Art Classes in Montreal - Conclusion


"Montréal, août 2011", mixed media, 9" x 12"
No. 1 -- As indicated by the photo on the left, I came to the realization that what I can do with my watercolours is Sketching and Journaling. (I know, this is more like a scrapbook, but hey, I'm just a beginner!)

The reason that I had signed up for that Essential Sketchbook class was that I am planning on doing a lot of travelling and, frankly, photography doesn't have the same appeal any more. As much as I used to love films, negatives, contact sheets and fine prints, I find nothing sexy in digital cameras.

And if it comes to recording your trip, nothing stirs up the memories like a little sketch. Add some words, a bit of fancy decorating, and you have an art journal, something that, apparently, the whole world is passionately engaged in, judging by all the books, tutorials, blogs, websites, workshops, etc.

(Click here for my impressions of the Essential Sketchbook course.)

No. 2 -- I discovered watercolour pencils, watercolour travel kits, and, especially, water-soluble pens and waterbrushes. Water-soluble pens are great for sketching on the go, anytime, anywhere. You can carry all you need in one pocket! As for watercolour pencils, I saw a demo by Laure Ferlita I think -- or maybe it was Cathy Johnson? -- about making a tiny palette by creating little squares of colour on watercolour paper, and using that as your colour supply for small sketches on the go. It works! Clever! (Speaking of clever, this girl Laure Ferlita [I keep wanting to combine her two names and call her "Laurita", like we would in Mexico], she runs this business/school/project called "Imaginary Trips". You sign up for a fake trip and make a journal out of it.)

I'm constantly amazed at how creative people are, in so many ways.

No. 3 -- I finally realized the importance of value -- the relative lightness or darkness of a certain area in a drawing or a painting -- without which volume simply doesn't exist. Thanks to Lorna Mulligan, who taught the classes -- this concept finally sunk in, and more importantly, I began to apply it.

No. 4 -- I gained a certain hope that if I practice enough, one day I will be able to draw. No matter that I used to have this ability -- I was admitted at Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 16, after a very difficult test that only the top 200 out of 2000 had passed. I'm sure the ability is still there, buried under mountains of insecurity.

No. 5 -- I became determined more than ever that what I want to do for the next few decades is to travel as much as I can possibly afford. Travel, take art workshops maybe, sketch, make journals... but for now it's nice to be home and make pink apple jelly with the apples that grow wild everywhere in my small windy village.

No. 6 -- I got a trial run on what equipment is essential when travelling by plane (last year, I had gone by car); in fact, did you know that watercolour tubes are considered to be a liquid, and therefore they are subject to the same restrictions as your mouth wash? Luckily, I was in time to have my suitcase pulled back from the check-in so that I could put the watercolours in there. (It was that or the garbage can for those 20 tubes!) In addition, since we were working en plein air, I also got a trial run on what equipment I should take -- or rather, how much I can comfortably carry, and how much I can use once I'm on location.

No. 7 -- One of my favourite parts was learning to make my own simple sketchbook. I can't show it that one, because my niece, who is an art student, celebrated her 22nd birthday while I was in Montreal, and so I gave it to her as a present. But I've made another one, and you can see it here.

What I didn't gain, however, is some experience in handling watercolours. There was very little encouragement to use them, and I avoided every opportunity to make a fool of myself, so I used other mediums almost all the time. Pen and wash became my favourite alternative, and that's fine. I've ordered a bunch of great books, and I will spend the winter following the lessons in them, in preparation for a watercolour workshop in the south of France, next June, that I've just signed up for.

*  Well, not four weeks full-time! Essential Sketchbook was two evenings a week for four weeks, for a total of 24 hours, and Plants and Flowers was four hours for four Sundays, for a total of 16 hours.


  1. Hi, I am from Regina and I am interested in finding out WHERE watercolour workshops would be available in Montreal? Who could I contact?

    1. Check out this previous post of mine:

      Good luck and happy painting!