From above

Spring is late this year, and all I could find to sketch in my garden were these three tulips, seeking a bit of sun like all of us this May. It took a while to figure out the right mix of colours to get the glowing orange/pink of the blooms. Quinacridone Rose, Azo Yellow and a bit of Transparent Orange did the job, in the end. And although I rarely use it, Lunar Black mixed with Alizarin Crimson gave me a dark that was just right for the centres. Sketched in a Travelogue Watercolour Journal, 8″ x 8″.

Brick house on Lakeshore

Shadow patterns are worth waiting for. They add so much to a scene, don’t you think? When I started out sketching this house on Lakeshore Road in Pointe Claire, it was sunny, but then clouds appeared. I painted the local colours of the house and trees, but the scene was flat. I’m an optimist, though. A patient optimist. I loaded up my brush with shadow colour and waited. And waited. And waited. When the sun reappeared, I rewet my brush and quickly added in the shadow areas. I probably could have tried to do this from memory but the shadow patterns from the mostly bare trees were quite dynamic and I wanted to get it right.

All or nothing

For the past few weeks I have been looking for outdoor subjects to paint, but it’s been a bit of a wasteland of grey days, bare trees and yellowed grass.

And then all of a sudden, there’s too much choice. Tiny buds are opening on trees, the grass is green, and today I drove by the market and was thrilled to see all the hanging plants on display. It made me realize how starved for colour I am. The red and yellows on my palette are getting some attention again, and before you know it the boats will be in the water too. Seems like the start of summer sketching is finally here.


Isn’t Lungwort a most unfortunate name for a beautiful spring flower? Besides the crocuses that I sketched a few weeks ago, this is the only bloom to appear so far. All the spring flowers have been late in coming this year, especially in my garden where they were fighting to emerge under a thick mat of leaves. But they have finally been uncovered and hopefully will make an appearance in the coming days.

Veer left

I haven’t sketched in downtown Montreal in a dog’s age, so when I had a mid-morning appointment there today, I left a little early and sketched in Griffintown first.

With luck on my side, I found a coveted parking spot on Wellington, facing this scene. I do love a good jumble of road signs and construction bits, and in this one the pattern of orange cones and signs and barricades was exactly what I was hoping for on a grey day — a few spots of colour in the urban landscape to make up for this endlessly dismal spring in Montreal.