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1 Week : 100 People

June 2, 2015

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Way back when I was planning my class Sketching People in Motion, I gave myself a challenge to draw 100 people in a week. I carried a small book ( a 3×5″ Moleskine Cahier Journal) and two pens in my pocket everywhere I went for a week. (Platinum Carbon Fountain Pen, Super Fine and a Kuretake Sumi Brush Pen).

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If you commit yourself to sketching every time you see someone holding still for a few minutes – it’s actually fairly easy to get 100 drawings in 5 days.

I was getting the most out of riding the subway, but just going shopping or to a restaurant will give you good opportunities. Bookstores turn out to be great. People in there are usually moving slowly and distracted with their browsing. Perfect subjects!

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I used inexpensive little books, so I didn’t care if I messed up a page, or if the subject walked away in the middle of a drawing. I would say I had about a failure 1 out of 5 times – mostly from the person abruptly leaving – sometimes from overworking the drawing.

I think of these self assigned challenges as play time. Drawing as a sport. It’s like trying to beat your personal best time doing a marathon. Can I do this? How fast can I do it? If 100 was possible – could I get 500 in a week? That’s about 16 people an hour over a 6 hour day. It might be possible! I’d have to spend all day downtown for 5 full days – sticking to places with lots of people around. Maybe I could arrange a week in New York and do it in Times Square. I’d need to have enough paper and pens with me to never run out. I’d have to plan breaks in good sketching cafes. See? I’m already getting excited.

That’s a ridiculous example – but even if you failed, it would be a glorious failure.

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Why not try your own drawing challenge? Set a time/quantity goal – and use that to break through any obstacles of perfectionism or ‘sketchers block’. Make it something short – one week is a lot – and have fun even if you don’t reach the goal – it’s the doing that matters!

And – if you’ve been debating taking my Sketching People in Motion online course <<< that link there will give you approximately 50% off the registration!

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Lachine Painters Demo

May 31, 2015

15May27_Lachine Demo

The other day I was invited out to the Lachine Painters to do a watercolor demo. Thanks very much to Martha Markowsky for orchestrating this opportunity! I used a reference photo from one of my favorite sketching locations in Sao Paulo.  Here’s the original sketchbook version – done in 15 or 20 minutes on a whirlwind sketching day with Liz Steel before the USK workshop last year.


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The Lachine group had a great setup where the audience could see what I was doing in the mirror behind my head. Very useful. I didn’t have to talk looking back over my shoulder.

As well, Elaine (picture right) provided a simultaneous translation into French. I’m sure that’s quite hard to do – much beyond my ability. Thanks very much Elaine!

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It was a neat surprise to meet Terry Mosher (center, looking at my book!) – who has sketched political commentary under the pen name Aislin for as long as I can remember. I have always admired editorial sketching – I don’t even like to call it cartooning – but I suppose they have embraced the term.

I’ve never been informed enough to take it up as a practice myself. Perhaps it will be my next career? It’s on the list of ways to utilize my drawing skills :) We’ll see what life brings.


Pop up Show Pops up! Oil Paintings on Exhibition at Farfelu.

May 27, 2015


I have had a generous offer to be a guest artist at Galerie Farfelu in Westmount.

My friends Lydia and Marin are showing their gold and sliver jewellery, and have offered me the wall space in their show. We’ll be there Tuesday June 2 for the opening, or you can see the works in the window anytime between June 1-14.

If you remember these from awhile back – they are quite a departure from my usual watercolors. But in a way – they are an attempt to paint oils like a watercolorist :) In big areas of wet in wet!

If you get a chance to see them in person, you might enjoy the effect.

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One more weekend on the Mountain, and thanks to everyone!

May 27, 2015

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Last weekend was the USK sketchcrawl on Mount Royal, as well as the Vernissage for the exhibition. Seeing everyone’s work in person reminded me how much we miss looking at art online. Much of the work in the show is in large formats or with texture and fine detail that is lost in web-sized photographs. It’s great to be able to see it all up close.

The show is up for one more weekend. You can still enjoy a day of art on the mountain May 30/31.

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We had a great turnout – I’m going to guess 40 people came for sketching, including some folks from Ottawa and from Vermont, and our own far flung areas – Hudson, Laval, etc.

This is the thing I love best about the urban sketching movement. How it brings people together from all over, to enjoy a day of drawing.

Thanks to everyone who came out to volunteer!

I’m sure the visiting sketchers had a great experience, having all our local USK’ers on hand to show their work-in-progress and share their sketchbooks. For a while there, the vernissage had a ‘kitchen party’ feeling, with everyone crowded in the side room around a big table of the days sketches.

There is talk of doing this show again for next  year – so maybe you’ll make a sketch in the park this summer!


Announcing: Workshop in Alvor Portugal: March 20-31, 2016

May 20, 2015


I’m excited to announce my first watercolor workshop of 2016 – in Alvor, Portugal!

We’re offering this event in partnership with Going Places and The Art District Gallery of Kitchener / Waterlooo.

This workshop will be a mix of days painting on location in Alvor and nearby Portimao, and day-tripping with a camera or sketchbook. I’ll be doing plenty of demos, and offering suggested exercises teaching you to travel light, paint quickly, and capture the world in spontaneous, colorful sketches!

Some key concepts we’ll cover: 

  • Composition and design – focal point, gradient of interest,
  • Seeing the painting as silhouette shapes,
  • Direct sketching in watercolor – painting wet-on-dry,
  • Color mixing and paint viscosity,
  • Making color variation, warm and cool, charging in, and color notes,
  • Edge control – hard and soft edges of wet shapes,
  • and calligraphic brushwork for fine details.

Click over to my workshops page for the full details.

Please note: In order to insure the best experience for everyone, there is only space for 15 artists.  We are looking to get your registration before August 31, 2015 in order to book accommodations in advance. Thanks! ~m


Join us on the Mountain this Sunday May 24th

May 19, 2015

point dessin urban sketchers

This Sunday May 24th is the open sketching event associated with the Draw Me a Mountain Exhibition. Everyone is welcome, just bring your pens and sketchbook. We will be going ahead no matter what the weather – even if there is rain, we’ll be under the eaves of the buildings :)

Meet at the Smith House at 10 AM, and will have sketchers at scenic spots throughout the day. At 3PM we’ll meet back at the Smith House to enjoy the sketching exhibition and show off the drawings we have done that day.

See you there! Please join us to do some drawing of our mountain!


Spring in the Cemetery

May 15, 2015


At the time of writing, it’s been a very dry spring. It’s looking more like second fall around here. The Noodler’s Red Black  and Rome Burning I’ve been using lately are really helping with that fall color feeling.

Here’s some sketches from the smaller of our neighborhood cemeteries: Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.


These are sketched in a Moleskine Folio Watercolor Album, (11.75 x 8.25″) – which is a beautiful book, with this very wide format. But it is frankly just a little bit too large for every day use. It takes up a lot of room in a bag, and I’d definitely consider a backing board and bulldog clips to hold it open when drawing.  It wants to flop around, fall off my knees, or otherwise behave badly. I’m starting to think that a book bigger than you can easily hold in one hand calls for an easel for sketching. But if I was going to do that I’d just paint rather than sketch.

Still – it is a beautiful book, and will look very nice when filled :)



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