On the shady side

I had the pleasure of spending time in a most stunning garden this weekend. There were so many views that I could have sketched, but I settled on this shade garden. Hummingbirds were frolicking in the birches while I sketched. What bliss!


Lesson learned: the paint on this Pentallic sketchbook paper seems to dry much lighter seems. I’ll need to practice getting some vibrancy in it with my travel palette paints, since this is the “kit” I’ll be taking on my travels this summer.

Spring fling

It’s a busy time of year now that the garden beacons. And with so much in bloom, it is the flowers that have caught my eye. 


I tried Wil Freeborn’s Lesson #13 on strong contrast for a portrait of a peony. Producing an even overall wash is something that requires technique that I need to work on. Not sure I like the pink on dark background. Once my white peonies bloom I will try the lesson again.


In the meantime, since I wasn’t crazy about the dark background, I did another sketch using a bright spring yellow-green background, which is what I see all around me these days.

Funny tomatoes

My local grocery store was selling heirloom tomatoes (imported from somewhere warm) and I had to buy them — to sketch and then eat of course. I’ve been watching Marc Taro Holmes travel sketching course on Craftsy and, inspired by his 5 à 7 exercise and brush pen suggestions, I decided to try his approach for this quick sketch. I like the looser line.


Lessons learned: let brush pen dry thoroughly before adding wash (it can bleed a bit); mix up plenty of paint for the shadows so there is a consistent one.

Sprouting garlic

I’ve been lucky enough to have a steady supply of garlic grown by a friend. By this time of year, the garlic’s inner urge to send sprout takes hold. Pencil and watercolour in Handbook watercolour sketchbook.

Spring fields

I wandered across some nearby fields which are only accessible this time of year. Come summer they will be planted with corn or soya. This was started outdoors, then the wind just got to be too much.


Lesson learned: too much detail in the middle ground attracts unwanted attention. I want to learn how to indicate a bare tree without drawing all the branches.

This was a first sketch in a new sketchbook (Pentallic) — something even more intimidating than a blank piece of paper. In fact, I did this sketch in the back of the book, to try out the paper. It seemed to soak up the paint quickly. But I need to work with it some more.

Lachine view

I had a chance to spend time sitting by the water in Lachine where many people were strolling the paths enjoying the late evening sun. One lady stopped to admire what I was doing — these encounters while sketching are often a real treat, as was this one.

Further to the “lesson learned” on the previous sketch, I started with just a few pencil guidelines, then drew with the pen, then plenty of wash, until it got too cold to hold the brush.  Details were finished at home.