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


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

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

:: The way through the woods ::

— SOLD —

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago. 
Weather and rain have undone it again, 
And now you would never know 
There was once a road through the woods 
Before they planted the trees. 
It is underneath the coppice and heath, 
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees 
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease, 
There was once a road through the woods.Yet, if you enter the woods 
Of a summer evening late, 
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools 
Where the otter whistles his mate, 
(They fear not men in the woods, 
Because they see so few.) 
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet, 
And the swish of a skirt in the dew, 
Steadily cantering through 
The misty solitudes, 
As though they perfectly knew 
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.
— Rudyard Kipling

Winter has finally arrived and I greet it with a mixture of trepidation and awe as I actually enjoy all of our four seasons here in Québec. This weekend will be a busy one as I have student projects to correct, I am thrilled to be part of the Square Foot Art Exhibition on Saturday from 11:00 to 4:00 pm and I do hope to see some of you there. This is one of the paintings that will be on exhibit. Hope that you enjoy it.

As some of you already know, I love trees. I painted this majestic white pine two weekends ago while autumn was still in bloom right here in Rigaud. Does this poem bring you back to childhood?

Paper: Fluid 100 12″ x 12″
Watercolours: MG yellow, B. Sienna, B. Umber, Ultramarine, P. Scarlet


Happy New Year :: Bonne année

Happy New Year :: Health, love, wisdom & a long life.

Here in Rigaud the winter light is crisp and we are under a foot deep of white snow and even the birds seem to be rejoicing. At least 12 goldfinches are perched on one feeder and the constant to and fro of the chickadees and nuthatches makes looking out the window a marvel of fluttering wings. I love this.

I will not be talking about resolutions for the new year but a bit about continuing to do what I do well in life and stop doing what I am not very good at… This past semester was a difficult semester for me and I had to fight against low energy levels and lethargy and I am becoming more mindful of the energy required to create on a regular basis. If I am to create on a regular basis, I need to keep my energy levels high and not get caught up in the drudgery of deadlines and meetings at school, which become futile in the long run for me in these senior years.

Je ne parlerai pas de résolutions personnelles pour la nouvelle année mais plutôt de continuer à faire les choses que je fais bien dans la vie et d’arrêter de faire les choses que je suis moins bonne — ou au moins essayer de m’améliorer. Je voudrais atteindre une régularité artistique. Je deviens de plus en plus consciente de l’énergie nécessaire pour créer de l’art sur une base régulière, et ceci veut dire que je dois garder mes niveaux d’énergie élevés et ne pas me laisser prendre dans la turbulence de réunions dramatiques et de la corvée des échéanciers à l’école, qui deviennent à mon âge, futiles.

Paper: Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook
Colours: Q. Gold, Burnt Sienna & Indanthrone Blue
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada

Happy New Year 2016 :: Bonne Année 2016


The reality of it all :: La réalité de tout celà

On ne doit pas empêcher la réalité de faire un beau tableau. Reality should not prevent the making of a beautiful painting.

Someone on my blog yesterday cited the above quote, which is totally appropriate for tonight’s post. I thank him for his kind remarks and I have been thinking about it today. He is right, the “reality” of something should not be the absolute aim of a painting… and I finally mustered up the courage today at around 4:00 pm to paint yesterday’s drawing in colour. So I gathered my colour palette and brushes and water and walked down about 100 feet, and I was in front of this magnificent view. I painted the brook with a wash of indanthrone blue, which has just recently been added to my palette and I love its’ intensity… it is a more intense cobalt blue, which my palette sorely needed to have.

Quelqu’un a écrit sur mon blog la citation ci-haut, qui est totalement appropriée! Je le remercie pour sa remarque juste et sensible and j’y ai pensé tout au long de la journée. Il a raison, la “réalité” de quelque chose ne doit pas absolument dominer ou diriger une peinture… et j’ai finalement pris mon courage à deux mains aux alentours de 4:00 pm et j’ai pris mes pinceaux, eau et palette de couleurs et j’ai marché 100 pieds pour arriver à cette magnifique vue. J’ai peint le ruisseau avec du bleu indanthrone qui est un bleu plus intense que le bleu cobalt et qui manquait à ma palette de couleurs.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Series, grand portrait size
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber & Indanthrone Blue
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey



Patience is perfection :: La patience est perfection

A line is a dot that went for a walk.

Paul Klee

This is not the first time that I try painting my beautiful brook… and it surely will not be the last! So, I treaded carefully today, drawing first and then hesitating… should I paint it right away? or should I wait? I opted for the second option. The reason for the waiting is because I need to think about how I will paint it… to me, water and waterways are daunting, and I have managed to ruin many of my paintings. Tomorrow I will paint it and I might post it, if it is a reasonable success… if not, this view will suffice -)

Ce n’est pas la première fois que j’essaie de peindre mon ruisseau… et ce ne sera sûrement pas la dernière! Aujourd’hui j’ai commencé par le dessiner, et j’ai arrêté car je me demandais si j’étais pour le peindre tout de suite… ou attendre. Pourquoi attendre? Car pour moi peindre de l’eau ou des cours d’eau est bien difficile, et je dois y penser… je dois y réfléchir et ne pas me lancer sans aucune espèce d’idée où je m’en vais. J’ai tellement ruiné de peintures que l’expérience me dicte d’être patiente -) Demain je vais la peindre, et si j’ai un succès raisonnable vous allez la voir… sinon, celle-ci va suffire -)))

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Series, grand portrait size
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Betula Alleghaniensis :: Yellow Birch :: Bouleau des Alléghanys :: Merisier

L’un des plus grands arbres de la forêt laurentienne, où il atteint son maximum de développement. Le bois, très pesant, à grain serré, est très employé des machines aratoires, dans l’ébénisterie et la carrosserie. L’odeur aromatique de l’écorce blessé est la même que celle du Gaultheria procumbens “Teaberry” ou “Thé des bois”. Le tronc de cet arbre ne flotte pas, et l’espèce échappe ainsi à la dévastation amenée par l’industrie du papier; on ne coupe le B. Alleghaniensis que là on peut le transporter par voie de terre. Le nom populaire “merisier” est un pur canadianisme, et assez déroutant. 
— Flore Laurentienne par le Frère Marie-Victorin

This is an example of the type of information that you can find in this wonderful flora book pertaining to the indigenous species that live and thrive in the province of Quebec. Anyone who loves stories on plants and trees and history, it is must read. I have a few of these majestic trees on my two acre lot, and they are wonderful to paint and attract all kinds of wildlife. Their golden yellow trunk is luminous. The last two days have been wonderful… we stayed home, cleaned up part of our lot, made campfires and just relaxed… before the mosquitoes arrive -) I found an unused sketchbook of Stillman & Birn and wanted to commemorate the first page with a nice painting. I seem to be superstitious in the sense that if I ruin the first page of a sketchbook, I seem to think that the rest of the pages will be mediocre. I am glad that it turned out ok and the paper is wonderful.

Ce livre sur la flore laurentienne de Marie-Victorin est un véritable petit bijou de lecture, d’information sur les arbres et espèces indigènes et beaucoup d’histoire. Nous avons passé une très belle fin de semaine à s’occuper d’une partie de notre terrain, à faire des feux de camp, à relaxer… et peindre…. avant que les maringouins arrivent -) J’ai trouvé un livre à croquis de Stillman & Birn et pour la première page, je voulais réussir ma peinture car sans être superstitieuse, si je ruine la première page d’un livret, j’ai tendance à penser que les peintures suivantes vont être médiocres? Je suis contente qu’elle est ok et ce papier est magnifique.

Paper: Stillman & Birn, Beta Series, 180 lbs, CP
Colours: Raw Sienna, Rose Madder Genuine, French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: Rigaud, Québec, Canada


Pine King :: Le roi des pins

The master is the piece of paper, the watercolour you are working on at the moment, listen to it; watercolor is the boss.
— Josef Zbukvik (further quotes by Josef are found at the bottom of this post)

This is my third version of the same majestic tree. Speaking with other artists, they have told me that they often need to paint the same subject three or four times in order to get it right. Well… after three times, I would say that the “lone pine” has turned into the “Pine King” or should I say “KingPine”? As you will notice, all three trees have different personalities and that is due to artistic license, where the artist is accorded leeway (take out or add) in his/her interpretation of what is observed. This is what is tremendously liberating when painting a subject as opposed to taking a picture of it.

Voici ma troisième version du majestueux pin. En parlant avec d’autres artistes, ils me disent qu’ils doivent refaire la même peinture jusqu’à trois fois pour être satisfait. Eh bien, après trois fois, je dois dire que je suis satisfaite et que mon “pin solitaire” est devenu le “roi des pins”. 

Paper: Handbook Travelogue Series
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey
Location: St. Georges Road, Rigaud, Québec, Canada




















1. Painting precise locations is irrelevant; simply capture the character
2. Connecting shapes is most important, after that come tonal values. Color is last
3.  Analyze your subject; see the foreground, background, balance, shapes and tones
4.  The master is the piece of paper, the watercolour you are working on at the moment, listen to it; Watercolor is the boss
5. People are seldom still or rigid; they are off-balance in movement and animated.
6. Tone is the king; color is a mere assistant.
7. Watercolor will paint itself; if you let it.
8. Look at the subject; reduce it to a visual language.
9. Look at the values; where is the white, where is the light? How does it relate to the dark background?
10. Indicate, don’t state
11. Let the energy of the original line remain; don’t kill it with paint.
— Josef Zbukvik

Solitary pine :: Pin solitaire

Anything can be painted! The secret is not the subject, but how you perceive the shapes, values and colours. 
— Making Color Sing by Jeanne Dobie

When I woke up this morning I was not satisfied with yesterday’s painting… so I decided to paint it again, this more with more care and less giddiness (I think that I was giddy with happiness as my teaching semester is finished — now I am in correction mode). Yesterday I had used New Gambodge and it muddied my greens. So the first thing that I thought about was the quality of my greens as yesterday’s were too muddy. I opted for Aureolin Yellow (AY) and French Ultramarine (FU) where the darker blue can hold up the very light yellow colour in AY. I tried personalizing my greens today and I am happier with the result.

Quand je me suis réveillée ce matin, je n’étais pas satisfaite de ma peinture que j’ai peinte hier. En plus, j’ai utilisé la couleur New Gambodge qui rend la couleur boueuse. Donc je me suis décidée de la refaire, cette fois avec plus d’attention (étant donné que hier était ma dernière journée d’enseignement, je pense que j’étais assez désinvolte). La première chose que j’ai planifiée était la couleur des verts… et j’ai opté pour un mélange de French ultramarine et Aureolin Yellow car la densité du bleu compense pour la légèreté de ce jaune. Je suis contente du résultat.

Paper: Handbook Travelogue
Colours: Aureolin Yellow, Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine
Fountain Pen: Pilot Prera F
Ink: Noodlers’ Lexington Grey