Thursday, 30 April 2009

Spring on the Common

9"X6" Watercolour & pencil on paper

The weather was lovely at lunchtime, so nice that I actually sat outside to paint and completely forgot a meeting with my boss, for which I showed up more than 15 minutes late! This is looking East toward Fort George, just glimpsed through the trees. Behind the fort is the Niagara River. I used my homemade watercolour sketchbook for this one. If you are interested I did a post with instructions on my other blog.

I am glad I went out while I could, it is pouring with rain now, maybe it will encourage my grass seed to grow.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2009


4"X4" Watercolour on paper

It was lovely to get out at lunchtime today to do some painting. The air was quite chill so I actually stayed in the car, I only had a half hour but I tried to make the most of it. The trees are filling out fast and so the nature of their shade is changing too. The landscape is changing so fast right now, like an infant, if you don't pay attention all the time it would be easy to miss a vital milestone. I just noticed on the drive home that the blossoms are out, that kinda took me by surprise, I wasn't expecting them until next week.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Scrabble Again

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

I almost didn't post anything today, I spent all evening working on the taxes. These were from another scrabble game a couple of days ago, I liked the expressions.

Monday, 27 April 2009


7"X5.5" Pencil on paper
On Saturday J. was accompanying the Avanti Chamber Singers in their concert of Elizabethan music. They are a fairly new local group but extremely well rehearsed and professional. The first half of the programme was Madrigals and the second half Elizabethan poems set to music by Debussy, Mendelssohn and other 19th & 20th century composers.

As usual I couldn't resist the opportunity to sketch the singers
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Sunday, 26 April 2009


6"X6" Oil in panel SOLD

It is very frustrating to spend a couple of hours struggling to get the blues and mauves right and then to be dissatisfied with the way they render on the computer. Violet does seem to be one of the hardest colours to reproduce.
This is a new format for me, I have wanted to try square for some time but I haven't found a local source for square panels. I ordered some from Karl Heerdt at Twelve Oaks Studio Supply as well as some more of the standard 5"X7" size which I have used before and like very much. They work out a bit expensive for me by the time you factor in extra shipping costs to get them over the border, but what else is new?
As I was painting this I was thinking about my inability to maintain a consistent style. Should I just give up worrying about it I wonder? I was hoping that this blog would help me find a style that I could be happy with but I really don't think I have it in me. I get bored doing the same sort of thing over and over. I know there are daily painters out there who have built a good business out of producing hundreds of paintings of fruit and vegetables or flowers or local landmarks. I can keep it up for a while and then I need to do something else. Today's painting was fun because the colour was so challenging, the landscapes are enjoyable but almost too easy. What I really enjoy the most is figure sketching so maybe I should try to do some serious portraits.
I bought a couple of very large canvasses yesterday, so I will see if I can think of something to use them for. It seems like such a commitment to embark on something that I will need to work on over several days, or even weeks, as I really can't paint much during the week.

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Saturday, 25 April 2009

Shadows and Leaves

5"X7" Oil on panel

Another beautiful Spring day. The trees are just starting to put out their first leaves, still more yellow than green and thin enough that the shadows are still quite skeletal.

I went to a lovely choral concert this evening, mostly madrigals. The weather turned quite stormy this evening and the rain was pounding on the roof of the church providing atmospheric accompaniment. I did a sketch of the performers which I might post at a later date.

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Friday, 24 April 2009


6"X4" Watercolour on paper

Finally a day to sit outside. I only had a few minutes at lunchtime but I went down to the river and soaked up some sunshine and did this very quick sketch of the NY side.

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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Interstate 90 One More Time

7"X5" Pencil on paper

I really need to get out and do some outdoor sketching, it is still a little chilly most days.

I did this one while barrelling along I90 coming back from Connecticut last month. It's OK I was in the passenger seat at the time.

Trying to capture a fleeting moment, an impression that is already half a mile behind you by the time you get pencil to paper, is always an interesting challenge.

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Salem Chapel

8"X11" Watercolour on paper

Time to pull one from the archives again. The Salem Chapel or British Methodist Episcopal Church was once headquarters to the Underground Railroad, the network that guided slaves from the United States to freedom in Canada. It was Harriet Tubman's church. It sits on a shabby run-down section of Geneva Street in St. Catharines right across the street from the Golden Brothers Sports Bar, the subject of an earlier post.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Meetings 2

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

With apologies to my colleagues, meetings are one of the few situations where people tend to sit still and aren't particularly put off by the fact that I have a pencil and notebook in hand. Having said that I am always a little self conscious about drawing my coworkers. While the likeness isn't that good, it is good enough that they will probably recognize themselves, that is if they ever see them.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Laura Young again

Pencil on paper

Here are a couple more sketches form the Laura Young concert last month. Not quite a wierd as the "drawing in the dark" one from the Eden Stell concert. It is always challenging trying to sketch people as they perform.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

April Sunshine

9"X6" oil on board

We hear a lot about April showers but it is April sunshine that we really love.

This one is from a photograph, not taken with my lovely new DSLR but an ultra low-resolution shot taken with my phone. I find that these can be quite successful if I am painting a view with which I am very familiar, like this one which I pass every day on my way to work. It is as if the scene is etched onto my brain and the snapshot is just an aide-memoir. They are fun but so incredibly easy as to seem a little like shooting fish in a barrel. I am not sure why I think that painting should be hard, but I feel a little guilty unless I have sweated over it.

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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Lilac & Forsythia

7"X5" Oil on board

The forsythia is almost finished and the lilac is only just starting, just a random selection of what I have in my garden. The bowl was made by my very talented sister-in-law, Nicole Laverne. The partial ellipse has to be one of the hardest things to get right, but I will keep on trying.

I found it very hard to concentrate today, I have just bought a new camera and was anxious to go and play with it. I should be able to get better reproductions of some of my larger paintings as I now have 12 mps.

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Friday, 17 April 2009

Scrabble Player 2

5.5"X5.5" Pencil on paper

And here is the other one.

It was a beautiful day today and Spring is just teetering on the brink. All the trees are in bud and will be popping out within the next few days. Unfortunately the forcast for the weekend isn't good and next week looks worse, possibility of snow midweek they say. Oh, the joys of living in Ontario! The funny thing is that we are just as likely to have temperatures on the 30s (86+ F) within a week or so. we don't get much in-between weather here.

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Scrabble Player

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Here is the first sketch I did the other night while I was losing at Scrabble. I really have to find myself a life-drawing session to go to. I am finding that these figure studies are what I am enjoying most at the moment. I get so few opportunities to do them, lacking as we are in any satisfactory form of public transport. My kids rarely sit still long enough and, although I occasionally draw my colleagues during meetings or in the greenroom I am rather self-conscious about it, especially when I think that the results are rather unflattering.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Asleep on the Plane

3.5"X5.5" Pencil on paper

This is positively the last post from my English trip. It was a comfortable flight with lots of room to spread out. My neighbour here was sprawled over two seats, I could have used three if I had wanted but I find it hard to sleep on planes, especially coming this way (East to West). It was nice to have somewhere to leave my stuff though.

The plane had these fancy seat-back movie screens so that everyone could choose their own entertainment. Unfortunately they weren't working so it was just as well I had a good book and a sketchbook.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Building for Sale

16"X20" Oil on board

This is another one pulled from the archives, about three years old. The subject is the same area as the St Paul Street triptych that I posted a a few weeks ago. In fact this is just a detail of a couple of the buildings. The title refers to the fact that the strange stilted building on the left has a Remax "For Sale" sign on it, hard to see at this size.

I liked the multiple diagonals made by the fire escapes and stilts as well as the patches of colour in the VW, the doorways and the brilliant sky.

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Monday, 13 April 2009


7"X5.5" Pen on paper

This is almost the last of my holiday pics. It has been fun to relive my trip this way, more fun than photos, and thank you for indulging me. There is something much more satisfying about sketches, perhaps because they take that much longer to record, there is a larger imprint on the brain and looking at the sketch brings back the whole process, not just the second it took to take the snapshot.

I have just got some new glasses, "progressives". They will take a while to get used to but I am hopeful that they will do great things for my painting, my main reason for getting them. That and the fact that I am sick of constantly putting them on and taking them off (and losing them). I have been getting by with drug-store readers for the past few years but have got to the point where I need several different pairs for different functions. The only problem with these new ones is that the computer isn't really at the right focal length and I have to tilt my head back a bit to see the screen. At home I can just use my laptop on my lap (duh!) but at work I may have to keep a pair of computer glasses in my desk or get used to having a crick in my neck!

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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

3.5"X2.5" Acrylic on paper

Even though my boys are 18 and my daughter hasn't been home for Easter for years, I still can't resist the little chocolate eggs that are in all the stores at this time. The Easter Bunny was lazy this year though and just left them in a bowl in the kitchen table instead of hiding them all over the house. This might be her swan-song.

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Chat Contre-Jour Encore

5"X7" Oil on board

Time to play with some texture. I really enjoyed this one, getting the fuzzy softness of her fur, it almost looks like pastel doesn't it? This was originally a watercolour I did about a year ago, the light seems very April somehow. Klein, my notoriously grumpy cat, was sitting by the door, soaking up a little Spring sunshine. Her left eye is blind but she seems to manage OK. Maybe it accounts for her grumpiness though.

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Friday, 10 April 2009

Little Daffodils

5"X7" Oil on board

I had a frustrating time photographing this one. The blue is much richer in the painting, a beautiful "Pashmina" scarf I treated myself to last weekend. If I try to adjust it in Photoshop, the yellow of the daffodils starts to turn too orange and the grey vase turns purple. Never mind, you get the "picture".

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Thursday, 9 April 2009


7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

I played Scrabble at the kitchen table with the guys last night. To say that I lost would be an understatement, I was slaughtered. It could have had something to do with the fact that I wasn't really paying attention. I did sketches of all three of them first before trying to put it all together here.

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Wednesday, 8 April 2009


3.5"X5.5" Pencil on paper

The weather was so miserable when I was at Kew Gardens that I didn't do any sketching outside. I did get to visit the lovely Shirley Sherwood Gallery and I stopped for lunch in the Orangery, a Grade 1 listed building which has been turned into a very pleasant cafe. I am not sure who the scantily clad young man is, a larger than life statue no doubt dating from the original building.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009


8"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Mitsy belongs to a relative of my husband. She likes to perch on the back of a chair and survey her domain.

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Monday, 6 April 2009

Overground to Kew

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Well I am almost finished with my English sketches. On the day after the Tates I went to the British Museum but I don't seem to have done any sketches that day, although I took a fair number of photos. The next day I went to Kew on the "Overground". I kept on waiting for nice weather but eventually gave up, it wasn't to be. We had virtually no rain while I was there but it was uniformly overcast almost every day.

I couldn't quite tell whether this lady was asleep. She had something in her hand that she appeared to be reading but she kept nodding off.

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Sunday, 5 April 2009

Freesia & Pussy-Willow

5"X7" Oil on board

Every once in a while I seem to need to torture myself with something like this. I think that I could practise every day for a decade and I still probably wouldn't get it right, but maybe I should try. I am referring of course to the juxtaposition and overlapping of reflection and shadow. Made all the more interesting by the fact that the shadow was completely absent, or rather the patch of sunlight was, after about the first five minutes.

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Saturday, 4 April 2009

April Showers

5"X7" Acrylic on paper

Actually it has been more like torrential rain followed by howling gale. The photograph I used today was actually taken exactly a year ago, so I guess the weather is pretty seasonal.

I thought I should have another crack at the acrylics despite the fact that they really aren't my favourite medium. I am not sure why, I know plenty of people who much prefer them to oils or watercolours but I can never seem to get them to do what I want.

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