An event to look forward to


If you are a professional or an amateur artist and wish to take part in a collective exhibition to be presented on Mount Royal, Les amis de la montagne, in association with Urban Sketchers Montréal, invite you to submit your works to Draw-me a Mountain, an exhibition of drawings and watercolour works highlighting the beauty of Mount Royal and the talents of Montréal artists.

The exhibition Draw-me a Mountain will be on view as part of Mai 2015 – Mois du mont Royal, on Saturdays and Sundays throughout May, at Les amis de la montagne, in Smith House, in Mount Royal Parc. Public admission is free.

Art Day: Sunday, May 24, 2015   You are also invited to join Urban Sketchers Montréal for a day of drawing and painting on the Mountain on Sunday, May 24, anniversary of the creation of Mount Royal Park.

Find out more about how to submit your work as well as our respective missions and activities: Les amis de la montagne | Urban Sketchers Montréal

affichette-dessine-moi-angWith spring flowers in mind, and knowing that I couldn’t get to the mountain to sketch today, I drew some orchids instead.


Performance sketching

As urban sketchers we are used to people looking over our shoulders as we draw on street corners or in cafés. But drawing on a wall in front of a crowd  — that’s a new experience, at least for me. Marc Taro Holmes and I were invited to be part of the Nuit Blanche party at the Canadian Centre for Architecture last night. We thought we’d be drawing on giant sheets of paper but as it turns out we were given a box of sharpies and a bare wall in a gallery space as part of the exhibition ABC : Montréal. We didn’t have a master plan but both of us had some laser copies of our recent Montreal sketches so we improvised. Before the crowds arrived, we figured out what the design of the mural would be: Marc’s sketch of Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral would be the largest vertical element with my panorama of Montreal as the horizontal baseline. In between we would weave in other elements from our sketches: a bit of Old Montreal, the Plateau Mont Royal, Carré St. Louis Victorian houses, Griffintown construction and some of Marc’s beautiful statues for the detailing.


Here’s the start of the Sharpie drawing with some of our sketches taped to the wall.


A few hours into the drawing, and tired of repeating the name of our group, I integrated the Urban Sketchers website into the mural (in my best imitation of the font Gill Sans Bold).


As the night wore own crowds gathered, took photos and tried to figure out the locations of various parts of the mural.


We’re almost finished (6 or 7 hours later!!) — just unifying the design with a center mass of distant buildings and trees.


And here is the final mural. A true Urban Sketchers collaborative experience!


Montreal sketchers on Mont-Royal

Mont Royal is a hill in the middle of the island of Montreal, but Montrealers call it “the mountain”. We go for picnics on the mountain, we have scenic lookouts on the mountain and we have a big greenspace on the mountain designed by Frederic Law Olmstead. And we love our “mountain” because when we have been away, we always know we are close to home when we see its distinctive shape as we approach the city.

We also have a street called Mont-Royal that faces the “mountain” and that was the destination for the second outing of Urban Sketchers Montreal. Marc Holmes and I were pretty happy to have 15 people turn out on this cold morning — a few who even came from Ontario for the event! Some of the people knew each other from a Sketchcrawl group so it was great that we found each other. We sketched the Victorian houses and the back alleys up and down the avenue, stopping to warm up in cafés at lunch and at the end of the day. Seems to me that USK Montreal is going to keep on growing.

Mont Royal


Église St. Jacques

The Judith-Jasmin pavilion of Université de Québec à Montréal is built around the Église St. Jacques. Marc Holmes and I had originally planned to sketch inside the building today because there’s an interesting view of rue Ste. Catherine from the 7th floor windows, but of course the university was closed because of the Thanksgiving holiday so we ended up drawing from across the street.

Marc did some beautiful ink drawings and this is another try for me with my new Moleskine sketchbook which, although I have not yet and may never master watercolour in this book, is wonderful for pen drawing. I love the smoothness of the paper, the creamy colour, and most of all the fact that because of the stitched binding, it lays flat in the scanner. I will just have to leave my experiments with watercolour for another day.

Eglise St Jacques

When it cleared

I went out today with the intention of trying two new purchases. One was a Raphael #8 watercolour brush (I’ll admit I have a weakness for these sable brushes!) and the other was a different format Moleskine sketchbook.

The brush, as expected, was wonderful. I already have a #14 from the same series but sometimes that is a little too big so I spotted a sale at one of my online suppliers, I jumped on it. The added incentive was that the brush came with free #2 and #0 brushes.

I’ve painted in many Moleskine books but they’ve always been watercolour paper. The new one I am trying is the Moleskine Sketchbook and I bought it because it is a vertical format instead of horizontal like the ones I am used to painting in. It’s listed in the online catalogue as “perfect for pencil, charcoal, fountain pen, tempera, acrylic, etc.” so I assumed it would be good for watercolour too, or at least light washes. Wrong! It is as if the paper has some type of resist on it and the wash just beaded and sat on top of the paper. My sketch in that book was of the same scene as this but it was very unsuccessful. I’ll have to do some more research into this to find out if other people have the same problem as me.

When It Cleared

Solving problems

While I observed and sketched today, these two guys solved all of the world’s problems.  I kept expecting them to finish their cigarettes and walk away but they stayed on these benches for the whole time I was there (45 min approx.). Occasionally one of them would get up, make a point about some important issue — hands flying, face reddening — and then sit back down with a sigh. From time to time a third man would join them for a few moments and then be off. When I turned away for a few seconds to pack up my paints they disappeared. Solutions had been found.

Solving Problems

Tabletop at Mountain View

I drew this a few weeks ago in my Laloran sketch book. I have lots of sketch books piled up on my desk but none have paper as beautiful as this.



Super simple

I haven’t done anything in my tiny Moleskine in a long time. It was my constant companion when I started sketching almost a year ago. These days I have been working on bigger sheets, trying out new paper, working in different ways, so this was like a reunion with an old friend.

Open the book. Put down a few lines. Add a bit of colour. Done.

Super Simple

Six dollar squash

It’s getting to be squash time at the market. This probably should have been titled Six Dollar Pumpkin but it just didn’t have the same ring to it.

Six Dollar Squash

Setting up

The travelling carnival/circus — the kind that sets up in the parking lot of your local mall —  has always fascinated me. Flatbed trucks move the tilt-a-whirls, the bumper cars and the carousels from town to town all summer long (at least in my part of the world). But the interesting detail of this subculture — this nomadic group — is not how they set up their amusements and their food carts. For me it’s the residential trailer villages that are behind the scenes at these events. Because if you wander around a bit you will see pots of flowers, colourful awnings, and folding chairs and tables that make this place — even for a short amount of time — home.