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

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

Roman Baths

My second day with Jane Blundell and her 5-day bootcamp and I have to say that it is quite wonderful… she is a natural teacher, knowledgeable,very nice and has a good rhythm. Not too many demos, always interesting information and we learn a ton! And it is pertinent information, not common or generic knowledge, which I appreciate -) Being a teacher myself, I am aware that teachers tend to be very fussy students –)

Guy and I went to the Roman Baths after the workshop today and we were impressed. It is funny.. when I was in Istanbul and Ephesus two years ago and we were visiting the ruins, these ruins belonged to the Greeks. Today I had the same feeling, to the Romans that arrived in 46 AD! However, as I am presently reading Rutherford’s Londinium book on the history of this city, I know that these ruins belong here and not elsewhere… reading is important for understanding our world.

Paper: Stillman & Birns
Colours: Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine & Pyrrol Crimson Location: Pulteney Bridge, Bath, UK.

Sunday Sketching, Stewart Hall in Pointe-Claire on July 10th

20160627-stewart-hall-jane-hannah-watercolor“Nothing awakens us to the reality of life so much as a true love,”
— Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother.

On Sunday July 10th the Montreal Urban Sketchers  have been invited to a Picnic Vernissage Day at Stewart Hall’s Cultural Centre in Pointe-Claire. Stewart Hall is situated in a gorgeous historic mansion and is a unique cultural venue located on the bank of Lake Saint-Louis. Everyone is invited to sketch with us on that day starting at 10:00 am. It is an absolutely stunning spot to sketch, in all seasons! To note that this date replaces the fourth Sunday for the month of July.

• 10:00 am START: on the lawn at the right side of the main entrance.
• 2:00 pm INVITATION: The vernissage of the exhibition Suspended Time – Caroline Cloutier & Joëlle Morosoli will take place on the 3rd floor, in the Art Gallery. Everybody is invited to go upstairs at 2 p.m.
• 3:00 pm END: we will gather on the patio facing the lake to share our drawings.
• There will be two very impressive performances on the stage that day as well, (at noon and at 3 pm), it could be an interesting thing to draw as well!
• In the event of rain, there is a room on the first floor that has been reserved for us; we will still have a nice view over the lake and everything; (but let’s cross our fingers that it won’t rain!)
• Directions Stewart Hall on Google Maps: LINK

Hope to see you there -)))


Le dimanche 10 juillet 2016, les Urban Sketchers de Montréal sont invités à participer à un pique-nique Vernissage au Centre culturel Stewart Hall de Pointe-Claire. Stewart Hall est une demeure historique sur un lieu enchanteur situé aux abords du Lac Saint-Louis. Tout le monde est invité à esquisser avec nous ce jour-là à partir de 10h00. Un endroit absolument magnifique pour faire des croquis, en toutes saisons!  À noter que cette journée remplace le quatrième dimanche du mois de juillet.

• 10h00 DÉBUT: on se rencontre à droite de l’entrée principale sur le parterre.
• 14h00 INVITATION: Le vernissage de l’exposition Les temps suspendus – Caroline Cloutier and Joëlle Morosoli se tiendra au 3e étage, dans la galerie d’art. Tout le monde est invité.
• 15h00 FIN: nous nous rencontrerons sur le patio face au lac St-Louis pour partager nos croquis/dessins/peintures et voir ce que les autres ont croqué.
• Pendant cette journée il va y avoir deux performances, une à midi et l’autre à 15h00 qui pourraient être fort intéressantes à peindre aussi.
• Dans l’éventualité de pluie, il y a une pièce qui nous a été réservée face au lac au rez-de-chaussée.
• Directions Stewart Hall sur Google Maps: LINK

En espérant vous voir -)

Mother :: Maman

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
— John Ruskin

Guy and I went to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa today to visit John Ruskin’s Artist & Observer Exhibit, which ended today. It was wonderful! His art is awesome, and I fell in love with his art. He uses alot of lines, and he is a master with graphite… it was very inspiring. When we came out of the gallery, I decided to paint this giant bronze spider that is called Maman for Mothers’ Day. This giant bronze was created by the Franco-American artist Louise Bourgeois as a tribute to her mother. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Nous sommes allés au Musée national du Canada à Ottawa aujourd’hui pour voir l’exposition de John Ruskin “Artiste et observateur“. C’était incroyable — quelle belle exposition — et aujourd’hui était la dernière journée qu’on pouvait la voir. Il travaille beaucoup avec la ligne, les traits en encre et au graphite. Très très beau. En sortant du musée, pendant que Guy prenait un bain de soleil, j’ai décidé de peindre la sculpture en bronze d’une araignée géante nommée Maman… le jour de la Fête des Mères -) 

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Series
Colours: French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Serpentine Genuine
Fountain Pen: Sailor Desk EF
Ink: Carbon Black Ink
Location: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario


Sunny flowers for a rainy day :: Fleurs jaunes pour une journée pluvieuse

L’expérience est une lanterne que l’on porte sur le dos et qui n’éclaire que le chemin parcouru – Confucius

I would say that my greatest challenge in painting is deciding on “what” to paint. When I enjoy what I am seeing, my paintings usually turn out well… and when I paint something that I enjoy less, it shows. So tonight, I was prowling the house to find something to paint and none of my husband’s tools called out to me (I wonder why?), none of the objects in the living room, dining room or kitchen appealed to me. I even asked my dog to come with me and show me what he thought that I could paint… and he couldn’t find anything either. Soooo when I turned around and saw these beautiful yellow flowers, they waved at me — and I waved back — I had found my subject -) Tomorrow the Montreal Urban Sketchers are meeting in Griffintown, so if you feel like joining us, you are of course most welcome.

Je pourrais dire que mon plus grand défi en peinture est de choisir mon sujet. Je dois beaucoup aimer le sujet, et quand ceci arrive, mes peintures s’avèrent satisfaisantes. Mais quand le sujet est choisi trop vite, les résultats laissent à désirer. Donc ce soir j’ai marché de long en large dans la maison pour trouver un sujet. Les outils de mon mari m’intéressaient pas (je me demande bien pourquoi?), le salon, la salle à dîner, la cuisine, rien. J’ai même demandé à mon chien de venir faire une tournée dans la maison pour qu’il puisse m’aider, et lui non plus a rien trouvé. Et soudainement, je me suis revirée et les fleurs jaunes m’ont dit: “Peints-nous, peints-nous!”… et j’avais trouvé mon sujet -) Si jamais vous aimeriez vous joindre aux Sketchers urbains de Montréal demain matin, nous nous rencontrons dans Griffintown, et vous êtes les bienvenues.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Sketchbook
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Serpentine Genuine, tad of Cobalt Blue
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: My house in Rigaud



Colour swatches :: Pastilles de couleurs

This exercise might seem and look futile for many, but it is not. As during the work week I doodle and draw more than I paint, the colours seem to leave my eyes. By doing this exercise, it helps me enormously as it keeps the colour combinations alive in my eyes and brain. Then I looked at these swatches and chose the ones that resonated with me for different reasons… some because of their beautiful lively greens, others for their wondrous purples and others for their greys.

Cet exercice pour certains peut paraître futile — mais oh! que non. Au contraire, il est nécessaire pour toutes personnes qui peint ou dessine avec des couleurs. C’est une très bonne façon de regarder les combinaisons de couleurs et regarder celles qui sont lumineuses, neutres ou simplement sublimes.

Paper: Larolan Sketchbook, Portugal
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: My house in Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Snow is melting fast :: Le neige fond vite

The temperatures have soared this past week and we had a high of 14C and the snow is melting fast. So I hurried out today for my last snow scene painting of the season as by this weekend, the fields will be filled with water. I used a paper that I used to love one year ago, and today it seemed strange and awkward for me… it was not working for me as it used to. I wonder why our relationship with watercolour papers change over time? I have heard this from other sketchers too. If you have any insights concerning this, or would like to share some of your thoughts with me, I would love to hear about it.

Les températures ont monté très vite cette dernière semaine et la neige fond vite. Je me suis dépêchée aujourd’hui pour peindre ma dernière peinture de neige pour cette saison car les champs vont bientôt être inondés d’eau. J’ai utilisé un papier aquarelle que j’adorais il y a un an, et aujourd’hui je n’étais pas à l’aise avec… la peinture ne coulait pas… les lignes étaient ternes. Je sais que je ne suis pas la seule qui réalise qu’un papier ne fonctionne plus, peut-être pour un certain lapse de temps? Si vous avez des idées pourquoi, ou si ça vous ait arrivé, faites-le moi savoir? 

Sketchbook: Larolan #10
Colours: Raw Sienna, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Corner of Ste-Marthe and Très St-Rédempteur, Québec, Canada


Cup of tea :: Tasse de thé

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

I had a gruelling day of corrections to do… it all started at 8:30 am and by 3:00 pm I was exhausted. I ignored the pains that my body was emitting and dashed off to visit my godmother who is in the hospital and then head off to visit my mother at the same time who unfortunately, was not there as she was visiting a friend in need. Painting a teacup seems simple if you realize that it has three ovals within it… once you get that, then it is simpler… A whiz at painting teacups is Liz Steel as she paints them almost on a daily basis… you can check out her blog here. So I am offering you a cup of tea today and I hope that you can savour its essence -)

J’ai commencé à corriger ce matin à 8h30 et à 15h00 j’étais totalement brûlée et épuisée. Ignorant les signes que mon corps me donnaient, je me suis précipitée pour aller voir ma marraîne qui est à l’hôpital et ensuite me rendre chez ma mère qui n’était pas là… j’ai su plus tard qu’elle visitait une amie en besoin. Donc aujourd’hui je vous offre une tasse de thé et j’espère que vous allez la savourer. Une fois qu’on comprend qu’une tasse a trois ovals, la tâche est moins difficile. Si vous aimeriez voir une whiz des tasses de thé, allez voir le site de Liz Steel, une australienne ici.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Series
Colours: Q. Deep Gold, Q. Violet, Serpentine Genuine, Vivianite
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship (Flexigrip) EF
Ink: Noodlers “Bulletproof” Lexington Grey