Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tuscan hillside

One of many watercolours painted while wandering in the hills north of Florence. The row of trees leading up the hill to the right shroud the path to a small renaissance church, in whose shadow I sat while I painted. It overlooks the small village of Ponte a Mensola, named for a stream you cannot see amid the trees in the picture.

It was a sunny day in May, perfect for watercolours. Here's another one I did from almost the same vantage point, but looking north rather than east.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

In the bay

This isn't exactly a holiday-themed image, but I made the painting as a small Christmas gift a few years ago, so I thought I'd post it today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

send me the pillow you dream on

A painting of some years ago, done from life in about an hour. A sleeping model can often be quite boring, but sometimes you get lucky and they repose in an interesting posture on a quilt of many colours.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Reading The Count of Montecristo in the bathtub.

It's not easy - it's a big book.

I've mentioned before that years ago, when I was too poor for canvas, I made small paintings on cast-offs of cardboard. I made this in the bathroom of a student co-op in Toronto, Ontario, using pencil and acrylic paints.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

to begin

This is how I begin life drawing sessions. For me, hands and faces are the most interesting elements, so in the initial period, when the poses last only one or two minutes, that's what I concentrate on.

These were all done in china marker, at the Arts Project in London, Ontario.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I drew Harriet with a china marker in probably around ten minutes. She was one of those models (in fact, not a regular model but a generous volunteer) who has wonderful features for drawing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chat & Chateau

I made this for the 2015 In the Round fundraiser at Graven Feather in Toronto, which runs until the end of November. Each participating artist received 3 plywood disks, the size of a CD, to embellish as they pleased.

The picture was inspired by one of my favourite childhood illustrators, the amazing Peter Spier. His books enchanted me when I was young, and to be honest, they still do. His simple but evocative landscapes, inhabited with happy children and sparkling architecture, inspired in me a desire to see a world I was too young to even know existed.

My illustration ended up more sombre than its inspiration would suggest - but that often happens in my drawings. But hopefully someone will look at it and wonder where that road leads.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Field House, Compton

Long evening shadows across the fields of the Surrey hills, in England. The Field House of the title is a late Victorian pile, just visible through the trees.

I drew it with a fine Pigma Micron pen, and a Copic brush pen.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


“Apropos of sleep, that sinister adventure of all our nights, we may say that men go to bed daily with an audacity that would be incomprehensible if we did not know that it is the result of ignorance of the danger.”

So wrote Baudelaire, in the translation read by H. P. Lovecraft sometime between 1919 and 1922. It inspired a creepy gem of a short story, which, although it displays some of the faults of Lovecraft's prose (but thankfully not of his personality), is also evocative, sinister and in its own way perfect. You can read it here. It's very short.

It's Halloween, hence this picture. It is on display in Toronto at the Graven Feather, 906 Queen st. West, November 5th to 28th. For the last two years, I've illustrated terrifying tales from history - this one is merely from literature, and therefore less frightening. You can see the others here and here.

I didn't try to represent a precise scene from the story, but rather suggest its events. Here is a body contorted in nightmare, its identity effaced by the placid mask of the Greek god Hypnos, or Dream.