Roy Street

I cracked open a new sketchbook today and stopped to sketch on my way to school. I have to say that it’s been difficult to focus on work this week because the light outdoors, especially between 4 and 6 pm, has been spectacular. All I want to do is paint, and an observant student might occasionally catch me looking longingly out the window when I am supposed to be teaching. The foliage is at its most vivid as well, and as the sun sets it turns the trees electric. We’ve had some windy days (and nights) which make for wonderful cloud formations but by next week some of those fiery trees will be bare, and then all I have to look forward to is painting snow.


Yesterday’s boats

The other day when I was out painting the colours of the autumn trees along Lac St. Louis, I went down to the edge of the water to take some photos of the dramatic late day lighting on the boats. When I turned around I saw four men at easels, painting the same scene in oil. Of course I had to go over to see what they were doing, especially since I know most of the local artists.

As I approached, I realized both that I didn’t know them, and that they were serious painters, dressed for the blustery weather with heavy hooded parkas, fingerless gloves and boots. I tried asking a few questions but they seemed more intent on capturing the scene in the quickly fading light than on talking. I probably would have been too. There was also a language barrier since they were from Taiwan and didn’t speak much English.

It seemed amazing to me that there were painters from the other side of the world, painting in my local spot near the lake. I’d love to know who they were. If you know anything about them, please share it with me. I could see from their canvases that they were not beginners, and I would love to see what the finished paintings look like. I didn’t brave the cold and wind like they did. My rendition of those boats on a blustery day was done in studio. Painted on Two Rivers Papers, Rough, 140 lb. 16″ x 20″, watercolour and white gouache.



The late afternoon light was really special today — sharp and bright and clear — and perfect for painting the yellow trees and purple sky near the lake. The weather at this time of year always brings to mind those first weeks when I returned to sketching after a long break and soon after started this blog  — seven years ago this week! I had to mark the occasion with a quick watercolour, painted from my car. If you’ve been following along on this amazing journey, thanks for writing and commenting and sending me kind words. It still brings me joy to paint and write about whatever the day brings my way.


Trash day

As much as I appreciate discovering the unique possibilities of ink, October is the most vivid month in Montreal, so letting it go by without sketching some of autumn’s warm colours would be a mistake. On my way to school today I made a quick detour through Pointe Claire to sketch a little strip of Lakeshore Road, on my 8″ square Fluid CP block. Luckily I was there early enough to avoid having my view blocked by the city trash truck.



Inktober Day 6: Apache Sunset

I was in the Boston area over the long weekend visiting family. As we approached their town, I spotted a field of sunflowers at Spring Dell farm and had to return the next day to sketch it. It was the perfect time to try out my new bottle of Noodler’s Apache Sunset ink.

I first discovered the power of this unusual orange ink when I gave a workshop in Fredericksburg, Virginia last May and saw some sketches done by Carol Phifer, one of the artists at the LibertyTown Arts Workshop. At first I thought she had used both a yellow and an orange ink, but the unique thing about this colour is that it’s a deep orange/red at full strength and turns yellow when you dilute it. For the sunflower drawing, I drew first with a brush pen while standing in the field, and then added colour back in the car where I could safely balance the full bottle of ink in my cup holder.


Inktober Day 4

Alice could probably fit into many of the prompts for Inktober, but not today’s which is “Spell”. I drew her anyway, and she will certainly reappear when I get to October 6 which is “drooling” and October 26 which is “stretch”.

Today I used India Ink on watercolour paper — more specifically a little pad of The Langton from Daler Rowney which I purchased a few years ago in Manchester. It’s great paper for watercolour sketches and nice to use with ink as well. I drew with the brush today, no pencil, just straight into the India Ink. Of course this means that there are no corrections possible to the drawing, so when I messed up her hindquarters by making them too small, there was no turning back. Them’s the breaks with ink.


Roasted (and some great news)

On Day 3 of Inktober I probably stretched the meaning of the prompt word Roasted just a bit, but I was at the Jean Talon Market on my lunch hour and saw these squash, all lined up and perfectly labelled. I figure someone is going to roast these eventually, right?

I am loving the high contrast effects I get with India ink, and am still learning a lot about working with it. A few words of advice if you want to use it:

  1. It takes a lot longer than watercolour to dry.
  2. Don’t try to reconstitute dried ink on your palette (I use a plastic plate) because it will just flake.
  3. Wash your brushes well after using the ink, and never use sable brushes for this.


On another note, I am thrilled to mention that my watercolour Blue and Rust won the Carl Schaefer Award at Open Water, the annual show of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. Many thanks to the exhibition judges and organizers for this honour. If you’re in Toronto, the opening reception is tomorrow night at the John. B. Aird Gallery (90 Bay Street) and the show runs until October 26, 2018.