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.

January Thaw

When I saw the mist rising on the Habitant River this morning I got my gear together and headed outside. 

I wanted to catch the atmospheric effect but I also wanted to practice some atmospheric perspective.  

But, the January thaw (+9) also brought rain. So, I quickly laid down some wet-in-wet without even touching my water supply (you can see the raindrops on my easel). 

Then, I retreated back inside for a through-the-window finale. Gouache was used for the foreground snow. I’m not sure I met my goal but I think I got the mist right… and it felt good to get out… so yay!

Hauling Traps

  “Hauling Traps” is a contemporary take on an old tradition. It’s an 8.5″x14″ watercolour of hauling lobster pots. I painted it from a reference photo (with permission). The photo was taken on a family member’s lobster boat in Neil’s Harbour.

In other parts of the province, lobster season starts on the last Monday in November and runs until the end of May. That means a lot of hours spent on the icy cold Atlantic waters in the dark in all kinds of weather. As much as I love lobster I couldn’t do the work these men and women do – much respect!