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.



Art by the Lake

This coming weekend (Sept. 8 & 9) I’ll be participating in Art by the Lake, the annual outdoor show of the Lakeshore Association of Artists. It’s always a highlight of my September to exhibit along with 40 other artists on the scenic lakeside grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe Claire. Every year we hope for sunny weather so we can exhibit outdoors, and it’s looking pretty good for this weekend. Hours of the show are 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and I’ll be there both days, so drop by to say hello if you are in the Montreal area. Besides getting the chance to see lots of great art, one third of all sales from the originals we sell goes to support On Rock Community Services.

In keeping with a lakeside theme, I was out sketching near the boat club today but my sketching expedition was cut short by one of the hazards of September outings in Montreal: wasps. They were buzzing about as I sketched near the lake but I wasn’t paying much attention to them until I reached into my bag to get a brush and a big fat one that was hiding in there stung my painting hand. Wow, does that hurt!


Boat club

The boats at Pointe Claire Yacht Club will soon be in the water, judging from the amount of activity in the boatyard. Since I am not a sailor, nor a member of the club, I contemplated looking at the club’s website to see when launch day will be. But I stopped myself. I prefer to show up one day and be surprised to find them moored to the docks, all gleaming and polished and waiting to be painted (or sailed).


Back of the shop

Here’s a great way to get to know the pigments on your palette, or to find out more about a colour you are thinking of adding. Instead of just painting it into a little square swatch like we all do, paint a whole sketch with it.

I got to try this out the other night at life drawing. My group meets in a room at the back of an art supply shop (Galerie d’Art Pointe Claire) — a very convenient location if you happen to run out of paper or charcoal, but also highly dangerous if you love to buy art supplies (like me). On a break from drawing the model, I was talking with Pierre (the owner) about Holbein Irodori paints and he gave me a blob of the Antique Orange to try. Just squeezed some out on a scrap of watercolour paper. I was about to paint a little rectangle to see what it looked like, but instead I decided to sketch Jimmy, our model. In other circumstances, I probably never would have chosen bright orange paint for life drawing, but it was the perfect opportunity to see if the paint was opaque or transparent, staining or granulating, etc. You can see where the original blob of paint was, right above Jimmy’s head. I kept on painting until the blob ran out. Turned out to be my most successful sketch of the night, I learned a thing or two about the paint (it’s definitely more transparent than I thought it would be!) and it made me realize that this is probably what I should be doing each time I try out a new pigment.


The exuberant bouquet

This bouquet wasn’t exuberant when I received it the other evening. It was quietly waiting for me at Studio 77— a gift from my loving family at the opening of my show — tightly wrapped in cellophane and tied with raffia. But once unwrapped and left to its own devices in a vase, it has slowly opened into the most beautiful expression of spring that I’ve ever seen. Unlike the past-their-prime discounted grocery store blooms that I buy for myself, these are the real deal. Tall tulips, bright daffodils, elegant irises. I want to enjoy their beauty for as long as I can.

As for the show, the vernissage was a success on all accounts — a great crowd, good wine and lots of positive feedback. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and to David at Studio 77 for the hospitality and the opportunity to exhibit. The show continues until April 29.


Dog walk

I was out early this morning, sketching a snowy scene in Pointe Claire. I suspect that winter is not entirely over, but as it warms up the snow gradually gets dirtier and the sludge heaps that are left are not very pretty to paint. In the morning I share the street with the dog walkers who look at me suspiciously, parked in my car with a sketchbook resting on the steering wheel. What could I be recording at that hour of the morning, they wonder. Little do they know that it is them.


Snow melt

I have to admit it was a relief when it snowed last night. The fresh white stuff covered an awful layer of thick ice that coated our city and made (dog) walking treacherous since last week. I couldn’t wait to get out to paint this morning, while the snow was still fresh and clean. This corner of Avenue Ste. Anne in Pointe Claire is one of my favourite spots for sketching, and just as I started to draw someone came out to shovel the entrance to the restaurant on the left. Perfect timing since a village scene is always better with a little life in it. AvenueSteAnne


This week in trees

What a week for painting trees. Even though they aren’t as orange as usual because of the warm autumn temperatures, they’ve been quite spectacular. On the day I went drawing with my students, we spent our last few hours painting a view of the McGill Campus from the stairs of the Redpath.


This morning I sketched my favourite tree. This is the one I paint every autumn as the leaves turn yellow. It’s a stunner of a maple — perfectly domed, symmetrical and untouched by tree trimmers — but I can never seem to fit it all on the page of my sketchbook. If you look at last year’s post you can also find links to the four previous years.MyFavouriteTree

If you are in the Montreal area on Sunday afternoon, drop by the Stewart Hall Art Gallery for the vernissage of Art that Inhabits Us, an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Art Rental and Sales Service. There are works by 150 artists (including one of my oils) and it’s sure to be a spectacular show. Hope to see you there!

Last day

The big yellow crane has arrived at the Pointe Claire Yacht club, and that means the sailboats come out of the water for the season tomorrow. I thought I’d spend an hour or so drawing them before they disappear. It’s a warm and fairly calm day, and as I painted I witnessed one boat after another go out for one last perfect sail on the lake. Can’t say I blame them. Sketched in a Handbook Journal, 8″ x 8″.


The village

On my way home from school today I stopped in Pointe Claire Village. It took me a few stops to find the right place to sketch but I settled on a view of the town that I have painted often, in all seasons. The varying heights and shapes of the buildings attract me, along with the colourful signage, awnings and flags. Today I worked a little more loosely than usual, letting the wet puddles of wash flow and combine. Instead of being too precise about architecture, I let the shapes of colour and value lead me towards an impression of what was in front of me. It’s quite a fun way to work. Sketched in a Handbook Journal, 8″ x 8″. Village053.jpg