To have spunk…

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

Even though this dog is unknown to me, he has spunk! Like many small dogs that I know, they are fierce little creatures when taunted and show courage and determination. I like his badass attitude when painting, but I really do not enjoy when they constantly bark at you. LOL -) My own big Golden Retriever is nothing like this. He is soft, gentle, intelligent, never barks (or hardly) and is very affectionate. He is also getting very old, on our daily walks he lags behind and is walking very very slowly. I fear that not much time is left for our big guy.

Paper: Pentalic Sketchbook
Colours: [W&N] Yellow Ochre, [W&N] Payne’s Grey and [DS] Alizarin Crimson

Light & Shadows

In art, the journey outshines the destination.
In art, mistakes are golden.
Painters’ Keys

I am presently following a class with Uma Kelkar and boy is it hard… and so gratifying at the same time. We are looking at how light bounces off objects and how it reflects, on shadows, cast shadows, etc. Here are two preliminary sketches that I did. I used Payne’s Grey on Strathmore paper.

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.

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

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

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

:: 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 -)))

20200109-paints-pyrrolCrimson-loRes

20200109-paints-QRose-loRes

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