Tuesday, January 27, 2015

jeans and a sweater

An old drawing, done on toned paper from life. It probably took about 40 minutes, although something obviously went wrong with one of the hands.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

those lines

Here's one I particularly like. It has just the right contrast between emptiness and detail to make me put it in the favourites folder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

sight of you

A drawing of Dan, done from life in about 5 minutes. I liked the way this turned out.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A portrait of the Toronto artist and designer, nom-de-guerre Varethane, whose long-running webcomic, Chirault, will soon be getting its first book.

This was drawn from life in probably around 20 minutes, using a pigma micron. I added the colour later. The lunch box in front of her was full of art supplies, but I didn't get around to drawing those.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

the walls of Florence

On a pleasant day in October I sat down on the via del Monte del Croce in Florence and made this picture. It was, as often at that time of year, a damp day, but the oncoming winter had not yet sucked the colour from the trees.

On the top right, you can see the medieval wall of Florence running down from the Belvedere heights.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Drawn from life, during a class at the University of Toronto on early medieval Italy, with a china marker.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Maria degli Angeli

One of a series of very small etchings, based on quick sketches I made while cycling in Europe. This image is about an inch tall.

I sketched out this view while on the  (very short) ride between Perugia and Assisi, of Saint Francis fame. The church you can see is Santa Maria degli Angeli, a huge late Renaissance pile that contains within it the tiny church which sheltered Saint Francis in the early days of the Franciscan order.

The image is an etching, which is a form of hand printing making in which acid is used to burn a drawing into a metal plate, which is then inked and transferred to paper using a hand-cranked press. It's a tricky process, but has the virtue of producing multiple original works. This one is number five in a final set of fifty.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Two Porcelain Cups

Tarragon has been channeling the teahouse aesthetic:

Black slip on the one on the left.
Both approximately 6cm high, 8cm wide and the foot 4cm across.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library."

Drawn from life in a large local bookstore, using a felt pen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Descent from the Garden

A picture about the ambivalence of symbols. The serpent is richly toxic, but sometimes you need a little poison to get things done. Whether it is friend or foe depends on the status of Eden in our mythologies.

Do we stay there forever, or go out into the world? Either way, a sacrifice will be necessary.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Vicino Montalcino

A few years ago I used to take bicycle trips in Italy. It kept me fit, and there was always something to draw.
On one day in mid-April, I set out from Siena and cycled south into the countryside. Monte Amiata loomed over me like a Tuscan Mount Fuji all day long. About mid-day, just before climbing the hill to Montalcino (where I would find a Brunello to fit in my bicycle's bottle-holder), I passed some farmhouses.

There wasn't time for more than a quick sketch:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

strolling in the suburbs

Suburbia swells. Once upon a time, Etobicoke was not part of Toronto, and Hackney wasn't in London. It's a familiar process, and it happens in the renaissance capitals of Italy as well. There, suburbs go by the charming name of fraction [frazione]. The term implies that they are part of a whole, but the relationship is often distinctly peripheral. It's easy to visit Florence, for example, without noticing its suburbs.

Some of them are, like Etobicoke or Hackney, so assimilated to the city that their independent existence resides solely in maps and signposts. Among them, Ponte a Mensola:

Some years ago I lived in the east of Florence. I could walk in 20 minutes to the city limits, and frequently did. One of those limits (the north-east) was marked by the former village of Ponte a Mensola, where a small cluster of houses adjoined a tiny stream called the Mensola.

There was nothing to distinguish the place, except that it was most of the way to Settignano, an altogether more famous location. But the cafe by the Mensola was welcoming and the streetscape moderately picturesque. The result was several pictures. You can see others here and here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014