Thursday, December 24, 2009

Year of Days - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope yours is cozy and delightful. More soon!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Year of Days - Christmas Tree

These are half-real and half-imagined. The buildings are (sort of) like a streetscape near here, and that tree (if it really existed) could have come from the grocery store or from Market Square. The snow is least, for the moment! I'm sending warm holiday wishes to all of you, and hope you are cozy and happy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Olympic Torch

It's one of those events where you wait (and sketch) for a long time and then zip-zoom, in a few minutes it's all over!

On the left is Market Square. (Those black blobs in the front are rows of stage lights waiting to be put up.) On the right is City Hall, lit up with a spotlight. Below is my street, lined with support vehicles and TV cameras.

Just as the torch arrived, a misty rain started to fall. But everything was moving too fast for sketching, anyway. I shoved my sketchbook inside my jacket to keep it dry, and grabbed the camera instead.

There's the dome of City Hall with the convoy of support vehicles and flashing lights--very exciting. And there's the torch, being carried past my building! It continued for a few more blocks and then looped back along King Street, carried by marathon swimmer Vicki Keith. Here's a blurry photo of her in front of St. George's Cathedral, just a block from the finish.

When she got to the stage, she touched the torch to a cauldron. That's the white thing in my scribbled sketch. I stayed for a few minutes of cheering, and to sing the national anthem. Then I scurried home to get warm and to drink some hot tea!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Skating Rink

I was hurrying home to get warm, but there was so much great stuff going on in Market Square that I had to stop and sketch for a minute.

My fingers stayed pretty warm, even without gloves. But oooo-eeeee, my rear end was freezing to the bench! I worked as quickly as I could.

It felt great to be sketching outdoors, even for a few minutes. The weather hasn't been co-operating lately, and I've been missing those long summertime walks. It's nice to know that a spontaneous sketching session can happen even in the winter!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Canada Geese

These guys are new to Breakwater Park. They showed up a couple of weeks ago, and they don't seem to be in a hurry to move on. Some people think of them as pests, and if they stick around they might become a problem. But in the meantime, I've enjoyed sketching their big round bodies and graceful necks.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Today we should be chanting "Snow, Snow, Go Away," but I've been
painting a rainy scene instead. I hope you are cozy, wherever you are.
It's hot-chocolate and reading-by-the-fire weather.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Little Miss Muffet

I sat on my tuffet last night and did some watercolour painting. I've
been working on other projects for a few weeks, so it felt extra-good
to pick up a brush again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Cactus

I was halfway between the laundromat and the cafe when the first snow of the year began to blow. By the time I sat down, you could hardly see across the street. I tried to write myself some sensible reminders about coats and boots, but the Christmas cactus on my table was just begging to be sketched. As you can see, I succumbed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jumble Sale at Empire Life

I'm catching up on some sketches I did a month or two ago--finally
putting the colour on them. This jumble sale was held in the parking
lot next to my apartment to raise money for the United Way. Somewhere
in the crowd, a guy was singing "Imagine" and playing an electric
keyboard. You can't see him in this drawing, but you could hear him
all the way down to City Park. Good acoustics!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ruffled Feather

Yaayy, a new coffee-and-breakfast place! Just two blocks from here.
As soon as I stepped through the door, I did a silent cheer: it's
bright and new, with big windows and small tables, lots of variety on
the menu, and a deli with lovely take-home stuff. Louis Armstrong on
the sound system, oversized mugs with excellent hot coffee, fast
service and good food. Even the art on the walls is tasteful. Yaayy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Putting Up the Christmas Lights

I counted twenty hydro trucks in City Park last weekend. For a second, I thought there had been a big power failure. Then I realized the workers were filling the trees with Christmas lights. This means the Jingle Bell Walk will soon take place. We'll walk through town to the park, where the mayor will throw the switch to turn them all on. (The lights, I mean. Not the workers. Ho ho ho.) Then we can all rush home, saying things like, "I can't believe it's nearly here," and "I'll never be ready in time," and "where did I leave my credit card?" Let the fun begin!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Twinkle Twinkle

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what the heck I'm doing. Hahaha. I like the marker version above, but I like the watercolour below even better. That sparkly effect in the sky comes from sprinkling salt into wet paint. It makes me want to get right to work on "Star light, star bright, first star I've seen tonight"!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Old King Cole

I'm still struggling with these nursery rhymes. The marker version (above) is the best of a bad lot, as you can see from the bloopers below.

It's sightly embarrassing to keep sharing all these failures with you. On the other hand, they're part of the process, and sort of fun to look at, in an "oh, my God" sort of way. Now you know why I feel so happy when a picture finally works out!

If these are too small, you can click to view them in giant technicolour. Shield your eyes first.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jack and Jill

What medium should I use for these nursery rhymes? Here are three attempts, all unfinished, and I have a love-hate relationship with each of them.

Oils (above) blend smoothly and make delicious colours, but the painting part takes forever and then they have to dry for days and days. I find the process finicky and frustrating. On the other hand, there can be some rich and thrilling moments. I accidentally painted blue branches against the purple sky and ended up liking them. Also, I tried to add black lines on the plaid jacket, but instead the rubber-tipped "brush" left yellow tracks in the wet paint. That felt like another happy mistake.

Watercolours (above) can do some nice swirly things, and I do like the watery bits on the blue trousers. But I abandoned this picture because it was feeling too flat and tame. Now I'm having second thoughts. Maybe I can go in and add some dramatic shadows or something. Sometimes when I'm in nothing-to-lose mode, I take a risk that ends up rescuing a dead painting. (But not very often.)

This one was only meant to be a quick sketch. I was trying to work out the colour scheme, and I had already botched a coloured-pencil version (see below--ouch!) So I ran a fresh photocopy and scribbled on it with Prismacolour markers. The whole thing was done in about ten minutes.

Ironically, I like the marker version at least as much as the oil version and the watercolour. And I absolutely love working with those markers. But they aren't meant to last for hundreds of years. They're not like oils or watercolours; over time, the colours will fade.

How much does this matter to me? I'm not sure. I'm still mulling all the pros and cons.

At least I know one thing. This coloured-pencil version has got to go! Yikes!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Diddle-Diddle Dumpling

Lately I've been drawing scenes from nursery rhymes, and a few weeks ago I photocopied this one onto cardstock and coloured it with markers. It looked awful. I tried to rescue it by adding coloured pencil on top of the marker. That looked even worse. So I abandoned it and started again. Here's my second try:

It wasn't as monstrous as my first attempt, but it seemed sort of pale and uptight, and it just wasn't making me happy. So in a fit of frustration, I pulled out the first version again, and painted all over it in oils. It came out like this:

I do like the bright colours. But my brushwork is terrible, the edges are rough and blurry, and I have no idea how to handle the light and shade. I'm going to tackle it AGAIN one of these days, and of course I'll post the result for you to see. In the meantime, just let me say that oil painting is a lot harder than it looks!

Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John,
Went to bed with his stockings on;
One shoe off, and the other shoe on,
Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Autumn Path

The learning curve continues! I'm looking forward to the weekend. I'll have more time to muck around with these new oil paints and to do some sketches with ink-and-markers as well. I'm loving the new medium and missing the old one, all at the same time. Too bad there aren't more hours in a day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Learning Curve

Now I have toilet paper in my living room (for cleaning brushes). And a dish-drying rack (for storing wet paintings.) Also, my fingers are sticky with this "fast drying medium" (for speeding up the drying process. Apparently.) But it won't come off with soap-and-water or rubbing alcohol or baby oil or hand cream. What the heck is this stuff? Is it brewed on another planet? Can it possibly be good for me or my sketches? As soon as I post this blog entry I will go look up some answers.

Meanwhile, I can't put these sketches on my scanner because they aren't dry yet. So I have to photograph them instead, which means I have to tweak the colours and brightness and contrast digitally afterward, and as you can see, I'm not very good at it.

So I'm on a learning curve with this new oil-painting kick. It's frustrating, but absorbing, and very exciting. I'm having a blast! I'll post more soon. Please brace yourselves. Meanwhile, I hope you are all well and happy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Moon

I seem to be in "experiment mode" these days. Is this a settling-in-to-winter thing? When I saw a beginner's set of water-soluble oils at the art store today, I just couldn't resist. My grandmother used to paint in oils, and I love the way they look, but the process always seemed too complicated to me--all those thinners and varnishes and extenders and things.

Nowadays, they make water-soluble oil paints. They feel, look and even smell exactly the same as regular oils, but you use water instead of turpentine to thin them and clean them up. After the paint dries, it's just as permanent and waterproof as regular oils. Or so "they" say.

I have no idea what I'm doing, but I do know one thing--it's FUN. I love the way you can paint over your mistakes. You can't do that with watercolours!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ink Bottles

For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about these bottles of watercolour ink. I bought them a couple of years ago, tried them out, and put them away. Out of the blue (groan...that's a lousy pun), I just felt like trying them again today.

I loved it! The colours are very pure, and somehow much juicier than the ones I mix from tubes. I loved dripping one colour into another and watching a third very-bright colour emerge. And it was fun to smoosh them together into browns and greens.

You can see that I had to invent some ivy so I could get the greens in there. Anyway, I ended up with some exciting "accidents." I'll definitely play with these colours again soon.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Year of Days - Happy Halloween!

Oooo! Have a spooky wonderful one! I'm sending scary good wishes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Charlie's Weed

It's too chilly to sketch outdoors, so I picked a couple of weeds from a vacant lot and brought them inside. The next thing I knew, my cats were rolling and drooling on the table. Had I accidentally picked some catnip? I still don't know. But the cats thought they'd died and gone to heaven!

Sketching the weeds was challenging enough. Sketching them through glass was even more challenging! I'm not sure whether I succeeded, but it was a good exercise. If the cats keep reacting this way, I may get a lot more practice at it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Heading Home

All week I've been gazing at the ocean. Plenty of other stuff was happening in this house: tons of creative work, critiquing, much laughter, good meals and companionship. Meanwhile, people were dropping like flies. It wasn't the you-know-what, thank goodness. But we did pick up some sort of super-contagious 24-hour cold/flu, and more than half of us succumbed. Ugh.

From my seat on the sunporch, I saw the colours of the water and sky change dramatically hour by hour. Not one of my sketches even came close to capturing those beautiful moods. But here are a couple, anyway.

Tomorrow we head home. WHERE did the week go?