Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birthday Card for K.

I was trying to come up with a birthday card without any historical significance. Patterns are fascinating, not the least for being much simpler taken apart than put together. I put this together by making a series of squares of three different sizes. Making them line up gave me a moments pause. When I took it apart I realised that the whole thing was just a single zig-zag mirror imaged on itself.

There are multiple colour versions, but this one today as it is a birthday card.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2 men and their ciggies

It was Pride week here in London Ontario (yes, we're a little late), so here's an illustration for the occasion. I made the pencil sketch some time ago, but only recently got around to working it up in ink and colour.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ciao Corto

A drawing inspired by the redoubtable Corto Maltese, hero of the eponymous series by Hugo Pratt. I don't often do fandom-related pictures, but there are exceptions.

The drawing began in black ink, and was finished with photoshop.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Many critics and artists have observed that partial nudity is far more titillating or eroticized (or indecent, if that's your perspective) than full nakedness. This drawing does nothing to disprove the point.

It was drawn from life with a black micron pigma pen.

Friday, July 17, 2015

old cottages

A row of 19th century cottages on the street known only as The Avenue in the village of Compton, near Guildford, in England. I walked out with sketchbook and markers, and sat on the grass to draw.

About forty minutes in, an inhabitant of one of the cottages came out to offer me tea. It was very kind of them.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

two women

Drawn from life with a Copic brush marker at a Keyhole Session in Toronto, Ontario.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015


Antonia posed in the studio I shared with some other students in Florence. The windows faced south, and the hot Italian sun provided a nice raking light that threw her body into sharp relief. The painting took about an hour - you can see that I began with a pencil sketch.

The odd shape to the right is part of a plastic lawn chair.

Friday, July 10, 2015


A quick portrait of the historian Daniel, an expert on the religious culture of 6th century France (or Francia, as it was called at the time).

Monday, July 6, 2015

Working on a drawing

A look at a big and complicated drawing at the inking stage. With pictures like this, I usually draw  out the whole composition in pencil first, before setting pen to paper.

You can see the finished drawing here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


This is not the only picture I've made of Siena, or even of the Basilica di Servi in Siena, but it might be my favourite. It's an etching, made on an aluminum plate, but based on a pencil sketch I did on site.

The colour comes from chine collé, a technique in which a thin sheet of paper - hand tinted tissue from Japan in this case - is pressed into the paper support of the picture by the etching press.

The picture was etched and printed at the Open Studio in Toronto.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sketching the sketcher

I've made a lot of portraits of Tarragon over the years. Here I took the opportunity to draw him while he was drawing a still-life of flowers. It was done with a Copic brush pen, and probably took 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Jacki and Rob, unfinished

An image that shows my usual procedure for pen drawing, in which I delineate the forms of the body, and then the shadow lines on the body. Next, I would start filling in the deep shadows, but the pose ended before I got that far.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

next to the Guggenheim

Years ago, I went to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice with my art class. Here's a very quick sketch of the canal outside the entrance, and few classmates, done with a dip pen and india ink.

The gallery was selling the small ceramic version of Jeff Koon's Puppy sculpture. I wish I had bought one. It would have made a great umbrella stand.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

the beacon

At night in Venice, I saw a red light glimmering over the canal, and stopped to make a watercolour.

Worth mentioning: it's not easy to paint in the dark.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Florence: Via Lamione

I made this quick watercolour and india ink sketch while strolling the countryside just south of Florence.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Memories of a field trip to Ravenna, during an Italian art class of a few (too many!) years ago.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The towers of Siena

One April I cycled to Siena, the rose-red gothic metropolis of central Tuscany that, of all the many beautiful medieval cities in Italy, is perhaps the most beautiful.

I arrived from Florence. In that city, apparently, they have a traditional proverb about Siena:

Di tre cose e piena:
Torri, campane,
E figge di putane.

I shall leave it untranslated. Let it be a warning to anyone here who’s thinking of visiting this most charming of Italian cities. It should also be a warning about Florence. For a city that for 500 years has prided itself on speaking the purest Italian (except Siena, see below), and producing the best poets (or at least Dante, who counts as more than one), you’d think they’d be able to come up with something better.

Or maybe the point is to express maximum contempt with the least possible effort. I lived in Toronto for a long time, and it makes me wonder: are there poets in Hamilton or Windsor right now, sharpening their pens?

Back to Siena. Norman Douglas summed it up in one word: "hell." I can only say that of all cities I’ve visited, except Venice, it is the most beautiful. Now if only we could get rid of the Senese, who profit from the immigrant labour of southern italy, but refuse to speak to the labourers. Or so I was told by an indignant Sicilian I met on Via Fiorentina.

In Siena they speak, tourist books claim, the most pure and refined Italian to be found in the country, but I’m sceptical. Someplace or another has to have a title like this one, but why is it always a town full of money and visibly smug in its affluence? But this is just predjudice on my part. My command of the language is not sufficient to enable me to judge for myself. All I can say is that in Siena Italian is much easier to understand than in the Veneto, and that here all the women enunciate every letter in ciao, stretching the word out so that it rhymes with meow, like a cat. It’s an enchanting habit.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The basilica at Assisi

One fine spring day I bicycled to Assisi (from Perugia - it wasn't much of a journey) with my sketchbook and sat down to draw buildings.

So here is a fast sketch of the famous basilica of San Francesco. It's a great building, if you're into gothic architecture. It's two churches, one of them built atop the other - you can see the entrance to the lower one at the bottom of the steps on the left. Whether Saint Francis himself would have been pleased with it is another question.

Even if you're not into architecture, the frescos by Giotto make the trip worthwhile, and Assisi itself is a very charming town. Here is a sketch of the town square, complete with Roman ruins, that I did on the same trip.