Throwback Thursday – Gryphon

In the 90’s, I was really into colored ink. It was almost all I did. I used Ecoline on watercolor paper, and later on illustration board. This is probably the best piece I have left from that time. It’s from 1997. The colors suffered a bit from the scanning, but I think it’s fair to say that Ecoline doesn’t suffer from the washed out colors problem that plagues watercolorists.



My new Etsy store!

The reflections on the Jade Lion.

The reflections on the Jade Lion.

I have done it. I have considered starting an Etsy store for a long time, but it’s on now! One of my problems is that sometimes I have trouble having enough paintings in stock at the same time. So I’ll have to paint more.

You can see it here: Qitsune’s painterly meditations on Etsy

Right now I have a few paintings but I will also make it possible to commission custom art and to buy prints.

I’m very late on updating this blog, so I  decided to use the occasion to feature some art that’s in the Etsy store that I never talked about here. Like the Jade Lion, based on the Lion of Belfort statue that’s in Dorchester Square.

This tiny 5"x7" painting features green metal leaf details.

This tiny 5″x7″ painting features green metal leaf details.

I found this photograph on Pinterest and  I loved it. I wanted to paint it, but I don’t use other people’s pictures, at least, not directly, I need to transform them enough to make them my own.

The birth of Oversight

The birth of Oversight

So I dug around my photographs of angels, found a photo of a niche that worked with it, composited both together, painted on top to change the lighting and added the leaves in Photoshop. The result was the black, white and yellow image which I then transferred to my varnished MDF. For that, I used a sheet of tracing paper covered in compressed charcoal. So it’s like handmade artsy carbon paper. The result is often messy, but then I lightly wipe it with a dry rag and only the lines that I wanted there remain. I then painted using raw umber and unbleached titanium acrylic paints. When most of the painting was done, I started applying the imitation gold and (real) copper leaf to the painting. I added a bit of acrylic on some of the leaves, to push them back in the shade, then put even more gold leaves on top.

I finished the painting with several coats of spray on acrylic varnish.

Now it glows and shimmers in the light, I’m very happy with it.

You can see it here on Etsy



Throwback Thrusday – Avatars

Many years ago, I wanted to make mobile games. Now I am not a programmer but I had been in the industry for some years. We thought we’d start small and make a tiny avatar maker, since it was something that was part of bigger games at the time. You’d play a PS2 game and make yourself an avatar from different pieces and use that. Since the ability to associate a picture to a phone number was starting to be available on phones, but cameras were not yet in the picture (heh) we wanted people to be able to make composite funny portraits of their friends. Turns out that the selling and porting back then was much more complicated than today, you had to go through phone companies so that project was short lived. But all the tiny tiny art was made and I still think it’s hilarious.

What could have been...

What could have been…

Access to MBAM’s permanent collections is no longer free

Header of Hornestein pavillion of MBAM

Access to MBAM’s permanent collections is no longer free if you are over 30 (why 30? Beats me), and that makes me sad. I know that the MBAM is a fantastic museum and that we have been lucky to have free had access for so long. But I am still sad.

Fine art intimidates many people, they are afraid they aren’t going to get it, they are afraid that others will know they aren’t going to get it. Free entry was a risk free way for me to initiate neophytes to art and it’s a resource that will be harder to access.

There will still be time for free access. Here is the information:

The Collections and Discovery Exhibitions

Ticket grants access to the whole Museum, except for the Major Exhibitions

Ages 31 and up: $12
Ages 30 and under: Free
VIP members: Free

Access to the Collections and Discovery Exhibitions is free for:

• All those who purchase a ticket to a Major Exhibitions
• People aged 30 and under
• Ages 65 and up every Thursday
• The General public: the last Sunday of every month
• The General public during the Holiday season – December 26 to January 2 and Spring Break.
• Art teachers and their students (upon presentation of their school card)
• All holders of membership cards from our cultural partners will enjoy the same discounts as applicable to admission to Major Exhibitions.

As always, you can find more on the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal’s website.

Urban sketchers at MBAM

Being in Québec, we don’t have the same freedom as other Urban Sketchers’ chapters. No painting outside in the winter for us (especially not THIS winter.) The organizers have to be creative and to find indoor places that will allow us to roam and draw stuff. One such place is Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal.

I was super lucky, I started wandering by myself and ended up in the Napoléon exhibition, and there, at the end, was the room with the round windows, a majestic marble Napoléon bust, and a drawing horse. I snagged the horse and set up.

Itsy Bitsy Tout Petit Mini

(Voir en bas pour le français)

When Jon Schindehette first posted about the Tiny Pleasures challenge, I immediately dismissed the idea, thinking that 3 inches by 3 inches is WAY too  small for me to paint something that makes sens. Then I was peer pressured by my friends Sybiline and Louis-Philippe St-Laurent to enter the challenge. Well, to be honest, Louis-Philippe might not be aware that he pressured me, because he didn’t, Sybiline just said (I’m paraphrasing) :”You should do it, Louis-Philippe and me are thinking about doing it.” Ok, I admit it wasn’t hard to convince me.

I was considering ways of making tiny illustration boards that would be compatible with my way of working when I lucked and found these MDF and masonite boards in a craft store during a visit in Quebec City. So that removed my bigger obstacle. I did about 8 different compositions in Photoshop, picked my 4 favourites and painted away.

With any luck, these pieces will be on display at Spectrum Live this coming May.

The pieces in the scanner with a ruler for scale (and to keep them straight)- Les peintures dans le scanner avec une règle pour montrer l'échelle (et pour les garder droites.)

The pieces in the scanner with a ruler for scale (and to keep them straight)- Les peintures dans le scanner avec une règle pour montrer l’échelle (et pour les garder droites.)

Quand Jon Schindehette à publié son défi Tiny Pleasures, j’ai immédiatement écarté l’idée en me disant que 3 pouces par 3 pouces, c’est BIEN trop petit pour que je puisse peindre quelque chose qui a du sens. Mais c’était sans compter la pression exercée par mes amis Sybiline et Louis-Philippe St-Laurent. Honnêtement, Louis-Philippe n’est probablement pas au courant qu’il m’a mis de la pression, parce qu’il ne l’a pas fait. C’est Sybiline qui m’a dit : « Louis-Philippe et moi, on envisage peut-être de faire le Tiny pleasures, aimerais-tu ça? » Bon, j’admets que ça n’a pas été difficile de me convaincre.

J’ai considéré des façons de fabriquer de tout petits cartons d’illustrations qui fonctionnent avec ma façon de travailler, mais j’ai été chanceuse et j’ai trouvé des petits MDF et masonites dans un magasin d’artisanat durant une visite à Québec. Ça a enlevé mon plus gros obstacle. J’ai fait environ 8 maquettes dans Photoshop, j’ai choisi mes 4 préférées et je les ai peintes. Voilà.

Avec un peu de chance, ces œuvres seront à l’affiche en mai à Spectrum Live.


SteelButt Jack: Une couverture pour Solaris

(For this article in English, click here)

Dans le monde de l’illustration comme dans le monde des jeux vidéo, parfois on travaille sur quelque chose et on ne peut pas le montrer à qui que ce soit. Et quand enfin, on peut le montrer, on a l’impression que c’est complétement dépassé par rapport à ce qu’on fait maintenant. C’est ce qui est arrivé avec cette couverture. Elle n’est pas très vieille, je l’ai faite en septembre/octobre 2013, mais j’ai quand même l’impression que mon nouveau travail est différent.

Solaris est le plus vieux magazine de science-fiction et fantasy de langue française en existence. J’ai reçu la commande pour la couverture de Joël Champetier, le rédacteur en chef. Ses instructions en gros disaient: “On aime tes trucs digitaux et traditionnels, propose nous quelque chose qui n’a pas de tentacules.” Ouais, c’était aussi ouvert que ça. Alors j’ai fait des tonnes de compositions dans mon carnet de dessin, j’en ai choisi 6 que j’ai refait au propre et que j’ai envoyé. 3 que je peindrais avec l’ordinateur et 3 que je ferais à l’acrylique.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier from Solaris. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings.

Les vignettes que j’ai envoyées à M.Champetier. Celles en noir et blanc sont pour peindre dans Photoshop  et celles en brun sont pour peindre traditionnellement. Le monsieur en veston aurait été un portrait de Dr.Penfield avec un homoncule sur le dos, un genre de mélange de neurologie et de fantasy.

Joël a choisi le pilote de jet pack. Il a dit que dans toutes les années de Solaris, il ne pense pas qu’ils aient déjà eu un jet pack en couverture, aussi cliché que ça puisse être. Cette information en main, j’ai commencé à travailler sur un design de jet pack et un costume cool. Je voulais un style diesel punk, mais qui ne ressemble pas trop au Rocketeer, il est de la même époque, mais il est un gars différent qui vient d’un monde plus rude.


Les références que j’ai utilisée pour faire mon dessin final. En faits, j’en ai utilisées plus que ça. J’avais quelques photos de Matthieu pour différents détails et des photos que j’ai trouvé sur internet pour des choses comme des pièces de laiton, des trainées de vapeur, de jet packs et des habits antiques.

Armée de ma vignette approuvée et de mon design de jet pack, j’ai demandé à mon ami Matthieu Legault de poser pour mes références.  Matthieu est un auteur avec 7 livres publiés à son actif, mais je pense que c’est la première fois qu’il est sur la couverture. Il avait un chandail qui ressemblait un peu au manteau de mon design et j’avais un gros sac-à-dos, des lunettes et des bottes gothiques alors c’est l’étendu de son costume. Nous avons essayés toutes sortes de poses, dans ma cours et dans ma cuisine mais en fin de compte, c’est avec le tabouret que nous avons réussis à lui donner l’air de voler. Sinon il avait juste l’air de se tenir sur un pied. J’ai aussi sculpté les formes de base du jet pack et je les ai installées sur un mannequin en bois pour avoir les angles des ailes et des fusées et pour imaginer leurs ombres sur Matthieu.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that pit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

Voici le design du jet pack que j’ai retenu. Finalement mon modèle avait une coiffure qui cadrait parfaitement avec l’époque que j’avais choisi alors j’ai décidé d’aller avec ça au lieu du casque. J’inclue aussi une progression du dessin que j’ai fait à partir de mes références.

Parmi mes photos, j’ai choisi celles qui étaient le plus dynamiques et qui ressemblaient le plus comme quelqu’un en train de voler. Elles n’étaient pas exactement comme ma vignette, mais je dirais que c’est une amélioration. J’ai fait plusieurs étapes de raffinement pour le dessin et plusieurs motifs possible pour la trainée de vapeur. Le dessin au trait avec la fumée est celui que j’ai envoyé à mon client pour approbation.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

Ceci est le dessin que j’ai utilisé comme référence pendant que je peignais. Tous les problèmes de lumière ont déjà été réglés.

Quand j’ai eu mon approbation, j’ai fait un rendu en noir et blanc dans Photoshop pour ne pas avoir à prendre de décisions pendant que je peignais. Je n’ai pas rendu les oiseaux parce que mon plan était de faire juste des silhouettes d’oiseaux en vernis sur un fond de MDF non-vernis. L’idée étaient qu’ils aient l’air loin et subtils.

Le transfert de l'image sur le panneau de MDF.

Le transfert de l’image sur mon panneau.

J’ai imprimé mon dessin sur 3 feuilles différentes que j’ai assemblées et dont j’ai frotté l’endos avec du carré Conté terre de sienne pour les personnages et blanc pour la vapeur. J’ai ensuite clippé/collé la feuille à mon panneau et j’ai tracé toutes les lignes. Le résultat était un peu sale, mais j’ai pris une guenille à peinture propre et j’ai frotté légèrement le panneau pour enlever le plus gros.


Ici vous pouvez voir les 3 premières étapes de la phase peinture. J’ai commencé avec les éléments graphiques parce qu’ils m’aident à établir la valeur la plus pâle de ma composition. Je passe ensuite aux foncés les plus foncés. Je ne fait pas vraiment de grand lavis très pâles au début parce que j’essaie d’éviter de celer le carré Conté sous des sections transparentes où il restera visible. J’efface beaucoup de lignes à mesure que je peins. Et si je mets trop de peinture quelque part, je dois l’essuyer très vite ou sinon attendre et le sabler. Je ne peux pas peindre en pâle par dessus de la peinture foncée ou vice versa.

Certaines personnes sont surprises d’apprendre que la phase peinture est souvent plus courte que la phase de planification et de design. Toutes les décisions difficiles ont été faites et il ne me reste qu’à étendre de la peinture et à ne pas tout ruiner. La partie ne pas tout ruiner serait plus facile si je travaillais à l’huile. C’est dans mes plans, mais pour tout de suite, je travaille encore à l’acrylique. Pour cette peinture, je n’ai utilisé que deux couleurs, terre d’ombre et titane écru. Je suis une grande fan du titane écru, c’est très pâle, mais pas aveuglant comme du blanc. Ça fonctionne aussi très bien avec le style sépia que j’utilise pour le moment. Dans le passé, j’ai peint plusieurs pièces sur du masonite et du MDF non-vernis et sans apprêt mais ce MDF là est différent, je l’ai acheté dans une quincaillerie et non dans un magasin de matériel d’art et il est doux comme du suède et la peinture ne glisse pas bien dessus. J’ai acheté un grand morceau que j’ai fait tailler en plusieurs panneaux, alors pour mes peintures suivantes, j’ai décidé de lui donner quelques couches de médium brillant avant de transférer le dessin. Ça marche bien mieux pour moi.


Voilà la peinture finie et retouchée. J’ai enlevé de petites taches du MDF, ajouté un peu de fumée, enlevé un oiseau et retouché le personnage un peu.

Quand j’ai eu terminé, j’ai vernis seulement les parties qui étaient peintes alors le reste est mat. J’ai ensuite pris une bonne photo et je l’ai envoyée à Joël. Il voulait plus de fumée alors j’ai allongé la traînée et fait d’autres retouches et je lui ai envoyé le fichier haute résolution.

Et c’est comme ça que j’ai fait cette illustration.

SteelButt Jack: A Solaris Cover

(Pour cet article en français, cliquez ici)

In the illustration field like in the video game field, sometimes you work on something and then you just can’t show it to anyone. And then when you CAN show it, it feels like what you are doing now is completely different. This happened with this cover. It’s not that old, I only did it in September/October 2013, but I feel that I already work differently now.

Solaris is the oldest French language genre fiction magazine in existence. I was commissioned to do a cover by Joël Champetier, the editor in chief. His direction was basically: “We like both your digital and traditional stuff, pitch us something that doesn’t have tentacles.” Yep, that open ended. So I did tons of thumbnails in my sketchbook and I picked 6 of them to clean up and send. 3 that I would paint digitally and 3 that I would paint in acrylics.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier from Solaris. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings.

The thumbnails I sent Mr.Champetier. The brown ones are for traditional paintings and the black and white are for digital paintings. The gentleman with the the suit would have been a portrait of Dr.Penfield with a humonculus on his back, it was supposed to be a kind of neurology/fantasy mashup.

Joël picked the guy with the jet pack. He said that in all of Solaris’ years, he didn’t think they ever had a jet pack on the cover, as cliché as they can be. With that, I started working on cool jet pack and outfit designs. I was going for a diesel punk look, but I didn’t want him to look too much like the Rocketeer, he was from the same era, but he was a different guy from a grittier world.


The references I used to make my final drawing. Actually, I used more than that. I used a few pictures of Matthieu for different details and I used images I found around the internet for things like brass fittings, jet contrails, jet packs, ancient outfits.

Armed with my approved thumbnail and my jet pack and outfit design, I asked my friend Matthieu Legault to model for the character. Matthieu is a writer with 7 published novels under his belt but I think it’s the first time he’s on the cover of one. He had a sweater that somewhat looked like the jacket in my outfit and I had a big packpack, goggles and goth boots so that’s the extend of his costume. We tried all kinds of poses, in my yard and in my kitchen, but in the end, the stool was the best way to make him look like he’s flying. Otherwise he just looked like a guy standing on one foot. I also modeled the basic jet pack shapes and stucked them on a mannequin to get the angles of the wings and rockets right on Matthieu and the shadows.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that pit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

This is the design of the jet pack that I decided to go with. In the end, my model had hair that fit exactly the period I was going for, so I decided to use that instead of a helmet. I also included the progression of the drawing I did from the references.

I choose amongst the pictures the ones that were the most dynamic and looked the most like someone flying. It’s not exactly like the thumb, but it’s an improvement. I went through several rounds of refining the drawing and several possible designs for the contrail. The line art with the smoke swirls is what I sent the client for approval.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

This is the drawing that I used as reference when painting. All of the value problems have been solved.

When it was approved, I rendered the values in Photoshop so that I wouldn’t have to make decision in paint. I didn’t render the birds because the plan was to have them just be silhouettes in varnish on unvarnished MDF. They would be very subtle and translucent to make them look far away.

Le transfert de l'image sur le panneau de MDF.

The transfer of the image on the MDF panel.

I printed my line art in 3 different parts that I assembled and then rubbed the back of the drawing with Conté crayon, white for the smoke and sienna for the character and birds. I then clipped/tapped it to the board and traced all the line. The result is a bit messy and dark but I wipe it lightly with a dry paint rag and it gets much better.


You can see the first 3 steps of the painting phase. I started with the graphic elements because they help me establish what the lightest value is going to be. Then I get started with the darkest darks. I don’t really do big washes because I try to avoid sealing in the conte powder under nearly transparent layers where they will remain visible. I erase a lot of the lines as I go. Also, if I put too much paint somewhere, I have to wipe it off very fast or else I will have to sand it off, I can’t paint in white on top of dark or vice versa.

Some people are surprised to learn that the painting stage is often shorter than the design stages. All the hard decisions have been made and all I have to do now is slap paint around and not screw up. The new screwing up part might be easier if I worked in oil. It’s in my plans, but right now I still work in acrylics. For this painting I used only two colors, raw umber and unbleached titanium. I am a very big fan of unbleached titanium, it’s quite light, but not dead or blinding like white. It fits well with the sepia style I’m going for at the moment. I the past, I have painted plenty of pieces on raw unprimed and unvarnished masonite and MDF but this was a different type of MDF that I had gotten at the hardware store, not at the art supply store and it was soft, like suede and the paint didn’t glide so well on it. I had bought a big piece and had it cut into several panels, so for my following pieces, I gave a few coats of gloss medium on the MDF before transferring the drawing. It works much better for me.


This is the finished and retouched painting. I have removed tiny flecks in the MDF, added a bit of smoke, removed a bird and did various retouching of the character.

When I was done, I varnished the piece, only on the the already painted parts so the rest is raw and matte. Then I took a good picture and sent it to Joël. He wanted the contrail to end closer to the rocket, so I changed that in Photoshop and did some other touch ups. Then I sent him the high-resolution file.

And that is how that piece was done.