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Old Haunts Week

August 21, 2017

In the week immediately following the USK Symposium in Chicago, we returned to Montreal, accompanied by sketchers Liz Steel and Anne-Laure Jacquart.

As a blogger, I’m starting to feel behind the times. Those of you who follow my friends on Instagram, might have already seen some video from this week.

So I’m not going do another day-in-the-life sketchwalk report. Instead, let’s look at a few favorites from our recent sketch-tour, next to some some flashbacks from older drawings of the same spots.

This sketch is way back in Oct 2012.

I’d been on the Plateau at Mount Royal Metro, drawing with water soluble ink in fountain and brush pens.

This domed tower is on top of the public library directly across the street from the metro.

Through the thin paper of this cheap sketchbook, you can see a more pointed bell-tower sketched on the back page.

This one is on your right when you come up from the subway.

Standing back on this same spot, five years later – I’m not sure if I remembered these two overlapping drawings, or if it’s simply a matter that these are the only interesting things to draw at this spot. Either way, my new sketch (at top) literally combines the two towers into one composite drawing.

This one is the Chateau Ramsay, sketched from ground level just inside the front gate.

I always take visiting sketchers here, as it’s right next to Place Jacques Cartier, has it’s own little walled garden, plus the city hall is right across the street.

I was just playing with this drawing – exaggerating the upward angle, and playing fast and loose with the windows and shutters. Not even putting any color on the people out front. They aren’t drawn all that well really – just some lazy scribbles.

But maybe that’s because I’d already sketched them in 2014! I doubt it’s the exact same historic re-creators – but it was probably some of the same costumes.

Here’s my 2014 sketch of the house. Back then I was using pen and ink and wash, and I was much more concerned about getting the entire building into the frame. Even though, I was writing at the time about designing a good picture, not just making a snapshot. It’s fun to see, 3 years later, how much I’ve taken my own advice.

Somewhere during all this we stopped by Place D’Youville, which is a small public square, crowned by this is old fire station, that is now the civic history museum.

Not the fancy one at the Pointe, but the quaint little one that tells the story of Montreal’s recent past.

Here’s some sketches of what was inside back in 2012.

Again, we can see how back in July 2012 I was spending a few hours on a complicated production, that tried to capture the thing as accurately as I was able.

At this time I was painting in three passes I called Tea, Milk and Honey. Something I still use to this day – but in a much less rigid, step-by-step approach.

I think perhaps this one was my best?

The most recent 2017 version might have become too cartoon-y.  This one, executed from I think, Oct 2016? was maybe the best compromise of line drawing and wet-in-wet shape work.

Turns out this might take the record for ‘most sketched by me place’  in Montreal. As I’ve also drawn it back in 2014 in one of my very first experiments with Direct Watercolor.

Ok one last place: St. Joseph’s Oratory.

Another spot, I’ve drawn time and time again. There’s even a fifth version that appears in my book.

It’s fun to watch my own confidence with paint mixing develop over time.

Keeping in mind, some of these below took four or five hours in the studio, whereas the 2017 version was a 30 min sketch.

Whatever this latest version lacks in accuracy or fine detail, I think it makes up in spontaneity and boldness of execution.

Look how tentative my first steps were!



2012, studio remake.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucie permalink
    August 21, 2017 10:11 AM

    Love all your work but I always especially enjoy your posts showing Montreal. My home town, always visit family there in the fall. And I cannot believe I did not know the fire hall in Old Montreal is a museum about the city. I love that building, especially the roof line. Will need to pop in to visit. I am just a very beginner Sketcher, still trying to feel comfortable drawing in public. Wishing I could view the exhibition at City Hall for the 375th anniversary but will not be there at that time. Any chance someone would publish a book of this show?

  2. daveyone1 permalink
    August 21, 2017 11:02 AM

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  3. Gina Bisaillon permalink
    August 22, 2017 6:51 AM

    The building you call “the public library across from the metro” was my primary school back in the ’40s, and I never noticed that it had such a pretty topping!

    • August 22, 2017 3:37 PM

      Wow – that’s fun! You were from the Plateau from before the Plateau was cool, as the kids say :)

  4. Bernadette permalink
    August 22, 2017 11:42 AM

    My favorite is St. Joseph’s oratory….the colors and spontaneity are captivating. You mentioned wanting to one day illustrate a comic book. One of my sons has been avid art collector of comic book art for many years. It would be wonderful to see your work among the many collectables of those who appreciate comic book art. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Drayve85 permalink
    August 23, 2017 1:42 PM

    “You’re killing me, Smalls!!” Lol. Although I love and enjoy most every post that you write, I have been hoping each day with each new post that you will finish your past post on the Paints that you’ll be switching out, and which paint(s) you will be adding to your palette. Even just an update on it would not that it’s a big deal really, and I get more from your other, more substantial posts. But, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the curiosity, the “not knowing” is driving me nuts!lol


  6. August 23, 2017 9:34 PM

    Your work is extraordinary. The details and the perspective reveal so much about the places you draw. Interesting to see the studio piece worked from the on-site sketch. Each has worthy qualities.

  7. September 21, 2017 8:17 AM

    The spire at the top of the page is beautiful and is lovely to see the difference between plein air and studio work. xx

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