LAA Spring Exhibition this weekend

It’s a pleasure once again to exhibit in the Lakeshore Association of Artists Spring Show this weekend. For over 30 years this talented and generous artist group that I’ve recently joined has been partnering with community health organization NOVA West Island for this event. That’s something to be proud of. It’s a show I’m happy to be a part of, especially because my family benefited from NOVA’s services when my mother needed care in the last years of her life.

Situated in a beautiful historical house facing Lac St. Louis, the setting for the exhibit is quite special. If you’re in the mood for a drive along the lake on what promises to be a sunny weekend, please stop by. The show takes place at Fritz Farm, 20477 Lakeshore Road, Baie d’Urfé. Vernissage is Friday, April 20, from 7 – 9:30 pm. The exhibit continues on Saturday and Sunday from 10 until 5 pm, and one third of all the proceeds from art sales (from over 45 artists!) goes to NOVA. Hope to see you there!


Two Hookers

My timing for testing paint colours couldn’t have been better because there’s still no sign of spring in Montreal. Instead of looking for bits of green outdoors, I rummaged through my paint drawer to find a tube of green paint — this time Hooker’s Green, by M.Graham. It’s a dull but beautiful green, made from a combination of Prussian Blue and Gamboge, two colours I already have on my palette.

Many thanks to everyone who wrote to me about similar problems they were having with the Pentalic Aqua Journals. I did receive a response and an apology from Pentalic Customer Service, and I’ll be receiving a replacement book soon. Apparently there were some problems in manufacturing, but since they are sending me a different size book, I have a feeling the main problem is that the small square books are simply glued and not stitched at the spine. For those of you who have had the same problem it is worth writing to them to ask for a replacement as well. Today I sketched in another Pentalic book that I purchased at the same time (10″ x 7″) and I will be continuing the project in this book (which is stitched!). As for where the name of the colour comes from, it may not be what you think. Here is the info I found on this.


Savannah riverfront

Last month, seated on a bench in the sun on Savannah’s historic riverfront, I had a chance to sketch some of the shapes and colours of the working docks. It was a fascinating place to spend a few hours. Behind where I was seated, in a series of former warehouses that line the river, tourists are buying candy, stocking up on souvenirs, eating shrimp and grits, lining up for an ice cream or having a beer. But when a container ship leaves port on the Savannah River, everyone stops in their tracks and watches it go by. It’s as if a full city is passing in front of your eyes — a wall of cargo containers of every colour stacked on top of a massive vessel that seems far too huge to be passing through this narrow channel in front of us. It’s rare to be this close to a ship that big, at least for me, and as tempting as it was to sketch it as it moved along, its fast clip made it near impossible. I sketched the stationary dock instead.



Sometimes colours (or names of colours) conjure up vivid images or memories. Whenever I see a tube of Carmine paint, I can’t help but think about The Sopranos, not only because of the characters Carmine and his son “Little” Carmine, but also for the fair amount of blood that was shed over the six seasons.

This little project of testing out the colours I have in my paint drawer has become something I look forward to every day. I was hoping to fill up a complete book or two with a variety of single-colour experiments, but after only three sketches, the newly purchased 5″ x 5″ Pentalic Aqua Journal is falling apart. Each time I paint a double-page spread, the pages detach from the glued spine. Has anyone else had this problem with the book? I know that James Gurney uses the landscape format of this and never seems to have any problems, so I am wondering if it is a defect with this small square version of the book. As someone who cherishes a completed sketchbook, especially if it contains a single theme or project, this is a huge disappointment. I’d love to hear from you if you have the same issue as me.


All in a row

This morning, straight from the paint drawer, a tube of Perylene Green. I’m pretty certain I’ve used it on my palette before because the tube is squished down to almost empty, but again, using it on its own makes me realize that I don’t know much about it. It’s a blackish green, almost grey when diluted. Probably wonderful for dark green foliage although I tend to mix most of my own greens when painting outdoors. I’ve only just started this little project, but I intend to work each spread in my sketchbook the same way: one tube of paint, no preliminary drawing with pencil or ink (hence the wonky bottles), a simple subject and hopefully a little discovery of colour each day.



Alice dreaming

Alice is dreaming of warmer days and I’m working on a new (as of today) project of trying out some little-used colours in my paint drawers. Today’s colour is Quinacridone Burnt Orange by Daniel Smith. It’s a deep orange beauty of a pigment, and dark enough at full strength for Alice’s closed eyes and the velour of her bed. For this foray into hues and shades, I’m working in a Pentalic Aqua Journal, 5.5 x 5.5″ — an ideal small size for daily sketching when time is limited.


Back of the shop

Here’s a great way to get to know the pigments on your palette, or to find out more about a colour you are thinking of adding. Instead of just painting it into a little square swatch like we all do, paint a whole sketch with it.

I got to try this out the other night at life drawing. My group meets in a room at the back of an art supply shop (Galerie d’Art Pointe Claire) — a very convenient location if you happen to run out of paper or charcoal, but also highly dangerous if you love to buy art supplies (like me). On a break from drawing the model, I was talking with Pierre (the owner) about Holbein Irodori paints and he gave me a blob of the Antique Orange to try. Just squeezed some out on a scrap of watercolour paper. I was about to paint a little rectangle to see what it looked like, but instead I decided to sketch Jimmy, our model. In other circumstances, I probably never would have chosen bright orange paint for life drawing, but it was the perfect opportunity to see if the paint was opaque or transparent, staining or granulating, etc. You can see where the original blob of paint was, right above Jimmy’s head. I kept on painting until the blob ran out. Turned out to be my most successful sketch of the night, I learned a thing or two about the paint (it’s definitely more transparent than I thought it would be!) and it made me realize that this is probably what I should be doing each time I try out a new pigment.