Sunday, October 4, 2015

Out of the closet ...

Not many people have seen my work , over the years it has pretty well been my immediate family.
This year I decided to 'come out of the closet' so to speak and I entered one of my recent watercolours into the Wellington Artists Gallery 'Juried Art Show'.
To my surprise it was accepted !

So that was that .. no more hiding in the closet.

Homage to A.J Casson - White Woods
and me (No I wasn't the waiter)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Something new ..

Golden, the oil and acrylics company recently released a line of watercolours.
Curry's have them on sale ...

I bought a set of six "High Chroma" colours that is composed of what I call the New colours (Quinacridone Gold, Pyrrole Orange and other fanciful names) as opposed to the traditional colours (burnt umber, raw sienna.etc)

I started with new paper well actually it's not paper (as in made from pulp or cotton) but
crushed rock ..Terraskin, produced by a Canadian Company.

I abandoned the watercolour fairly quickly and reverted to a more traditional cold pressed paper.

More on the Terraskin later.

I quite like the new colours especially for Autumn leaves, I think there will be more coming along :-)

9" x 12" Beinfang Watercolour pad 140lb cold pressed
Golden QoR High Chroma watercolours

Oh and new brushes !

Escoda Prado sizes 16,10 and 8 (I love their sables and these synthetics are not to be sneezed at either. :-)

Yes everything is on sale at Curries !

Wellington Artists Juried Art Show ...

A while ago I attended a watercolour weekend by Nan Hogg, it covered working in the the style of A.J Casson.
I blogged about it here:

Since then I really jumped in at the deep end, I entered the painting in the Juried Art Show being held at the Wellington Artists Gallery in Fergus.

It was accepted !!

Out of 112 entries only 60 were chosen and one of them was mine :-)

This is the first time I have really shown my work in public, oh there are a few here on the blog and a few close friends have seen the 'real thing' but now ..

The opening reception and awards ceremony will take place on Oct. 3, from 2 to 4 pm.

The exhibition runs from Oct. 1 to 28. 


Sunday, September 6, 2015

One liner ...

My 'gallery day' was Friday during which I spent most of the afternoon out in the shade, reading and drawing.
This is an attempt at a 'one line sketch'; the intent is to keep the pen moving and not lifting it off the paper.

OK I cheated a few times :-)

Strathmore 300 'mixed media' sketchbook 5.5" x 8.5"
Noodlers AHAB flex pen
Noodlers Carbon Black ink

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Road Trip - Erin

I went on a road trip this morning all the way to Erin.
OK not a long way but far enough for some fresh scenery.

After checking out the (ahem) Bakery we settled down across the street to draw/paint the buildings of downtown.

I chose a rather freestyle pen and ink method (one line sketches) that I am tinkering with, thanks to Larry in Quebec City

Noodlers Carbon Black Ink in a Noodlers Ahab flex pen
Strathmore 300 mixed media sketchbook 8.5" x 5.5"


Patrick had taken on a rather large watercolour so I was done before him so I decided to work on a small watercolour, a fire hydrant ... thanks to Larry again!

It was to have ink added but I was told to leave it alone no ink.

W&N watercolour Field set W&N travel Brush set
Moleskine 5" x 8" watercolour sketchbook

All in all a great, relaxing morning


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pen and Ink sketches ..

Yesterday I watched a you tube demo on drawing rocks in pen and ink, which fired my imagination.

So going back to a photo I took at Limehouse a year or two ago I produced this pen and ink ..

Micron 01
Derwent watercolour graphite pencils
Canson Mixed Media sketchbook 5.25" x 8.25"

Jump ahead to this morning... I had arranged to meet a friend downtown at the Boathouse for tea and goodies. I arrived early and sat in the park (in the drizzle) and sketched one of the bridges across the river.
It's funny how many times I have looked at this scene and never noticed that the original bridge only had two arches, a third one was added at a later date.

The difference between "looking" and "Seeing"!
Noodlers flex with Lexington Gray ink
Pentel brush pen
Canson Mixed Media sketchbook 5.25" x 8.25"

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Low Tide

I have been thinking of boats recently ..
This was a fleeting scene in a video I was watching, luckily I could rewind it :-)

Noodler's Ahab flex Pen
Noodler's Carbon Black Ink
and a bit of pencil work..

Canson 5 x 8 Multi Media (98 lb)  sketchbook

That little bit of land with the buildings has gotta go though :-)



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Scotsdale Farm

Niagara was too far (KW Urban Sketchers went there today) .. so I decided to stay closer to home and visit Scotsdale Farm nr Georgetown.

600 acres of trails and buildings, another hidden gem.

The old house is currently unoccupied ( boy, what a place to live!) I have sketched it before from a different angle but wanted to try and work on my limited perspective skills.

Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT 16" x 12"
Windsor and Newton watercolours
My handy dandy W&N field sketch brushes

Yes that was way to big for a sketch !!
No my perspective skills still need work

But I enjoyed myself and met several people who stopped by to chat and even admire my work :-)


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pen and Ink landscape

This started out as an ink over to an existing watercolour that I did some time ago but I couldn't find my sepia ink and my pens have gray or black in them.
So I decided to make a new sketch just for the hell of it..

4 x 6 using Noodlers Gray, Micron brush pen with black ink and some water soluble graphite applied with a water brush.

Oh and a teeny bit of white from a gel pen for a few highlights :-)

The scene ?
I made it up ...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sitting beside the river ..

..on a quiet, cool Saturday morning.

All the humidity had gone it was a 'good to be alive' day.

I was waiting for a friend whom I had arranged to meet at the Boathouse for tea and conversion; I arrived early so I could put in some sketching time.

The Boathouse is a local eatery, ice cream vending, canoe renting, and as this description hints at, an eclectic kind of place.

I have been meaning to sketch it for some time..

5 x 8 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, Windsor and Newton watercolours applied with brushes from my little W&N travel kit.
Pen and Ink from Noodlers (Lexington Gray)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Misty Morning - Watercolour Pencil -

Continuing on from last weeks attempt at a misty morning rendition and reading through David Bellamy's 'Winter Landscapes' and 'Mountains and Moorlands' books.

... I love his atmospheric landscapes but they are not as easy as he makes it look !

Derwent Watercolour pencils and a water brush in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook 5" x 8"


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Morning up on Hwy 6 North

I was going to start a 12 " x 16" painting but chickened out and created this in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.
So it is about 5" x 8"  

A misty morning photographed as I drove north on Hwy 6 several years ago seemed like a perfect opportunity to try creating mist over the landscape.

Maybe I should try the 12 " x 16"


Monday, July 13, 2015

Winters Swimming Hole ..

Winter loves to go splashing about in the man made (or kid made) area that is a bit deeper because of all the rocks piled to stem the flow in the 'creek' that runs through our local park.
Unfortunately the mosquitoes love it too, so this was created from memory after we returned home.

Hand Bound Paper Co Travelogue 5 1/4" x 81/4" sketchbook

Pen, Ink and watercolour pencil washed with water.

Patrick was correct the Noodler's Black ink takes a long time to dry to permanence ;-(

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In the style of A.J Casson ... part two ..

I took the time this morning to finish the last of the three paintings from my workshop.

While working on this highly stylized, almost abstract watercolour I felt that I was beginning to understand what Casson was trying to say.

"You look like you are having fun" was Nan's comment as she walked by, and yes I was!

This is my favourite from the weekend.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Workshop - In the style of A.J Casson..

I spent the 'long weekend' at Nan Hogg's watercolour workshop studying the art and style of one of my favourite artists, AJ Casson.

Moving so far away from what is normal for me and trying to imagine how Mr Casson would see a particular scene really was hard work!

Below are two of the three watercolours I worked on over the weekend; these are BIG this one is on a half sheet of Arches 300lb cold pressed!

This one was painted en plein aire otherwise known as "outside"  ;-) on a hot windy day, on of those days when washes dry so fast (that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!)

This is on Saunders Waterford 140lb 12 x 16 paper, a bit smaller but still big (for me)

Anyway these are 'finished' or so I was told!

As I said it was really difficult for a detail oriented painter like me to paint in an almost abstract style.
Difficult but lots of fun.

All in all I learned a great deal

Thanks Nan ;-)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bunch of Keys

Sometimes the mundane can take on a life of its own..

Just a bunch of keys that caught my attention while reading Barrington Barbers book
"The Fundamentals of Drawing Still Life"

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kissing Bridge.

Larger size here ..

Yesterday I decided to visit the West Montrose covered bridge. I had an image in mind for a watercolour, so off I went.
It was a perfect morning, just warm enough to sit in the shade and cool enough to keep the bugs asleep.
I sat by the river for I don't know how long, as usually happens when one is drawing or sketching.
. I was brought back to the present time when a Mennonite Lady approached to see what I was doing, after all I was sitting on her property .. oops.

A short but genial conversation followed and I continued with my painting, here is the result.

A two page spread in my Moleskin Watercolour sketchbook given to me by Constance ..

Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there :-)


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Another 'Oldie'

Last week Patrick and I talked about stippling while waiting for Doug at a local restaurant. 
I mentioned that I used to do some on larger works, and although it's a tricky method I usually liked the result
This one was is from 1993, we were on vacation with the kids and I was sick ;-p

We had a howling, overnight wind storm that took down a lot of branches and the morning found me sitting on the deck drawing while the kids helped the clean up crews.

The subject for this sketch was on the deck all I had to do was pick it up :-)


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Apples ..

Thinking about the bowl of apples on the counter...
Thinking 'I should draw those'
Thinking, thinking, thinking...

Then I watched a youtube video on drawing (yes, apples) with water soluble graphite pencils.
So that was it, decision made !

A bowl of apples drawn with Graphite sticks and water soluble graphite.

Black and White ..oh yeah ..

Comments and critique always welcome.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Lilacs in the Spring

A few weeks ago my friend Vickie offered me some watercolour pencils.
Today I sat in the soft morning light on this holiday Monday and tried them out, after cutting the grass which was my chore for today...

This was taken with my cell phone and the low morning sun didn't help as it emphasized the grain of the paper..
Daler Rowney "The Langton" 140 lb Not 7" x 5"
Derwent Watercolour Pencils

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Another Milkweed study

Fascination ?

Who knows?
Who cares!

I think I am getting closer to the core of this one...

 There were a few seeds left in one of the pods and as they dried out they fluffed up ready to fly away with the slightest of breezes, even when the furnace kicked in and moved the air in the house.

Pen, a  Sakura 'Microperm 01, black ink
Opaque white from a 'Uni-Ball' Signo pigment pen

on Strathmore 400 series Gray Toned 80 lb paper

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Joy of Seeing..

This first appeared on my other blog;

The quote I used there is even more poignant here;

"The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

I continue to watch my milkweed that sit on my desk and old and dead they may be; they are still evolving.

and I continue to try to capture their spirit...


Sunday, April 5, 2015

One more time ..

This morning, my other blog was about the fresh fall of snow and a walk on the quiet trails with my dog Winter..

You can read it HERE

I went back to November of last year and pulled up this pencil sketch of Winter, we had only adopted her a few weeks previously and for once she slept on the couch long enough for me to render this portrait of her.

Since then she has become more than just a dog, more than a pet, more like a member of the family.

Today was a milestone for Winter and for us too...

Last night we did not crate up as we normally do but left her on a long leash in the den.
Expecting to be up half the night as the room was demolished I awoke to a pleasant surprise, a sleepy dog and a room in the same condition as we left it !

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Signs of Spring II

Yesterday I spent an hour or more fiddling around with the snowdrops ..
Not sure about this one either I do like it more but I think there is "something" not quite right..

 Thoughts anyone?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Signs of Spring..

I was away in the wilds of Quebec this week, where winter still has a grip. Temperatures well below freezing (-14c) freezing rain and snow.

However back in balmy Guelph and while out walking Winter this morning I spied a cluster of snowdrops on a neighbours front lawn.

Using a bit, OK a lot, of artistic license and my memory I created this when I got home.

HandBook Paper co. Watercolour sketchbook 8" x 5.5"
Lexington Gray ink
and W&N watercolours

The greens got lost in the translation to interweb ('onest)

Sunday, March 29, 2015


For many weeks I have been studying the Milkweed pods along the local trails...

The first is Pen, Ink, watercolour and a bit of white Gouache in the highlights

The second is more of a study, actually done first. 
Pen, ink, watercolour using only Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Continuing the wanderings in "The Lakes" ...

Continuing the wanderings in "The Lakes" ...

Grange in Borrowdale

The English Lake District as well as being the home of my family for generations just happens to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Yes I am prejudice ;-)


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Castlerigg Stone Circle remembered

One of the advantages of painting over photography is you don't have to be there to record an image!
The last time I was here was oh so many years ago, but years don't matter here nothing changes except the sky and the stones slowly sinking into the earth.
Castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria is without doubt my favourite, it out shines Stonehenge, which to me is naught but a tourist attraction now.

This circle stands on a plateau surrounded by ancient Cumbrian peaks, alone with nothing but the wind and the ravens calling for company.

It takes your breath away.
I hope I have done it justice.

ps The scanner cut off a bit of the left side!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Skies, Light and Atmosphere

I love David Bellamy's watercolours...
Reading his book entitled 'Skies, Light and Atmosphere' and working on the tutorials in his style is very satisfying ...

Overall I am pleased with this, the foreground was a challenge but I think I pulled it off.
The skies, dark, moody and foreboding are coming along I think.
Cathy said it looks three dimensional ...
Yes !! :-)

Coco Latte

It was one of those days (a week ago) I was waiting to meet up with friends downtown at OX.

I was deliberately early, so I went into Coco Latte in Quebec Street Mall for a cup of something warm and a muffin.
I had already decided not to sit at my usual table but to find a place across the 'street' so I could draw the Cafe.

I started out with pencil, pen and ink.
Later (yesterday) I used water soluble Derwent pencils (shades of gray) and ArtGraf watercolour graphite to tone the scene.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Kathleen II

Kathleen II

This was one of the first photographs I took when went to Newfoundland a couple of years ago. It is still one of my favourites so I decided to try to reproduce the moment more 'emotionally' than accurately.

I do like the smaller boat, I feel that I managed to get the proportions correct.
Overall I am happy with the outcome ...


Here is the original photo:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Old Door

An old "Tuscan" door 

Learning how to make an old brick wall from a few brushstrokes...

It didn't scan too well, the paper is larger than my scanner bed ;-( but I do like the 'original'.

I was quite pleased with how I was able to find the brickwork amongst the scribbled washes of colour.


A trip back in time..
This was painted in the mid 1990's.

I chose it because it fits in with my blog post from this week ..


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Alan Owen Watercolour Lessons

I have been following Alan Owen on YouTube for quite a while.
His carefree easy style strikes a chord with me and so on occasion I "paint along"..

This is one such occasion.

Here is the video

Monday, February 16, 2015

Storm Passing

Another book I am reading is by the same author David Bellamy 'Skies, Light and Atmosphere'.

I love his brooding watercolours or as Jethro Tull once said 'Brewing , heavy weather'. 
So I have decided to follow all the exercises and learn ... I hope.

One thing I did learn in Ruins III reworked was don't give up if something goes sideways.

My first attempt at the 'rain cloud' was a disaster, to me it ruined the entire piece so I reread what David had said .. 're-wet the entire sky'... oops

So I took a sponge and removed the whole cloud,re-wet the WHOLE sky and redid the cloud. 
It worked (well in my opinion it worked) 

I'm a lot happier with this except for the dark 'rain' that was caused by the removal of the old cloud which filled in some scrapes that I had put in.

Oh well you can't win em all :-)


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Watercolour Exercise ..

Currently reading one of David Bellamy's books on Watercolour techniques.
Yesterday I completed one of the exercises.
Thanks to my new found knowledge of how it 'fix' a mistake I was able to rescue this from the 'bin' :-)


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ruins III reworked ...

My friend Constance sent me a long email in response to my Ruins III post.

I said "Constance it's only a piece of paper! I will just repaint it" 

She said "Alan , It just a piece of  paper but there is something special taking a painting not quite right and turning to something remarkable. You will learn a lot in doing it."

She was right ... Well it may not be remarkable but it is way better :-)

Thanks Constance! 

She explained how to: 

Cut down the tree (well remove it)
Fix the background
Repaint the sky
Rework the shadow and sunlit sides of the ruin.

This is where I started, That tree had to go!

So deep breath ...

I took cell phone photo's of the process ...

First, scrub off the tree and wash out the background to the right of the ruin and lighten the ruin itself

Then repaint the sky and the background to the right of the ruin

Rework the sunlit and shadow sides of the ruin

Et Voila !

Yeah OK but they are cell phone photo's the original really does look better :-)

Lessons learned ; 

Even in watercolour you can fix things.
Listen to your friends :-)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Ruins III

Another rendition of the Ruins.
Close to the original sketch but on 'real' paper.
I think:
the Jack pine (the tall skinny one) has to go
the shadow colours are getting muddy
the background is too cluttered but I am not sure what to do with it..


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Ruins at Rockwood

Winsor and Newton watercolour (Cold Pressed) BLOCK (a real block)
Wash of burnt umber to tone the whole sheet

Some area's I pulled the wash off to represent the snow
Some area's I used just a little white gouache
Reasonably happy with this except for the white / Jack pines ...
Resisted the temptation to ink in the ruins
Next rendition is going to be on plain paper -)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Back in the Day

Going through a pile of old stuff I found this..
My first watercolour attempt on cheap paper (I didn't know any better)

Painted in about 1987 ...

Not a  very good scan because of all the wrinkles but I think it deserves a place here if only to show where I came from and to preserve it digitally.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

All along the Watchtower ..

Last weekend, on a freezing cold morning we visited Rockwood conservation Area and avoided the wind :-)
I wandered off down an unvisited trail and found this view of the "ruins".
No this wasn't done on site it was done later in the warmth of my kitchen!
Strathmore 400 toned tan paper probably was the wrong choice but I wanted to warm it up a bit. Adding the watercolour caused the paper to wrinkle badly... Oh well.
I think I will re-do it on something more substantial.
 However the memory of that cold morning with good friends lingers on.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

"drifting snow" watercolour experiment

During the week I was kicking around an idea.

It started out as a snowdrift with a tuft of grasses all very simple, very 'Zen'.
But I got carried away, all the way to trying to create 'snow' using W&N permanent white gouache spattered from a toothbrush (yes and old one!)

I even used a little Grumbacher Gouache on the tree's
Well here is the result on Strahmore 400 series 140lb, multimedia, 6" x 8" paper.
It warped a little with the washes but settled down quite nicely.

I was quite pleased with it especially as a first attempt.
I think I will try again on larger paper :-)


Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Light 2015

First Light 2015

I have put out a challenge for many years now.

My "First Light Challenge" is to capture the morning sun, or in this case a lightening of the grey clouds, on New Years morning (In my area that is 7:54 a.m)

This sketch was not done on site as the ink would have frozen along with my fingers.
It was drawn from memory of that day in the warmth of my kitchen ;-)

Hamilton Steelworks from across the bay at LaSalle Park.

Strathmore 'Toned Grey" paper.
Pentel Brush Pen (Black),
Noodlers Carbon Black ink in my TWSBI fountain pen,
white crayon,
2B pencil.
White highlights using a Uni-ball Signo rollerball.