Bateman’s Birthday

Robert Bateman, the revered Canadian wildlife painter, turns 90 this year. To mark this milestone his foundation created Sketch Across Canada and distributed thousands of small sketchbooks across Canada to encourage people of all ages and abilities to get out and sketch nature.

Part of the motivation was also to help people alleviate anxiety and stress. To this end, the foundation has partnered with On the foundation’s website are many resources for all ages:

On an unusually warm day at the end of March, I sat with a friend on her sunny deck, overlooking the snow-covered garden, and started drawing in my wee sketch booklet. I began with her bird feeder, which was a very busy spot that day.

I’ve been adding to it from time to time since then. Only 11 pages to go.

Morning melon

I confess, I’m amazed—and relieved—that plenty of fruit still appears on our grocery shelves, in spite of the current global situation. I would be interested to know the path and the people involved in getting this Canary Melon from field to my cutting board.


Emerging from a dry spell … drawing and playing a bit with gouache in these two sketches, both on Stillman & Birn Nova gray paper. The first is my grandmother’s old sugar shaker that I’ve filled with cocoa for cappuccino sprinkles. The second is the last two heads of garlic bought in the fall, beautifully bundled and packaged by neighbour Sonia.

Path of a Pint

I’ve been enjoying the Sunday morning USk Talks (Urban Sketchers) over the last year. These are hosted by the effervescent Rob Sketcherman in Hong Kong with new guests each week from locations around the globe. Each talk ends with a challenge to sketchers. Last Sunday’s guests, Nina Johansson (Sweden) and Pedro Loureiro (Portugal) both enjoy storytelling through sketches, stemming from their interest in filmmaking and comic books, respectively. Their challenge to viewers was to tell the story of your favourite beverage. (I’ve included a screenshot of the challenge below).

I decided to give this a try, telling the story of how I get a pint of beer, here at home (I’m married to an award-winning home brewer!). It took me days to think it through, do a rough layout, then do the sketch. It was challenging but also really fun! Here’s what I came up with.

Relaxing with Harrley

Taking the time to draw is essential if you want to improve your observation and drawing skills. I sat down the other day to read, then noticed Harrley (two “r”s because he purrs so loudly) on the couch, so quickly grabbed the bare minimum to do a sketch — my 8×10 sketchbook, oversized water soluble graphite stick and a water brush. It wasn’t only Harrley that caught my eye, but also the collection of farm animal cushions stacked on the couch.

Lovin’ my latte

We got an espresso machine and now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’m enjoying an afternoon latte from time to time. And I found the perfect cup for it — a gift from my late mother-in-law. It’s very unusual (Picasso-esque handle) and very beautiful. I’m happy to be using it instead of just looking at it in the china cabinet. The wee saucer is just right to hold a piece of shortbread (the last of the season). I’m still learning how to do latte art.

Breakfast Fruit

When I was in Mexico in November 2019 I acquired a taste for papaya, a daily feature at the breakfast buffet. Now I’m hooked. Especially with a squeeze of lime on top and just a tiny pinch of salt. Hmmm, maybe I should add a drizzle of tequila!

I love the intense colour inside especially in contrast to the seeds. I delayed breakfast so I could sketch this.

Birthday Bouquet #2

Two weeks on and the flowers still look pretty good. Of course a sketch can leave out the drooping bits and dry leaves.

Though it may not show here, I am learning a lot from Shari Blaukopf’s Sketching Fresh Flowers online course. Next time I’ll use watercolour paper and a simpler grouping of flowers.

Birthday Bouquet #1

What could be better than receiving flowers when your birthday is in January, when there’s 2 feet of snow outside, and daffodils won’t be up for another 3 months. Lucky me, I received 2 bouquets. Frankly, I’m amazed that bouquets of flowers are still available, with everything going on in the world. I couldn’t help thinking of all the people involved in getting the flowers from the soil to my front door. I am grateful.

Dedicated to a friend whose birthday is today!

Squash, past and present

I do enjoy a still life. While looking out some watercolour paper I found a painting (pumpkin, squash and mango) I had forgotten about, done over a year ago and never shared. The second (orange pattypans – from 2020 harvest – in blue bowl) is from this week. I’m still working on how to show volume of orange objects. Fortunately the squash are still in good shape, so I can try again.