Red Poppies… at last!

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
— Isaac Asimov

Yesterday’s black and white poppies were just too sad. So I had to paint them today.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship  Fountain Pen, Clear, EF Nib, Japan
Ink: Noodlers Lexington Grey (bulletproof), my favourite colour
Watercolours: DS Cobalt, DS Green Gold, DS Cadmium Red, DS Alizarin Crimson, Payne’s Grey

Let us remember… and not forget

:: Flanders Fields ::

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— by John McCrae, May

This seems to be a common theme of mine lately. Well yes, let us remember and not forget… in these troubled times.

Revisiting a lesson learned, and also forgotten

“I suppose what you’re doing as a painter is making a record of your trip through life.
I can’t think of any job that is quite as satisfactory as doing a painting.”
(Robert Genn (1936- 2014))

The quote above rings true for me… it is true that this blog records part of my life in a way. After preparing for my Book Club for tomorrow night, I now have the leisure of time on my hands… and what do I do with it? Going through some of my older paintings and see what comes up. By the way, her class is spectacular. As a teacher, she invests herself totally in it and she expects you to be totally invested too. An awesome combo.

I had not looked at this painting for over a year as this was done in a class given by Uma Kelkar. Quite interesting to revisit after this time. I really had a lot of fun doing this as it was difficult and challenging. The aim was to look at the reflections (incident light coming from the sun), cast shadows, diffused shadows and shadows and make them believable. I changed some of the blue colours along the way too.

No promises, back & front, forwards & backwards

When Joni Mitchell was nine, she contracted polio. After recovery, she taught herself how to walk again. In 2015, after her brain aneurysm, Mitchell again taught herself to walk. As a tween, she had taught herself to play the guitar from a Pete Seeger songbook. With her left hand weakened, she devised daring alternate tunings, which led to innovative voicings, and intuitive approaches to harmony and song structure.
The Painter’s Key

This time I will not promise that I am back in business and that I will be painting a number of paintings…. I’ve learnt that lesson far too often. But what I will say is that I am hopeful, that with the turn of the seasons, I get back to drawing or painting for my heart’s desire.

Yesterday I found one of the photographs that I took in Turkey a long time ago, about 7 years ago I guess, that had always fascinated me and I thought that it would be fun to draw. Well, then, once I had drawn it, I thought it would be fun to add colours to this and practice with rusty eyes with new colours. So here it is. It developed into the front and back of a person… search me how come, but hey! I was having fun. Don’t know if you noticed, but the one on the left has a door as it is a police station in Turkey… can you imagine working in such amazing architecture?

Sketchbook: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Colours: Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine, Burnt Umber
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Meteora, Greece

La fin du monde est à sept heures
Annonçait le téléviseur
La fin du monde est à sept heures
La fin du monde est à sept heures
On voit les signes avant-coureurs
Les voisins ne se parlent plus
On ne rigole plus dans la rue
Les gens ne font que travailler
Ils sont chanceux et occupés
Le samedi, ils magasinent
Avez-vous vu leur triste mine

— Jean Leloup, “La fin du monde est à sept heures”

Painting done in direct watercolour, no lines, directly on watercolour paper, Saunders Waterford CP. So hard to do and so proud too. Wow! Never thought that I would be able to pull this off. All a question of values… value 2 for the mountains, value 4 for the strokes in the stone and value 5 for the shadows. Still so much to learn, but I am following a path…

:: Desert ::

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.

— Neil Young, “Helpless” Canadian singer, songwriter extraordinaire.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8LYOyqJE7k

The same landscape as the previous ones, but the elements of design are different, as in this case colours. Hot, fiery desert winds and sparks of light. In our sub-zero temperatures here in Quebec, it feels good to delve into a bit of warmth… once in a while.

Unreal II

I’m really starting to have fun with these “unreal” landscapes…. they are pushing me in another direction which I like. They are pushing me to throw in elements from my imagination into a landscape instead of painting what I see in front of me. As an urban sketcher I often see myself as a recorder, a gatherer of information, painting a memento of what lies in front of me, of the landscape or cityscape around me.

:: 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

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.