Brush pen or black graphite: OneWeek100People is back!

I’m gearing up for some intense people sketching as “One Week 100 People 2018” approaches. I participated in this last year and managed to draw 100 people, which seemed like something worth celebrating once it was done. My people sketching skills probably improved as the week went on, I talked to so many people as I sketched, and I look forward to the challenge again, although it may involve drinking more cups of Tim Horton’s coffee than I am used to. Luckily Roll-up-the-rim is on now, so I may win a free donut in the process.

When I heard that Marc Holmes and Liz Steel were organizing this again from March 5-9, I started thinking about the materials I would use. Last year I sketched all 100 people with a brush and Payne’s Grey watercolour (no preliminary drawing), and I intend to limit my materials again. I went to the mall today to draw the shoppers and test a few things out.

I love drawing with a brush, so I will eliminate pencil drawing once again. This also saves lots of time when you need to draw 20 people per day. A few weeks ago I bought a Carbon Black water-soluble graphite block and used that for my first few drawings. I love it. The blacks you get are deep and dark, and it’s very portable.



I also tried a few sketches with a water-soluble brush pen, which is really fun to use. The line on this literally disappears when you touch it with water, and you get some really great effects with it. BrushPen1

I love how this girl’s curls blended into her jacket.BrushPen2

And how this guy’s cap and hair formed one shape.BrushPen3

I guess I’ll have to decide over the weekend which way I will go so I’m prepared for people sketching on Monday morning. It will be exciting to see sketches from around the world on social media, and if you post, don’t forget to use the hashtag #OneWeek100People2018.



La vieille grange

On days in February and March when grey skies and dirty snow surround us, I go off in a desperate search for something colourful to sketch. The colour can be on anything — store signage, a yellow house exterior, or even farm equipment. It’s been some time since I’ve sketched at The Old Barn, at Macdonald Farm, but I know I can always count on finding interesting tidbits to sketch there. Painted on two pages of a Handbook Journal, 8″ x 8″.FarmStuff

Kalanchoe and Blood Bath

I spent a bit of time at the Montreal Botanical Gardens yesterday. The humid air and the plethora of vegetation was a welcome change from the grey weather we’ve been having in Montreal. It would have been nice to sketch in the butterfly exhibit but it was too crowded. Fortunately there are plenty of benches in the other greenhouses, as long as you don’t mind a constant drip on the back of your neck from the overhead sprinklers.


I sketched in both the cactus display and the orchid room. These sketches are in no way botanical illustrations — simply a bit of paint thrown on paper to reflect my joy at being surrounded by all of this exotic beauty.


Lisa’s bouquet

Lisa left her Valentine’s bouquet at my house on her way to a ski trip. She didn’t want the flowers to die, and she probably knew I would get around to sketching them, eventually. But the week was busy and I didn’t even pick up a pencil or paintbrush. The only writing implement I held in my hand was a red pen, as I graded a pile of student projects. The grading is done, for now, and in celebration of that, as well as the end of the week, I finally painted the (now) faded bouquet.


Jean-Pierre, from the front

Last night in life-drawing studio, our model was Jean-Pierre. I’ve drawn him before. He is undoubtably one of the best models in Montreal but I’ve never been able to capture his face. If you read my post from 2012, you’ll see why.

This is my fourth week of Thursday evening long pose life drawing. Each week I’ve tried to capture the model with watercolour, but haven’t posted anything I’ve done. I think it’s because over the three hours, my watercolours have lost their freshness. Each one is overworked. Maybe three hours is too long for the way I paint.

This week I changed my working method. I did several quicker drawings over the same time period, using different media (pencil, conte, pastel). Jean-Pierre’s face is very long and angular so when you are drawing it, it almost feels like you are sculpting it with your drawing tools. This is the one that I think captures his likeness the best.


Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, Portugal

I’m thrilled and honoured once again to be teaching this summer at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, Portugal from July 18-21, 2018. The lineup of instructors and workshops is really spectacular! Registration starts on Saturday, February 17th at 15:00hrs GMT, and as always, tickets are likely to sell out quickly. Have a look at the full lineup of instructors and workshops:

My workshop is called “Right up your alley: light, colour and shadow in Porto’s narrow spaces”. Looking at the possible workshop locations when I was writing my symposium proposal, I was intrigued by the patchwork of colour in the city’s narrow and hilly streets. This is something I often seek out when looking for places to sketch in Montreal, so I’m excited by the possibility of sketching these spaces in Porto. Have a look at a detailed document with all the workshop descriptions here. Hope to see you in Portugal!





Coloured pencil people drawings

In my bag there are always two small sketchbooks. There used to be just one  but I like the Stillman & Birn Nova series so much (especially the tan paper) that I have added that as well. Makes for a heavy bag, but I never know what will catch my eye when I have a few minutes to draw. Of course that means I also have to carry more drawing supplies. I bought a cheap set of fat coloured pencils that are double-sided (six pencils/twelve colours) and quite like layering them on the toned paper. And the best thing about the toned paper is that you get to add white!