Greyscale Study

For a strong composition, you want the values to be in quite different amounts, not similar.
Try this rule to start: two-thirds, one-third, and a little bit.

Marion Boddy-Evans

This is a quick way to see if a painting will pull it off, without having to spend time on a painting that lacks contrast or composition or something else…

In a sketchbook, I created a thumbnail about 2″ x 2″. I quickly sketched the shapes (not the textures) and then created a low, mid and high-value tone painting, with only one colour. In this instance, I used Payne’s Grey as it is capable of very dark values and very light values. It is also quite staining. I painted over the entire area with the lightest of values, reserving the whites, and then painted over with the mid and darker values. I can now see where some darks should be darker and where lights are necessary. The second door on the left-hand side should have a darker value but everything else seems about right. So next step is to draw it on full-size watercolour paper and then paint it.

By the way, I am totally loving my retirement! When I wake up in the mornings, I still cannot believe it! After having worked all of my life on one job and another for over 50 years, mostly full-time, some part-time, some jobs that I totally hated and some that I loved, to now have the luxury of time, I am grateful!!! And the best job that I ever had was teaching for 27 years in the public sector and the best employer was Cégep John Abbott College for 21 years!

Greyscale Values

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Colour: W&N Payne’s Grey
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship, Clear, EF Nib, Japan (8$) bought at http://www.JetPens.com

Somewhere in Mexico…

The object of art is not to reproduce reality,
but to create a reality of the same intensity.

— Alberto Giacometti.

Here in Rigaud, Québec, Canada it snowed for the very first time yesterday and I woke up to a fairyland of white, fluffy, beautiful snow. The opposite of this painting from sunny Mexico! This is a typical Mexican scene, with the old cars, antennas, brightly coloured buildings and beautiful tiled roofs. It pays off to do the greyscale value thumbnails and the hue values also beforehand, even though today I did not respect my triad and went all out with many colours. The facade of the building is in Raw Sienna, but if I had to do it over, I would use Yellow Ochre which is an opaque colour with a bit of Q. Gold… it would make it livelier… but hey! I think that it is lively enough. Hope that you enjoy it. The sky is in a diluted Prussian Blue and it could have been a bit darker… but so much for that. It is finished, yeah!

Paper: Fabriano Artistico CP 140 lbs, 8″ x 8″
Colours: Mostly Hansa Light, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon
Ink: De Atrramentis Document Black Ink.

Tiny steps to take for a rewarding painting… hopefully!

Creativity takes courage.
— Henri Matisse

There are many steps in painting. Long gone, for me anyway, are the days where the teacher would tell us, let yourself go, drop the paint on the page and see what happens. This method is clearly not for me. However, I do have two methods that I will share with you today.

Paintings that I do, just for the pure pleasure of painting them, are my most common method. I pick a photograph that I like that I have already photographed at some point in time, and I usually paint these in a sketchbook, directly, without any preliminary sketches or thumbnails. And because I do not create these important preliminary thumbnails, they often fall short!! To note, the photographs need to have a significant meaning for me, as in reflecting previous travels or closer to home when I am feeling at sync in my own environment… if the photograph does not have a specific meaning for me, it usually always falls flat.

In the second method, which is usually because I am painting for someone else in mind, like today, I again choose an image from my vast collection of photographs and then I draw carefully first in pencil. Once the drawing has been done, I then have two other steps that I usually do for a serious painting and for my own satisfaction. I create a greyscale “monotone” thumbnail to test out values, to see how they add up. For this version, I used an intense colour that is quite staining but does a good job with values as it is a very intense colour in its pure form. This step also helps me in determining what is important in the painting, and what is less important. If you look at my previous drawing, you will notice that I have a lot of details, and this step might help me afterwards if I decide to paint it a second time, with less detail…

What should always be done is first and foremost, value thumbnails and then hue thumbnails and only then the drawing, which I am regretting not having done at the moment. Sigh…

I then also try out different colours or hues seen below. For these two thumbnails, 2″ x 2″ approximately, on the left-hand side I used Cobalt blue and Raw Sienna as the main two colours. On the right-hand side, I used Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre. Is there one that you prefer?

As you can see I drew first and then did my greyscale values and hues after having drawn… if I had done my greyscale thumbnails and values first, my drawing would definitely be less laboured and with less detail. Artists are usually tenacious and very hard-working and only stop once they are satisfied, well for me anyway, but looking at my artist friends, they are all like this.

Hope that you enjoyed this longer detailed post. Have a nice snow day -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Watercolours: DS Raw Sienna, W&N Yellow Ochre, DS Q. Rose, W&N Burnt Sienna, W&N Cobalt Blue, DS Prussian Blue, DS Carbazole Violet

Prepping & Thinking

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it,
and wiser than the one that comes after it.

George Orwell, taken from the wonderful Painter’s Keys website

Line drawing was just done for a friend, which I will soon be painting. The lead lines are for the shadows. Once the drawing is done, the excitement of adding colours begins. I am playing with Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre, also French Ultramarine or Cobalt… hum… questions, questions…

The cross

“Art = a mad search for individualism.”
(Paul Gauguin)

This must be one of the first paintings that I have done that has no trees, anywhere. I always try to manage putting in a tree or two as for me, these are very important beings. Apart from protecting us from the wind, cleaning up the air, giving us shade in the summer and sap in the spring, they are giants that we should revere.

So this station has a lot of cables, wires, gas, oil, wood, motors and pumps of all kinds… for some people, this is heaven. For others, not so much. But this makes for an interesting landscape. The hydro pillar looks like a cross, and maybe that it is a symbol for our energy devouring societies. What made me want to paint this was the magnificent sky and the cables whirling everywhere.

I looked up the word “cross” in the dictionary and it has so many different meanings. A crucifix, a burden to bear, a crossbreed, to travel across, a span, an intersection, to oppose, to hybridize. Man! So many different meanings with one word. The beauty of the English language.

Went out for a really nice lunch with a girlfriend today and we talked non-stop for 2-1/2 hours. Good, warm feelings.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Watercolours: Raw Sienna, Q. Gold, Alizarin Crimson & Ultramarine Blue
Ink: De Atramentis Black Document Ink
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon

Values & Saturation Levels

“The harder I work the luckier I get.” 
Samuel Goldwyn from the Painter’s Keys

This looks like a really easy experiment, but in reality, it was difficult. But oh so bloody interesting to do!!! For this, I wanted to check out the saturation capacity of the paper, in this case, Fabriano Artistico Cold Press and test out different values of the same colour with different increments of value. I used Prussian Blue and Carbazole Violet.

To create this experiment I created a 10% wash over the entire area and let it dry completely. Leaving a strip of the previous layer and darkening the rest till I had 10 patches with white on one end and black on the other. The real difficulty was making uniform value jumps… hah! That was the killer. Result? The last value jump of Prussian Blue is oh so beautiful! It is almost like velvet to the touch while the Carbazole Violet is shiny and black. Different results, different intensities, different colours.

Paper: Fabriano Artistico CP 140 lbs
Colours: Prussian Blue & Carbazole Violet

La Casa

Painting completed my life.
— Frida Kahlo

Using a triad of colours, you can get a myriad of colours just by mixing them… from greys to browns to greens to purples. The sky was painted with Prussian Blue, in its pure form and the side of the sidewalk was painted with Burnt Sienna. Everything else is a mix of the three basic colours. Amazing how you can get so many colours out of only three. The red, Pyrrol Scarlet, was added for the rent sign. I chose one cool colour and two warm colours for this painting, but I could have chosen all warm or all cold for different results.

Colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna & Prussian Blue
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon

Remembrance “Poppy” Day :: Jour du souvenir

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.

— Hermann Hesse

For this day I give you two versions of a poppy field. Just to remember the braves of our country and to hold them in our thoughts. My husband prefers the first one on the left, and I think that I prefer the one on the right. Which one do you like? Just curious… Y a-t-il y a une peinture que vous préférez entre les deux? Si oui, laquelle?

Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states, and many countries around the world, since the end of the First World War to honour armed forces members who have died in the line of duty. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918.

Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook #25
Colours Left: DS Q. Gold, DS Raw Sienna, W&N Cerulean Blue, DS Prussian Blue
Colours Right: DS Q. Gold, DS Raw Sienna, W&N Cobalt Blue, DS Prussian Blue
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon Pen
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Ink Black

Gradients & Saturation Levels

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
— Pablo Picasso

So today is another fun exercise. Playing with saturation levels results in beautiful gradients. The idea here is to start with your paper tilted to at least 30 degrees so that the “bead” of water can run downwards. Secondly, prepare your colour so that you have enough to cover the paper and by saturating it to the correct level (meaning that the watercolour should not be wishy-washy but swirl when putting your brush in it). Pressing firmly on the mop, the first horizontal stroke is with clear water, make sure that you have a bead before continuing. Next stroke with a higher saturation level, until, in the end, you reach 100% saturation (meaning no water). I used a brush Mop #4 for this exercise. After the first stroke of water, do not add any more water to the mix. Midway you will dip directly into your colours to get the saturation level higher.

My favourite is the mix of Ultramarine with Burnt Sienna and I don’t know if you can see it, but at the bottom of the gradient, the texture almost looks like wood or wool. So interesting. My second favourite is the middle one. So which one do you think would be best for a stormy sky? Which one would be best for an early morning sunrise? Let me know what you think…

Now the trick to all of this is being able to apply this technique in an actual painting. Hah! Peut-être qu’il y en a entre vous qui comprennent ce que je veux dire…

Paper: Etchr Sketchbook, size A4, 11.4 x 8.3 in [29 x 21 cm]
Colours Left: DS Ultramarine Blue + W&N Burnt Sienna
Colours Centre: DS Ultramarine Blue + W&N Burnt Umber
Colour Right: DS Cobalt Blue + W&N Burnt Umber
Brush mop: da Vinci, casaneo #4

Testing Watercolour Papers

One never knows what one is going to do.
One starts a painting and then it becomes something quite else.
It is remarkable how little the ‘willing’ of the artist intervenes.

— Pablo Picasso

I’ve been going through all of my drawers and found a myriad of different watercolour papers that I decided to test out today. I decided to test all of them out with the same combination of mixed colours (Cerulean Blue, Prussian Blue, a bit of Q. Gold and a small amount of red to neutralize the colour). I used a wet-in-wet technique which is, I think, the reason that my colours are are too unsaturated. I definitely do not like how the Strathmore paper bloated with the water. The Arches paper combined the different intensities of colour a bit too much (but my paints were too watery). The Fabriano and Fluid 100 papers were fine and the Saunders was intense as the paper is darker than the rest. To note that the Fabriano paper was not HP (hot-pressed) as the other ones so to compare it with the others is not really fair, as I usually love the results on this paper. I think that I might redo this exercise tomorrow with more saturated paint colours.

That is what happens when you stop painting for a while… humph! My technical eye went for a ride and said bye-bye -))) Well, guess what I will try to achieve tomorrow? Good saturation levels — hah-hah!!!

Colours: DS Alizarin Crimson, DS Q. Gold, W&N Cerulean Blue, DS Prussian Blue
Papers: Arches, Bockingford, Fabriano Artistico, Fluid 100, Saunders Waterford, Strathmore

:: Wonky Friday Portrait ::

I am crazy about two colours:
carmine and cobalt.
Cobalt is a divine colour and there is nothing so beautiful for creating atmosphere.
Carmine is as warm and lively as wine… the same with emerald green.

— Vincent van Gogh

This wonky Friday portrait is just what I needed… a bit of craziness during pandemic times. I am having so much fun with these portraits, and I was long overdue. Today I used a Zebra Brush Pen from Pilot that I bought at JetPens. Everything is written in Japanese on the pen, so I can’t really read what is written. It gives a thicker line that I usually use and gives it a caricature-like quality which goes well with the model that I chose.

Paper: Pentalic Aqua Journal 8″ x 5″
Watercolours: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Q. Gold, Alizarin Crimson & Ultramarine
Pen: Zebra Brush Pen Fine LINK

:: Portrait Study ::

Study nature,
love nature,
stay close to nature.
It will never fail you.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright

I have been living in the same house now for 17 years, our longest time up to now, with my husband. Our first house we lived in was for 9 years, then our second house was 6 years, then another one for 4 years, then a temporary place for 2 years while we were constructing this one, and now 17! Huh-huh!You must by now be guessing my age -))) The reason we have lived in this one for so long is very easy. I love nature, being surrounded by trees, birds, critters great and small. I love the quietness of this place and the huge lot.

So my quest today was to do a portrait study and I wanted to find someone who looked a bit flamboyant… and the beard did it! I am slowly getting back into my watercolours but I still have a way to go to feel utterly comfortable with this wonderful medium.

I also cleaned up my palette, and squeezed some new juicy colours into it. A clean palette does not last long as it gets dirty really quick — well for me anyway, and it is a thing of beauty. DS means Daniel Smith, W&N means Winsor & Newton, H means Holbein… Some painters classify their colours by cold/warm. I don’t. I classify them as if they were on a colour wheel… it must be my years of teaching colour theory.

Paper: Pentalic Aqua Journal 8″ x 5″
Watercolours: Mostly Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna, some Gold Green
Fountain Pen: Pilot Namiki SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Black Document Ink

:: Moe’s Rusty Day ::

Permit the brain to separate from the hand.
Soften your vision, focus beyond and before.
Allow yourself to be “entranced” by your work.
Feel a “process” rather than an outcome, and…
Live in the life of the brush, chisel, roller.

— Painter’s Keys

September 1st already and I am really not ready for autumn! After many months of not painting nor drawing, the deadline was today. So to get out of this artistic break as we might softly say, I decided to choose my most difficult challenge. Faces!!! I was never good at these, and I would like to be better, and with practice I know that I will, and that goes for everyone.

There are many flaws in this drawing, but especially in the painting values. They are all either too vibrant or too soft… it is a question of getting back into watercolours also, to test the value of the wash and know when I put down my brush it has the correct value. The proportions of the face are too long or not wide enough. The hues are not diverse enough, but hey! This is how we learn. To analyze what is wrong, and to rectify for the next painting. And persevere and move forward.

I have been following for years the “Queen” of drawing faces, and she is found here. You will see that she is quite amazing… makes it look so bloody easy -)))

Moe’s Haircut

Paper: Pentalic Aqua Journal 8″ x 5″
Watercolours
Fountain Pen: Pilot Namiki SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Black Document Ink

:: Cuban Sky ::

“Look three times,
think twice,
paint once,”
is a time-honoured shibboleth.
The Painter’s Keys

Following up on my gouache quest, I had to paint this twice as my first one had pretty good skies, but a dull lower third. I took this photo when I was in Varadero, Cuba in 2012 and the skies were majestic & scary at the same time. The ocean was calm, but there was a rumble of distant thunder and eminent rain. Such a beauty!

If you are wondering about the quote, I have been following Painter’s Keys for a very long time and for an artist, it is filled with great advice and painting anecdotes. You should look at it.

On another note, this Friday is my last day as a paid employee of John Abbott College, and next Monday my real retirement begins after 26 years of working in the Public Sector. I am overjoyed and grateful that I do not have to go in to teach as COVID-19 is still in our midst and to mingle with 7000 students would be scary even though I am double jabbed. But I do not have to worry as I have retired — yeahhhhh!!!.

If you are interested in learning more about how to paint in gouache, you can look here for the info for Shari’s link.

www.janehannah.com

:: Sunset for Indigenous People of Canada ::

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
— Socrates

My relationship with Canada Day is a mixture of different belongings. I feel like a Canadian and I am also a Québécoise and I identify mostly with Rigaud where I live and Montréal, which is a great city. I think and read and write in English but I live 50% of the time in French. I was born a Catholic but I am an agnostic-atheist.

In Canada, the term Indigenous comprises First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. What has been happening to Indigenous people in Canada for such a long time is shameful. Forcing indigenous children to live in residential schools was cruel and it became a genocide. We are discovering the horrors that were done to our Indigenous people at the moment and it is shocking. So instead of celebrating Canada Day, I hope that we are celebrating our Indigenous people in Canada as they deserve our deepest apologies. So here is a painting in their honour

Sunset for our Indigenous People across Canada

Summer

I am often helplessly confronted by the picture… filled with suspense.
What I have drawn suddenly seems to have developed its own dynamic – one that is not always necessarily kind to me.
It is a genuine struggle and challenge.
Simone Bingemer

When you live in the province of Québec, Canada, you wait 9 months to get to this point in time. Summer! We actually only have about 2 months of real summer weather, July and August and sometimes September is quite beautiful and balmy too. With the pandemic ebbing away, the weather has been on my mind as I seem to need fresh air. We have been cooped up for so long…

So here is another cloud painting in gouache, and I found this one to be difficult to do. I actually did a second one after, and it is good for the trash can. Hah-hah! That happens too.

I have also put a photo of my outside painting studio… so nice. As it is screened in, there are no mosquitoes! Yeahhh!

Cumulonimbus Clouds
Cumulonimbus clouds

Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan Paper, 12″ x 9″
Gouache: Winsor & Newton Zinc White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine & Phthalo Green.

Outside painting setup at my house

Beautiful Summer Solstice

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

— Joni Mitchel songwriter, musician, poet and so much more.

Solstices and equinoxes mark the four movements in a celestial score. Summer Solstice marks the time of the longest day and the beginning of summer. In centuries past, Midsummer’s Eve was seen as one of the times that the fairies were supposed to come out and dance.
— By John Forti, The Heirloom Gardener

I followed a workshop that was entirely in gouache and here is my first try. Decades ago when I was a young graphic designer, we used to work with gouache to do touch-ups in page layout and illustrations. I remember that I used to tint the white gouache so that its colour was exactly the same as the paper that I was working on. Here is a link to the workshop, if you are interested. LINK. What is really interesting in gouache, as opposed to watercolours, is that you can paint light on dark and dark on light. This makes it a really interesting medium and more versatile than watercolours but the colours are mostly opaque. It was very interesting to paint with this medium today. I am looking forward to my next painting.

I don’t know clouds… at all.

Paper: Strathmore Toned Tan Paper, 12″ x 9″
Gouache: Winsor & Newton Zinc White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine & Phthalo Green.

Who loves water & trees… I do!

Who loves trees best?
I, said the spring,
Their leaves so beautiful to them I bring.
Who loves the trees best?
I, summer said,
I give them blossoms, white, yellow, red.
Who loves the trees best?
I, said the fall,
I give luscious fruits, bright tints to all!
Who loves the trees best?
I love them best, harsh winter answered,
I give them rest.
— The Pearl Story Book” by Ada. M Skinner

Well, I have finally retired and now I will have more time to paint, draw, play music, read… and just relax.. anyway that is the plan for the moment. So I am slowly prepping back up and will be back soon on this blog to make it come alive again. Been too long. This pandemic has been too long. Here is a painting that I did in 2020… and I still love it!

Watercolours: Hansa Light, Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna, Q. Rose, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indanthrone (C)
Paper: Fabriano 12″x9″ CP
Reference photograph

:: Radio ::

“When we learn our mother tongue, we acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways.”
— Guy Deutscher, Linguist, University of Manchester, UK

I thought of Radio Gaga, Radiohead then I thought about radio waves, then wavelengths for this prompt. This will be my last Inktober drawing for this week as tomorrow I have to prep for my classes! I am hoping that next weekend I might find time to continue the Inktober challenge, which is always fun.

Inktober Day 4 :: Radio Prompt ::
Paper: Japanese Album

What a semester it has been! I am finding it a difficult semester as I have had to reconfigure all of my classes in order to teach online. I have had to double the amount of prepping, correcting, duplicating of assignments to reach the highest number of students… and it is exhausting. Answering way more individual questions, setting up break-out rooms for groups of students, correcting on the spot… and the list goes on.

The government here in Québec does not seem to care at all about teachers as in fact, Cégep “college” teachers have never stopped teaching since March 13, 2020. On March 16 we immediately converted to online teaching and have been since. Even though it is really nice to be here at home as I do not have to drive in, I would much rather be in class… BUT only if there is a vaccine right? No vaccine, it would be impossible as at John Abbott we have no air ventilation… we have recycled air, we cannot open the windows and the air quality is not at all healthy even in non-Covid times so imagine now.

:: Bulky ::

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.
— Maya Angelou

Inktober’s day 3 prompt is bulky and I decided to exaggerate proportions… small head with a big body. I could have done the contrary too… big head, small body but I decided to stick with my first idea.

Inktober Day 3 :: Bulky

Paper: Japanese Album
Ink: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte
Brush: Kuretake Water Brush Set

:: Wisp of a brush ::

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.
It will never fail you.”

— Frank Lloyd Wright

Today’s prompt is “wisp” and when I read it I immediately thought of these long beautiful chinese calligraphy brushes…. which someone brought back from Shanghai as a present to me. Below you will find the tools that I will be using for the Inktober Challenge this year. I have decided to use Kuretake Water Brushes and to fill them up in advance with a dilution of 30% black, 60% black. This way I will have consistent grey values.

Wisp of a brush
Inktober Tools

Going from left to right at top of image.
• Small container with a mix of water and black ink;
• Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte
• Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen-White
• _____ to wripe off excess ink from brush
• 4 Chinese calligraphy brushes on top of green water container
Bottom of image.
• Eyedropper for adding ink
• Dip pen
• 3 Kuretake brush pens filled up with different % of mix (small, medium and large size)
• Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB plus convertor, Red, Japan

Inktober Tools 2

Paper: Japanese Album
Ink: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Matte
Brush: Beautiful chinese calligraphy brush

Cosmic Fish

I’m very sane about how crazy I am.
— Carrie Fisher

In these pandemic times, drawing is good for you, especially since I have been sitting at the computer for long hours since the semester began and it is making me a bit stir-crazy! Drawing seems to liberate me from my troubles… in these troubled times — hah-hah!

The 2020 Inktober challenge began today and the prompt was “fish”… so I thought of a big cosmic fish at 10:00 pm tonight… not much time for drawing it, but still am happy with the result. The important factor is that I had fun and that it was good for me. If I have the time tomorrow I will scan it in instead of taking a quick photo with my iPhone. I will stick to a black and white theme this year with different values of grey…. if I find the time…

Cosmic Fish

Paints: Dr. PH.Martin’s Pen-White & Black Star Matte
Paper: Moleskine Japanese Sketchbook
Brushes: Kuretake Water Brushes

Montreal Cotton :: MoCo

Each day has its own individuality of colour.
Hawthorne on Painting

My hometown is Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and in 1874 the major employer in those days was a cotton company named the Montreal Cotton, MOCO in short, and people referred to it as “La Coton”. Everyone in Valleyfield had a parent that worked there at some point in time. My grandfather, William Hannah worked there as a small boss. His son Dorland, my Dad, worked there also separating the cotton threads. As most things today it has been converted to a hotel, and behind it an elderly residence.

Yesterday I brought my whole paraphernalia for sketching with me in Valleyfield and I managed to draw on location, but due to a lack of trees and the sun falling on me, I quit and I forgot to take a picture of my drawing.

I first painted the sky, then I painted the water and then the reflections. Then I painted the trees and the buildings and in the end put on a bit of calligraphy to show shadows and depth. Hope that you like it!


Paper: Travelogue 8″x8″
Watercolours: New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Ceruleant Blue, Prussian Blue

Who loves the trees best?

Who loves trees best?
I, said the spring,
Their leaves so beautiful to them I bring.
Who loves the trees best?
I, summer said,
I give them blossoms, white, yellow, red.
Who loves the trees best?
I, said the fall,
I give luscious fruits, bright tints to all!
Who loves the trees best?
I love them best, harsh winter answered,
I give them rest.
— The Pearl Story Book” by Ada. M Skinner

For two days now I have been painting under Shari‘s wonderful guidance a stillwater view of a lake.

I struggle with every painting that I do and I guess that this is part of the fun and the excitement of it all? If it were easy, would I keep at it? Would it keep me challenged enough to find it interesting? I don’t think so. I must say that I will always question my competence, as this is part of my temperament. The key to learning and improving is to keep on doing it, without taking long breaks as I am doing… with the Covid-19 situation, my life has changed a bit and underneath my apparent calmness, there is a struggle and anxiety that is there. Today and tomorrow it will be there too. So because I have not painted in a while, I felt rusty and of course I redid the same scene three times… not once, twice but three times! And talk to any artist, and they know what I am talking about.

So if you can, I would be really interested in knowing which one of these three paintings that you love best? And could you let me know? As I am very curious -) Top one is A, middle is B and lower one is C.

Stillwater A
Stillwater B
Stillwater C

Watercolours: Hansa Light, Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna, Q. Rose, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indanthrone (C)
Paper: Fabriano 12″x9″ CP
Reference photograph

:: Shakespeare’s Birthplace ::

This week marks William Shakespeare’s birthday. Shakespeare, who was born in 1564, endured a life chequered by outbreaks of plague. Seven hundred years later, it still rings true! To mark this some of Britain’s most famous Shakespearean actors, including Dame Judi Dench, read from Richard II. Here are the lyrics…. and if you would like to hear them played out by Dame Judy Dench — a real treat — , just go and view it on the excellent news show BBCNewsnight.

KING RICHARD II
I have been studying how I may compare
This prison where I live unto the world:
And for because the world is populous
And here is not a creature but myself,
I cannot do it; yet I’ll hammer it out.
My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,
My soul the father; and these two beget
A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
And these same thoughts people this little world,
In humours like the people of this world,
For no thought is contented.
The better sort,
As thoughts of things divine, are intermix’d
With scruples and do set the word itself
Against the word:
As thus, ‘Come, little ones,’ and then again,
‘It is as hard to come as for a camel
To thread the postern of a small needle’s eye.’
Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
Unlikely wonders; how these vain weak nails
May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
That they are not the first of fortune’s slaves,
Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame,
That many have and others must sit there;
And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
Of such as have before endured the like.
Thus play I in one person many people,
And none contented: sometimes am I king;
Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am: then crushing penury
Persuades me I was better when a king;
Then am I king’d again: and by and by
Think that I am unking’d by Bolingbroke,
And straight am nothing: but whate’er I be,
Nor I nor any man that but man is
With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
With being nothing.
Music do I hear?

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Paper: Hand•book journal co. 8″ x 8″ #26
Ink: Lexington Grey
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship EF
Watercolours: New Gamboge, Q. Gold, Ceruleant Blue, Ultramarine, Q. Rose, Q. Burnt Orange, etc.

:: Working for love ::

On the Painter’s Keys website I found this little gem and thought that I would share it with you. It resonated with me as it is true that we are low consumers and thrive in quiet spaces. We know how to work for love? Wow! That is sooo true… I cannot paint something that I do not love. It has to come from the heart first, and if I love it, I know that I will paint it well…

I’m willing to bet my last roll of toilet paper that the 99% of artists the world is currently digging professional graves for will not all perish in the age of isolation. We have low overheads. And our worldly needs are modest. We know how to work for love. Many of us are poor consumers. We also thrive in the quiet spaces, which means our ideas are being given the opportunity to improve. We are all at home, now. If part of art’s function is to explore our universal human experience, home is our current, unifying theme.
Painter’s Key

I am definitely in need of some greenery as this painting attests to. Here in Québec, or at least where I live, there is hardly any green yet. I painted this little old house as I followed Shari‘s online class… she motivates me to continue!

20200425-oldHouse2-jane-hannah-loResPaper: Hand•book journal co. 8″ x 8″
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black
Namiki Fountain Pen SEF
Watercolours: New Gamboge, Q. Gold, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Q. Rose, Q. Burnt Orange

:: Teleworking ::

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
— Gabriel García Márquez

Here in Québec, elementary schools, high schools and daycare centres have been in lockdown since Monday March 16th… and most businesses too… but not College nor University teachers. We have been teleworking, quite hard I might say, on making sure that our students “can” do the work from the safety of their homes while progressing with their multiple courses. My third years have just started their 3-week Stage period by teleworking also. I know that students are anxious and can’t wait to meet up with their friends, but we have all told each other that we would never complain again of having to go back to school or work — hah-hah!

I have had to adjust and the first two weeks were very stressful, but now I am getting quite used to it. It is never as rewarding as being in the classroom with your students, but my days are passing without any major hurdles and I feel more relaxed as time seems to have slowed down… and sometimes it stops… and I can feel the rush of air… and I catch my breath and look up at the sky. No planes… only birds flying in and out, swirling in the air.

I took the time to draw this little old house from a picture on Pinterest that I found interesting and I have also registered for Shari Blaukopf’s online class, Mattias Adolfsson’s online class and a special class on Procreate with Roman Garcia Mora. Maybe that I overdid the classes thing, but there are great deals at the moment and it is always nice to learn… isn’t it?

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Paper: Hand•book journal co. 8″ x 8″
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black
Namiki Fountain Pen SEF

:: Fisherman’s Hut ::

You can never do too much drawing.
— Tintoretto

One of my friends Chi Mai sent me a photograph of a Fisherman’s Hut and I drew it, quite quickly, with a dip pen and some brown ink. Just feels good to stop being online and drawing a tad… now back online to continue prepping for my classes that are officially starting tomorrow.

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Pen: Dip Pen
Ink: Noodler’s Ink #41 brown

:: La maline ::

Aie! La maline
La vilaine, la méchante
Au-dessus de la ville
Et mène jusqu’ici
Au milieu de cette île D’Oléron
     Aie! La maline
La vicieuse, la cruelle
T’as cassé les carreaux
De ma si belle fenêtre
Qui donnait sur le ciel D’Oléron
     Et t’as fait du vent
Et t’as fait du bruit
T’as fait pleuré Pierre
T’as troublé Marie
Enragé la mer
Donné d’la misère À ma vie
     Mais là, c’est fini
Mon grand cri de terre
Mon grand rire sauvage
Loin, loin de la ville
Loin, loin de cette île D’Oléron
— Marie-Jo Thério

After 10 days of laryngitis, for a professor, this is deeply frightful in many ways. I have not spoken in 10 days can you imagine? So many times during this past week have I pictured myself, in dreams and awake, coming into class not being able to speak out loud! Yikes!

Slowly but surely my voice is healing, but it will still be a while before it finds its own resonance and the minute that I force it, it breaks… I wonder what kind of a week is waiting for me with the students -)))

I have been listening to this song for the past week, and oh what a song! What lyrics and artist…

There are so many things that I love about this sketch. The purple eyes (a bit like Elizabeth Taylor’s were), the wavy beard, the intensity of the colours and the very round face with crooked glasses… the jagged edges around the throat… and the loneliness… all of this is real for me. Can you see something else? The night gave me inspiration to continue. I go to bed too late and wake up too late — hah-hah!

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Handbook Journal Pocket Landscape Red

:: Journey’s End ::

The signpost stands where the crossways meet
There’s but one road to the journey’s end
The wanderer bent with his heavy load is waiting for a friend
The sun sinks slowly behind the hill
The dead leaves lie where the wind has blown
Likewise he who has travelled far must find his way alone
And as he leaves so the signpost turns
To point the way to the journey’s end
The old grey man with his heavy load no longer needs a friend
— Journey’s End, by Strawbs, album Grave New World

While listening to Strawbs, the Grave New World album I took the last of the afternoon to paint a snow scene. I have the week off and it feels really good, even though I still have loads of correcting, the income taxes to prepare, classes for next week to prepare… I am liberated from going to the College! To get back into painting, especially with watercolour, it was a good idea for me to go back to basics today and start over as if I was a beginner — which I am in a sense -)

For me this means, no ink lines, hardly any pencil lines, picking a classic watercolour scene, wetting the paper beforehand and then taking my time and painting and make sure of letting the paints dry before continuing (as I usually don’t).

First I put some water in the bottom half of the sheet, waited a bit, and then took some Cerulean Blue to create the effect of snow squalls. Then for the top snow mounds (4) I actually wet the individual mounds and then dropped the Cerulean, then went on to another mound. Learning from the master Grant Fuller.

Colours: Q. Gold, B. Sienna, Cerulean Blue and Phthalo Blue
Paper: Hand•book paper co., field watercolour journal 8″ x 8″

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:: Rusty ::

Là où va la main, l’oeil suit;
Là où va l’oeil, va l’esprit;
Là où va l’esprit, se trouve le coeur;
Là où se trouve le coeur, est la réalité de l’être,
Le siège de l’âme.

The Rigaud woods today are beautiful on a sunny and spring-like day! The shadows are long and deep and the birds are feeding, spring is definitely in the air. I am quite rusty with my paints as I have not painted in a very long while because of my job workload… but now I am beginning my March break and I will have some time to paint… well at least I hope so. But you know how life gets in the way of our plans, huh? We will see by the end of the week what happens and I will keep you posted.

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Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen EF, Black, Japan
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink (waterproof)
Colours: Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Pyrrol Crimson & Cobalt blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

:: What a difference… ::

What a difference a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
— by Dinah Washington

What a difference… a scan makes as opposed to taking a picture with an iPhone late at night -) Well last night when I painted this I wanted to post it right away but the paints were still wet. So I took a picture with my iPhone. This morning I woke up and decided to properly scan it? And see the difference? Can you hum the tune that I have in my head at the moment?

The links did not follow when I posted on Facebook so for those of you who would like to hear Serge Bouchard passionately speak about our First Nations here is the name of the YouTube episodes, as there are 4. CERP Serge Bouchard 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxivQXXsgeg)

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:: Did you know? ::

In Québec we have an anthropologist who studied for most of his life the First Nations and Aboriginals and First People. His name is Serge Bouchard and if ever you are interested in listening to what he has to say (only in French though)  this is a good place to start. He explains the history of it all. LINK.

Listening to him on YouTube, I decided to draw him, quite furtively at first as I have not drawn in a very long while. Then I decided to take out my paints… and yes it feels good to have drawn & painted…  -)))

• One person of Inuit descent is an Inuk, which is singular for Inuit?
• Inuit are “Aboriginal” or “First Peoples” but are not “First Nations”. Also, Inuit are not Innu. Innu are a First Nations group located in northeastern Québec and parts of Labrador.
• Inuit land claim regions occupy 40% of Canada’s land mass.
• The Inuit population is the youngest in Canada, with 56% of the population under the age of 25.

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:: Colour in my eyes O children ::

O children
     Forgive us now for what we’ve done
     It started out as a bit of fun
     Here, take these before we run away
    The keys to the gulag
O children
     Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
     Children
     Rejoice, rejoice
— O Children by Nick Cave

As some of you surely know, once you have’nt painted in a while, you need to put colours in your eyes… a weird way of explaining it but to me it makes a lot of sense. I guess that I mean that I have to saturate my eyes with colours. I actually test out colour combos, which by the way I love to do and need to do.

To bring you back further in time, I had a recent conversation with some water colour artists on choosing and painting with reds… and the responses were quite diverse.

The two reds that I decided to test out were my two favourite ones of course – hah-hah! Daniel Smith’s Pyrrol Crimson and Daniel Smith’s Q. Rose. One of the reasons that I love these two colours is that they only have one pigment… not a mix of pigments. Some water colour artists sometimes wonder why their colours turn to mud? Well, that is one of the reasons… when mixing too many pigments together at the same time, they turn a mushy brow…

The six squares represent the colour at 100% (top left) then a mix of Q. Gold, then with New Gamboge, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue. I picked only primary colours to test this out, yellows and blues to see the variants in colour.

All in all, both colours are valuable and the combos even more so. The Pyrrol Crimson gives off richer hues and the Q. Rose gives more summery and bright hues… it all depends what you are painting, when and where on this beautiful planet. Let’s keep it beautiful, huh? Nick Cave & P. J. Harvey have been my musical muses these past few weeks -)))

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Paper: Hand•book journal co. pocket landscape
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

:: Drawing from imagination ::

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
— Pablo Picasso.

I love this quote as this is how drawing makes me feel… a kind of rejuvenated self! Well last night I felt like drawing a flower and started… and then I turned my sketchbook upside down and my imagination just took over… the political situation between the USA and Iran must have influenced my hand as it is almost an apocalyptic scene with an innocent dog looking up. Hope that you enjoy it nearly as much I had fun doing it.

One of the best advice that I have received is from James Gurney where he suggests to anyone that wants to learn how to draw or paint. “…alternate between sketching from life as in “plein air” or urban sketching, working from the imagination & copying from the Masters”. Great advice from a dedicated artist.

Pen: Platinum Desk Pen EF DP1000AB
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Sketchbook: Moleskine Art Sketchbook

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:: You had time ::

How can I go home
With nothing to say
I know you’re going to look at me that way
And say what did you do out there?
And what did you decide?
You said you needed time
And you had time

You are a china shop

And I am a bull
You are really good food
And I am full
I guess everything is timing
I guess everything’s been said
So I am coming home with an empty head
— You had time by Ani DiFranco

Oh boy! Watercolour papers are a diverse bunch of papers! When I started painting a few years back, I used to love the Moleskine Watercolour Notebook and then a couple of years later while experimenting with other papers the Moleskine was put aside as I preferred most of the other ones. This morning when I picked it up again, I decided to paint with watercolours (not India Ink) and wow! I love it again! Such a strange relationship that we have with these beautiful papers. In the same way, some of the colours that I have used in the past have been put aside to be replaced by other ones and sometimes they come back in – they are sneaky like that – wouldn’t you say?

On Sundays, while I am working or painting I always listen to music and today was an Ani DiFranco type of day. One of the softest songs is You had time…

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Paper: #27 Moleskine Watercolour Notebook
Fountain Pen: Platinum 3776 EF (the 3776 is the height in meters of Mount Fuji)
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black
Watercolours: DS Q. Gold, DS Pyrrol Crimson, DS Cerulean Chromium, W&N Burnt Sienna

Here is my present palette colours which I am really enjoying as they contain the colours that I love. The next one that I will exchange is the MC Azo Yello as I find it too opaque…

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:: Just my type of place ::

All the fine winds gone
And this sweet world is so much older
Animals pull the night around their shoulders
Flowers fall to their naked knees
Here I come now, here I come
I hear you been out there looking for something to love
The dark force that shifts at the edge of the tree
It’s alright, it’s alright
When you turn so long and lovely, it’s hard to believe
That we’re falling now in the name of the Anthrocene
— Anthrocene by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sometimes when you enter a building and you look around you and assess the place and wham! You love it? Well, this is definitely my kind of place. This beautiful grand desk filled with books, papers and of course fountain pens is just in my style. I took out my Bombay Black India Ink bottle to create the washes and am quite satisfied with the different values that it gave me, going from a soft light gray to quite dark values.

On another note, the semester is in full swing, a whole lot of correcting and prepping to do and just being present for the students is quite engaging, to say the least.

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Paper: #27 Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Ink: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink
Fountain Pen: Pilot Namiki Falcon SEF

:: Doughnuts & Life ::

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult,
but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.

— Vincent van Gogh

Why do you think that someone like me would draw doughnuts? Well, because they are spherical thus difficult to draw and paint, at least for me. So after many months of not having touched a paintbrush, these small subjects made me realize that I am sooo rusty and my eyes are having trouble judging foreshortening. For those of you in the know, you probably understand this, and these were my 5th and 6th attempts… the other ones were just good for the recycling bin. No matter, I had fun doing these. The colours that I used for the doughnut were mainly Raw Sienna & Burnt Sienna as a first wash. Did you know that there are actually poems that have been written on doughnuts? Hah-hah! Funny!

Paper: Handbook field watercolour journal
Colours: Lemon Yellow, Q. Rose, French Ultramarine Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna

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:: The Lost Words ::

“Once Upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed – fading away like water on a stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, conker – gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, otter, raven, willow, wren…all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children’s voices, no longer alive in their stories.”

I have a book at home called The Lost Words and it is a gorgeous spell book. This is the excerpt on the back sleeve. “…When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter and willow. The words were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these lost words were replaced by attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions — the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual — became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world. In response, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that would conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature….”

If you are interested in reading more about this beautiful book here is a link. So with this in mind, one of the sketches that I will be asking my students to complete will be creating an acrostic poem and drawing its being for a “lost” natural being that they could not part with in this world… I chose a tree -)))

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook Art Plus Large

:: Learning to draw… ::

“We are not born focusing, it’s an acquired skill that requires initial effort and constant upgrading.”

In this day and age, with multiple electronic devices at our fingertips, it is easy to divert our attention to the technology at hand and take away our focus on what needs to be done. The word that is very popular with my students is procrastination: to postpone or delay needlessly.

So to come back to my ramblings… how does an artist learn how to draw, or paint? Is it by copying from the Masters? Is it by drawing/painting in plein air, alive with the elements? Is it by observation? Or is it with the imagination? In my point of view, all answers ring true! I would just suggest to alternate between: sketching from life, working from the imagination and copying from the Masters. And a big thank you to James Gurney who initially sent out this valuable information on his blog…

So for this coming semester, I will try to let the students delve into these three methods of drawing. For the first exercise I will ask them to draw 18 emojis… and this should be from their imagination. The second exercise will be copying from the Masters. The following apple was drawn using curving lines to show the swelling of the apple. I am relying on The Prang Elementary Course in Art Instruction. In this book, examples are shown on the left side of the page what the student is expected to copy on the right hand side. I actually redid the drawing myself as I am hoping that because I did the drawing students will relate more readily than with a very old book… hah-hah!

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook Large 5″x8″

 

:: Coloured version emojis ::

Different watercolour papers take paint differently and the new Moleskine Sketchbook which is identified as Art Plus is made for drawing, even though it takes some washes and you do not have to scrub them in as much as with the older versions of the Moleskine Sketchbooks.  It is an improved paper for watercolours, and I feel a bit nostalgic about losing the scrubby texture the older paper used to give me… hah! Things change…

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Watercolours: New Gamboge DS, Q. Rose DS, Antwerp Blue W&N
Sketchbook: Moleskine Art+ Sketchbook, Large

:: 18 emojis ::

“Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”
C. Northcote Parkinson, British scholar

I have been prepping in a kind of a frenzy these last few days as I procrastinated this summer… too well for my liking and habits — hah-hah! I promised myself that I will do as I usually do and start prepping once my final grades are in next May.

For my drawing class I have been teaching different sketching techniques hoping that the majority of my students catch one technique that they will aspire to. Well I have to admit that almost 50% of the students can’t see or apply the different techniques and seem to draw in the same manner as they were taught when they were very young.

So with the help of a very old drawing book by Pranks, I decided to try something new. Learn from the masters by replicating what they are seeing! I myself have been astonished by what I have learned over the years with this technique — quite a revelation. So I am giving it a go for this semester and hope that this might ease some student anxiety over the “blank” page and help them to start drawing.

My first exercise is to see their creativity by getting them to draw 18 different Emojis in their sketchbook… a way for me to look into their creativity and imagination levels! I had fun drawing these and I will be painting them too a bit later on…

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Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook 5″x8″

:: Soft petal day ::

I must study politics and war so that my sons
may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy,
geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation,
commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children
a right to study painting, poetry, music,
architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

— John Adams, founder, 1735

A soft, warm and dry day in Rigaud today and as I have not dabbled in watercolours for quite a while, I painted one of my iris drawings after having totally ruined another drawing that I had just done of a beautiful Ostrya virginiana leave, trunk & flower… also commonly known as a Hophornbeam or Ironwood and Bois de fer in french in Québec.

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Watercolours: DS New Gamboge, DS Q. Rose, and W&N Antwerp Blue
Sketchbook: Stillman & Birn Gamma Series

:: Just in time ::

Each day has its own individuality of colour.
— Hawthorne on Painting

Flowers are in bloom here in Quebec, just in time to cooperate with my slowly recovering energy levels and the urge to draw. For those of you who did not know, I had an operation and now all is well — finally. I am starting to live again and it feels so good. Here in Rigaud the bugs are alive and feisty as we had a cold spring and I think that all of the mosquitoes waited to emerge at the same time in my backyard… real little pests they are, but the birds are singing galore and they are feasting and feeding their hatchlings.

I had never realized this before, but drawing and painting need high concentration levels and energy. You have to be in the moment and you have to stay in the moment, for quite a while I might add… so could we call drawing or painting a “meditation in observation”? Well I guess that it depends if you draw/paint directly from observation as plein-air artists do, or if you draw from your imagination with references? Or if you draw from your imagination without references? Have you ever tried without references? It is really hard but it is essential in developing your visual memory.

So no matter which way that you draw, and I do recommend that you rotate your habitual way of drawing to accommodate all three ways, drawing is good for you!

Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: De Atramentis Document Black Ink
Paper: Stillman & Birn, Gamma Series 9″x6″

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A language not our own…

Listening to Radiohead’s Kid A album, Rigaud is awash with sleets of ice rain, bouts of rain and some snow… perfect temperature to stay warm inside and get back to some drawing. Are you like me? I tend to read many books at the same time and I am reading four at the moment… each book lives in a specific room, reflecting that rooms ruminations. One of the books that I am reading gives me peace and tranquillity and a deep longing for spring to finally arrive… after the icy winter that we have just endured.

“Braiding Sweetgrass, an Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” by Robin Wall Kimmerer opens up a world for the mind, body, emotion & spirit and is a hymn to the world. Here is an excerpt:

“…I come here to listen, to nestle in the curve of the roots in a soft hollow of pine needles, to lean my bones against the column of whit pine, to turn off the voice in my head until I can hear the voices outside it: the shhh of wind in needles, water trickling over rock, nuthatch tapping, chipmunks digging, beechnut falling,  mosquito in my ear, and something more — something that is not me, for which we have no language, the wordless being of others in which we are never alone. After the drumbeat of my mother’s heart, this was my first language. Listening in wild places, we are audience to conversations in a language not our own…”.

Paper: Stillman & Birn, 9″ x 6″, Gamma series
Fountain Pen: Pilot Falcon SEF
Ink: DeAtramentis Document Black Ink
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

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:: I worried…. by Mary Oliver ::

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the river
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

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Health, love, wisdom & a long life!

Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.
— Charles Dickens.

I wish you health, love, wisdom & a long life!

Learning from the Masters such as Winslow Homer is illuminating! I discovered that I could mix the colour Burnt Umber, which is a brown, into the sky which I would never have done otherwise. I also learnt that all of his colours are muted, except for the woman’s hat, the sky, the sea and the date tree. I really enjoyed painting this. In a way it is much easier to imitate than to actually paint on one’s own as all of the figuring out has already been done for you. This one is for you Gaétan!

Paper: Stillman & Birn, gamma series, 6″ x 9″
Colours: New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Pyrrol Crimson, Raw Umber, Cobalt Blue & Ultramarine
Original painting: Winslow Homer 1836-1910 “Along the road in the Bahamas20181231-winslow-homer-jane-hannah-loRes

 

:: Winter solstice ::

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields,
that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug,
you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says
‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871).

The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is an important day for us in the northern hemisphere as this is the day that has the longest night and the shortest day of the year… so this means that tomorrow the days are starting to grow longer… already! Ancient cultures viewed this day as a day of death and rebirth. This fills my heart up with joy as the promise of spring is coming, even if it will not appear before mid-April. And to add to this day, there will be a full Cold Moon.

Here is another beautiful poem by the great Ursula K. Le Guin

HOW IT SEEMS TO ME
In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.
— Ursula K. Le Guin

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