Greens and a red

As autumn approaches (actually I think it may be starting today) the colour of trees starts to soften. In the city this approach of the change of seasons is subtle. Instead of uniform greens, we see foliage turning yellow and over a period of many weeks, finally becoming red. In the Adirondacks, where I painted last week, that change seems to have occurred almost overnight and with much more intensity. The dark walls of evergreens are pierced by fiery reds and yellows.

When I painted this early morning lakeside scene, it was a challenge to incorporate some of that intensity without being too literal. I started by painting the mass of trees in one wash, incorporating a large area of red into the variety of greens (more yellow moving to more blue.) Drying time is slow on a misty morning, but when the tree shape was less damp I went in with thicker and darker paint to define some of the individual trees within that mass. Painted on Fabriano 140 lb rough paper, 15″ x 11″.

The narrows

It seems that a recent cold spell has triggered fall foliage colours in the northern Adirondacks. I spent the weekend visiting friends and painting the multitude of views from their dock, which is situated on a narrow channel between two lakes. It couldn’t  have been a better weekend for painting — sunny with no wind and a soundtrack provided by loons and ducks — so I took full advantage of the setting. Painted on Fabriano 140 lb. rough paper, 15″ x 11″.


Workhorses of the garden

What would I do without Echinacea and Black-eyed Susans in my garden? They start blooming in July and keep going until September with no signs of fading. They posed for me while I experimented with some new QoR watercolours that I received in Chicago. I will write more about the paint after a bit more experimentation, but the first impression is this: the colours are bright when used full strength but I had lots of trouble getting good darks. When I write about them next I’ll show my colour chart and some painted mixes too. And if you’ve tried them, I’d love to hear your impressions. For now, off to school…BlackEyedSusans

In order of importance

There’s a long list of things I want (and need) to do this afternoon — sketch, walk the dog, get to the gym, do some grading, buy a few things for dinner — all this before heading off to a meeting tonight. Needless to say, the procrastinator in me is putting off grading for later. Plus, it’s a perfect September day, so why not take advantage of this and sketch while the weather is good.

Alice, on the other hand, thinks that going to the park should take precedence. She sits nearby while I start my sketch. Then plants herself in front of the wheelbarrow. Then drops a ball at my feet. And finally digs up an old bone out of the dirt so she can annoy me with the sound of the gnawing. I sketch her too.AliceWheelbarrow


Red roof

It’s been such a busy start to the school year that it’s hard to find time to sketch. One extra course has been added to my workload this term, and that means not only more teaching time but more preparation and extra grading time too. It leaves me frustrated because of course I like to do a daily sketch, but sometimes there are no more hours left in the day.

On Fridays I start a little later and this morning I was determined to find a bit of time to return to a house I spotted a few weeks ago on my way to school. It’s on a side street just a few blocks from the building where I work, and it looks nothing like the surrounding houses in the neighbourhood, which are mostly low-rise brick apartments buildings or two-storey duplexes. It’s situated next to a automobile repair shop, which is also a bit of an oddity in a residential area. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to spend an hour or so sketching this house before I went to class. Sketched in a Handbook Watercolor Journal, 8″ x 8″.


Art by the Lake: an invitation to drop by

Next weekend I’ll be participating in Art by the Lake — the annual outdoor group show of the Lakeshore Association of Artists  — which takes place on September 9 & 10 from 10 am to 5 pm. As always, all the artists (about 40 of us in all) are hoping for good weather so we can put up our tents and exhibit our work outdoors on the scenic grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe Claire. If the weather is rainy, we’ll be exhibiting inside instead (which is beautiful too but not half as much fun as being outside!).

I’ll have a booth there with lots of new paintings and I hope you’ll drop by to say hi. I’ll even be doing a short demo on Saturday afternoon at 2 pm. This show is for a great cause — a percentage of the proceeds from sales will go to On Rock Community Services — a food bank that helps out many West Island families. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and come out to see us next weekend! I’ll be there both days.



There’s a certain pleasure in painting a simple object — in trying to capture the colour and shape in the fewest of strokes. In this case the object is a garden tomato, given to me by the man who frames my paintings. This was grown from seeds he saves from year to year, and even though he laments the rainy summer of 2017 and the lack of fruit on the vines, it’s still the best tomato I’ve eaten this year. My sketch lacks another object to give you a sense of scale, so I weighed the tomato  — at least the half of it that I didn’t eat for dinner — and it came in at over 13 oz. That means the full tomato was over a pound and a half, and if you are curious to see the real thing, there’s a photo on my Instagram feed @sharisketcher.Tomato.jpg