Announcing a new online course: Sketching Skies in Gouache

I’ve been sketching a lot in gouache these days, and have been asked often to create an introductory course for people who want to learn more about what surfaces to paint on, what brushes to use and what colours to buy for location sketching. I’m happy to launch “Sketching Skies in Gouache: An Intro to Tools & Techniques” today!

Skies and clouds are the perfect subject for learning about gouache, since they lack hard edges and strict forms. You can experiment with the medium in a painterly way, and get a feel for how the paint behaves on your palette, brush and paper.

Gouache dries quickly, making it ideal for location sketching. I especially love gouache it for its versatility. I can paint from light to dark or dark to light, and I can work both transparently and opaquely. It’s a great addition to your sketching toolbox if you are used to using watercolour.

The course is over three hours long, and although I teach it from my studio, I’ve also included a bonus on-location demo. There’s lots of information about the details of the course on the course website, so please feel free to have a look at the trailer! And I’m always here if you have questions.

Special price for one week only!

The regular course price is $35 USD or $47 CAN, but I’ve discounted it for this first week to $30 USD or $42 CAN. The launch week special expires on Friday, May 28th at midnight EST and there’s no coupon or code necessary. 


Bulbs 72-182: a race to the finish line

Yesterday I finished my spring bulb concertina sketchbook! Of the 200 I planted, 182 flowered, and I think I drew them all. It was a little crazy at the end of the project when I realized that we were about to experience really warm temperatures that tulips do not like, so I scrambled to get them all drawn. I didn’t spend nearly as much time on the later drawings as I did the early ones, but you get the idea. I’m so happy I did this! It was a mixed-media experience, with watercolour, gouache, Neocolor II pastels, black ink, blue ink, markers and water-soluble pencils all making an appearance!

And this morning I opened all of the accordion book to take a photo while the tulips were still in bloom. The thing I love most about the book is that even though the daffodils and hyacinths are finished now, in my book everything is blooming at the same time.


Carré St. Louis Victorian

One of my favourite downtown Montreal places to sketch is Carré St. Louis. There’s a row of Victorian-style houses with painted trim that I’ve sketched often, like this one with the red door or this one with the purple door. I haven’t sketched the one with the turquoise trim in ages, but the second story details are so much fun that I used it as a reference for a demo in a Zoom class I was teaching this morning. It always feels odd to me to teach urban sketching from a photo, but I try to approach the subject the same way I would if I was teaching on location. And this week in Quebec, there does seem to be a little light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, so maybe in-person teaching will happen soon too.

Sketched in pen and watercolour in a Handbook Watercolour Journal.


Bulbs 52-71

The good new today is that the tulips are blooming, but the bad news (for the tulips only!) is that the weather is getting nicer which means they may not last long. I have a feeling that I will be scrambling to capture them all before they’re gone. I’m also happy to report that so far the squirrels have been kind. That may change, but as of today there are only one or two that have been beheaded, and they are not in these clumps. I sketched today in both gouache and watercolour in my ever-evolving Seawhite of Brighton Concertina sketchbook.


Mother’s Day

My favourite spring bouquet is always made up of the perennials that are the first to bloom. This year the bleeding hearts were crushed by the snow that fell in late April, but miraculously they survived and seem tougher than ever. They are not fully in bloom yet but I picked them anyway since their heart-shaped blooms seemed like the perfect shape for today.


Bulbs 41-51

As I suspected, all the tulips in the garden are blooming at the same time. These red ones were so bright, so shockingly red, that they required special treatment. I pulled out my Neocolor II Watersoluble pastels. I haven’t used these much but they are perfect for the paper I’m working on because they don’t need much water to release vivid colour.

Here’s what I’ve done so far in the concertina sketchbook. It measures about 6 ft across and I am just about halfway through the first side of the book.

If you’re looking for a great book about art, artists, spring, and much more, I highly recommend the just-released “Spring Cannot be Cancelled: David Hockney in Normandy” by Martin Gayford. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you know that I am a fan of Hockney’s work, and I’ve also enjoyed many books by Gayford. This one is a true joy, especially during this difficult pandemic year. It’s a book that I am reading slowly and cherishing every moment that I have with it.


Bulbs 35-40

I had some catching up to do in my garden sketches today. Only a few sad clumps to draw but more will be ready soon. There are huge groupings of tulips that are about to bloom but I’m waiting until they open to draw them. The buds are starting to turn pink or purple, which means they must be captured them in their prime for the full colour effect.

Today I used both gouache (for a thick paint effect) and a Micron pen (to build up line) because I’m trying to sketch these using as many different materials as I can. If all 200 bulbs end up blooming then I will likely run out of new materials to use, but this paper can’t take a lot of water so most of what I use will have to be on the dryish side.


Alice on the bed

I took a photo of Alice on a bed that she thinks is hers. It’s where she has a nap in the morning after her walk. I loved the composition of the folds of the sheet that covers the bed so I painted it today in gouache on hot press paper in my Etchr sketchbook. My gouache palette has plenty of bright colours on it but I love gouache best when I can mix up all the beautiful greys and neutrals. For this I used mostly Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre and of course some white.


An online show starting today

In pre-pandemic times, it was always so much fun to participate — in person — in the Lakeshore Artists Spring Show at Fritz Farm. But like many art groups these days, we’ve had to create a virtual event this year. I’ll miss the experience of being at the show and talking to visitors, but there’s an advantage to the online platform. Instead of a two-day exhibit, the show is on for a full month (May 1-31, 2021), so you really get to peruse the work (from 40 artists!) on your own time.

I’m always especially happy to be a part of this show because 1/3 of all proceeds from sales goes to NOVA West Island — a truly amazing organization that has helped so many families, including my own, in the West Island. If you want to read a bit more about the 32-year collaboration between NOVA and the LAA, have a look at the article in today’s Montreal Gazette. Here’s a link to the full show, and to my gallery, which is also displayed below. If you need more info, or are interested in purchasing a painting, just drop me a line in my contact form here.

“Winter Boatyard” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Wetlands” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Maritime Museum” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Arboretum” watercolour, 19″ x 10″, $750
“Quidi Vidi” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Arboretum Melt” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Canada Malting” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800
“Silver Creek” watercolour, 22″ x 15″, $800

April showers

It’s a rainy day in Montreal, but I was itching to get out to sketch. I took advantage of a break in the showers to do a little drawing from my car. I had just enough time to put in the pencil lines and add some red on the fire hydrant before heavy rain started again. If that hydrant is the only object that’s in focus, it’s because it is. I couldn’t see much else through the window as I painted the rest, but I’m happy that the drippiness of the sketch mirrors the mood of the day.