Girl with a white scarf

With my very full teaching schedule this semester, one thing that I don’t have time to do is life drawing. I loved it several years back when I was able to fit in a weekly session, but haven’t been able to do it since. With the cold weather starting, I find myself drawing indoors more often, including on breaks between classes at my school. There’s a roomy lounge in my building where students congregate, and you can often find models (students on their phones!) who hang out long enough to be drawn. The sofas and chairs are quite comfy, so it gives me a relaxing place to sit and draw too. A win-win situation for both sketcher and model.


The shadows of peppers and pears

On a rainy Sunday afternoon there are a few things on my counter that I will be using in recipes later today (although unlikely they will all be in one dish!). Before I start chopping, I take out my sketchbook to capture their shapes and colours. I try to paint the shadows of the objects at the same time as the objects themselves, hoping a little of the fruit colour will work itself down into the shadow colour, or that a little shadow will creep up into the fruit (this happened in the pears). Sketched in a Handbook Watercolour Journal, 8″ x 5″.


A corner

If my favourite parking spot is available near this particular corner in Pointe Claire, I always grab it. It’s the first spot after a no-parking zone, so I know no one can park in front of me. Why do I like this view so much? It’s the combination of the curve in the road, the highway signs that add colour, a bit of a foreground building, a few structures in the middle of the picture, and of course a good utility pole with plenty of wires. It makes for a dynamic composition with plenty of detail and interest.

I always start by painting the big shapes — sky, road, then brick building and trees. When those are dry I add the smaller shapes — pole, shadows on the road and buildings, cars and windows. The last details to be painted are the smaller darks in the windows and under the cars, as well as the lines on the sidewalk and the deep greens of the foliage. PteClaireCorner

Alice watches tv

Seeing all the Inktober drawings on social media inspired me to draw Alice in pen today. I chose my Lamy Safari for this. It’s a pen I don’t use often for drawing because I find the nib too stiff, but today it seemed just right on the paper I was using. As for Alice, her modelling skills improve after a long session of chasing tennis balls in the park.


Macdonald farm

I had to take a few liberties with colour on this one. The leaves in Montreal have hardly started to change colour, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend and it just didn’t feel right to have so much green in a painting. I’ll admit, this was not my first try at painting the scene. It took a few attempts to find the right colour scheme, but once I eliminated the green completely it started to feel like I was moving in the right direction. I added some ochre and burnt umber to my palette and contrasted the cool of the buildings with the earth tones of the trees. Then it became autumn. Painted on Saunders Waterford paper, 15″ x 11″.FallFarm

These boots

What is it about boots (and shoes) that makes them so challenging and yet so much fun to draw? For me the challenge is always to make sure they come out looking like a matching pair, and that they don’t look like they belong on two left feet. The part I love the best is drawing the patina of the leather, the dark insides, and the contours they have taken on from being worn over a period of time. I have sketched many a pair in watercolour, but there is something very special about taking the time to render them in pencil on a creamy paper that has a bit of texture.



School zone

After a beautiful autumn weekend, it’s back to school for me. I sketched on the way to class today, on a side street near the campus. I would have liked to add a few more details to this but time did not permit. It’s almost mid-term and my students are working hard on projects and preparing for quizzes in my classes.

I spent Saturday in Ottawa doing a repeat teaching session of my Chicago workshop “Trees and the City”. It was a perfect day for sketching —  a little cool in the morning but bright and sunny all day. As always when I teach, I never take enough photos but fortunately Cindi Foreman from the Ottawa Urban Sketchers took tons of great photos and wrote a blog post of the event. Thanks again Cindi for all your help making this happen, and to Winsor & Newton for the sponsorship!