mercredi 19 décembre 2007


The oldest stable still in existence in Montréal is the Griffintown Horse Palace. Founded in 1840, the Horse Palace has been owned by Irishmen since the 1860s. In the past the stables housed thousands of horses. Today, the three stables in the area are home to the sixty or so calèche-horses seen on the streets of Old Montréal.

During my many visits in Old Montréal I noticed that the calèche driver always seemed to keep a close eye on his companion. A horse can easily be spooked by city noise and activity.

Looking through my paintings I came across such a calèche scene. This gave me an idea for creating Christmas cards. I have found that one can spend an enormous amount of time if each hand made card has a different motif. Although well appreciated, each can easily take an hour or more to paint.

So, this year I found a way to reproduce the same subject yet paint each uniquely and rather quickly in about 15 minutes. In a few hours I had produced over half a dozen.

First, I scanned a section of the painting. Then I reduced the image to a 5 x 7in. format and printed it.

Next, I taped the print to a light box. (You can also use a window in daytime.) Then, I placed a piece of Aquarius II watercolour paper (7 ½ x 11in.) on top of the image in order to trace it. I made sure the bottom half of the watercolor paper was placed over the painting. Once folded, the card would measure 5 ½ x 7 ½ inches. Standard envelopes that size are easy to find.

Then, using a Micron permanent India ink felt pen size 03 I traced the main shapes of the design of the calèche, driver and horse. The line drawing illustrates this step. The advantage of using Aquarius II paper is that it is thinner than most. It is therefore easier to trace. Also, the extreme whiteness of the paper along with its soft fiber makes it an ideal choice for a winter snow scene.

Finally, using Sennelier watercolors and my Isabey natural hair brushes I loosely painted in the shapes being careful to leave a lot of white around the traced shapes to imitate fallen snow. (Since Aquarius II paper is contains synthetic fiber you can choose to use acrylic paints.)

Choice of colours: If you want to reproduce a motif in quantity and quickly I suggest that you limit yourself to a few colours. I used Sennelier Red, Crimson Lake, Payne's Gray, Viridian and Prussian Blue. In some of the cards I opted not to paint the background.

Although the subject matter illustrated here might seem daunting and complicated to draw for some, you can easily opt for a simpler motif. The key to the success of this card idea is the use of a permanent felt pen for the line drawing. Whether or not you go over the lines with the colors will make little difference in the outcome. Actually, the looseness of paint application will make the finished card more animated and personal I feel. Sign it and your recipient will be thrilled.

Merry Christmas,

Raynald Murphy sca

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