Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two figures, unconnected save for their appearance on a page of my sketchbook. But it's easy to imagine that they're talking to one another, isn't it?

Friday, June 29, 2012

iPad paintings: Art in the Age of Mechanical Transportation

Tarragon took the train to Paris the other day. The trip took far longer than scheduled, due to a "fatality on the tracks." French transit service announcements are so blunt.

In any case, the gendarmes cordoned off the tracks, thus immobilizing a long line of trains between Paris and the channel. There was nothing for Tarragon to do but make pictures of the view outside the train window.

This is the first one:

And here's another. The train began to move again as he was making it. You can almost see the acceleration in the picture.

Both pictures were made on an iPad, using the Brushes app.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tarragon and War and Peace

A few days ago I posted a drawing of Danielle reading War and Peace. Or more accurately, taking a break from reading it. Here's a picture of Tarragon reading the very same copy.

The difference in their apparel in down to the season. Tarragon read it in March, which can be cold, even in Florence. Especially in Florence, to be honest. Those big marble buildings are designed to keep the heat out and the cool air in, and there was a lot of the latter. Danielle read it in June, and by that time nothing could keep things cool. The Arno valley is humid, mosquito-ridden, and generally squalid in summer.

The drawing was done with china-marker on a large piece of textured paper, with the watercolour added immediately afterwards.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

watercolour self-portrait

An old self-portrait, done in a mirror using watercolour, gouache and pencil on a primed piece of cardboard. In those days I was too poor to use canvas for a quick sketch like this one.

Well, I probably still wouldn't use canvas for a sketch like this one.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Woman with a knee brace

A rather sparse composition from a few years ago. The processes of physical injury and recovery can be visually fascinating, perhaps because of the asymmetry they often force on the body. The human form is resonant in our visual part of our brains; it is the easiest shape for us to pick out in any environment, which is why camouflage works not, as is often thought, by blending into the background, but rather by breaking up the recognizable outline.

I wanted the design of this image to reflect the asymmetry of the injury, as well as its arbitrariness. Perhaps it would have been better if I chopped off the leg altogether, but that was not the state of the model. Nor, of course, would I wish it upon her.

It's an etching on zinc, printed at the Open Studio in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Danielle and War and Peace

An old drawing, showing Danielle with the even older copy of War and Peace that she, I, and my brother passed around in the spring of 2001. We were all very caught up in the adventures of Prince Andrei and Natasha and the others - they kept us distracted during long Italian nights in the days before internet. Don't mention the television. Italian television is dire.

That book is one of the few I wish I still owned for purely sentimental reasons, but it has long since fallen apart.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Lagoon from Burano

It was a hot and calm day in Venice, and the limpid water seemed to rise out of the lagoon to thicken the atmosphere and obscure the view. Here is a view of the city, from the nearby island of Burano.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


A quick sketch of Hannah, twice. One minute sketches are a good way to get warmed up for a session, and from time to time are worth keeping for their own sake. It helps to have a good model.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Just a random sketchbook page today, showing a few 30 second warm-up drawings of my friend Frances.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The rooftops of Prato

A rapid sketch of some rooftops in Prato. The drawing is an old one, as is visible from the date. That was  my first trip to Italy, and I still remember the bewildered delight I took in the architecture of Tuscany. For a person brought up in North America - land of broad avenues and free-standing buildings - the unplanned conglomerates of Italian housing seemed both suspicious and exotic.

The expectation of space is one of the great privileges of America (and Canada); to enter a land where neighbours were not separated by lawn or road was to embark upon an adventure.

The drawing was done in a sketchbook on heavily textured paper. I have not attempted to clear away the smudges accrued by constant use, nor the the beginnings of a note about the council of Trent.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

time for dessert

Pastry chef and all-round dessert overachiever Courtney has one of the symbols of her profession emblazoned on her arm.
I say, why stop at one? The tools of the pâtissiére are many and various.