Saturday, March 03, 2007

Art supplies

I'm nearing completion on the Pacific arch - I think. Getting a good photograph of it is another thing. This image isn't quite there, but heading in the right direction. I'll keep playing with camera settings and my graphics program in the hopes that I can turn out the right image.

I've done a little shopping online to find some decent (I hope) pastel paper and some more pastels to build my collection. I haven't used pastels for quite some time, but I've found that I quite enjoy the process again and working on a larger scale. I was becoming confined to the space of a smaller sketchbook or Moleskine and hadn't broken out of that mold for awhile. It feels good to stretch again.

In my quest for paper and trying to avoid duty payments and large shipping costs, I browsed a few stores in Canada and came across some unique paper made in Montreal on the shores of the Lachine canal - Le Papeterie Saint-Armand. The Saint-Armand paper mill was established by David Carruthers in 1979. They manufacture the Saint-Armand handmade papers, the machine-made Canal papers, and the sanded paper Sabretooth for artists. It is the Sabretooth paper that I bought in sheets of 22 x 30 and an assortment of Canal paper also. Canal paper is machine-made paper from pulped T-shirt cuttings, linen, flax straw, blue denim, sisal and coffee bags. The Saint-Armand handmade papers are made one sheet at a time following traditional methods They have 4 deckled edges. There is no grain direction.

I ordered some new pastels and bought some locally too - Nupastels - as I couldn't wait. When I get something in my head, I want immediate gratification. The full set of pastels that I ordered will turn up in a week or two along with the paper. I have to temper my purchases - good sets of pastels are pricy and I'm going with a middle of the road price and adding as and when I can with other brands and types.

There have been a few alterations in my studio space. A new floor and rearrangement of the space with a computer in that room now and the printer. Also, the cupboard has been refitted with broad shelves to hold my large sheets of paper and drawings flat, so no more covering every available flat table with huge sheets of paper. Yeah, yeah, the guardian bears had to go somewhere ok? They're not doing any harm... All I need to add is some decent lighting and I'll be all set.

Friday, March 02, 2007


This is a sketch of the Dungeons in Bonavista. It is a twin sea arch but this time on the Atlantic Ocean, not the Pacific. Its interesting to see the different rock formations and colours that make up the structure and how they vary from coast to coast. I've been experimenting with other sea arches to see which images I like and what I want to draw as a companion piece to the Pacific sea arch.

I've added more colour and time to my Pacific sea arch but just haven't got a good enough photo of it yet as it always seems dark when I ready to take an image. Tomorrow, I promise myself I will take some photos in good light. For now, here is the best approximation that I can come to for colour in the pastel drawing, but it truly doesn't do it justice. The angle, focus, colours, lighting is all wrong. Sigh.

I lazily watched tv after the news tonight and saw Living Newfoundland and Labrador. Hosted by Krysta Rudofsky, this daily half-hour program is a local guide to better living in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was set at Clovelly Riding Stables in Logy Bay which is where one of my horses was sold - Lady. And sure enough, Lady made a prime appearance. True to form, ears back, being the sullen princess, later surrounded by 3 foot high princesses hugging her and grooming her. I'm sure she's in her element, as she always adored small children but was very wary of adults.

Virginia Woolf:

The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Sleeping becomes a preoccupation when you have a small baby, whether you are the mother, father or aunt. My children now know that if you fall asleep - or even if you don't - you're fair game to be in a sketch.

Here are some of my sneak drawings on unconscious people. Done in my Moleskine sketchbook with mechanical pencil.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pastel update

I've been plugging away at the pastel drawing of the stone arch and its taking shape. Its been many many many years since I've worked in pastel so its a bit of a journey of discovery as I remember what pastels can achieve and how they are applied. The drawing is done on mi-tientes paper with a combination of pastels - most of which are so old that I don't even know the brand name anymore. I think a birthday treat of a new box of pastels is on my cards...

Then getting a photograph of progress is the other challenge. I tried these photos in early morning light with additional overhead lighting but they're still not good. I will have to set up a good lighting corner just to photograph artwork especially during the winter months. Neither of these photos show the true colours of the pastels, which becomes a bit frustrating to say the least!

Just as I was browsing websites on pastel artists, I discovered that Dianna Ponting will be holding an online pastel class in WetCanvas beginning on March 5th. I love it when the right thing happens at the right time. Dianna is a self taught artist who has worked her way up through the ranks to become the first artist in Canada to be recognized with the distinction of both Premier Pastellist of Canada and Master Pastellist Artist of Canada along with the designation of Senior Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and a signature member of the Pastel Society of America. I would love to take one of her workshops in person, but for now I will make time to participate in this one and see how much I've forgotten about pastel and what new tips I can pick up.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


My travels seemed filled with delays from the start this time. I guess that's one of the challenges of travelling in Canada in winter. Or one of the challenges of flying Air Canada...

My original flight was cancelled due to weather - anticipated weather that didn't happen. Delayed again the next day then rescheduled with a 4.5 hour wait in Montreal to change flights. Eating Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and browsing overly expensive bag shops as well as sketching made use of the waiting time.

It seems that others were equally bored and the conversations that were overheard or taken part in confirmed the joy of travelling and the confidence in Canada's national airline.

The sketches were done with mechanical pencil in my Moleskine.

Monday, February 26, 2007


There has been far too much snow this month with storm after storm appearing, dumping endless amounts of the white stuff so that it feels like driving and walking in tunnels. These photos give you an idea of just how much has mounted. This is the back of the house and the snow is nearly up to the dining room and kitchen windows which are normally about 7 feet above ground level.

The snow is over the top of the fence and half way up the arbour so unless you have snowshoes it would be impossible to walk in it.

I bought some large (22 x 30)sheets of Mi-Tientes and chose a dark blue to make a start on the stone arch last night. The photo taken this morning wasn't in the best quality light. I've done another 40 minutes work on the drawing tonight but can't seem to get going on it. I've forgotten just how dusty and messy pastel can be. The initial colour study for this piece was done with pastel pencils and now with the main piece I'm using an ancient set of pastels - I'm not even sure of the brand anymore - which have a different range of colours than the pencils so there's a bit of experimenting going on here to get the right values and tones.

More updates will come as the layers go on.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


This is the first of a series of sketches of my new grand daughter, who is now 4 weeks old. This line drawing is done in my Moleskine of my daughter holding her.

I bought some different colours of Mi-Tientes paper today but haven't had time to make a start on the new image yet. I want to do a large scale charcoal drawing on plain paper as well as a colour one in pastel. I have the need to work in a large scale as I am confining myself to small spaces lately and its becoming stifling.