Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Canada Hair Cloth Again




8"X6" Pen & ink & watercolour on paper

This is the sketch of the Canada Hair Cloth building I did the other day. I used white ink to touch up the details.


I think it is finally getting to be Spring. It was bloody cold today, with frost on the cars this morning, but it warmed up in the sun and all the Spring flowers are soldiering on regardless.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 30 March 2009

Tate Britain




7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Walking around galleries can be pretty exhausting. I was happy to sit down for a minute when I got to the Turner Galleries. The drawings here are wonderful this one is Horse, by Brian Kneale
.


The galleries are full of sketchers, young and old, so I didn't feel at all self-conscious.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Passion for Painting award

[passion_blogaward.jpg]

There are several blog awards going around at the moment. They are a cute idea and a nice way for artists to show their appreciation of each other. Each has slightly different rules, this one asks you to share seven things that you like and seven artists (I take this to mean artists with an internet presence) who inspire you.



I received mine from Sam Dolman an animal painter with an unusual and engaging style.





There are many many more. Some I know have already received this award or many more like it. I have taken inspiration to mean not just beautiful art but also people who are very supportive of other artists, people who have buoyed me up when I have been feeling down or just given good advice.


Here are seven things that I like:
  • 1. My family, of course. I am not a very sociable person and usually prefer the company of my family to any other

  • 2. My house. At 142 years it is pretty old by Canadian standards, it doesn't just have character, it has personality.

  • 3. The Sea. What, you may ask, am I doing living in the middle of a continent? The Great Lakes are spectacular but just not the same.

  • 4. Mountains, hills and generally bumpy landscape, like the South Downs where I grew up. Again, I wonder why I am surrounded by flatlands?

  • 5. Big cities, like London, San Francisco and Montreal.

  • 6. Childrens' books. I read to my children for years after they could read to themselves because I couldn't bring myself to give it up.

  • 7. Swimming. I always swam as a child (when you live by the sea it is what you do) but have only just recently started to swim again on a regular basis.


Oh dear, I have run out of space and I haven't even mentioned art, music, theatre, gardening, cats, history........

Bottles




6"X8" Oil on board



I seem to have become a collector of bottles. Whenever I come across a bottle with a good reusable cork or stopper I feel compelled to keep it, they just seem too useful to throw away. Useful for what though? Ah well, I can always paint them.

I received a lovely blog-award today from Sam Dolman. I am still thinking about my response so stay tuned.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Barn




7"X5" Oil on board



This is a dreadful reproduction. I finished late and had to photograph it in artificial light. It is a little misleading, all our snow is actually gone now, although it may well be back, it isn't even April yet. At least we don't have to cope with the flooding that those poor folks in North Dakota and Manitoba have.
These field will all be sprouting green soon enough. The trees are just about to flower, the maples are all knobbly and the willows are that bright shade of yellow ochre they get just before the leaves come.


Posted by Picasa

Friday, 27 March 2009

St. paul Street- Canada Hair Cloth


14"X11" Oil on canvas


This is the last of the St. Paul Street triptych. The Canada Hair Cloth building has been in the local news a lot recently. It was in business as a working factory until only a couple of years ago. It is a wonderfully Dickensian building that sits right behind the main street of St Catharines and was once powered by electricity generated by the raceway that ran right by it. It has now been taken over by the town as part of a whole core revitalization project and will become a key component of the Fine and Performing Arts Program of Brock University which is relocating to this area. I sold the triptych to the family who owned this building for over a hundred years.


Today I went down to draw it again, this time from life. I gave myself less than an hour (I didn't have much change for parking), and I would love to add it to this post but I seem to have lost the ability to link to an image from blogger. The only way I can add an image is to post directly from Picassa. I have no idea why. So maybe I will add today's drawing tomorrow.




Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Kings College London




7"X5.5"Pen on paper



On the day I went to the Tates I walked along the Victoria Embankment. I sat for a while on a bench not far from the Houses of Parliament and listened to a conversation between an older man and his adult daughter (I am guessing). He was telling her how he could fix her VCR (yes VCR not DVD player) with some parts he had scrounged from something that someone was throwing out. The conversation changed and he was explaining to her the workings of the house of Commons. I realized at this point, from what he was saying, that he was an MP (that is Member of Parliament not Military Police, for my American readers). I suppose even MPs can have a hobby.

This building is part of Kings College London and is in Lambeth on the bank of the Thames almost opposite the Houses of Parliament. I have been trying to find something on the history of this interesting building but so far have come up empty. There are so many buildings that make up King's College, many of them are mentioned in various London guides, but not this one as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Laura Young




5"X7" Pencil on paper

Laura played at St Barnabas last night in the Guitar Niagara series. The program was beautiful and her playing astonishing. The only thing more remarkable than her playing is her hair of which there is a prodigious amount. This time the lights in the church stayed up a little higher which made it a bit easier to draw, but she is an animated player, never still for a moment. There was a temptation to produce a picassoesque composition, with different parts drawn from different angles. There is definitely something strange about her left arm.

Laura is a Toronto born musician who currently lives in Barcelona and teaches at Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Pink Rose




10"X14" Watercolour and gouache on paper

The excellent Katherine Tyrrell did a blog post
on botanical art yesterday, specifically Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This inspired me to pull one from my archives (about 20 years old). I used to do a lot of this sort of thing but have lost patience for them recently. The way I flutter around though, I may try again one day.

When I was at Kew Gardens last month I visited The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. If you get a chance, do drop in. Admission is included with entrance to the gardens and it is a wonderful collection. All the items have been in the possession of Kew for many years but are only just now accessible to the public. There are some wonderful works there by Thomas Baines and Mariann North as well as many others.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Underground to Embankment




7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

On day seven of my trip I decided to do the Tates (Britain and Modern). I took the tube to Embankment and then walked along the river. More on that another day. This fellow was very intense and the lady he was speaking to seemed to be leaning further and further back in her seat as he leaned closer and closer.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 22 March 2009

12 Mile Creek


7"X5" Oil on board

Twelve Mile Creek was part of the Welland Canal at one time. As the canal was straightened out over the last hundred years or so the creek was eventually relegated to the backwater that it started out as. This was taken from the bridge at Wellandvale Road, underneath the newer Fourth Avenue bridge. When the thaw comes in the Spring the water rushes through here at quite a rate. You wouldn't want to loose your footing, I don't think anyone would last long.

Buy Now - $50 +S&H


Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Mango




6"X4.5" Watercolour on paper

I don't do traditional watercolour very often any more. I bought a pack of A6 size handmade paper when I was in England and wanted to try it out with some good quality paint. It is quite satisfying for a change.

I am having difficulty with inspiration, I really don't want to do anything but sketch these days and can't be bothered with photographs. I keep telling myself that it is time to work on something larger but when it comes down to it I just don't know what to paint. It would probably help if I had more space but setting up for a large painting is such a commitment and I find it hard to take the plunge.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, 20 March 2009

First Day of Spring




10"X7" Pencil on paper

Is it the first day of Spring today, or is it tomorrow? Either way, this is the first time I have sat outside at lunchtime in Ontario this year. The green-room patio is about 16 feet below ground level, so it is very sheltered. However, not too many others were as intrepid/foolish as I was, this tends to be the realm of the smokers at this time of year.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Back Windows 3




7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

I seem to have posted little but sketchbook studies for the past while. I will start to do some more painting soon, honest.



Back in London, I did this quick drawing of the view from my bedroom window. It could be almost anywhere in London, or in many other towns of the same vintage. There must have been hundreds of thousands of houses built between about 1870 and 1920 that follow much the same floorplan, with the variation being mostly one of scale. It seemed to work though, they are very livable houses and I still like them better than most of what has been built since.


Many have been chopped up into rooming houses or flats. Some, ever adaptable, wings added on the back, rooms knocked together into open plan "great rooms", have been turned back into single family dwellings. What I noticed more this time was how many have attic conversions with dormers being cut into the roof line and gardens added to flat-roofed rear extensions.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

St Paul Street 2 - Parking Lot




14"X11" Oil on canvas

Having started, I thought I might as well continue the St Paul Street triptych. The reference photos for these were taken in March, so the season theme is continued.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Arundel




7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Anyone who knows West Sussex probably knows the Black Rabbit in Arundel. It is perhaps one of the most famous pubs in the south of England. We thought we would stop there for lunch on the nicest Saturday of the year to date. Needless to say, so did the rest of the local population and probably not a few who drove down from London and further afield. Never mind, it was a nice day for a walk so we didn't really mind parking half a mile away, and by the time we got back the crowds had thinned a little and we found a nice table by the river.

This is the river Arun where my mother used to row (the silhouette in the distance is Arundel Castle which I will try to do to greater justice one day). She and her fellow rowers would stop in at the Black Rabbit for a pint. It must have been a lovely spot then before it was discovered by the crowds. The couple depicted here were oblivious of me but a gentleman sitting a little closer thought I was drawing him and got quite self-conscious.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 16 March 2009

St Paul Street 1- Marlins Travel




14"X11" Oil on canvas



One from the archives. This is the first part of a triptych that I sold last month. St Paul Street is the main street of St. Catharines. It backs onto a small ravine where the Second Welland Canal used to run, the raceway used to come right up to the backs of these buildings which is why the oldest rear extensions are built on stilts.


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sea Lane Cafe

From Sarah Lynch

Pencil on paper




After the haircut we went our separate ways and I went to meet a friend for lunch. What a pleasure to sit outside by the sea in February! The Sea Lane Cafe is a favourite spot for dog walkers because canines are welcome. On this day it was very crowded because the weather was so mild.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Amaryllis




8"X6" Oil on board

I thought it was time to get the oils out again, it has been a while. I am craving Spring so I expect I will be doing lots of flower paintings for a while. We somehow dropped the ball with all our amaryllis bulbs and forgot to bring them in last Fall, so I broke down and bought this one in the market last week.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, 13 March 2009

Haircut




3.5"X5.5" Pencil on paper

Still in Worthing, my sister wanted to get her hair cut. I wandered around for a while while I was waiting for her but then decided to sit and record the event instead.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Red Light


7"X5" Watercolour on paper



Hmm.... not sure about this one. Another attempt to create a plein air like painting from a cell phone photo. Needless to say I couldn't exactly whip out my paintbox while I was waiting at the light. I am driving directly East at about 8:30 am, the sun is right ahead and is shining off the road making it look more like a river. The road also does this funny branching thing just past the light which adds to the illusion. However, I am not sure that that much explanation should be necessary. It seemed like a good idea at the time.




Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Dome Cinema




7"X5.5" Pencil on paper

On the second day of my trip my I went down to Worthing with my sister and nephew. We stayed at the Ardington Hotel in the lovely Steyne Gardens. This was a real treat as we both realized that we never usually stay in hotels unless someone else is paying, for conferences and conventions, or in my case, sleazy motels for little league baseball tournaments. We felt very grown-up.

I didn't sketch at all that day but on the following day I walked down to the seafront and sat in a shelter while I drew the Dome. This building is a Worthing landmark. It was built early in the 20th century as a "leisure centre" offering roller skating with a six piece orchestra providing the music. By 1911 it also included an "electric theatre" or cinema. My grandfather remembered skating there as a teenager and seeing the early films there was certainly part of his inspiration to become a projectionist when he grew up. I went to see films there myself as a child but it was already pretty seedy by then and it closed down for many years. Now it has finally reopened, completely refurbished and again running as a first release cinema.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Cottage

7"X5.5" Pencil on paper


This rather derelict little shack is a rare sight for Niagara-on-the-Lake. With property values being what they are, this sort of thing is usually turned into a bijou residence or torn down to be replaced with a faux victorian mansion. I think that it may be either owned by the town or protected as an historical building (or both). It sits at the very corner of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, I think is was the customs house when the ferry from Yougstown NY was still in operation.

Last Friday it was actually warm enough to sketch outside but I was challenged by the fact that I forgot my glasses (I am chronically long-sighted, so I could see my subject but not the sketchbook) and there was nowhere to sit. I really must practise sketching while standing more often because most of the best views don't actually sport a convenient sketching bench.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, 9 March 2009

Underground to Charing Cross 2




7"X5" Pencil on paper

This was the same journey as my post from the day before yesterday. This lady was lost in her own world too.

I have been having some problems with inserting an image into my post, so I apologize to anyone who is receiving this one twice.


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Wisley Gardens


10"X8" Gouache on coverstock



I was going to do my usual oil-on-Sunday but I had so much fun with the gouach last week that I though I would try using it for a landscape. While I was in England I visited Wisley Gardens with my sister. This is loosely based on some pictures I took while I was there.

It wasn't entirely successful, I spent about ten minutes more on it than I should have and it started to get overworked. Also I would have been better off using watercolour paper I think, so that I could have achieved better lost edge effects in the sky. Never mind it is all part of the learning curve and the advantage of using the old grey card is that it gives a better midpoint to judge the tones against. I you want to see what can be done with gouache, check out Nathan Fowkes blog he is a genius of the understatement.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

Underground to Charing Cross


7"X5.5" Pencil on paper



On the second day of my trip to London I decided to go to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. As it turned out I spent five hours in the National Gallery and didn't have time to go to the National Portrait Gallery, that will have to wait for another trip.



I found myself developing a deep envy of the public transport system, not so much for its usefulness but for the opportunities that it affords for figure drawing. I live about 12 miles form my place of work and there is no public transport available at all, not just inconvenient or infrequent, but none at all!



This handsome chap was very cooperative and sat staring into space like this for some time, apparently completely unaware of my attention.

Friday, 6 March 2009

March on the Common


7"X5" Graphitint pencil on paper



When you paint the same thing over and over again it is really hard to come up with new names. I have so many "Noon on the Common" pictures and I was too lazy to figure out which number this one should be.

The light is very special at this time of year, with wonderful shadows cast by the bare trees, even at noon they are still quite long. I find that these Derwent Graphitint pencils work very well for winter sketches, their muted, low-key colours seem to match the landscape perfectly.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Samson


7"X5"Pencil on paper



I hadn't been in my sister's house for five minutes when her elderly cat made herself comfortable on my lap. She was a little irritated by by inattention to the important task of stroking her, but she put up with me anyway. This was actually quite gratifying as my famously grumpy cat, Klein, doesn't "do" laps at all. In fact she really doesn't like me very much so it was nice to borrow a real cat for a while.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Laundry


9"X8"Gouache on cover-stock



Sitting down on my bed to fold a mountain of laundry the other day I was sidetracked by my new gouache paints. I only have primaries so it is a bit of a challenge getting the colours right but I am loving the fact that I can use white for the highlights. I did this with virtually no preliminary drawing, it was mostly just an exercise in painting fabric, the pillows at the end of the bed and the various things hanging on the back of the closet door provided lots to study.

For the uninitiated, gouache is a water-based medium but is heavier and more opaque than watercolour. It has larger particles and there is also an additional "opacifier", usually chalk, the ratio of pigment to water is also much higher. In traditional transparent watercolur technique whites and lights are always created by leaving areas unpainted or thinly painted and allowing the white of the paper to show through. Gouache is used more like oils or acrylics and highlights can be added later with white or light coloured paint sometimes called "body colour".

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Fellow Travellers


7.5"X5.5" Pen on paper



Back to day 2 of my trip. I was pretty punchy by this time because I had failed to sleep at all, usually I manage an hour or two at least on the plane.

This young couple were on the tube from Heathrow to Hammersmith. They were American or Canadian musicians, she had a violin with her and their conversation was all about some tricky symphony they were working on. Her blackberry was her absorbing interest though, probably anxious to catch up after a long trans-Atlantic flight.