mardi 5 mai 2009


Some people I meet wonder why I love to draw and paint cityscapes. “Would it not be easier and more bucolic to paint country scenes instead?” they say.

I find drawing and painting city scenes both a challenge and fascinating although I draw almost anything. Rather than being distracted by the crowds around me, I am nourished and motivated by the hustle and bustle of the people surrounding me in the city as I draw or paint.

There is no correct moment in one’s life to try one’s hand at drawing. In fact, drawing is expression, a language of sorts put down on paper instead of verbalized through words. I fell in love with drawing early in life and developed a passion for art more seriously in my late twenties. Some discover a passion for drawing later in life. Sean Murphy is an example.

I came upon a charming and refreshing book titled: Dare to Draw –La passion du dessin. The author, Sean Murphy, turned to drawing upon retirement after a career in ophthalmology. Now an octogenarian, Dr. Murphy draws everywhere he goes. Pencil and paper in hand and often with a small painting kit, Sean records what he sees much like I do. In his introduction he says: “I have learned to see, to really see. For an eye surgeon, that is no small disclosure.”

Dr. Murphy’s closing remarks, I feel, are worth quoting in the hope that others discover the passion that both he and I share. He says: “I decided to write this book in the first place (because) I wanted to inspire you to draw, because of the joy drawing has given me.” I decided to write the blog ART PLEIN AIR for similar reasons.

Returning yesterday from teaching a workshop on watercolor and drawing I am more convinced than ever that what is lacking in many who decide to take up painting is a foundation in drawing. And that can only be developed by what both Sean and I promote – draw, and draw often and from life.

Here are some tips which might motive you if you feel you don’t draw often enough. Many of these are reiterated in Sean Murphy’s book:

1. Draw small when drawing on site and in small sketch books. Other than being more discrete it is easier to draw small.
2. Take a drawing course if you are hesitant to venture on your own.
3. Draw with a felt tip pen often. Probably because one knows one cannot erase an ink line, concentration is accentuated and learning accelerated.
4. Draw always for yourself. Process counts, not product.
5. Draw everyday if possible, draw everywhere, draw anything and everything.
6. Push yourself to draw more difficult subjects once you gain confidence.
7. Leave sketch books around, in you car, in your purse or pocket, in various rooms around the house. This will incite you to draw more often.
8. Never leave home without a pencil or sketch book.
9. Form a little group of friends who like to draw and paint and set up a weekly time to meet together.
10.Use only good drawing and painting materials. Experiment with various tools and papers. This will motive you when drawing becomes routine.

Raynald Murphy sca

Cityscapes workshop: I will be teaching a two day outdoor watercolor workshop on June 13th and 14th. Information: or 514.488.7075

Dare to Draw – La passion du dessin by Sean Murphy is available through the Visual Arts Cantre, 35 Victoria Ave, Montreal, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts boutique and other book stores.