Familiar corner

One of the things I love best about urban sketching is getting to tell the stories of the people or places I sketch. There’s not much of that happening these days, and I miss it. But today I have a story from my own neighbourhood. I have sketched the west side of the Pioneer Bar building in Pointe-Claire Village many, many times. You can see it on the right side of the sketches here and here and here. And there are probably many more sketches of it in my archives.

My story today is that when I arrived to sketch at my usual spot, the Pioneer was gone. It’s been scheduled for demolition for years, but there was an ongoing controversy because heritage groups for the city of Pointe-Claire were against the construction of condos and commercial properties being built in its place, and fought (and lost) to prevent its demolition. I have to admit the building was a bit of an eyesore, which you will see when you click on the link to the newspaper article, but I will miss the yellow stucco side wall, the big propane tanks and black metal fire escapes that provided me with so much opportunity for brush calligraphy. Au revoir Le Pionnier!

The leftovers

Do you always clean your palette at the end of a sketching day? I’d like to say I do, but that wouldn’t be honest. I clean my brushes but I don’t always get around to scrubbing out the wells of the palette, so sometimes I start the next day with some interesting mud that I can use. Those dried leftovers on the palette can sometimes lead to new mixes that are a little more subtle or muted than what you might mix on a clean palette. This doesn’t work for every subject, of course. For example, if you need a specific colour — like some bright pink or a fresh yellow — you wouldn’t want that dirty palette. But if you are sketching a spring day in Montreal when everything looks quite soft, a little leftover colour is just what you might need to get started. Sketched in a Handbook Watercolour Journal, 8″ x 8″.