Monday, December 2, 2013

Baby Sneaker 2 - With Shading

The shading worked out fine but I still really love the freshness of the first wash!

Baby Sneaker 1

Another in the shoe series for my online painting class. I had to scan this one before I added the shading because it looked so fresh that I wanted a record of it, in case I overworked the final version. Stay tuned for the shaded up edition.

I should also say, that this is a funky little shoe that the girls wore briefly as babies. If I remember correctly, these sneakers were cuter than they were comfortable, so they never got much traction from the girls…..sorry, pardon the pun.
Groovy Shoe

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One Big Boot!

Jane Lafazio's next lesson was footwear. The assignment was to draw a shoe or boot using a water soluble pen. Here is Brigit's cowboy boot.

Erica's Collection: The Sequel

I am still trying capture flowers in 3D. I enjoyed doing the topo lines around the painting and having fun with a watery, colourful background. And don't forget the splatters!
Bouquet Flowers

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Erica's Collection

As she walks home from university, Erica collect things for me to paint; this week cotoneaster berries and a big fat rose hip. The pelargoniums are still going strong in the window boxes, so I threw one of those in to compliment the red theme. And the hydrangeas? Well they speak for themselves.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Orchid Contours

Another exercise, this time doing contour drawings of orchids. I have to admit, I did lift my pen off from time to time. But heck. It's my page so I can do what I like. These orchids were the most odd and beautiful shades of yellow, gold and orange with touches of red. They were a gift from my mom and dad during a recent visit. All of my live orchids were afflicted with a strange white mould last year and slowly died off. This new batch of cut orchids inspired me to go out and start my live collection again. I picked up a rescue orchid at the local hardware big box store. It was marked down to a very low price but still had several buds yet to open. Score.

Lemon Fresh

This was part of a lesson from Jane Lafazio's online class. I should have made more of a page of it but the lemon looked so bright and fresh that I could not bring myself to mess with it. And so, the lonely lemon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Hips

I spent an afternoon volunteering at my friend's art gallery. I snipped some rose hips before I left home, wrapping them carefully in a cloth, more to protect me than the rose hips. Gosh those rose thorns are sharp and spiky. The gallery was quiet on All Hallow's Eve, so I took the time to slowly look at the rose hips and eventually cut one in half to see the seeds. I love the way the watercolour makes the hips glow and look shiny.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Online Painting Class with Jane LaFazio

What a world we live in! I am taking an online illustrated journalling class with Jane LaFasio. I'm up here, she's down there and the other participants are all over the US, Canada and Australia. I think that is pretty cool. Here are a couple of versions of assignment 1. Fruit. I definitely am guilty of trying too hard; never a good strategy in watercolour. The final version I did in my tiny journal was fast, fresh and probably the best of the batch. Of course by the time I got to that painting, I had looked very carefully and painted 2 or 3 other versions. There is something to be said for practice too.

Nice pomegranate, overworked middle pear. Dang!

Fast and fresh in my miniature sketchbook

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Blazing Out

I was going to call this post "Fading Beauty" because both images show flowers that are past their best. But it is pretty obvious that the colours are anything but fading. It has been such a remarkable fall for colour. The low angled, bright sunlight has had everything glowing brilliant red, yellow, orange, purple and green. Even the browns are vibrant this fall. Maybe in the season of shrivelling and death, there is a metaphor in the blazing riot of fall colour. Or maybe there is just beautiful, sunlit colour.

 Rose Hip


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's a Dog

I had a great idea when I started to paint this teapot. It would be a quick flowy painting and I would do cool line work on top. I've been trying to get better at line work. Well, here is the proof that good ideas don't always come out as planned. This teapot is a real dog of a painting.

I live in a neighbourhood where people really love their dogs. By calling my lousy teapot  painting a dog, I could be accused of being dogist and insulting all of the neighbourhood dogs. So I painted a dog from a picture on the internet. The dog painting turned out to be quite sweet so even though it is a dog, it's not a "dog".

Now I see that I mentioned a "lousy" teapot painting. I think you can guess what my next painting might be.....entomologists stay tuned.

Bad Dog

Good Dog

Saturday, October 19, 2013

When to STOP: Tree Peony Seeds in Several Movements

Sometimes I draw something I like so much that I'm afraid to take the next step. And then I add paint and I like it so much that I don't want to add another wash. And then I add a shadow wash and I like it so much that I don't want to add page design or writing elements. So I do some writing and maybe a border and I realize I've overdone it and lost the freshness somewhere along the way. And I say, "Why didn't I stop earlier?!" But if I'd stopped earlier, I may never have put pen to paper, or brush to paint, or put my eye to page design or bothered to reflect and write. The lovely potential illustrated journal page would have been left in my mind's eye.

I spoke to an abstract artist who was showing his work in a small French town this past summer. I asked him how he knew when to stop and of course he said that this questions was every artist's dilemma. It is a constant push and pull, exploring something fully and learning about the process but not to the point where the painting is tied up in a tight little opaque ball of sweat and over intention. That's why I love watercolour so much. It is pretty obvious when the freshness has fluttered away, beating a hasty retreat from an over zealous painter.

1. Pen on Watercolour Paper
The technology we have today gives us a chance to capture the steps along the way as we draw, paint, paint some more, design and reflect. So here goes; tree peony seeds in several movements. The question remains. When should I STOP?
Nice pen contour drawing. I was tempted to stop here.

2. First Wash of Watercolour

Trying to decide about simple base colours to set the light tones. Also trying to leave some sparkly white. Pretty bland so I was not tempted to stop here.

3. Darks and colours. 

Zeroing in on the darks while trying to keep things fresh and colourful.

4. Final Shadows

Final touches of Cobalt Blue to add a few shadows. Okay, I think I will stop now. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Persimmons and More Persimmons!

I got a bit carried away with persimmons. I just love the shiny orange peel with the leathery green brown leaf on top. The shape is roundy but almost square. And they look so great with the white paper showing the reflection of the light. I've been trying to be less precious about the painting so I can learn more about how to paint shadows and draw a few more shading and detail lines. But then I see how lovely and glowy the paint is, and I can't bring myself to mess around.

Pure Colour with a Few Lines

Colour and Contour Lines

Crazy Lines
I finally managed to get the pen in enough to push the painting too far. I figure you can't really learn about how to draw and paint if you don't take the process past the point of what looks good.

What's a Persimmon Without the Colour? Aww. 
And here is the way to spend waiting time when I've forgotten to bring my paints. Damn!

Tea Time

A sweet friend moved away to go to university this year. She started a tea time ritual with her new friends on campus. As a way of keeping in touch, I pulled out one of my grandma's tea cups and painted a card for her. When I spoke to her recently on Skype, I was flattered to see the card posted on her Tea Time wall. I raise my cup to her and wish her the best in her first year away from home. And I'm sure she will whip up some stealth brownies to eat as she sips her favourite cha.
Grandma's Cup

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Whenever the cut sunflowers come into the stores in the late summer and fall, I can't resist buying a bunch or two. The flower heads are huge, the centres are dark velvety brown, the yellow petals are so silky, and surprisingly, they are really stinky, even after I cut the rotting stems off of them.  This year, I moved the vase of sunflowers onto my painting desk, and in the spirit of really studying them, I looked and took my time before I jumped into painting. Then, I held my nose and painted happily.

I also used a couple of little pieces of painting advice that I actually put into practice with these sunflowers. (thank you Jane Lafazio online) I allowed myself to draw in pencil before starting the ink lines, without falling into the trap of over erasing. And, as I painted, I tried to change the colour just a little each time I dipped onto my palette. I like the results.

I like to try new things and am pathologically sociable so  I decided to try one of  Jane Lafazio's online watercolour journal class. It is pretty cool to be able to connect with people anywhere, share painting ideas and get some expert comments from Jane to boot. We will see how it goes.

In the mean time, here are the sunflowers.

Losing my spelling mind! An extra "c" because I was overcome by the whiff.

Friday, August 23, 2013

On the Home Front

After an amazing summer of travel and adventure, thoughts turn to September. I always feel that the fall is the beginning of the new year. There is a hunger to learn something new, start something fresh and get engaged in more structured activity after the lazy days of summer. There is no shortage of anticipanic at the thought of the return to the routine, a busier schedule and the loss of long bright days. Here are a few paintings from close to home as autumn races up.
As inspired by French window boxes

Deep Cove Sailing Lesson

Playing with darks and shadows

My lovely pond

Urban Sketchers

A while ago, I joined the newly formed Vancouver Urban Sketchers. It is loosely affiliated with the International Urban Sketchers, started in Seattle by Gabi Campanario
The group gathers almost every week to get out in public around Vancouver and do some sketching in urban locations. It has been a fantastic way to get past silly notions of shyness about drawing and painting in public. I seem to have a umbrella theme going.

Lamp standard in Chinatown

View across to Robson Square from the VAG

Fresh, quick sketches from the Seabus on the way home 
Park-a-Park drawing in and around a bin

Aberdeen International Youth Festival

As I suspected, I was pretty busy as a chaperone of the North Shore Celtic Ensemble at the 2013 AIYF. The other thing, if I am being honest, is that it is rather intimidating sketching in front of people you know, especially teenagers. I did develop some bravery later in the tour so captured a few details of the Granite City.
As seen from Terrace Gardens

From behind the Music Hall. Aberdeen's hanging baskets rock!

What to Do in an Airport?

Inevitably, when you travel, there is lots of down time in airports. I'm not complaining but I generally find airports a little arid and lacking things I'm dying to sketch. But I sketched none the less. I liked the imperative or was it just a strong suggestion in the departure lounge, "Buy Paris". If I could, I would. But where would I put it? Such a large keepsake.
Heading to Aberdeen 
Beautiful leather bag from the street market

Excideuil, France

We stayed on a lovely property in a dovecote, just outside of Excideuil. I liked the paintings that were either unfinished or impressions much better than tighter, more controlled  efforts. Somehow the looser journal entries remind me of the feel of the place, the purple night skies, the daytime heat and the sunbaked colour of the place.
An unfinished corner of the Dovecote

Stunning evening skies

Beautiful France

France was such a great place to sketch, if not a little intimidating. There were so many simulating things to sketch; historic buildings, close up details, street scenes, the places we stayed. And embedded in each sketch are the stories that make up the trip. Here are a few samples.
Discovering French Shandy - Panache -
as the saints observe from
on high in Chartres.
The back of Notre Dame. Lovely, hot, dusty.
Street art and graffiti in Paris was amazing and everywhere.  


Catch Up

One great thing about summer and traveling is that there is plenty of time for sketching and painting. The only drawback is that I have gotten way behind on posting to the blog. So here goes. I sketched this guy from a photo on the plane. His face sums up how I feel about trying to get all of these images up on the blog. Here we go!
Stop moaning and get posting!