Ottawa Sketchbook: Bay St. Brownstone

You don’t realize the amount of detail in these old brownstones until you try to sketch them. Having a limited attention span I got frustrated quickly and left out a lot of bits. Instead I tried to just put down the feel of the red brick on a warming spring morning. It may be my last sketch here. Heading home tomorrow evening and hoping to spend as much time as I can with my son between now and then.


Spring Flooding Rankin Township

There’s still a bit of snow on the farm where my husband grew up. Warmer temperatures and spring rains have saturated the ground. It’s pooling on the surface now and overflowing the riverbanks. They’re expecting more rain with thunderstorms later in the week. Looks like April showers are bringing May floods this year.

Spring Returns slowly to the Valley

7×10 watercolour 140 lb Fabriano cp

The promise, this week, is for some warmer weather by Thursday. I caught the reference photo for this painting as the starlings were flocking to a tree in my backyard. Still not a lot of green here, but the rain and the coming sun should turn things around soon. In the meantime, burnt sienna, is still one of my main colour choices.

Dykes near Avonport

I did this 7×10 watercolour of the Avonport Dykes using a reference photo I took in the winter. It was very cold but the grass lit up in the sun’s glow. There is no real focal point except the light so that’s what I went for. I used masking fluid to retain the brightest blades of grass then kept the darks limited to ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. I punched up the colour saturation to increase the contrast of the warmth against the dark sky.

We’ll have to keep pretending it’s warm for a while yet. We’re well into spring and we just had another 15cm of snow last night. Let’s hope that’s the last snow of the season.

Hansa Yellow

I just purchased a tube of Daniel Smith Hansa Yellow Medium (PY97) for a workshop I’m going to next week. So I decided to do a quick test sketch in my Canson XL mixed media sketchbook (also new).

Hansa Yellow is a very rich yellow and moves nicely when water is added. Plus, mixed with Ultramarine Blue, it produces a nice green (greens are always a challenge).

I already have nine other yellow pigments in my toolbox, so I’m hoping this is the last one I’ll need. It seems every instructor has their favourite. So far I like this one.


This is Chester as a 14×14 watercolour 140lb Arches cp.

I was compelled to attempt another cat watercolour to work on the challenge of painting fur (they don’t get much furrier than Chester), and because of the beautiful light in the reference photo. I thought the subject would be difficult and spent a long time over the past few weeks fussing over the details. In the end it turned out to be the background that was the most challenging.

Thank-you to my friend and talented photographer, Pam Butler, who provided the excellent reference photo to work from and thanks to Chester for sitting so pretty.