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Showing posts from 2011

Happy Christmas

I hope that you received something from the man in red this year. Maybe in the new year I will be able to get back to regular posting.


Digital painting using "Brushes" app

There have been a lot of changes in my life recently, not the least of which has been my acquisition of an iPad. I have been trying to teach myself to use the various digital painting apps . I must admit I am having little success so far. Don't worry, I don't intend to abandon pencil and brush in favor of this new medium, but I do like to explore new tools and I must say that I have been having fun.

Three Trees and a Rock

5.5"X7" Pencil & marker in Moleskine

A couple of days ago I was walking on the common and came across this interesting "mashup". It was probably rather a challenging subject for a 10 minute sketch but I wanted to give it a try.
The maple and the locust must have grown up together, because if one had grown first it surely would have overwhelmed the other. The trunks are so close together that they actually seem to be conjoined. The birch in the foreground is about a foot from the main trunk.
I have walked past it many times but never noticed its disparate nature before. Perhaps because of the way that each tree's leaves changes colour at a different rate and to a different hue, it was much more apparent this time.

Two Days

3.5"X5.5" Moleskine sketches

Two different lunchtimes in (more-or-less) the same location. Looking out onto Lake Ontario towards Toronto, about a mile from the mouth of the Niagara River.

Bridged Again

5.5"X7" Pen & Ink in Moleskine

As I am not finding time to paint I am determined to try to sketch more regularly. So, in an attempt to find some inspiration, I bought some new drawing pens last weekend: Faber-Castell sepia and a Copic sepia sketch pen.

I got caught again this morning. Double-bridged this time. The Carlton Street bridge is right next to Lock 2, and sometimes there is a boat waiting to enter the lock as another leaves it. When this happens they leave the bridge up until the two boats have changed places. They move very slowly, especially the one going into the lock.


3.5"X5.5" Pen & Graphitint in Moleskine

I got "bridged" on the way home from work the other day. This always seems to be the busiest time of year on the canal, the lakers all hurrying to reach their destinations before the ice closes the St. Lawrence Seaway for the season.

Blue and White House

5.5"X3.5" Pencil & Watercolour in Moleskine

This one is for Lisa. Thank you for letting me stay in your lovely house for the long weekend, and Happy Birthday!

Labour Day Weekend

5.5"X3.5" Watercolour in Moleskine

I spent the long weekend in the traditional way, hanging out with friends at "the cottage". Not my cottage, but that of an old friend. Sunday was already starting to feel like Fall but I went for a swim anyway. I took my Moleskine and little watercolour set down to the lake with me and sketched this while I dried off enough to cycle back up the hill.

Waiting for the Surf

5"X7" Acrylic on board

I nearly called this one "Not the Jersey Shore", although there is a good chance that these are Jersey Boys. Most of the surfers in Rincon seem to come down from New Jersey. This is Pools Beach in Puntas, on the Atlantic side of Rincon. Some of the best surfing in the world, I am told.

As I write this the Jersey shore is being evacuated in the path of Irene, while the surfers are flocking to the beach in the hope of catching historic waves of 20 or 30 feet. It takes all sorts I guess.

Fishing Shack PR

5"X7" Acrylic on board

I think this was just outside Mayag├╝ez, but I could be wrong, somewhere on the Caribbean coastline of Puerto Rico anyway. High noon, deep shade under the trees, everything quiet, siesta time.

Waterfall, PR

7"X5" Acrylic on board

Somewhere in the Cordillera Central, between Mayaguez and San Sebastian. We walked up the creek from the farm. It was probably only about half a mile but pretty heavy-going. It was worth it though to come upon this in the middle of the jungle. My photographs were terrible. I didn't want to risk taking my "good" camera with me so I only had my little camcorder. Sometimes that is all you need though, just an aide memoire to get you started.


3.5"X2.5" Acrylic on paper ACEO

Still trolling through my Puerto Rico pictures. There is a restaurant in Boqueron, called "Paddys" or something like that. Anyway it has an Irish theme, hence the green tablecloths, I guess. There are shamrocks and leprechauns everywhere but the patio sits out over the water with a view of the pier, sailboats and the tropical bay, and it serves the best mojitos.

Both times I have been there the grackles seemed to rule the roost. They sit on the tables and clean up the scraps, not very hygienic I suppose, but quite

$20 -Please contact me for more information.sarah[at]

Echinacea & Black-eyed Susan

5"X3.5" Mixed media in Moleskine

Thank goodness for these hardy natives, without them my garden would be a sorry sight at this time of year.

La Chata

2.5"X3.5" Acrylic on paper ACEO

The oppressive heat and humidity we have been having here recently has made me think nostalgically of the sea breezes in Puerto Rico. This boat, "La Chata", was pulled up on the beach at Rincon. It was well above the tide-line and looked as if it hadn't been used for a while.One of these days I may turn it into a larger painting.

I have been vowing recently to start working larger, and what do I do? I move back to ACEO size! I am not sure why but I am still struggling with composition and this tiny size does help to get a good idea of the "notan".

 $20 -Please contact me for more information.sarah[at]

Lunchtime River

Various Moleskine sketches

I haven't been very productive of late. What with dealing with the various household problems (storm-damage to porch & roof, phone, dryer, stove, air-conditioning, printer/scanner) and summer-time guests, I haven't been painting much. Coupled with my scanner not working for a while (see above), blogging has not been high on my list of things to do. I have been sketching though, mostly at lunchtime, and here are a few quick river views. The weather has been so hot recently, that even these tend to be cut short. It is hard to stay focused when it is 37C in the shade. With humidity, that translates to very hot indeed. Last week
 apparently we hit 47C with "humidex" taken into consideration!


7"X5" Oil on board

I have been very uninspired by my surrounding countryside of late. Perhaps because I have painted it all already and can't think of anything fresh to say. So I used the humid heat of the day to help me get into the mood for this one.

My sister and her partner have an orange farm in Puerto Rico. It is really just a few orchards carved out of the jungle, very different from the neat, orderly, flat orchards you find around here in the Niagara Peninsula.

This is the farmhouse, they don't live there, so it has a rather sad an neglected air about it. I think I took my photo at around nine in the morning (after working for three hours) the heat was already becoming uncomfortable so my sister and I took a walk up the creek to look at the waterfall. I may try to paint that although my photographs are very poor so I  will have to employ a fair amount of memory and imagination.

Summer Trees

5.5"X3.5" Watercolour in Moleskine

"Use it or lose it" they say. It certainly seems to be true in my case. I have been drawing and painting so infrequently recently that I find it hard to know even where to begin. I find library books and trawl the internet looking for inspiration, but I am not sure that that is such a good thing. I have so many subscriptions in Google Reader that I can't possibly keep up, so I end up deleting most of them unread. And when I do look at other peoples work I seem to flit around from one enthusiasm to another. I see something I like and think, "I could do that", then I see something else, completely different in style, subject and execution, and I think "I could do that too". I don't mean that I want to copy, just that so many different styles appeal to me, that I still don't seem to be able to settle on one. I have become really bored with working from photographs, although I have only ever used my ow…


5.5"X3.5" Watercolour in Moleskine

Another of my, previously unpublished, lunchtime sketches. This was a few weeks ago on the Niagara-on-the Lake Common. The April 28 storm took its toll on the trees here too. Many magnificent old specimens were uprooted or broken. Nature will repair itself though and I am less concerned about these than the many boulevard trees, like the one that fell on my house. These will have to wait until the city can find the money and the manpower to replace them.

River in March

5.5"X3.5" Mixed media in Moleskine

I haven't been posting much recently. I haven't been painting much either, but I still draw and sketch most  days. I found some old watercolour sketches from the past couple of moths that I never posted, so I will try to put them up over the next few days.

I did this one in March and there was still very little sign of Spring at that time. We have had some massive storms, including one that brought down 800 trees belonging to the City of St Catharines alone, not counting those on private property. It was a city tree that came down on my house, puncturing the roof and breaking the porch as well as taking out 50 ft of fence and part of my shed! That, combined with my dryer belt breaking, my oven going on strike and my phone refusing to work properly for the past couple of weeks, has made my life complicated. Then there is work....
Anyway, I have lots of excuses for not painting, but it doesn't make me feel any better about it.

Poor Little Bird

8"X5.5" Pencil on paper

This poor we mite was lying on my porch this afternoon, she was still warm and I think that she must have battered herself against the window. There was no sign of injury and obviously hadn't been taken by a cat.

She should be easy to identify, her wings and back are olive green and her breast is speckled. Her legs are sort of coral and her beak is designed for insects not grains. But I can't seem to find her in any of my bird books or with any of the online tools. She is almost exactly 5 inches long and looks like a warbler of some sort to me. Do any of my Southern Ontario friends (or anyone in the eastern states for that matter) have any suggestions?


8"X5.5" Ink & wash on paper

I went down to Pittsburgh to visit a friend on the weekend. She lives in the Green Tree district, southwest of the city. Pittsburgh is all hills and she is on one of the highest points. This is the view from the front window.

I rather like Pittsburgh, despite the fact that I was always led to believe that it was one of those places, "First prize, a night in Pittsburgh, second prize, two nights in Pittsburgh". It certainly suffered when the steel industry collapsed, but it has hung on and cleaned up and attracted some diverse, cleaner industry. It has the Carnegie Museums and some nice parks and of course it has the three rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela and the Ohio). Also, although only four hours drive, Spring seems to be about a week ahead of here. So between the torrential rainstorms, we enjoyed some mild Spring weather.

Members Event

Various, pencil in Moleskine

I had to work this morning, a special backstage tour for Members. Apart from having to be at work at 8:00 am on a Saturday, it really wasn't too much of a hardship. Meet and greet and then sit and listen to Jackie and Judy talk about the process of planning a season of great theatre. The Members are already fans and predisposed to have a great time.

The bonus for me is that this sort of thing is a great opportunity for candid sketching: people are sitting still for a long time and their attention is engaged elsewhere so they tend not to notice me.


7"X5.5" Pencil in Moleskine

Yesterday it really did feel like Spring but it was quite a bit colder today. This was sketched during a lunchhour last week. I am hoping that there won't be many more opportunities to draw such a chilly scene.

I haven't done much actual painting recently, it has been really hard to find the time. As we get into the season I have to work more and more weekends and when I am not working I seem to have other things I have to do, like plumbing. I really hate plumbing, but it beats paying the plumber. My next project is retiling the bath surround which is at least a little more creative than removing and reinstalling a toilet!

Royal York

5.5"X7" Pencil in Moleskine

Last night I had to work at a fund-raiser in Toronto until late. One of the perqs was getting to stay at the Royal York. I always enjoy this grand old hotel.

I woke up early and thought I would sketch my view. At first I was disappointed that all I could see was another wing of the hotel, but then I realized that there were actually some interesting challenges here.

Palm Trees

7.5"X5" Mixed media in Moleskine

This is actually the same tree from two different vantage points. The fist was painted at ground level, looking up slightly, the second from the porch, you can see the ocean (Atlantic) in the background.

Even before the events of last week, the people of Rincon were very aware of the various perils that Nature can inflict upon them. They have suffered from  devastating hurricanes and earthquakes within recorded history and there is a clearly marked Tsunami Zone in the downtown area. They are currently in the process of moving the schools out of the Tsunami zone, onto higher ground. There is discussion about "how high is high enough?" My sister likes to think that their house is "high enough" and she is probably right. It certainly seems like a pretty steep walk back up from the beach, even though it only takes a few minutes.