April 21, 2016 0

Gouache Faces

By in color, Gouache, heads, Portraits, sketches, watercolor, watercolour


It’s been a pleasant afternoon, and after some work, I sat on the balcony and painted people who were going by, in opaque watercolour.

April 15, 2016 0

Morning Faces

By in sketches


April 13, 2016 0

Tiger, Tiger

By in ballpoint pen, cats, color, digital, sketches


Drew a tiger while on the phone last night. And then coloured and textured it here.

April 8, 2016 0

Wedgewood Dr.

By in sketches

Wedgewood Dr. A short written and directed by Jonathan Balazs, with paintings by Jack Ruttan.

April 6, 2016 0

Warm-Up Faces

By in sketches


I’ve not stopped drawing things, just gotten out of the habit of putting them up. Still banging away at digital painting, which I might share some other time.

In the meantime, here are some warm-up faces. I draw tons of faces. I prefer to kind of originate things, rather than draw too closely to a photograph.


March 4, 2016 0

New Paintings

By in color, Jack's House of Cats, montreal, paintings, watercolor, watercolour



It’s been a while, but here are some new paintings for “Jack’s House of Cats.”

Both of them are re-imagined a little. I snapped the Hotel Kent in the early 90s, when the sign was still up. But in this, I tried to picture what it was like in its “heyday.”

The Bain Morgan is also taken from a little photo of mine from pre-digital days (still on photo paper — imagine that!). But I removed two great big trees from in front. Those trees have been taken down now, anyways.

Now to put them up on the site, and do some more paintings!

March 4, 2016 0

Iffy Paper

By in color, Jack's House of Cats, montreal, paintings, ruttan's place, watercolor, watercolour


Found this sheet of sort of cardboard-y paper in my files. After my recent 1941 Whatman experience, I wondered whether this was one of my better types of paper (it was stored away, and did have “deckled” (ie. neatly torn) edges). It might have been Arches Cold Rolled, or some such thing.

So I stretched it, and it became obvious then it was Dollarama cardboard. Still, I painted on it. I like using cheesy materials, because then I feel the pressure is off.

This didn’t take long. I don’t do studies or tracing very often, at least for these nonce paintings. Just drawing by eye, and hoping it all is straight and fits in. I call it my “I can do no wrong” style of painting, because that’s what I’m telling myself as I do it.

Worked out here, but the cars are a little big. I’m calling that “perspective.” That’s me in the lower right-hand corner.

This is the corner of Hochelaga and Frontenac streets. The business used to be Fontana Pizza, which was owned by a very nice man. Unfortunately, his pizza ended up being a little rich for my digestive tract, but I still have a few Fontana coupons. You collected ten of them, and got a free pizza.

Two different slightly hipster greasy spoon restaurants have occupied the spot since the Fontana closed, but they haven’t managed to make a go of it.

(Oh. 18 coupons, then)

While I like this painting, I’m not sure whether it will go on my House of Cats site because of the crummy paper. Still, as another artist said “Who cares if it lasts? We’ll all be dead by then anyways.”

One painting I did when I first came to this apartment in the early 90s was done on crummy paper. I like the changes its undergone, sort of the way some old masters paintings cracked and darkened, before the fad came around of restoring everything.

March 2, 2016 0

Further Sketchy Oddness

By in black and white, color, Coloured Pencils, dinosaurs, sketches, watercolor, watercolour


That strange animal was inspired by a person on a palaeontological art website who thought that sauropod dinosaurs might have had trunks. Probably not, but the idea led to an interesting-looking beast.

March 1, 2016 0


By in sketches


Sketches from the old school yearbook, and Star Trek.

February 19, 2016 0

Colour Combinations

By in color, Coloured Pencils, paintings, sketches, watercolor, watercolour


I’m trying out different colour combinations to see if anything twigs my interest. I have to admit that the yellow ochre underpainting thing is still my favourite, but I don’t want to use it as a crutch. Still, light in these paintings seems to be yellow.

These aren’t actually “Wedgewood thumbnail roughs,” (that’s a old project).


Messing with colour schemes, using purposefully “wrong” colours together. The sketches on the left hand side are from Barbara Bradley’s book “Drawing People.” Bless her heart.

February 18, 2016 0


By in black and white, Coloured Pencils, pencil, Portraits, sketches, watercolor, watercolour


Trying to do more “House of Cats” pictures, but I’m lacking inspiration. So I went to youtube and watched watercolour technique videos. People’s hands are fascinating, but in these videos you rarely see the faces. So, I drew the hands in watercolour pencil, and then drew the owners’ faces as I imagined them.


Now I notice their pictures by the videos, but I didn’t look at those, at least consciously!

February 15, 2016 0

New Animation Studio

By in color, Coloured Pencils, heads, men, montreal, pencil, Portraits, self-promotion, sketches


Thrilled by the news that a new animation studio is opening up in Montreal (a side-effect, I think, of the low dollar making it more tempting for foreign operations to invest here. Not to mention the high number of talented artistic types in this city).

In honour of that fact, I’ve done this amazing, highly-detailed portrait of Santa Claus, the star of their first announced project.

February 3, 2016 1

Paintings on Whatman paper

By in paintings, ruttan's place, self-promotion


This is a recent painting I did on the Whatman paper. Even though I work hard on adding light, I fancy that it’s somehow brighter, almost sparkly.

Here’s the paper stretched and ready to go:

Here’s a closeup of the grain. It’s pretty rough, Hot-rolled, as they say (I think).

Maybe I’m the only one excited about this. I think it’s pretty cool.

February 2, 2016 0

J. Whatman Antique Paper

By in paintings, ruttan's place, sketches, watercolor, watercolour

In the last post I was writing about painting on simple typing paper, and the (futile) effort of stretching it. Well, today I was stretching some old paper I had inherited from my late Mom’s stash of art materials, which I had taken with me to Montreal back in 1987 from our family home in Calgary. There are five large sheets of it I’ve managed to hang on to as part of my own painting supplies.

The paper is a little brown around the edges, but I’ve been using bits of it, and it’s always been pleasant to paint with.

So today I was stretching some of it to make new paintings for my watercolour site Jack’s House of Cats. When the paper got wet, some letters appeared around one edge. A watermark. It seemed to read “Whatman.”

I looked the name up on the web, and found the story of J. Whatman’s paper company in England, founded in the 18th century. It disappeared in the 1980s when the factory burned down. The brand has been taken over by General Electric, and is still used for filters and papers meant for lab work. But the watercolour paper is one of those legendary names sought after by enthusiasts. Apparently, JMW Turner and James Abbott McNeil Whistler used it. [link]

So, to see better, I took out one of the sheets and put it up against a window, to snap it with the camera and read the following:




“J. Whatman 1941” “Handmade” “England.”

Some sites note that the date on the watermark is an honourary thing, and doesn’t necessarily tell when the paper was manufactured. Still, it’s possible this paper is 75 years old. I don’t know how my mom got hold of it. I only remember it coming in a big envelope to our house in Calgary after she had made a special order by mail.

It’s a great honour to paint on this, and I do want to paint on it. Because often, as a friend of mine has said, antique things stay untouched in a cupboard, to disintegrate on their own or eventually get ignored and thrown out through ignorance. I think these special things are honoured by being used.