I’m Four Years Old

When you are as old as I am, birthdays aren’t a big deal beyond preferring them to the alternative.  But when I can say “I’m Four Years Old,” well that’s better, and I’m now a four-year-old sketcher.

I can’t really say what day it was that I read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and bought into his notion that the value of art comes from the doing of it rather than the end product, but it was sometime in September of 2011.  At the time, I couldn’t draw anything.  I’d been told when I was a kid that I had no talent for art and I’d spent almost 60 years believing it.  Times change and now I don’t believe that “talent” has anything to do with it, though if persistence is a talent maybe there is truth in “you’re so talented” as I’ve been persistent if nothing else.

Anyways, back then I started drawing cubes… lots of cubes.  I figured that lots of things fit into cubes and so if I could draw cubes in any orientation, I’d have a good start on drawing pretty much anything.  And you know what, I think I was right.  Books told me I should also add spheres, cones and cylinders to the mix but otherwise, I started to build a foundation for drawing.  I got pretty myopic about it too, worrying only about the drawing, using paint like crayons and not giving it much thought.

Sadly, I don’t have any of those pages of cubes.  I was using photocopy paper and throwing everything away.  It wasn’t until I posted a couple simple sketches in a sketching group and mentioned my circular file approach to storage that someone said, “Hey, hang onto that stuff.  You’ll want to look back on it some day.”  And so I started my first sketchbook.

By this time I’d heard about urban sketching and that looked like a good idea to me – all except for that going out in public to sketch stuff.  That sounded really scary!

But I was determined.  I took a small 4×6 sketchbook, with horrible paper, and headed to a shopping center.  I’m an analytical type and I reasoned that if I sketched a manikin she wouldn’t get mad at me and I wouldn’t have to worry about her leaving.  I was right on both counts.


2ndLocationsketchIt was still scary, though and I held my sketchbook close to my chest, drawing as quickly as I could in the hope that nobody would see me.  Once again, the strategy worked and I finished the sketch, got up immediately, and walked away.  It was only in hindsight that I saw the reality.  Nobody cared what the heck I was doing.  Everyone just walked by, too busy in their own affairs to care about me and my manikin sketch.  My second ‘urban sketch’ was a post box and it didn’t get angry either.   But I got “bold” and soon I was sketching my coffee cup in the middle of McDonalds (grin).

By this time I was 1) having a great time sketching, or trying, anywhere I wanted.  It doesn’t take long before you figure out that nobody cares what you’re doing and the fears are unfounded.  My only limitations were, and still are, my ability to draw and paint.  But I wanted to draw buildings and so one day I bit the bullet and drew this one, my first location sketch of a building.  Since then I’ve done, literally, thousands of sketches, almost all of them done on location.  I’ve filled more than 40 sketchbooks.  I think I’m a little better at sketching than I was when I started but that doesn’t really matter.  I’m having fun and it’s become a part of my life.



Sketchcrawl At Fete De La Nouvelle France

2014-08-09NouvelleFrance1Our fearless leader has scheduled our second sketchcrawl to coincide with the Nouvelle France festival, on Sunday, August 9th.  The festival is always pretty special for sketchers as it’s a week of people wandering the old port area wearing period costumes, doing demonstrations of 18th Century crafts, and plenty of opportunity to eat traditional Quebec food.

We’re all going to rendevous in the square at Place Royale (prime subject-hunting territory) at 9:30 and after lunch we’ll move to Parc de l’Unesco which is just down the street.  You can get more details about the festival and the sketchcrawl from the Croquistes de Quebec webpage.  I hope you can make it.  Bring yourself, your sketching gear, and be prepared for lots of fun.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at larry@larrydmarshall.com or Yvan Breton from his web page.



Disaster Strikes LarryDMarshall.com


Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  From my view it seems like forever.  My laptop, my connection to the universe, started acting up as we heralded in the new year.  By January 3rd I was scrambling to find a laptop to buy that 1) wouldn’t break the bank, 2) had the features I required, and 3) that could be found, in stock, in a local store.  This last thing was the hard part, it always is in Quebec City.

I’ve done a restoration and password-remembering marathon, spending far too much time watching that silly Windows thing spin around, and around, and around as something, supposedly – maybe hopefully – was happening.  I’m now looking out at you through a new computer window and most of my software is working.  I’ll get back to regular posts in the next day or so.  Happy 2015 – I hope the rest of it goes better for me too.

Cheers — Larry

I Think It’s My Birthday

I think it’s my birthday but I’m not really sure.  Sometime in mid-September of 2011 I made my first attempt at sketching, having read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters.  So some time in mid-September 0f 2014 I became a 3-year old sketcher.  Yippee, for me.

The sad thing is that I can’t say exactly what day I did the original deed.  When I started sketching I was doing it on any old paper using a fountain pens.  I drew a gazillion cubes in all orientations, somehow knowing this was good practice in drawing three dimensional objects.  I tried to draw everything in sight…in sight of my office that is as I was afraid to go out on the street to sketch.

Unfortunately, all of those sketches were thrown away because I didn’t know any better.  Then, one day, someone in an internet group suggested that I upload one of my sketches.  I did and the participants became aware that I was throwing them away.  I was told that I should keep everythiung because I would, one day, want to look back on them.  Guess what day it is?

I remember that my first attempt at street sketching took place in a mall, with a tiny sketchbook held close to my chest.  I drew a clothing store mannikin, figuring she wouldn’t mind and wouldn’t walk away.  I was scared to death I would get “caught” in the act.  I drew quickly and poorly and left the second I was finished.  I guess I figured stealth sketching was a viable approach.


First Building Sketch

Here’s the first building sketch I ever did.  It was done from a photo of this small restaurant.  I remember being proud of it at the time, mostly because the many sketches that preceded it that were much worse (grin).   Interestingly, this was the same subject that launched me as a street sketcher – the first sketch where I perched on a tripod stool and drew.  Here’s that one, done in March of 2012.


First street sketch (Mar 2012)

Since then I’ve done hundreds of sketches on the street as street sketching has become a way of life for me.  Here’s a snapshot of the sketchbooks I’ve filled so far.  The black ones are all Stillman & Birn.  The rest are of lesser quality.

Sketchbooks from my first three years as a sketcher

Sketchbooks from my first three years as a sketcher

Internet groups and friends continue to fuel my learning curve climb and I’m enjoying the journey.  Thanks to all who are helping me with that process.

So, I’m three, going on four.  That sounds pretty good to an old man.  I’ll end with a more recent sketch in an attempt to recoup a bit of sketcher dignity (grin).

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10x7), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Great Approach To Watercolors By Marc Taro Holmes

Marc Taro Holmes is one of my favorite street artists.  I doubt he would brand himself that way as he does art in many venues – everything from quick sketches to fine art.  But it’s his street paintings, with pen and ink as the base, are what I like most.
Because of this, I’ve directed a lot of people to his Tea, Milk and Honey blog post, where he outlines a 3-part approach to developing a watercolor.  So, I just have to direct everyone to his latest blog post, where he’s sharing a fold-up PDF “cheat sheet” for his TMH system.  I’ll say no more.  Go to his blog, The Citizen Sketcher.  Download the PDF.  Thank Marc while you’re there.  I’ll start.  Thanks, Marc.


A Grand Day Out: Sketching With Others

GrandDayOutMy favorite Wallace and Gromit film is A Grand Day Out.  In it, Wallace finds that while he has crackers, he has run out of cheese.  Of course, that means he and his dog Gromit need to go to the moon to get some more, as everyone knows the moon is made of cheese.  Gromit builds a rocket and they head off to find some cheese.

Yesterday I was reminded of A Grand Day Out because I had one in the form of Quebec City’s version of the 42nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl.  We’ve held several of these and while it’s hard to do when it’s -25C, we do what we can to bring people together.

This sketchcrawl was held at the Musée de la Civilisation.  This museum is a very welcoming and accommodating place and it’s ideal for such an event.  As with all of our sketchcrawls, this one was organized by Yvan Breton and Celine Poulin.  One of my sketching buddies, Claudette Gauvreau, deserves some credit as well as she used her infectious laugh and sociability to convince several of her friends to join us.

Just beginning to gather in the lunch area. Hard choice between talking and eating being made by many

Just beginning to gather in the lunch area. Hard choice between talking and eating being made by many

And what an event it was.  We had a couple DOZEN people at this event.  I emphasize the word dozen as when you can start counting participants in ‘dozens’ it’s sort of like being old enough to talk about how many decades you’ve been alive.  And dozens we had, at least 24 people and while it was hard to get an accurate count, I think it was more.  What I do know is that I found it impossible to remember the names of all the people I met for the first time.  But I’ll always remember the smiles on their faces.

And did we have fun.  The one downside of a museum sketchcrawl is documentation as they frown on photography in the exhibit areas (click on image to get a larger image).  What I can tell you is that from 10AM until 12:30 there were sketchers everywhere you looked and it was quite exciting.  Some people were surprised by how relaxed the atmosphere was and how “non-competitive” we were.  You can tell ‘serious’ artists about this difference between sketching and fine art but until they experience group sketching on location, it’s hard to understand it.

Looking at sketchbooks, laughing and enjoying one another's company

Looking at sketchbooks, laughing and enjoying one another’s company

A group admiring Jacques Paquet's sketch box

A group admiring Jacques Paquet’s sketch box








At 12:30 we gathered in a basement area to eat lunch and kibbitz about sketching, pens, watercolors, and to share our sketchbooks.  I’m not sure we ever had everyone in one place so I can’t show you the typical ‘the gang’ photo but here are a few clusters of people and even a few sketches I managed to snap a photo of as they were laid out by some of the participants.

I found it hard to get photos of other people’s sketches because everyone was having so much fun flipping through everyone else’s sketchbooks.  Pictures come second to fun in my book but I did manage to get these few snapshots.

Guylaine Côté's bicycle.  Love this view.

Guylaine Côté’s bicycle. Love this view.

Celine (top) and Pierre's (bottom) sketches

Celine (top) and Pierre’s (bottom) sketches

Group of sketches

Group of sketches










After lunch, and after we couldn’t talk any more, most of us headed back out to sketch.  We lost a few of our participants as they had afternoon appointments elsewhere.  Once again we invaded the exhibits like ants on a sugar cube and while we were having fun, we were also becoming part of the exhibits, as folks were looking over our shoulders and saying nice things.  Location sketching is good for the ego.

We wrapped up around 3PM, most of us quite tired but also exhilarated by the day’s activities.  I’m still walking a foot or so above the ground.  Did I mention we had a COUPLE DOZEN participants?

Oh…I did a bit of sketching myself, though not as much as some.  And I did have the ability to scan them.  Here are my sketches from the day.  It was definitely a Grand Day Out.

I saw this drum display as an opportunity to practice orienting ellipses as each drum was positioned differently.  Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9), Wahl-Eversharp pen, Lexington Gray ink

I saw this drum display as an opportunity to practice orienting ellipses as each drum was positioned differently. Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), Wahl-Eversharp pen, Lexington Gray ink


These were part of a large poster of clown caricatures and I thought it might be fun to draw a few of them.  It was.  Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9), Wahl-Eversharp pen, Lexington Gray

These were part of a large poster of clown caricatures and I thought it might be fun to draw a few of them. It was. Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), Wahl-Eversharp pen, Lexington Gray

You can find many more photos and sketches on the Worldwide Sketchcrawl site.

Sketchcrawl Reminder – January 25th

2013-05-20MuseeJust a quick reminder that Saturday, January 25th, at 10AM will begin a grand day of sketching as we celebrate the 42nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl at the Musée de la Civilisation.  It’s free to all but bring sketching materials and a lunch, though the museum will be most happy to sell you food as well.  You can see details here, in my original post about the sketchcrawl.  See you there.

Quebec Sketchcrawl: Musee De La Civilisation

Saturday, January 25th is the date for the 42nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl.  It’s very cold in Quebec City this time of year so we’ll be having our sketchcrawl indoors at the Musée de la Civilisation.   We’ll be at the museum from 10h to 16h, breaking for lunch at mid-day.  Bring a lunch or buy it at the museum but we’ll gather at the museum cafeteria around 12:30.

Participation, of course, is free.  Normally, entrance to the museum is only available from 10h to 12h but the museum has generously offered free admission to all participants regardless of your time of arrival.  Just let them know that you’re with the sketching group.  Coat check is also free.

2014-01-05Haiti_72It should be a great day as there’s plenty to tempt you to put pen to paper.  While a bit bizarre, the Haiti In Extremis exhibit offers some macabre sketching possibilities.

The newly refurbished and expanded Native American exhibit is also full of goodies to sketch, from snowshoes, utensils, weapons, carvings, paintings, mannikins all waiting for interest a sketcher.


There is a large computer games exhibit and while it’s mostly a bunch of boxes on which you can play video games, there are a number of possibilities for sketching as well, including a full-sized sculpture of the lead character for the Assassin’s Creed III video game.

2013-12-27Assasin's Creed_C72There are also a lot of interior architecture possibilities as the building itself has a lobby area that is an architect’s dream.  I still need to do some sketching there.

Of course the star of the show right now is the Paris: 1899-1914 exhibit.  Here you’ll find a room filled with old camera and movie projector equipment and ongoing movies from the period.2013-11-22Mutoscope_72


Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9) sketchbook, TWSBI Mini w/Platinum Carbon Black ink

There are a lot of sculptures, busts, and vases if that’s your preference.  You’ll also find a number of early vehicles, including a  steam-powered car.


Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9), TWSBI Mini, Platinum Carbon Black

The exhibit also holds a lot of very large posters as well as floor-to-ceiling projections of photos, taken in Paris in the 1900s.  I did this sketch from one of those.

And, of course, a Paris exhibit wouldn’t be complete without pieces that represent the cabaret scene of the era.  Lots of great stuff to sketch in that part of the exhibit.

Cabaret page, sketched at Musee de la Civilisation

In short, you won’t want to miss this sketchcrawl as we’re going to have a ball.  I hope you’ll join us.  And from the organizers, Yvan Breton and Celine Poulin:

 ———————EN FRANÇAIS———————

Bonjour chers croquistes,
La prochaine sortie de croquis du 42e Sketchcrawl à Québec aura lieu au chaud du Musée de la Civilisation samedi le 25 janvierprochain.
Nous nous retrouverons à partir de 10h (accès gratuit).
Pour plus d’information, voir l’annonce à la page suivante :
Au plaisir de faire du croquis en votre compagnie.
Yvan Breton et Céline Poulin






Just Say No: Resolve Not To Resolve

Happy New Year 2014

This is the time of year when everyone starts talking about New Year’s resolutions.  “I’m going to lose 20 lbs.”  “I’m going to exercise more this year.”  “I’m going to be nicer.”

A few decades ago I realized that all this is just “talk” and that, most the time, the smart money is on people forgetting all about their resolution within a week or so of making it.  That’s why we’re all fat, don’t exercise enough, and not very nice.

But not me.  Year after year I keep my resolution – 100%.  That’s because I resolved not to resolve anything, and it works every year.  Pretty cool, eh?  So, think hard about what your New Year’s resolution will be.  I think there are two ways to go with this, unless you’re just blowing smoke during resolution season in which case, just keep talking about how serious you about sticking to your resolution “this year.”  Otherwise, read on.

Option One

Do like I’ve done.  Resolve something that is self-fulfilling, and/or automatic.  How about “I’m going to breathe every day” or “I won’t change my gender during the whole year.”  Well, that last one might not work for some people but you get the idea.  Then, like me, you can proudly crow to everyone you meet, “I kept my New Year’s Resolution.  How about you?”  This accomplishes nothing, of course, but at least you can be confident of success… sort of like Congress saying they did nothing because that was their goal.

Option Two

This is the alternative for those of you who actually want to change something in their life, whether it be to lose weight, take up a new hobby, learn to play an instrument, or whatever.  This is the hard alternative of the two but it does pay dividends.

To do Option Two get a small notebook and for each of the first 30 pages in that notebook, write a number from 1 to 30 at the top of the page.  THEN, do whatever your resolution demands, EVERY day, for 30 days.  It takes that long to develop a habit, to integrate it into your life, and to find out if it’s actually something you want to do.  Giving up after a week cuz it’s too hard or rationalizing your way out of something hard by saying “I don’t like it” is not an option here.  Each day, after you’ve done whatever it is your resolution requires, make a note of what it was you did that day.  Keep it up for 30 days.

At the end of that 30 days the activity will be something you’re doing every day.  You might still want to stop doing it because you’ve decided that you really didn’t want to become an underwater basket weaver but you won’t be able to say “I don’t have time for this.”  You’ve just spent 30 days doing it – you have the time.  It’s likely that you won’t be able to say “This is too hard” as you will have done ‘it’ enough that you will have made considerable progress in the endeavor, enough that you can see the results.  And most important, it will have become a habit in your life, not just a spoken, vague goal.

BTW, this is how I started sketching.  I decided I want to try it but wasn’t sure I could.  In fact, long ago I was told I had no talent for art but I’m old now and don’t have any elders to pay attention to anymore.  But I also realized that it would be hard as I couldn’t even draw a darn cube without it looking like it’d been run over by a truck.  So I set the 30-day goal and I drew a lot of bad cubes for 30 days…until I saw that I was improving.  At the end of that 30-days my cubes were pretty darn good and and I’ve been sketching nearly every day since.
So, what’s your New Years Resolution?  Option One, Option Two, or are you just talking.  In any case,

Happy New Years, Everyone



A Merry “Sketcher” Christmas To All

I thought about sketching the proverbial Santa Claus for this post but geez…that red suit and white beard are everywhere.  The world doesn’t need another.  But you can hardly imagine a case where there would be too many fire hydrant sketches in the world and this acts as a great stand-in for Mr. Claus, don’t you think?


Merry Christmas Everyone!