La vieille grange

On days in February and March when grey skies and dirty snow surround us, I go off in a desperate search for something colourful to sketch. The colour can be on anything — store signage, a yellow house exterior, or even farm equipment. It’s been some time since I’ve sketched at The Old Barn, at Macdonald Farm, but I know I can always count on finding interesting tidbits to sketch there. Painted on two pages of a Handbook Journal, 8″ x 8″.FarmStuff

Kalanchoe and Blood Bath

I spent a bit of time at the Montreal Botanical Gardens yesterday. The humid air and the plethora of vegetation was a welcome change from the grey weather we’ve been having in Montreal. It would have been nice to sketch in the butterfly exhibit but it was too crowded. Fortunately there are plenty of benches in the other greenhouses, as long as you don’t mind a constant drip on the back of your neck from the overhead sprinklers.


I sketched in both the cactus display and the orchid room. These sketches are in no way botanical illustrations — simply a bit of paint thrown on paper to reflect my joy at being surrounded by all of this exotic beauty.


Lisa’s bouquet

Lisa left her Valentine’s bouquet at my house on her way to a ski trip. She didn’t want the flowers to die, and she probably knew I would get around to sketching them, eventually. But the week was busy and I didn’t even pick up a pencil or paintbrush. The only writing implement I held in my hand was a red pen, as I graded a pile of student projects. The grading is done, for now, and in celebration of that, as well as the end of the week, I finally painted the (now) faded bouquet.


Jean-Pierre, from the front

Last night in life-drawing studio, our model was Jean-Pierre. I’ve drawn him before. He is undoubtably one of the best models in Montreal but I’ve never been able to capture his face. If you read my post from 2012, you’ll see why.

This is my fourth week of Thursday evening long pose life drawing. Each week I’ve tried to capture the model with watercolour, but haven’t posted anything I’ve done. I think it’s because over the three hours, my watercolours have lost their freshness. Each one is overworked. Maybe three hours is too long for the way I paint.

This week I changed my working method. I did several quicker drawings over the same time period, using different media (pencil, conte, pastel). Jean-Pierre’s face is very long and angular so when you are drawing it, it almost feels like you are sculpting it with your drawing tools. This is the one that I think captures his likeness the best.


Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, Portugal

I’m thrilled and honoured once again to be teaching this summer at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, Portugal from July 18-21, 2018. The lineup of instructors and workshops is really spectacular! Registration starts on Saturday, February 17th at 15:00hrs GMT, and as always, tickets are likely to sell out quickly. Have a look at the full lineup of instructors and workshops:

My workshop is called “Right up your alley: light, colour and shadow in Porto’s narrow spaces”. Looking at the possible workshop locations when I was writing my symposium proposal, I was intrigued by the patchwork of colour in the city’s narrow and hilly streets. This is something I often seek out when looking for places to sketch in Montreal, so I’m excited by the possibility of sketching these spaces in Porto. Have a look at a detailed document with all the workshop descriptions here. Hope to see you in Portugal!





Coloured pencil people drawings

In my bag there are always two small sketchbooks. There used to be just one  but I like the Stillman & Birn Nova series so much (especially the tan paper) that I have added that as well. Makes for a heavy bag, but I never know what will catch my eye when I have a few minutes to draw. Of course that means I also have to carry more drawing supplies. I bought a cheap set of fat coloured pencils that are double-sided (six pencils/twelve colours) and quite like layering them on the toned paper. And the best thing about the toned paper is that you get to add white!



Stuck in traffic

There’s so much traffic in Montreal these days, and it won’t get much better for years as work crews tear down and rebuild a major thoroughfare into downtown. There are plenty of detours, all of them congested, and they change weekly so you never know where you will end up. Ok, that’s the end of my complaining about traffic.

This was a scene I saw while stuck in one of those lineups a few days ago. I snapped a quick photo and painted it today because freezing rain is falling and I can’t paint outside. Now that I think about it, if the resident of this house steps out today, there is a good chance they will hit a patch of ice and slide right down those stairs. Stairs