A Bit Of Quick Sketchcrawling

People say that getting “out of your comfort zone” is a good idea.  So, I drive twice the speed limit, drink excessively and pick fights with NFL players.  Just kidding…maybe that isn’t what they mean, though in the art world these catch-all phrases are ill-defined and hold little real meaning.

But this week seems to be a week where I’m doing things different from my norm and a couple days ago Yvan suggested that we do a ‘real’ sketchcrawl, where we go to a spot, sketch something quickly and then move on to the next spot, repeating until the day got too hot to continue, or until Larry got completely frustrated (grin).

And that’s exactly what we did.  We hopped a bus and headed to a neighborhood where we’d never sketched and decided that we’d walk until one of us (took turns at that) decided it was time to stop.  There, we would choose a subject and spend only a few minutes capturing the scene.  Easy peasy, right?

For Yvan it was.  He’s a superb sketcher and with decades of experience, he’s also really quick when he needs to be.  Me, not so much.  I’m still vying for the “slowest sketcher on the planet” award and I think I’m still in the lead.

When I start sketching quickly all sorts of things go wrong as I lose control of linear perspective, proportions, and relationships.  These things cause my sketches to be barely recognizable as the scene before me.  But heck, I was out of my comfort zone.  That has to be good, right?  These are three sketches I came up with during our quick-sketchcrawl session.

USK Montreal Sketchcrawl

Sometimes timing is perfect and we were moving our daughter to Montreal on the same weekend as the USK Montreal sketchcrawl at the Maison des Éclusiers.  So, between the back and forth between Ottawa and Montreal, the up/down elevators with countless boxes, and exciting activities like unboxing, cleaning and hanging drapes, I got to go to the event.

The venue was great.  During the introduction Jane Hannah provided a long list of places and things to sketch in the area and then we all dispersed, like a bunch of young kids, excited to find the “best” spot.  Turned out, the head count revealed 60 participants.

The Maison des Éclusiers, or as others call it the Marché des Éclusiers is a place along the harbor where boats enter the Lachine Canal (an éclusier is a guy who manages the locks on the canal).  Where they go I do not know as I was busy meeting people, sketching, and generally just wandering around, gathering information for future trips to the area.  The place is set up as a tourist/local eatery/relax area, complete with restaurants, coffee house, and lots of benches and grassy areas.

I chose to draw a large house (castle?) from one end of it, mostly because there was a nice picnic bench in the shade that afforded a good view.  In hindsight, I don’t feel I ever completed this sketch as I just sort of quit near the bottom of it.  I guess I got bored or wanted to talk to some more people.

From there I just started wandering around.  I wanted to meet some of the sketchers and see what they were up to.  Lots of talent in this group and, because I hope to be returning regularly, I wanted to start establishing some relationships, though I struggle with trying to remember everyone’s name.  Eventually I sat down with Diane Gauthier and her friend Lyse (sp?).  I’d met Diane when I was in Montreal to meet Koosje Koene of Sketchbook Skool, who was visiting.  It was almost time for lunch and they let me share their picnic bench.

I decided I wanted to draw the crane on the other side of the river.  It was a goofy subject, if only because it was so far away and it didn’t provide a nice scene.  Undaunted, I decided to draw a street lamp in the foreground to improve things a bit.  I was only partially successful but here are the results.

We chatted for a while, I ate sloppy tacos, but by then it was time for me to leave.  There were still things to do back at the apartment so I had to leave before the group meeting at the end of the sketchcrawl.  Nevertheless, it was a fantastic day and, to quote Arnold, “I’ll be back!”

Mini-Sketchcrawl At The Morrin Center

Hubert, a member of our Tuesdays group, arranged for us to sketch at the Morrin Center.  This is an anglophone service center that holds lots of wine-drinking soirees and has a wonderful old library, with leather-covered tables, beautiful old railings and stairs, and an ambiance that can’t be beat.  The building itself used to be a women’s prison and they’ve retained a couple cells in the basement in their original form.  I think you could fit all the anglophones who live in Quebec City into this building and still have room for the wine (grin).

I decided to draw a bust that was sitting in front of one of the windows.  It wasn’t a particularly good cast but I liked the guy’s beard and mustache, which gave me ample opportunity to drive my Pilot Falcon around in my Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10) softcover book.  I’ve thought about adding some watercolor shading and may do that but I haven’t found the time.  Sorry.

February Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

Our next sketchcrawl should be a lot of fun.  It will also be warm, something that’s hard for us to achieve during the Quebec winter.  Yvan has arranged for us to gather at the Artothèque de la bibliothèque Gabrielle Roy.  This is the art collection owned by the Quebec library system.  They have agreed to host us, provide a room, and maybe even some easels to hold art while we draw from it.  We’ll meet on Sunday, February 12th at 9:30 on the second floor of the Gabrielle-Roy library.  You can get details on the Croquistes de Quebec website.

Yvan and I went there last week to see how things would work out and we had a ball.  Drawing from the work of other artists is a time-honored way of learning and I do it a lot, mostly by drawing pieces of sketches of sketches I like in an attempt to understand how the artist made the marks and what they were thinking when they did it.

On this day, however, I hopped a train to fantasyland.  Instead of my normal fountain pen tool, I picked up a brush.  I did a watercolor portrait, based upon a painting by Marie Leberge.  The work itself violated my detail-oriented approach and certainly, my lack of skill with watercolor and brush showed through.  Even so, I had a ball doing it and learned a lot.  I sure missed my pen, though (grin).  Anyways, be at this sketchcrawl.  We’ll have fun.

7.5×11 Fabriano Artistico CP, Daniel Smith watercolors, based upon portrait by Marie Lepage

 

 

Sketchcrawling With USK Montreal

I’m going to keep this short because we’re experiencing really low barometric pressure which is giving me a horrible arthritis attack in my knees and hands.  I’ll also apologize for the typos because my typing is being affected…bigly.

But last Sunday I was in heaven.  I met Marc Holmes for coffee before the event and when we arrived at the Pointe-à-Callière museum there were 30 or so sketchers waiting for the place to open.  The goal for the day was to sketch the Asian exhibition and it was a doozy.

The exhibit is on two floors and I probably should have made a quick run around to inventory things but I just started sketching these small clay figures.  They were simple, crude, and I managed to make them even more so when I went out in hall and tried to paint them while standing.  I was at least a couple of hands short for that exercise.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon

I did those quickly, all the time thinking of heading upstairs in search of something better to draw.  The second floor had one display of larger statues, a bunch of pottery, kimonos, and a couple samurai suits.  I decided to draw a couple of the larger statue artifacts.  Those were fun but I really hope that some day I’ll get better at drawing while standing.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon

The area around the samurai suits was pretty crowded so I decided to draw a piece of pottery.  Then I went outside and found Marc creating a masterpiece.  Watching work with watercolors is always a treat.  I never did add color to my pottery.

We only had 20 minutes left so we went back in and I decided to take that time to read about some of the smaller pieces which were at the other end of the first-floor room from where I had done my first page.  That’s when I saw it… a large door into yet another room.  Dare I say this was where thek really good stuff was?  Large buddah’s statues of all sorts, large busts of Asian characters.  Wow…and me with only a few minutes left before we were to rendevous for lunch and show-n-tell.  I quickly drew one of the heads, using pencil this time.  Yet another skill I need to work on.

We met for lunch and passed sketchbooks around.  USK Montreal has a lot of talented people among its ranks and it was fun seeing their results.  This day was pretty special to me and I hope to return for some of their future sketchcrawls.  Thanks, Marc, for organizing the event.

Kicking The Year Off With A Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

We had a great sketchcrawl on Friday.  Yvan arranged for us to sketch at the Université Laval Collections and somewhere around a dozen sketchers showed up.  Some of us sketched stuffed birds, mammals and insects while others took advantage of the large collection of plaster heads.  Still others sketched items in the large display windows outside the facility.

It was made particularly special because some of the people who showed up were not using the typical pen & wash approach that so many of us use.  Johanne was using charcoal and a white pastel pencil to capture likenesses from the plaster heads, while others did beautiful renderings with pencil.  It was fun to talk with them about their approaches and to appreciate the results.

I did a lot of talking because, unfortunately, my arthritis flared up in my drawing hand.  It does this on occasion and is not only painful but it hampers my ability to draw.  I did do one sketch before it got the better of me though.  It is a tufted-ear squirrel.  I think it’s Sciurus vulgaris but I’m not certain of that as there was no label on the specimen.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

In spite of my hand, I had a ball because of all the great people in attendance.  It’s hard for us to have sketchcrawls in winter because it’s so cold outside, so it’s special when one is as successful as this one.  Thanks to Yvan for organizing it and to Madame Wagner for hosting us.

Croquistes de Quebec: January 6th Sketchcrawl

Almost forgot to announce the upcoming sketchcrawl.  Yvan has arranged for us to visit the Université Laval Collections.   If you’ve never been there, this is the place where the entire collection from the long-defunct Natural History museum is houses so there are, by my estimate, around a gazillion stuffed animals waiting to be drawn.  In addition, there is a vast collection of plaster casts that were once used by the Laval art department, back when drawing was part of the fine arts curriculum (grin).

Anyway, there’s a LOT to draw there and the atmosphere is really nice as it’s a limited access facility so you don’t have to worry about people (except maybe me) looking over your shoulder.  Anyone who has been to one of the sketching events we’ve had there will tell you, it’s fantastic.

Sadly, we do have to break from our normal Sunday sketchcrawl habit because the Collections are only available Monday through Friday.  This event will be this Friday, starting at 9:30AM.  For more details, check Yvan’s posting of the event here.  I hope to see you there.  I’ve colored this post up a bit with a couple of the sketches I did during last year’s sketchcrawl.

The Saga Of A Sunday Sketchcrawl

Last Sunday was our monthly sketchcrawl.  We were to meet at a historic house, the Maison Alphonse-Dejardins, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Levis.  I was excited to visit the place and thankful that Yvan had arranged for us to sketch there.

Early Sunday morning, I set out on a walk to the ferry that took me just a bit less than an hour.  The ferry took 10-15 minutes to cross and then I had to climb a cliff (a gazillion stair steps are provided) and then into the older part of Levis where the house resides.  I was there at 10AM.  The air was crisp, which is a fancy way of saying I was glad I was wearing gloves, but I knew that people would be showing up soon.

But they didn’t.  Nobody came.  In fact, the house itself was dark.  I began to wonder if I’d written the date wrong.  Cell phones are handy at such times and the website announcement made clear my error.  Because of the house’s Sunday schedule, it didn’t open until the afternoon so the sketchcrawl was scheduled for 1PM.  @#%$!!

And so I walked to the stairs, descended the cliff and walked to the ferry.  I crossed the St. Lawrence and walked home.  I didn’t do the math, though, and when I arrived at home I realized that to get back to Levis by 1PM, I’d have to leave in… about 10 minutes [sigh].

I gave some thought to not returning but being the devoted sketcher (or fool – you decide) I put my coat back on and headed out the door…to walk an hour, take the ferry, climb the cliff, and make my way to the house.  I made it but since I’d been on the move from 8:30 to 13:00, I was exhausted and wasn’t much in the mood to sketch.  I just wanted to sit down.

The house, though, is sketcher heaven if you like sketching items you’d find in a Victorian house.  It’s a place I’ll be going to several times this winter for just that reason.  But on this day I found myself in the kitchen and in one corner there was a wooden, hand-agitated washing machine.  It had been semi-restored as a display piece but the staves that made the body of the machine had been glued together and the metal bands that would normally hold everything together were placed, somewhat askew, just for show.

2016-11-13washer

I couldn’t look at it without seeing it as a cartoon and so, channeling Gary Larsen as best I could, I drew it as such.  It’s not my best work but I had fun doing it which is my criterion for success.  And I only had one more trip between the Maison Alphonse-Dejardins and my place.  I went to bed early that night.

September Sketchcrawl At Jardin Des Gouverneurs

jardin-des-gouverneursThe Croquistes de Québec will hold a sketchcrawl at the Jardin des Gouverneurs on September 11th, starting at 10 AM.  That’s the little gem of a park just south of the Chateau Frontenac.   It should be lots of fun as the park is beautiful, with lots of great sketching subjects.  I hope to see you there.

July Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

A month ago I wrote about sketching at Jardin botanique Roger-Van den Hende.  That incredibly long name is attached to a very large arboretum that is a really, really great place for a sketcher.  And this month’s sketchcrawl, organized by the Croquistes de Quebec was held at this little piece of heaven.

What was fun this Sunday was that in addition to a dozen sketcher, we shared the arboretum with a group of watercolorists and another group of people doing crochet.  If that weren’t enough, a large group of students came to the garden.  They were a group of French immersion students who were on a mission to use their vocabulary to talk about plants and flowers.

All of this is to say that I did a lot more talking than I would at most sketching sessions and so my sketching time suffered.  Still, I found a place that was out of the crowds and I plunked myself down in front of this neglected potting shed and drew it.

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

We had some new people at this sketchcrawl and so there was a lot of sketchbook sharing so we could get to know one another better.  This is one of my favorite things about sketchcrawls and they seemed to enjoy it as well.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

It was getting late when I sat down to draw some lilies.  I only got the ink drawing done by the time it was time to leave.  I thought I’d show you that as well as the sketch after I added some color to it at home.  Do you ever get a chance to sketch in botanical gardens?

2016-07-17-57lilies