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.