Ice storm drawings

There’s nothing like an extended power failure to give you the time to draw. It started with Wednesday’s ice storm that lasted for many hours, with 15-30 mm of ice accumulating on trees and branches. Once the ice built up on trees, we started hearing deafening cracks as the weight of it split big branches and devastated huge trees all over the city. Next to go were the exposed power lines which started coming down too. By 3 p.m. our power was out and most of the city was in darkness.

Luckily we have a wood-burning insert in our fireplace, so we were able to stay warm. And with the help of our kind neighbour who hooked us into his generator, we were able to keep the sump pump going and avoid a flood in the basement. Once those necessities were taken care of, what else was there to do but draw?

My first ice storm drawing was a view out my back window. I tried to capture the cedars that were curved and split from the weight of the ice. And the drippy grey atmosphere of the day.

I ventured down into my dark and cold studio with a flashlight, and found a mug of Micron pens of different sizes. I haven’t drawn with these in a very long time because I find that the nibs wear down too quickly, but I love the super fine 005 and 01 pens. Of course my first drawing was of Alice, who was finding the whole change of routine and sleeping in front of the fire quite tiring.

Like Alice, I did not want to leave the one warm room in the house so I kept drawing from my seat by the fire. By Thursday afternoon (still no power) the sun came out, so I drew the Norway Maple that’s outside my front window. With nothing but time on my hands, I built up the tree texture with A LOT of fine lines.

Of course the cold house extended the life of my yellow tulips, so I brought those into the warm room and drew those with my Micron pen. Just as I was finishing the tulip drawing, and almost exactly 48 hours after it had gone off, the power came back on with a whir and a hum throughout the house. It felt great to feel the house warm up again, but after 72 hours of this ice storm there are still many people in the city with no power, sleeping in shelters, charging their phones in malls and librairies, and waiting for their lights to come on too. Hopefully it will all be restored by tomorrow for everyone.

36 Comments on “Ice storm drawings”

  1. Marilyn H says:

    Your drawings are beautiful, in spite of the situation! I’m glad to hear that you got your power on and you are okay! My fear is of losing power in the winter, with frozen pipes and no heat, and ice storms as you have had are really serious. Alice had the right idea! At least you were able to be productive even in the dark!


  2. Ruth Howell says:

    how did your favorite tree that you enjoy drawing survive the ice storm?


    • Ruth, that is a great question. I took a walk there on Thursday to see and was almost perfectly intact. Maybe one small branch cracked but that was it!! It might be the only tree in the neighbourhood that had no damage.


  3. chicogal15 says:

    Shari, Thank you for sharing this challenging saga.  Yikes.!!! 

    The Micron pens seem to be a terrific choice.  The tree is just beautiful, and can be studied for the layers that you included to get this wonderful result.  The horizontal lines themselves must have been quite tedious, but the shading it provided is beautiful. Alice seems pretty un-phased that you changed pens and seems to have perfected the art of being a willing and loyal model. As usual, thanks for sharing your work. Makes learning together so valuable. Patricia


  4. Chris Rusk says:

    Such absolutely, stunningly beautiful, work. I think somehow one always seems to shine from adversity.

    Your drawings today are such a nice treat to enjoy after all of the dark & the cold 🙂

    thx! Ch


    • Thanks Chris. I hope you were able to stay warm during all of this!


      • Chris Rusk says:

        Thanks Shari – We got through it…Friday evening – power came back; Monday evening – internet.

        The experience truly brought home the idea of ‘Netflix and ‘Chill’.’

        Having a lot of cell data helped too 😉


  5. -N- says:

    Adventures like this are fun when you are a kid and have no idea how serious it could be! Glad it is over and all is well, and hope others are getting their power back, too. I know there are tragedies out there, too. Love the tree and drawings.


    • Thanks so much Naomi. It was no fun, that’s for sure, but everything is back to normal now. The fridge has been cleaned out, the sump pumps are emptying on their own, and all is well with Alice.


  6. bettyohome says:

    Wonderful, wonderful drawings. But yours always are! We had a horrific ice storm in Texas ourselves, and it ruined many trees. We only had 12 hours of no power, but it was enough to send me sitting in front of the fireplace for as long as I could! And this is Texas, not Canada! Your drawings and paintings always sustain me.


  7. Sorry to hear that there was such an extensive power outage. I hope everyone has power by now. It is great that you had something to keep yourself occupied. Your inkwork in these is wonderful!!


  8. Sandy says:

    Gotta say one thing about Alice…She sure knows how to handle an emergency!


  9. De says:

    Compliments to you for making the best of the situation. You can draw very well in freezing temperatures. I’m not sure I’d be able to draw that many straight lines, in shivering temperatures.


    • De, I had a hard time painting. Somehow I was able to manage a pen but not a brush and water. It just seemed too cold to paint. I guess because I was sitting on a nice sofa in a sunny window but it’s not where I usually splatter paint. My micron pen was much neater!


  10. Bernadette says:

    I love your recorded drawings kept together in sketchbooks. In days and years to come, they will bring back the memories and feelings of icy cold landscapes and your dog asleep through it all.
    They are far better than a written diary. I imagine when you look back through your sketchbooks of years ago, the memories and feelings are as vivid as the day they occurred.
    Love them all but my favorites are Alice and the vase of tulips. Exquisite!


    • Thanks Bernadette. Yes indeed, this sketchbook will be a great reminder of those very cold and dark few days. Glad I drew. I was too cold to do much else and too distracted to read a book but drawing is very calming.


  11. Lori Zajic says:

    I just love your sketches! They are absolutely amazing!
    I too, am (impatiently), awaiting spring here too. No ice storms but plenty of gray, rainy days😭


  12. Denise says:

    Your works never cease to amaze! Glad you survived the storm!


  13. Y.B. De Ridder says:

    Your posts are quite a educational! Not sure I’ll ever need a sump pump in English but now I know! Beautiful drawings btw & glad your tree survived and nothing fell on the wheelbarrow. Can’t have to much change!


  14. ccr1ccr2 says:

    What a tale! I had no idea about ice storms. My favourite drawing is of the tree trunk. I like to draw trees but only occasionally and with a Sailor Fude pen for the speed and character. It’s beautiful. I salute you (and Alice) for not letting the situation faze you!


  15. schartoart says:

    my friends who didn’t lose power just lost it. Keep everything charged.


  16. susie langley says:

    Great drawings. Glad you could stay warm and now have power. We were lucky to leave Mtl on Wed AM by Via Rail and missed the worst of it. Saw many beautiful iced trees on our trip. Just rain here in Toronto. Today looks like spring… and for the next few days.


  17. Iona says:

    Wow Shari, these are all great. You certainly made the most of your “idle” time and so did Alice it seems :-). I’m glad you had some heat – and power, thanks to your kind neighbour. Your drawings are exquisite, thanks for sharing your experience!


  18. Wow that Ice storm on Wednesday April 5th was fairly bad. At least it wasn’t 10cm of freezing rain this time, and powerpoles crumpled like tinfoil. It was still bad. Where I live it was no more than 15mm of accretion. But just the battery of 1 storm after another all winter.

    Last Monday I took a trip to Rigaud just across the border in Western Quebec. The damage actually seems far worse where I live in Cornwall. Some of the villages near here it looks like there was a tornado of fallen trees.

    I really like your Ice Storm painting you really captured the weight of the ice on the branches. I’m not sure if the trees are that vibrant, but the colours are nice. I think we are all tired of painting endless shades of greys, blues and whites. Quebec in the winter, colourless.


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