Oyster beds and mudflats

If you’re heading south on Chuckanut Drive and you spot a sign that says Taylor Shellfish Company Next Right, follow it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. After a steep drive down a narrow road, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view across mudflats and oyster beds towards Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. The colour of the mud is rich in greens and browns and blues, the sky is huge, and the rocks are glossy black in the hazy sun. A sketcher’s paradise.


Pacific Northwest blues

Next week I’ll be teaching a workshop in Anacortes, Washington. In preparation for my trip, I spent a few hours painting a scene from a reference photo I took the last time I was there. There’s something about the colours of the Pacific Northwest that speak to me. Perhaps it’s the tall backdrop of dark green mountains or the indigo of the sky and water. There’s a drama in the landscape that just takes my breath away, and I’m giddy with anticipation about painting it again. Painted wet-in-wet on Arches paper, using lots of Indigo paint.


Alice before dinner

Alice has two beds. One for her body and sometimes one for her head. Sketched on my iPad using an Apple Pencil and Procreate.


The Fur Trade Museum with USk Montreal

I put my Sennelier Sap Green into practice today when I joined Urban Sketchers Montreal on the Lachine Canal today. It was a near perfect summer day for sketching, and since the stone house (which is now The Fur Trade Museum) is surrounded by trees, I added the green paint to my regular palette to test drive it in the field. It made beautiful light greens with the addition of yellow, and rich dark ones when I added blue, so I may have to get a tube of this when I finish the half pan.

As for the USk Montreal group, it’s great to see how active it is. Marc Holmes and I planned our first outing almost seven years ago with seven people in attendance, including us, and it’s really gratifying to see it going strong. There are regularly 30 or 40 people every month, and more new sketchers every time. The group is planning an exhibit titled “The Lachine Canal and its Neighbourhoods” in October. If you are interested in participating or coming to see the show, here’s more info.


Liatris

I’m nearing the end of experimenting with my little palette of Sennelier pan watercolours. Today’s quick sketch used mostly Sap Green, which is a colour I had removed from my palette recently. I had been using the Winsor & Newton version, which I found a little too bright and quite flat, but I have to admit that I connected more with this Sennelier version. It veers a little more towards olive, and is quite beautiful when mixed with the French Ultramarine Blue that’s also included in the set. As for the violet, that’s mostly pure Cobalt Violet Light (Shinhan PWC), straight from the tube.


Amsterdam in monochrome

There were an exceptional amount of art supplies donated from generous sponsors in our Urban Sketchers goodie bags this year that I had to buy an extra carry-on pack to get them all home. The products are too numerous to name in one post. What I prefer to do is try each one individually when I return home, and then write about them. But I couldn’t resist cracking open a small watercolour kit from Sennelier while I was still there. It was a good opportunity to try some of the colours individually, as well as use a new travel rigger I picked up from Rosemary Brushes.

The Sennelier colours are vivid and very creamy. I was warned that because they contain honey, they do attract bees when you use them outdoors, and I have had that problem in the past with M. Graham paints, but sitting by the canal in Edam sketching the houses across the way, there were no bees in sight. I used French Vermilion for my first sketch.

Also in Edam, before catching the bus back to Amsterdam, I tried out the French Ultramarine Blue, again using the rigger brush, both for drawing and then for painting.

Back in Amsterdam I sketched the parked bikes using Burnt Umber. This is the colour I love best so far, evidenced by the pan which is now almost empty.

One evening a few of us ended up at the symposium Drink and Draw location, and I sketched this canal scene in Payne’s Grey, which is definitely less blue than I’m used to, but beautiful nonetheless.

On the last morning, before going to the airport, I sketched with Suhita and Liz. We found shelter from the rain on a café terrace and enjoyed a great hour of sketching and chatting.

I guess what I love about working in monochrome is that you really get to know your colours. And what I enjoyed most about these Sennelier paints is how they disperse in water, leaving behind beautiful and unexpected backruns, and also how my brush lines remained partially intact and partially dissolved as I painted over them with subsequent washes.

There are still a few colours left to try. In the set there’s also a Primary Yellow, Cinereous Blue, Phthalo Green Light and Sap Green. I doubt I’ll try the yellow as a monochrome sketch but there were lots of greens in this week’s vegetable sketch.


What’s in the basket?

Every summer I participate in a CSA basket program from a local farmer. This week the basket was so plentiful I had to sketch it. Doesn’t seem like that much on the sketchbook page, but there were so many tomatoes, cucumbers and squash that I couldn’t draw them all.

This was a quick sketch because I was hungry and wanted to turn some of this into a salad. I worked directly in watercolour (no pen or pencil) with a small Sennelier set I have been experimenting with lately. It’s a tiny box of eight pans that showed up in my goodie bag at the Urban Sketchers symposium in Amsterdam.

I’ve never really used Sennelier paints but I am really loving these vivid pigments. From a quick read on their website, I can see that they contain honey, which makes the half-pans very creamy. Tomorrow I’ll post some of the other direct watercolours that I painted with these pigments.