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Showing posts from August, 2009

Early Pears

7"X5" Oil on board

Summer is almost over, we have already processed our first bushel of tomatoes. Soon there will be apples which are still probably my all-time favourite fruit. This pear looked so luscious that I really needed to paint it.

Mont Royal

5"X7" Acrylic on boardI rarely use acrylics and when I do it is usually on paper, for ATCs. This time I thought I would just do the underpainting in acrylics and finish in oils but I liked the way it was going so stuck with them.
The mountain can be seen from almost everywhere in Montreal because the city surrounds it. It isn't really a mountain of course, only 233 m (764 ft) above sea level and part of the Monteregian hills

The Last Ball Game

5"X6" Pencil on paper

...of the season. I have enjoyed this season of low pressure house-league games, I think the boys have too. As much as they love baseball, I think that they were happy to put up with the slightly lower standard of play in exchange for the chance to play every position on the field. The coaches were relaxed and were more interested in making sure that every player had fun than winning every game at all costs.

Train Home

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

This is probably the last of the meagre collection of sketches from my trip.
I enjoyed taking the train, even though the trip took marginally longer than it would have done by car, mostly just because of the connection in Toronto. It is certainly more relaxed than the 401. I got to read my book and even check my email.

Fire Escape

5.5"X7" Pen & wash on paper

The fire escapes and balconies of Montreal play a large part in defining her character. This one, drawn from the inside looking out, leads down to an alley (allée, rouelle?) behind avenue du Parc.

Montreal Allée 3

5.5"X3.5" Watercolour on paper

I have always enjoyed painting the backs of houses. I did this one from a balcony, early in the morning while the light was still interesting. Unlike my other two Montreal allées (should it be ruelle? Maybe, but I am sort of committed to allée now) , this one was actually painted en plein air, using my little moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

Montreal Allée 2

7"X5" Oil on board
The Mile End district of Montreal is home to at least 7000 Hasidim. According to some accounts it is the third largest Hasidic population outside of Isreal (after New York & London). They are very private people and I wondered if this might be rather intrusive, except that neither the people nor the exact location are identifiable. I am always fascinated by costumes and these gentlemen wear theirs with a great deal of style. The heavy wool overcoats they wear whenever they go out onto the street, even in temperatures in the 30C range (86F), must alone be a test of their faith.I believe that the tarpaulin in the background may be a part of a sukkah, although I am woefully ignorant about Orthodox Jewish customs and may have got it all wrong.

Purple Plums

6"X6" Oil on panelI am not as fond of plums as the rest of my family, but they do look luscious don't they?

Montreal Allée

7"X5" Oil on board
I didn't do as much sketching while I was away as I perhaps should have, but I took lots of photographs.

The allées of Montreal are among her defining characteristics, and combined with the graffiti I thought that this made a good picture.


Cut & Paste

4"X5.5" Pencil on paper

There was a time when "cut & paste" was understood to mean just that, cutting out a word, paragraph or picture and pasting it up onto a storyboard, project or layout sheet. Nowadays it is just as likely to be done digitally, but old-fashioned photo-montage has been enjoying something of a renaissance. I really should try some collage, it might help with inspiration.

At the Station

3.5"X5.5" pencil on paper

Well, I am back from Montreal, just. I didn't really get much painting and sketching done but I did do a bit while travelling. This lady was waiting at Union Station with her children.

Rudbeckia ACEO

2.5"X3.5" Acrylic on paper

I probably won't be posting for the next few days, I am going to Montreal for a long-overdue visit with my eldest. I will try to fill my sketchbooks with lots of urban scenes.

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Self Portrait 2

2.5"X3.5" Acrylic on paper

OK, it is a bit weird. I don't think I have ever done a self portrait from a photograph before, only with a mirror. The photo was also very low resolution, a snapshot taken with my webcam. I actually played with this in Photoshop and nearly posted a digitally enhanced version, but that seemed a bit silly as it didn't really look too much different from a digitally enhanced version of the original photograph.


5.5"X3.5" Mixed media on paper

Blazing hot today. I found a tree to sit under and looked for something to paint.
They finally mowed the common so there aren't too many of the lovely meadow flowers left but the grape vines are coming back all over. The concord grapes are native to this part of the world and it takes a lot to keep them down.
Once upon a time they used to make wine with these grapes, or their descendants, it was dreadful. About 20 years ago Niagara winemakers discovered that if you want to make European style wine you have to use European grapes, and they will grow here so long as they are grafted on native rootstock. Now Ontario wines are among the best.


6"X7" Watercolour on paper

I did this a long time ago. I remember that I really enjoyed depicting it in watercolour because the leaves actually look as if they have been painted with overlapping washes of green and magenta. It was very easy to get the effect by just mimicking nature.

August Noon

9"X6" Watercolour on paper

In all things it is almost always the transitions that are interesting. Spring and Fall are generally more interesting than high summer. In high summer the most interesting times are early morning and late evening. The first snowfall is magical but the iron grey of midwinter leaves a lot to be desired.
This has been such a wet summer, at least the grass is still green. By the middle of August all the colours seem tired and the greens looked dusty and grey at noon under heavy polluted skies (here in the "Golden Horseshoe" the ill effects of industry overhang everything).

Pennsylvania Highway

7"X5" Oil on board
It was last year around this time that I was in Pennsylvania but I seem to have been spending a lot of time on highways like this recently. It could be almost anywhere in the northeastern states really. Are those the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Laurentians, the Appalachians? No, in this case they are probably the Alleghenies.
I love Pennsylvania, it is so well named. The sylvan forest seems to extend as far as the eye can see and the highways thread through it all, often skipping across the valleys on viaducts like the one in the distance.
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Wine Country

5"X7" Oil on board
Every day I drive through the vineyards on my way to work. The light is lovely in the mornings but as I am habitually late I never have time to stop and take proper photographs. Sometimes I take some fuzzy low-resolutions snaps with my cell phone.
I want to try harder to capture these moments. I need to practise more painting from memory, without photographic reference. It isn't as if the photographs ever do justice to the colours anyway.

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Down by the River

5.5"X3.5" Pen & graphitint pencil on paper

There is a tiny beach at the bottom of Ball Avenue in NOTL. Hardly anyone ever goes there, even at the height of tourist season when the town is teeming with people. It makes a pleasant spot to eat my lunch and paint the rocks.

House by the Fort

5.5"X3.5" Pen & graphitint on paper

Sitting between Fort George and the Niagara River, this little stone house is nestled among some old overgrown apple trees. I am not sure of its history, I don't think it is privately owned any more, it may be used as offices for the Niagara Parks Department

Etrog Sculpture

5.5"X8" Pen & pencil on paper

The inscription reads:
Sorel Etrog - Hasidic Head - Bronze 1959.
It is an interesting lump of metal but I don't actually see the resemblance. Oh well, it was something to draw at lunchtime, made a change from the common.

Peaches in a Glass Bowl

6"X6" Oil on panel

A continuation of the "three things on round thing" theme. Peaches are always an interesting challenge because of the fuzz.


5"X7" Oil on board

I can't for the life of me remember what these are called. They are quite rose-like, especially the buds, but are thornless and the leaves are arranged in opposing pairs (decussate?). I picked up a couple of bunches at the market yesterday, they were past their best and on sale.