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Exporting Winter

April 25, 2014

14Feb09_Snow Angels_Sketch Swap_Pines

A few weeks back I was part of an Urban Sketchers art exchange. I had partners in Girona and in Sao Paulo. There were other swaps with NYC. All told, about 40 artists participated.

We each did sketches of our towns and sent them off to our partners. The drawings were meant to arrive as a surprise, so I’ve been waiting til is was safe to show these.

14Feb09_Snow Angels_Sketch Swap_Bronze

I’d been fed up with the cold and wet of winter, and was feeling envious of these guys in sunny countries. Somehow that meant I really had to paint some snow. They had to see something that could only be found in Montreal. Perhaps there’s a little northern pride going on.

We were lucky enough to get the last snow of the year that very weekend. I got up early and headed straight to Mount Royal Cemetery to get these scenes.  It was a perfect day for it – cold but clear skies, the way it can be the morning after a snowfall.

I have to admit I’m playing a little trick on them. Making winter look a lot more attractive than it really is. Much better to have a picture of snow, than the real thing.

78 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2014 11:50 AM

    Really, really beautiful. I can feel the cold snow! :-)

    • betsy angene permalink
      April 25, 2014 12:48 PM

      Wonderful paintungs. Were you painting from your car?

      • April 25, 2014 2:50 PM

        Hey Betsy – well, to be honest I started from the car, drawing by hopping out and back in every 10 min, then finished (painted) them at home. It’s not that I couldn’t do it on location, just that it takes forever to wait for watercolor to dry in the cold. 20 minutes at least per pass. And I like to work wet-on-dry. I could have done it even so, but I needed to get two done in a day. With my approach, once I have the drawing I can finish the color after the fact. I map out all the shadow shapes in the drawing, so it’s all there for me at the color stage. If you don’t mind some drawings of a nude model, here’s an example of what I mean by drawing shadow shapes. You’ll see if you look closely at the line under the wash, as I sketch I’m planning the major masses of color, actually drawing the ‘terminator edge’ of the shadow.

  2. Suzanne permalink
    April 25, 2014 2:54 PM

    I love winter ! (and the «silence» all around after the snow). We can feel that in your paintings. Magic moment.

  3. April 25, 2014 5:42 PM

    Your watercolor paintings are so beautiful!

  4. Jo Morton permalink
    April 26, 2014 2:33 AM

    Another superb ‘kick’ to persuade me to tackle painting snow! Thanks! I’ve had an enforced break from Urban Sketching, so long to return

  5. April 26, 2014 8:06 PM

    Wow, pretty stunning stuff. It almost makes me miss winter … :P

  6. May 2, 2014 11:31 AM

    Very nice sketch. I am so lucky to live in San Diego where if it is winter, fall, spring or summer, weather is the same!

    • May 2, 2014 1:03 PM

      So true! I was working for a while in San Rafael – every day was bliss. I didn’t own any socks. Shorts and sandals every day. I always felt the locals didn’t truly appreciate being able to go outside without thinking about how many coats to bring :)

  7. May 2, 2014 1:08 PM

    Isn’t Canada fun?! Makes for some good inspiration, and some beautiful artwork though!

  8. May 2, 2014 1:32 PM

    Lovely. I always wondered how you watercolor en plein air dudes did it. I can’t even manage to keep my paper from puckering. Then, again, I do live in Portland, Oregon, America’s city-sized locker room shower. If you ever want anything misted around here, just open a window.

    Your work puts to mind a large memorial garden nearby. It has the same white marble sculpture set against a deep green and when we get the occasional, newsworthy snowstorm, the marble looks right at home:

  9. May 2, 2014 1:56 PM

    What a wonderful idea. Always good to see community development.

  10. May 2, 2014 1:59 PM

    Beautiful, atmospheric, incredibly haunting paintings! Your style is so soft and yet captures everything- the eeriness, the chill, the moisture seeping into the statues… I could go on but I won’t, so very, very well done!
    Phoenixflames12 x

  11. May 2, 2014 3:38 PM

    Beautiful. Love watercolors done right.
    Art on…

  12. May 2, 2014 3:56 PM

    It’s beautiful! :O I am so jealous…

  13. May 2, 2014 4:17 PM


  14. May 2, 2014 5:30 PM

    رائعة،، إنها جميلة

  15. Hamza Ghani permalink
    May 2, 2014 5:55 PM

    This is awesome :)

  16. May 2, 2014 6:24 PM

    Reblogged this on redroyko's Blog.

  17. May 2, 2014 6:50 PM

    Reblogged this on giselw2727.

  18. May 2, 2014 7:26 PM

    Beautiful — even if cemeteries and snow don’t exactly make a cheerful pair. ;)

  19. May 2, 2014 8:00 PM

    Looks beautiful! I like the idea of a sketching exchange. My family did that with Artist Trading Cards. I went to Montreal last summer and I thought it was gorgeous but I understand how it must feel with all the snow. NYC had it’s fair share of snow this winter (not nearly as much as Montreal gets) but it can really get to you after a while. Love the bike lanes there, btw.

  20. May 2, 2014 8:16 PM


  21. hausersteven permalink
    May 2, 2014 8:18 PM

    Beautiful vision captured, I could imagine poems and stories.

  22. jmchri13 permalink
    May 2, 2014 9:03 PM

    These are beautiful paintings, but you don’t need artwork to glorify winter. In my opinion, winter is a beautiful in of itself (I live in New England).

  23. May 3, 2014 1:00 AM


  24. May 3, 2014 3:31 AM

    Very beautiful

  25. May 3, 2014 3:43 AM

    Just recognised this on Freshly Pressed. Well done!

  26. May 3, 2014 7:21 AM

    Really very nice painting. Amazing

  27. May 3, 2014 7:38 AM

    Nice work, sir. Beautiful paintings. There’s something about stone angels that’s quietly amazing. There’s a beautiful song actually that says”stone angel” over and over again. Also, I think this is the first time I’ve seen a picture of Jesus in the snow, probably because it never snows in Israel. Maybe in the mountains, but I doubt it. I suppose He’s the one who makes all the snow anyway, so it really doesn’t—okay I’m rambling.

  28. May 3, 2014 8:25 AM

    They are really and truly wonderful pictures. WELL DONE.

  29. May 3, 2014 8:27 AM

    Reblogged this on helceng and commented:
    Impressive sketch

  30. May 3, 2014 8:55 AM

    Reblogged this on cheshta156 and commented:
    Found this. Needless to say, they’re beautiful!

  31. May 3, 2014 8:55 AM

    Real soul staining stuff.

  32. May 3, 2014 10:34 AM

    Very good paintings! What is their real size? I am very curious about it!

  33. May 3, 2014 11:05 AM


    These are truly of Miltonian proportions! The hues and textures draw you irresistibly into the frosty world that inspired them. Incredible!

  34. May 3, 2014 11:10 AM

    I especially like the first one with the angel. It makes me feel shivery inside.

  35. May 3, 2014 12:52 PM

    Il y a vraiment une belle ambiance, tu as su retranscrire l’hiver et sa neige si abondante j’imagine au Canada. On n’en voit pas beaucoup par chez nous

  36. May 3, 2014 6:25 PM

    Reblogged this on engmolly572.

  37. May 3, 2014 6:36 PM

    Your paintings are beautiful, I love how the snow looks incredibly textured

  38. May 4, 2014 9:28 AM

    Reblogged this on dmercne's Blog.

  39. May 4, 2014 3:13 PM

    Add some snow on your painting is a great idea, it’s more Christmas, it’s more magic :)

  40. May 4, 2014 3:39 PM

    great piece

  41. May 4, 2014 4:07 PM

    Beautiful painting.

  42. May 4, 2014 10:05 PM

    love your brushstrokes and delicate washes, and limited palette – you are a very good painter : )

  43. May 4, 2014 10:57 PM

    Thanks for all the good words from everyone! And welcome, anyone who’s come over from Freshly Pressed. ~m

  44. May 5, 2014 1:47 PM

    very nice post…

  45. May 5, 2014 3:56 PM

    Beautiful! Is it watercolor, gouache, or acrylic? I am a gouache artist. Love your almost monochromatic palette.

    • May 5, 2014 6:32 PM

      Hi Susan – They’re watercolor (over a bit of a pencil drawing). I work in three layers, each time going a little bit darker – to build up the shadows. Thanks! I’m starting to really like the grey-ed off tones. I think every time I move, my color sense changes. And it’s very much grey and neutral here in Eastern Canada, as compared say to the soft light of California or the crazy bright of Texas where I was before.

  46. May 5, 2014 6:06 PM

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed. A refreshing diversion from the usual choices.

  47. debrazone permalink
    May 5, 2014 7:24 PM

    Outstanding watercolours! I also love your descriptions and can relate to how colour sense can change when moving to different parts of the world.

  48. May 5, 2014 10:58 PM

    I saw these pictures on Shari Blaukoff’s blog a couple days ago. They are beautiful. The snow is amazing.


  49. May 6, 2014 1:35 AM

    When I saw the first picture I immediately thought of John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994), but then I saw you were in Montreal and he was writing about Savannah, where I don’t suppose it ever snows. I think it’s amazing the way our minds make those connections, often on the flimsiest of evidence, which is ironically what your painting style asks the viewer to do. You suggest the shapes with a few carefully chosen shadows and highlights and leave the viewer to flesh it out and add the winter chill the pale light suggests. I think this style of painting involves the viewer much more than a highly detailed study where everything is on display and that involvement makes it a more rewarding and satisfying experience. At least for me. Thank you for sharing these.

  50. May 6, 2014 1:36 AM

    Reblogged this on Apps Lotus's Blog.

  51. May 6, 2014 10:49 AM

    I love your pictures – it almost makes me look forward to winter. Almost but not really!

    Thanks for your art

  52. May 6, 2014 10:50 AM

    Reblogged this on Tayview's Blog and commented:
    With age, I less and less look forward to winter. But these great pictures almost makes me look forward to the snow. But that’s art for you…

  53. Monica DiNatale permalink
    May 6, 2014 2:43 PM

    Beautiful work!

  54. May 7, 2014 5:42 AM

    Reblogged this on maha's place.

  55. May 7, 2014 11:06 AM

    Reblogged this on mintvalf.

  56. May 8, 2014 6:39 AM

    Reblogged this on Samael.

  57. May 8, 2014 3:15 PM

    Reblogged this on aerychtest and commented:
    Reblogging to my blog

  58. May 9, 2014 5:56 AM

    Wonderful pictures, and wonderful memories. Thank you for giving us a look into something so beautiful and personal!

  59. May 9, 2014 2:02 PM

    Reblogged this on emmadol's Blog.

  60. May 10, 2014 2:27 AM

    Sooooo Amazing!!!

  61. May 11, 2014 1:28 AM

    Reblogged this on oneissuepertime.

  62. May 12, 2014 5:09 PM

    What a treat these are to see

  63. May 13, 2014 9:01 AM

    Reminds me of the Keats’ poem, St Agnes Eve, ah bitter chill it was…

    Poignant and atmospheric.

  64. May 20, 2014 2:39 PM

    beautiful art work :)

  65. May 22, 2014 8:48 AM

    Those are amazing! I mightreblg this…

  66. May 22, 2014 8:50 AM

    Reblogged this on The Angel Above Us and commented:
    So cool! These are some watercolor paintings that I found on another blog.

  67. May 24, 2014 4:11 AM

    Lovely painting, I love winter.

  68. May 26, 2014 10:07 AM

    lovely work!

  69. December 8, 2014 9:46 AM

    Thanks for this blog. I am going to Spain for my first sketching trip. Will read through your blog for things to help with this trip. Love your work.

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