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Call For Entry : Draw me a Mountain : Exhibition and Art Day on Mount Royal

February 27, 2015

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(English to Follow)

Appel aux artistes

Vous êtes un artiste amateur ou professionnel et souhaitez participer à une exposition collective sur le mont Royal ? Les amis de la montagne, en collaboration avec Urban Sketchers Montréal, vous invitent à soumettre vos œuvres à Dessine-moi une montagne, une exposition de dessins et de peintures qui met en valeur les beautés du mont Royal et le talent des artistes de Montréal.

Si vous souhaitez participer à l’exposition envoyez-nous des photos ou numérisation de vos dessins ou peintures du mont Royal, des vues vers ou depuis le mont Royal, ainsi que des œuvres créées directement sur la montagne, au plus tard le 30 mars 2015 à smontigne(at)lemontroyal(dot)qc(dot)ca.

Données techniques pour la soumission d’œuvres :

  • une seule image par envoi (maximum de 5 œuvres par artiste)
  • taille du fichier numérique : minimum 2 Mb, maximum 10Mb
  • pour chaque image, indiquez : nom, prénom, titre de l’œuvre, année, médium utilisé, dimensions

Exposition – les week-ends du 2 au 31 mai 2015

L’exposition Dessine-moi une montagne sera présentée dans le cadre de Mai 2015 – Mois du mont Royal, les samedis et dimanches de mai chez Les amis de la montagne, à la maison Smith dans le parc du mont Royal. Entrée libre.

Journée de création – le dimanche 24 mai 2015

Nous vous invitons également à participer à la journée Dessins et aquarelles sur la montagne avec Urban Sketchers Montréal le dimanche 24 mai, à l’occasion de l’anniversaire de la création du parc du Mont-Royal.

Pour en savoir plus sur nos activités et nos missions : Les amis de la montagne | Urban Sketchers Montréal

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Call for Artists: 

If you are a professional or an amateur artist and wish to take part in a collective exhibition to be presented on Mount Royal, Les amis de la montagne, in association with Urban Sketchers Montréal, invite you to submit your works to Draw-me a Mountain, an exhibition of drawings and watercolour works highlighting the beauty of Mount Royal and the talents of Montréal artists.

Send us photos or digital images of your paintings and drawings either showing views of and from mountain, or created on the mountain itself, by March 30, 2015, to smontigne(at)lemontroyal(dot)qc(dot)ca.

Technical specifications for submitting your works:

  • one image per email (maximum of 5 works per artist)
  • send digital files of 2 Mb (minimum) to10Mb (maximum) in size
  • for each image, indicate: surname, first name, title of work, year, medium, dimensions

Works selected for the exhibition will be confirmed at the beginning of April.

Exhibition: Weekends, May 2 to 31, 2015

The exhibition Draw-me a Mountain will be on view as part of Mai 2015 – Mois du mont Royal, on Saturdays and Sundays throughout May, at Les amis de la montagne, in Smith House, in Mount Royal Parc. Public admission is free.

Art Day: Sunday, May 24, 2015

You are also invited to join Urban Sketchers Montréal for a day of drawing and painting on the Mountain on Sunday, May 24, anniversary of the creation of Mount Royal Park.

Find out more about our respective missions and activities: Les amis de la montagne | Urban Sketchers Montréal

Sunday Sketching: Feb 22 – Biodome, (Free) Naturalia Room

February 14, 2015


SUNDAY SKETCHING: Naturalia Room : Free Educational Area of the Biodome

Downstairs underneath the main exhibition floor in the Biodome, they have a large space full of preserved animals and scientific displays.  The area has tables and stools. and they don’t mind if  you bring some of the objects down to examine ( if you check with the docent). As well, there are views of the Biodome architecture through the main floor windows, and of course, there is the option to pay and go inside the exhibits.

The Naturalia area is free! So that’s where I think we should focus – but if you have an Access Montreal Card (for MTL residents), or are a senior or student, there are discounts for the main halls.

It is, of course, only 15 minutes walk to the Insectarium and the Greenhouse at the Botanical Garden. Additional fees required, or membership card.



MEET AT 10:30 AM! Half hour later than usual, the room does not open till 10:30, even though the building is open earlier.

  • Starting Point: 10:30 am Downstairs in the Biodome.
  • Lunch break: 12:30-1:30 pm . Cafe on Site.
  • Stay as long as you like, the place closes at 5pm.
  • Closest Metro is VIAU. (Green line). The Biodome is a very short walk two blocks towards Pie IX.


Persistence: The Only Technique That Matters

January 22, 2015

I don’t usually show my ‘bad’ sketches.  I often draw on loose sheets of paper, and tear up bad ones right on the spot. So there was no evidence.

These happen to be in a sketchbook, and this was such a classic incident, I figured I’d post it for you.

Here we have what I’d consider to be a pretty average drawing.  Not very structurally sound. It’s stiff. And it doesn’t even show what’s going on.


I ran into this fellow doing a lampworking demonstration at the Corning Museum of Glass. He’s probably there 9-5, five days a week, doing his thing. But I only had 20 minutes before I had to be somewhere.

I’d found him just as he ignited his jet of flame and started to melt glass. I’m a sucker for a jet of flame. I’ll watch anything on fire.

So I dive right in aaaand – – – terrible sketch right?

Despite the interesting subject – it just didn’t turn out.

We had driven two hours out of the way to see the other demo I was heading to –  so, I wasn’t interested in missing that. But this drawing was really bugging me. I had already taken five steps away when I thought ‘No. Actually – I can’t live with it”.


So – turned around, did another one.

But, wouldn’t you know it!

Still a pretty weak drawing.

I’ve become a lot more demanding about capturing a likeness in recent months.  It’s never going to be perfect – but this isn’t even close.

Plus – I don’t mind a messy drawing – I’m fine with a sketchy feeling. But I want open, floating lines that have some elegance. This guy looks hunched over – his shoulder is a mess.

Even though the clock was ticking, there was nothing to be done but try again.


I had to slow down, ignore the possibility of losing a good seat for the show, take my time, and really look at the guy. Find what is distinctive about him.

His shoulder length hair rolls down the back of his skull, and flips up around his neck. It’s not just a bunch of lines – it’s a flowing shape with weight. Smoothly falling, only then dissolving to brush work.

He had a bit of a heavy jaw (a little chubby – after all, he’s a desk worker like me). His goatee was very specifically trimmed. Almost a Fu Manchu mustache – not just a generic scruff of hair. A beard always follows the jaw line.  It’s not pasted on – it reveals the shape of the jaw. Solving that leads me to his somewhat fleshy lips, and prominent – yet pointy – nose.

Now I have an actual person, not a generic human.

As well, the strange device spitting flame – it’s like a little cannon on spindly legs jetting blue fire. That’s a unique prop that is important to get right. Add in the glass rods and sculpted vials he’s crafting – and now I have a real description of an artist doing lampwork. A useful document of the day, not just a scribbled person.

Hope that helps you feel good about any bad drawings that happen. Use them as an opportunity. Flip the page and keep going. Getting a bit better each time. Persistence is everything in this game.

Ahoy! Pirates and Ships at the Pointe

January 20, 2015


Who doesn’t love those rascally swashbuckling pirates?

They’re the embodiment of the 99%. Romanticized history. Escaped slaves giving what-for to the Empire that shanghaied them. It’s the Robin Hood thing.  With more robbing, and less giving to the poor. Unless you use the classic rationalization: ” Well, I’m poor, so I’m keeping this booty”.

I wanted to escape the winter with an afternoon of museum sketching – so poked my head into the relatively new Pirates or Privateers exhibit at the Pointe a Calliere Museum of Archaeology.  I was actually there for an entirely different show, but I got distracted.

I’m about 25% through the book The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, by Colin Woodard.  Speaking as an author of my own book bearing a long subtitle – I wonder if he regretted that choice. But then again, it was my publisher’s idea not mine, so the dislike of typing that might go double for Woodard.

But I digress.


This is really an exhibit for kids. There’s not a lot to see. And a great deal of imagination is required to enjoy it. If you’ve seen it, and compare your memory with these drawings, you’ll already know what I mean.

There’s a pair of wooden ship models (I can never resist drawing a model ship), a few historical costumes on manikins, (also a go-to sketching thing for me) and otherwise it’s a few flintlocks and sextants in glass cases, and a lot of cut-out graphics and interpretive signage of the dreaded ‘interactive’ variety – where the kids can push a button to hear some recorded voice acting.

The only real attraction is that the room is filled to bursting with a full size pirate ship!

As if the building was somehow built around the thing.  It’s perfectly planned for kids to run around, playing pretend pirates, while parents in turn pretend their kids might be getting an education.  But I can’t criticize. If you have a 5 year old, they’ll probably dig this place. It can be their reward after you drag them through the grown up exhibits.


No major art-tips to say today, other than these are in a shiny new Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook (8.5 x11″).  A smooth, lightweight paper – really a joy for a detailed pen drawing. I’ve avoided watersoluble ink this time – that darn rigging would just melt to nothing.

I’m also pleased to say we can now get Stillman & Birn books in Montreal. Pierre, the owner at our local shop Avenue des Arts has gone out of his way to organize Canadian distribution. He mentioned you can also get them in Edmonton at the Paint Spot (I worked there with some good friends back in art school!). Thanks to their teamwork on the import effort.

So, that’s good news. S&B have put out a few new sizes as well – I’m looking forward to trying out a nice Alpha Series 9 x 6″ landscape format they’ve introduced.

Sunday Sketching: Jan 25 – Westmount Conservatory

January 15, 2015

SUNDAY SKETCHING: Westmount Public Library and Conservatory

This is a compact indoor location, with only a small amount of seating, but some greenery will be nice at this time of year! Also, there is the library and Somebody-or-Other Hall next door (can’t recall the name) which might offer winter views out the windows.  Maybe we can be tough enough to get the outside view (Shari’s sketch from last year below).  I might try ducking in and out of the place to warm up :)

Directions to the library {HERE}.

  • Starting Point: 10 am Inside the Greenhouse. (Enter via the Library, opens at 10am).
  • Lunch break: 12:30-1:30 pm: Shops are a few blocks west on Sherbrook. The closest cafe that I have been to is Pâtisserie De Gascogne: 4825 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest.
  • Ending Meetup: 4pm back at the library. Perhaps we will find some seating in there to hang out at end of day.

Webinar about The Urban Sketcher

November 15, 2014

I’ve just done an online lecture for my publishers video network ( They’ve posted a recording of the webinar. [HERE] If you’re curious what’s in my book The Urban Sketcher, you can listen to me talk (while you see my powerpoint slides). I do a walk though of all the concepts in the book. It is, I will fully admit, a sales pitch – but I’ve tried to be entertaining. Have a listen!




Sunday Sketching at the Museum: November 23

November 13, 2014

We’ve spent many great Sundays at the Musée des Beaux Arts — it’s one of our favourite winter meeting spots — so come along to the Museum on November 23. We’ll meet in the lobby at 10 am, join up again in the café for a lunch break at 12:30 and in between there’s lots to sketch. New this year: an $8 fee for entrance to the permanent collections (and $20 to see the major exhibition). Looking forward to seeing you there.



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