation of how you did the letters on the jar.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Isabell says:

    *hihi* I know what you mean with grasing cows 🙂 Both are lovely lose sketches. I admire your skies (the first one too, despite the second wash, it’s still lovely and quite dramatic). I feel always shy with hard edges in skies but find your clouds in the second one gorgeous!! I’ll have to experiment a bit with that !!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. lolliejack says:

    Shari, I enjoy your blog immensely. The first sky I quite like- It depicts how the weather around Montreal has been lately. I always glean something from your posts, thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hey Loons says:

    Not only do you show your beautiful painting, but you also give us an insight in to what goes on in the thinking of an artist. Thank you Shari.


  13. Very beautiful painting!


  14. Magnificently made. Beautiful! Loved the description, too! It made me miss that feeling I get as I draw.. Really beautiful! ❤ (Never tried painting, though! I bet it feels just as good.)


  15. inchpress says:

    I’m in awe too. Love watercolors.


  16. parikhitdutta says:

    As always these are amazing! Makes me wish I were in the farm myself leisurely watching the cows graze 🙂 Someone should post a picture while you are working!


  17. FlickrGirl says:

    I love what I just read 🙂


  18. swarnimabi says:



  19. Aww…the paintings are beautiful. The sky simply appeared cloudy on the first painting and bright and promising on the second. Nice work- author.


  20. blindloveweb says:

    Lively n amazing


  21. These are amazing, it really reminds me of landscapes I would find at home. In that sense, it’s actually quite haunting. I love the style. When I have the guts to attempt a class I will definitely want to take one with you. (I just have to overcome my own mental block because I have never done something like this)


  22. Love your feed 💙 can’t wait for more


  23. catsartpics says:

    You are very good with watercolor. I like your work!
    Thanks for posting the work you did this morning I appreciate it.

    It’s nice to see other Artist’s here at Word Press show their work.


  24. catsartpics says:

    Your watercolor work is very good.

    Thanks for posting your work, I appreciate it.


  25. ikrishna98 says:

    Painting are exquisite, I like the usage of white to show the bright side of things in the painting


  26. Amal Suresh says:

    Its really nice.


  27. wingsoflight says:

    Your work is amazing, something so beautiful.


  28. j2w7 says:

    Teriffic! ☆☆☆☆-JW


  29. Emma Sue says:

    These really do seem to capture the mood of the day. Beautiful paintings!


  30. Loved Your posts and Your watercolors! Tempting??? Ha! Painting watercolors – a dream – maybe in my next lifetime!!!!
    Come Visit me?????


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