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Friday 5 April 2013

INK-LINE-SKETCHES at the play reading of Imago Theatre's THINKING OF YU

I was priviliged to sit in yesterday on the first reading of the play "Thinking of YU" which is produced by Imago Theatre. You can purchase tickets for the play which will be acted April 24th to May 5th at Centaur Theatre. Go here to Imago's web site for more information.

When I sketch people or portraits with a felt pen I seem to get the expression and proper proportions better than when doing so with an erasable tool. I am convinced my drawing skills have improved quicker since picking up this tip in Paul Laseau's book INK-LINE-SKETCHING some years back. I've passed on this tip to my students who, likewise, agree that they now draw more accurately.

In his introduction Paul Laseau says:"First, the permanence of ink encourages one to "go for it", to try to put the line right where it should be. ... continued attemps to place lines accurately build the eye-hand coordination necessary for sketching. With pencil there is a tendency to be timid, either using very faint lines or erasing bad lines. ... Line sketching tends to emphasize the structure of a drawing rather than the nuances of media. ...Sketching is a continuing souce of learing rather than a string of perfomances. "

Yesterday I ink-line sketched on a page fourteen people at a play reading who were sitting around a table, many moving bobing heads. Yet all quick portraits were quite recognizable, enough for the sketch page to be used as publicity for their upcoming event.

I attribute this in large part to years of ink sketching, the tip picked up in Paul's book.
Raynald Murphy SCA

Monday 3 December 2012

OLD BUILDINGS – Intersection of St-Laurent boulevard and Sherbrooke Street


I sat on a patch of grass in the shade of a tree on the North-West corner of the Main and Sherbrooke Street in Montreal in order to paint this scene. Surprisingly, I was able to find greenery on this very busy intersection. Notice how twisted and denuded the two trees appear in the far corner of my watercolor. They seem to have had a tough life due to the pollution and the thousands of people who brush by them every day while climbing the hill north.
In general this watercolor is a study of various textures. Because I painted it on a sunny day it was easier to suggest texture. When light skips over bricks or uneven surfaces one can more easily perceive texture. Moreover, the oblique rays of light bouncing off the sides of the buildings and doorways It isn’t only the trees that have had a rough life at this intersection. Observe the weathered facades of the buildings from another era. Their bricks and paint have been aged by time and the severe winters of our city. In order to render this effect I have left the white of the paper peer through the dry brush application of the paint. Moreover, I have aged the brickwork by suggesting only a few brick shapes here and there. You can see an example of this especially in the section of the wall behind the lamp post at left. It again suggests the look or rough stone and wood.
Unity in this piece is achieved mostly through color. Uneven and varied forms are unified through the simplified use of only four basic colors: green, red/brown, purple and blue. These recur throughout in varied intensity and quantity.  The white of the paper was intentionally left unpainted to suggest light.
Finally, I painted two dishevelled trees against a faded white background. Here a few sketchy vertical lines suggest the contours of buildings. This technique prevents the eye from escaping out of the painting. Also, the small blue corner of sky at top fight is very important. The intense color defines the top contour of a building without attracting too much attention to it. A blue sky tells us it is a sunny day. At the left border I painted a deep dark black lamp post. This vertical line frames the left edge and prevents us from following the lead of the cars and moving out of the picture.
I include vehicles and people in my urban scenes. These reflect the vibrant life of the city. They also serve to define the relative scale of things. We can thus more easily understand for example the size of a car relative to that of a passerby.
I hope that these explanations will help you to better appreciate paintings of urban scenes.
Raynald Murphy SCA

Sunday 7 October 2012

Church of the Madonna de la Difesa

When I walked around Little Italy late yesterday afternoon looking for a spot to sit down and paint I quickly realized that I must sit somewhere out of the wind as the temperature was dropping fast. By the time I completed this 8 1/2 x 11 in watercolor my fingers were freezing, It's a wonder the paint didn't freeze on the paper. The beautiful fall colors and late afternoon light on this historical building seen looking south from near the corner of Henri-Julien and Mozart begged me to paint it. The red car parked in the right spot seemed to add just the correct fall color accent.

Speaking of accent, if you wish to see a published sketch that I drew on site at the Jean-Talon Market last summer, visit ACCENTI -The Magazine with an Italian Accent - and you might be tempted to subscribe to this wonderful magazine which is published every season.

Selon Wikipédia, l'église de Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense représentée dans cette aquarelle a été construite par des immigrants italiens de Montréal, surtout ceux originaires du Molise, pour rappeler l'apparition de la Madone à La Difesa, un secteur de Campobasso en Molise. La décoration intérieure de l'église a été composée par le célèbre artiste peintre et maître-verrier italo-Québécois Guido Nincheri dans le style de la Renaissance. Elle est située à 6800 Henri-Julien au coin de la rue Dante dans la petite Italie.

Raynald Murphy SCA

Monday 27 August 2012

The Yellow Umbrella at Jean-Talon Market

The Jean-Talon market offers many opportunities to paint vibrant colorful scenes such as this one which is the both of Ultrafruits on the north flank of the market. Although the yellow umbrella was the focal and starting point, adding the figures was the challenge since no one stops to pose. A market void of people is a non image.
The key to drawing the figures was to locate the approximate level of the heads and place these first. Then, depending on the distance of the figure to my position I drew them either tall, medium or smaller. Adjusting the proportional size of the head to the body comes with years of drawing the figure. Usually a figure is about six or seven heads tall for an adult. Shoulder width is about a head width. It is best to draw the arm length longer than shorter as an arm resting by the body falls below the crouch which is about the half-way point. Another consideration is placing light shirt figures in front of dark areas and vice-versa. I sometimes add stripes to clothing to define volume. It's color is dependant on color found elsewhere. This adds unity.
Finally, remember that I drew the image with a permanent ink marker first, outlining the main forms, meaning there is no chance of erasing. Then, I proceeded to add watercolor deciding as I go to leave certain areas the white of the paper unpainted. Again, there is very little room for correction if any. I thoroughly enjoy this challenge much like an athelete gets a rush performing an acrobatic move. It took me approximately a bit more than an hour to complete this one. Size: 8 1/2 x 11 in. on Strathmore Aquarius II paper.

Monday 30 July 2012

Gabled houses on The Main near Mount-Royal Avenue

I was reflecting about what painted elements reoccur in my street scenes. Have you guessed by looking at this watercolor sketch? It’s the white trucks or cars. When I am at a lost as to what to use as a visual element to link forms together I often paint a white truck. I’d even say that at times, like in this piece, it becomes the focal point. There is only so much planning one can do when working outdoors from life especially from a street scene. Many of the moving elements in the scene such as people and vehicles are added as they present themselves before me.

 Historical note:

Wikipedia says: “In 2002, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada named Saint Lawrence Boulevard as The Main National Historic Site of Canada.[2] Then Minister of Heritage, Sheila Copps, speaking at the ceremony, said: "our country does not belong to just two founding peoples. It belongs to all Canadians. [This is] a first step toward a new story of Canada that includes all of our partners as equals." [3]

I have personally noticed while sketching scenes on the Main that passersby who comment on my work are from a vast variety of cultures and usually volunteer pleasant comments about my work. Language or culture is never an issue, we are all equal.

Raynald Murphy

Sunday 15 July 2012

Blue Striped Awning at Jean-Talon Market – l’auvent bleu

Ombre et lumière - une esquisse

Je circulais au marché lorsque j'ai aperçu un auvent blanc qui contrastait avec un auvent noir tout près. Je voulais peindre la scène avant que le soleil se cache derrière les nuages. Je n’avais pas le temps de sortir mes pinceaux et le petit godet d’eau, alors j’ai décidé de peindre avec mon pinceau réservoir. On ne devrait pas peindre à l’aquarelle en plein soleil par une journée chaude mais je n’avais pas le choix car j'aimais ce point de vue. Donc, pour éviter que tout sèche trop vite à la chaleur du soleil, j’ai dû garder ma feuille humide en travaillant rapidement. En utilisant cette stratégie, le dessous de la toiture est resté flou et semble s'éloigner. J'ai pu éviter les traits rigides que j’ai réservé pour le centre d’intérêt, soit les personnages.

Je ne prétends pas que ce croquis 8 par 10 po. est un chef-d'oeuvre. Avec raison, un ami m'a fait la remarque que c'aurait été préférable d'ajouter un personnage ou une forme de couleur chaude à l'avant-plan pour contraster avec le coloris froid. Il ne faut pas oublier qu'une pochade à l'aquarelle faite sur le motif ne devrait pas être comparer à une aquarelle faite en studio.

Meeting People

A good way to meet people is to paint or sketch outdoors. Most people are curious and interested to see an artist at work. When I am not too concentrated or when I am close to finishing a watercolor I gladly chat with a passerby. This particular day I had a wonderful conversation with a man whose country of origin was Morocco. During the brief exchange with the couple, I became more familiar with his culture and country of origin. So, if you happen to see me painting in Montreal, do initiate a brief exchange if you wish, unless you see that I am very concentrated because watercolor is a medium that requires intense concentration especially when it is hot and one must work fast.

Raynald Murphy

Thursday 12 July 2012

Trois cultures côte à côte en paix - Three Flags in Little Italy

Trois cultures côte à côte en paix

Mardi passé lors d’une randonné dans la Petite Italie j’ai aperçu trois drapeaux : celui de l’Italie, du Canada et du Québec devant un commerce sur le boul. St-Laurent au coin de Saint-Zotique. Je crois que ceci représente l’image des immigrants de l’Italie. Ils portent une importance égale aux trois cultures auxquelles ils appartiennent.

L’autre élément qui m’a porté à croquer cette rue est l’auvent blanc. À l’aquarelle, lorsqu’on perçoit un élément blanc, on est porté à choisir cette scène. Le blanc du papier est la lumière, un élément très important dans toute œuvre.

Some technical notes about watercolor

When I paint outdoors and indoors I don’t use frisket but I reserve my whites by painting around them. I find this gives a more natural and sketchy look since the application of frisket causes sharp indentations in the paper. I feel these white breaks left by the frisket distract and interrupt the flow of paint and tone varieties.

As I was completing this piece I noticed that red appeared only in the flag. So I added the red lights on the vehicles for balance. Also, I worked hard to achieve a sense of recession by keeping the foreground in hard focus and attempting to mute forms further down the street. I did this by laying in a thin Cobalt blue wash with a hint of cool red over the buildings and trees in the background.

I hope these little vignettes incite you to take a walk down the Main and especially Little Italy. I think you will fall in love with the “quartier”.

Raynald Murphy