Hi everyone. Once again I have to apologize for not posting regularly. Problems with my hands have prevented me from drawing much, which is my only excuse. I did want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, though, so I’m using a past sketch to justify this short acknowledgement of the holidays. I hope all is well with you and yours and that it’s warmer where you are than it is here (grin).
I’ve mentioned La Collectif before. They are a great group of folks who mostly draw portraits and life drawing. But in recent years they’ve also started holding outdoor sketching events. These events have gained momentum since Daniel Chagnon took on the job of planning these events.
This year, he scheduled a series of events along the St. Charles River with the goal of having an exposition of those works later in the year. Sadly, several of them got rained out but persistence paid off and a bunch of sketches were done. That exposition happened last week at the Maison Dorion-Coulomb, the headquarters for the Parc linéaire de la Rivière-Saint-Charles, the group that promotes activities in the 32km long park through which the river flows.
I confess that I’ve been a bit antisocial lately because my knee is providing me with a steady dose of pain that puts me in a bad mood generally. I even thought about not going, but I did and I’m glad I did.
I don’t have much in the way of sketches to show you. I sat on the porch and drew the sign in front of the house. By then, most of the group were circled around a willing model and they were drawing his portrait.
The closest I got to that exercise (my least favorite subject) was to draw one of the sketchers, who was slumped down in her chair, perfectly relaxed and doing her thing.
As always, when I’m around sketchers, I spent more time talking than I should have if sketching was the goal, but sometimes it isn’t.
There’s supposed to be half a million spectators on hand at Parliament in Ottawa for today’s Canada Day celebration. I’m glad I’m not there. On the other hand, living in Quebec City means I experience hardly a peep in celebration. It’s sad.
But I’m here, an ex-American, proud Canadian, waving the flag. Happy Canada Day everyone.
WARNING: Graphic Results of Violence Follows
Tuesday I was the organizer of our Tuesday sketching session. We were to meet in front of the Chateau Frontenac, on the Terrace Dufferin at 10AM. I like to get on site before anyone arrives so I can say hi when they do.
I started setting up to sketch a large statue, but one of the tubes on my WalkStool came apart from the lower portion. I didn’t think much of this and just pounded it back in place. I should have thought a bit more. This disrupted my normal cycle of ensuring that all three legs were locked in place. One was not.
I sat down on the stool, a leg gave way and my head smacked against the granite block wall of the hotel. The crack to my head wasn’t as extreme as if I’d fallen from a standing position but… I put my hand to the back of my head and it came away full of blood.
I scurried to my feet. Well, I sort of scurried. My knees don’t allow me to pop to my feet as I once could so it was more of an old-man process of getting to my feet. I picked up my bag and stool, grabbed a paper towel to block the wound, and I headed into the Starbucks that’s part of the hotel.
I asked a guy there where I had to go for first aid, he said “Quoi?” and I showed him my handful of blood. He got the message and immedately called the hotel medic, telling me to go stand by the doors outside and that the medic would be there. I did.
A guy walked up to me and asked if I was ok. I told him the medic was coming and he offered to take me to the hospital or at least stay with me until the medic came. A woman ran over, carrying a wad of Starbucks napkins, which were gratefully received. Then the Starbucks guy came out to check on me and we all stood around until a guy with a great big red first aid kit came through the door.
I know a real urban sketcher would have been sketching all this activity but, well, my hands were somewhat tied up trying to keep blood from running down my neck. I went with the medic into a bathroom and he did a bang up job of cleaning me up. He concluded that I probably didn’t need stitches and did his best to bandage the tiny wound that was the source of the blood.
By this time, it was well after 10AM so I grabbed a coffee, thanked the Starbucks guy and went looking for my buddies. They were all sketching away when I arrived. The wound had stopped bleeding but, it started to drip so rather than sketching I was holding kleenex over the wound, applying some pressure. It didn’t take long to realize that going home was a better plan than hanging out with my friends.
The wound did stop bleeding by about 1PM but I sat around the rest of the day watching Netflix and trying not to move my head too much. Oh, the title mentions how expensive sketching can be as well as dangerous. Somehow, during this fiasco, I lost my wireless headphones. It was not a good day.
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.
Tina Koyama just did a blog post about completing five years as a sketcher. It reminded me that I’ve been sketching for five years as well so I thought I should do a short post about that fact.
When I began as a sketcher I couldn’t draw anything. I’d read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and bought into the idea that being good wasn’t important; the process of doing it was what was important. This was an important epiphany for me at the time because I’d been convinced that I had no “talent” for art.
These days I know that “talent” is something you create by passion and persistence; you’re not born with it. Anyway, I started drawing cubes and doing simple drawings of things. I started posting a few things on Russ Stutler’s sketching site, which is where I first ‘met’ Tina. At that time I was drawing on photocopy paper and throwing the results away when I was done. Someone on that group explained what a bad idea that was and that I should keep my early sketches.
I wish I had some of them to post here but instead I’ll post the first location sketch I did (Oct 2011), a window manikin (I figured she wouldn’t mind me sketching her) and one of my first building sketches (done in Oct 2011 from a photo). I’ll add to this the last location sketch I did just a few days ago. Hope you can see a difference as there have been several thousand sketches done in between these. With a bit more persistence, maybe I’ll improve by the end of year six. In any case, sketching has improved my life so much that it doesn’t really matter.
There are many sketchers who have helped me climb the treacherous learning curve that comes with wanting to learn to draw, but Cathy Johnson, Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel have provided the most advice, inspiration and models for who I want to be when I grow up. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and sketch with Marc Taro Holmes but I’ve never met Cathy or Liz but I feel I know them well because of the internet. All three are ever-present when I’m sketching.
If you’re a sketcher you know Liz Steel but if you’re an economist following an errant URL from Google, Liz is one of the most prolific purveyors of sketching information on the planet. She blogs incessantly, has several online classes that are among the best, and she has a new book coming out called 5-Minute Sketching: Architecture. It won’t be available until October 1st but you can pre-order it as I just did. You won’t be disappointed.
While I’m at it, Liz’s new course, SketchingNow Buildings: Essential Concepts for Sketching Architecture will be starting September 7th. Her courses are packed with information, in video and written form so if you’re struggling with drawing architecture, this 6-week course is for you.
I became a Canadian citizen about a month ago and it seemed only fitting that I should do a sketch in honor of Canada Day. Happy Canada Day everyone.
Some 500 years before Columbus, the Vikings were wandering around what is now the east coast of Canada. They came by ship of course and some of their descendents decided to make the trip again. Thirty-six days crossing the Atlantic resulted in them showing up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
They decided to visit Quebec City and they showed up last Friday. I thought it might be fun to draw the ship so I headed down to the harbor area. Unfortunately, a lot of other people decided they should go to the harbor area too, armed with cameras, bicycles, strollers, and there was a guy with a wagon. There were enough people to make it difficult to stick your cell phone in the air to get a shot of the ship without a dozen heads in the picture. Sitting down to draw the ship caused one to get a great view of a lot of…well, let’s just say the view of the people was lower than those heads. The best I could do was to stand, actually having to move around to get a glimpse of the nose of the boat as I did this quick sketch of the dragon figurehead.
The other day I was annoying at least one person for not being an Facebook because I was out doing other things. This is what I was doing. I am now, officially, Canadian. They gave me a cute little maple leaf pin, taught me the secret handshake and told me that though I was Canadian I wasn’t responsible for Justin Beiber. We splurged in celebration and had nachos and beer for dinner.