Monday, February 8, 2016

tyranny for you

I drew this from life with the Toronto drawing group the Collective, using a Copic brush pen. And a red marker, obviously.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Drawing a view of Siena

Siena, as I have mentioned more than once, is one of my favourite cities. It combines variety with consistency in just the right degree. I made a large drawing of the city's core, including the zebra-striped tower of the cathedral and the hulking skeleton of the never completed duomo nuovo. The sightline between the two trees originates at Santa Maria degli Servi, another of Siena's many churches - one I have depicted before.

This is just a detail of the original, which measure around 20" square. You can see the whole thing here, and in situ on instagram.

I used a variety of drawing media, starting with a pencil outline. Then india ink, via brush and dip pen, Pigma micron pens, my beloved Pentel brush pen, and a china marker. The drawing is currently on display at the Locomotive cafe in London, Ontario.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

in the student lounge

I drew this from life in the student lounge. I was using a Copic brush pen - you can see from the line quality (especially on the chair, which I did last) that it was running out of ink.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fennic Fox

When our daughter was born, my wife and I were very fortunate in the support we received from many many friends. When it came time to send out thank-you notes, I made up a series of animal-themed cards. This was one of them.

Friday, January 29, 2016

illusion of transparency

"The novels that attract me most," Ludmilla said, "are those that create an illusion of transparency around a knot of human relationships as obscure, cruel, and perverse as possible."

- Italo Calvino, If upon a winter's night a traveller, 192.

I drew this from life with a Pigma micron, a Copic brush pen, and a china marker.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


One day I made some small linocuts and printed them out on newsprint. It was a rough and hurried process, and I don't think I have any of them left. This one was about as big as the image on your screen.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

don't be thinking that

A sketch of Kathleen done with a Copic brush pen. It's nice to have a clothed model for a change.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

dirty dog's heart

Drawn from life at the Arts Project in London, ON, with a Pentel brush pen. It took around 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

the young curator

A beautifully restrained woodcut by Tarragon Smith. Note the woodgrain visible in the pictures on the wall.

Monday, January 18, 2016

under the lonely moon

A drawing made in about 20 minutes using a Copic brush pen and some china markers.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

tree and Saint Peter's

I drew this in a matter of minutes, standing in the window of the Vatican Pinocoteca. There was a Raphael near by, but sometimes real life outweighs the greatest masterpieces.

You can see the arch and stairway reading to the garden pavilion begun by Pope Paul IV in 1558, now known as the Casina Pio IV after the later pope who competed it. In the distance, the huge dome of Saint Peter's, and between them a beautiful pine tree that deserves a name of its own - to judge by its size, it may be as old as the buildings.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

drawing in the dark

A homage to jet lag. I had just arrived in Italy, from Toronto, and sleep was out of the question. So I walked out into the night, crossed the Arno on an easterly bridge, and strolled up into the hills. I had with me a pot of india ink, a nib and pen, and an old brown sketchbook. It was enough.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

rest your voice

A pencil sketch of Tarragon, pausing between songs. As much as I love to draw clothes, I hate musical instruments - their shapes obey a logic of their own that denies them easy compatibility with the people who carry them. In pictures at least, because in pictures depicted objects have a much closer and more causal relationship to each other than real objects do in space.

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