Road Trip To Montreal – Part Two

I met Marc Taro Holmes on day two of my Montreal trip at the Pointe a Calliere.  This is primarily and archeology museum, built on top of a large excavation of early Montreal habitations.  We were there to sketch in a natural history exhibition that’s going on now.

I admit that I was tired from the day before.  Now that I’m officially old I don’t hold up like I used to but I was excited to sketch some animals. We wandered around, looked at everything and then I started drawing this spoonbill.  It was a magnificent specimen.  I tried the ‘draw fast’ approach and that cost me some accuracy but I was pleased by the result.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document Black

I was getting tired and Marc graciously agreed to walking across the street so I could sit, drink some coffee and have a muffin.  That was fun and I needed it, but eventually we headed back to capture some more of the museum.

I decided to press the ‘draw fast’ method even more and tried to capture a bunch of birds on one page.  I felt I’d went too small and I certainly drew too fast, but I had fun doing these quick captures.  Maybe this will help me sketch pigeons on the street this summer.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document Black

Unfortunately I was running out of gas and just couldn’t bring myself to start another sketch.  I decided at that point that I was done for the day and so I said goodbye to Marc and headed off to meet my daughter.  I’m not sure that ‘draw fast’ is for me.  Maybe I’m destined to forever be a slow sketcher.

Family Day At Cap Tourmente

The Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area is a great place to get out into nature.  It’s a place with lots of short hiking trails through several habitats and, if you go during the week and outside ‘goose season’ it’s largely devoid of humans so it’s QUIET.  We city-dwellers don’t get quiet anymore and I think it affects us more deeply than we think..if we think about it at all.

I mentioned goose season.  Cap Tourmente is a major stop-over area for migrating geese.  In October/November and thousands of geese aggregate there during their journey south.  It’s pretty cool to see them turn a marsh white with their presence and fill the sky in squadron-like fashion.  But geese bring with them hundreds of humans, filling over-flow parking lots with their pollution devices and that pretty much ruins the experience for me.

But on this day, we were there on a Monday, out of season.  The day was delightful.  We watched a lot of young hummingbirds at feeders, enjoyed the presence of a young porcupine, saw egrets, blue herons, marsh and red-tail hawks, and we even saw the Perigrine Falcons that nest in the cliffs that overlook the refuge.  They told us to beware of bears but the only ones we saw were on the beware of bear signs on the garbage cans.

It wasn’t a sketching day but I couldn’t resist the urge so I did this little landscape while wife and daughter were off investigating the building featured in this sketch.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Esterbrook J9550

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Esterbrook J9550

We stopped for lunch and sat near the information center because there is a gaggle of picnic tables there and we were the only ones using them besides a few tussock moth caterpillars.

Once we were sufficiently nourished we decided to head out in the opposite direction, but I spent 2-3 minutes doing this really quick sketch of a copse of trees.  Not much but it was still good fun.  The washable ink made it even more fun/quick.

Mostly, this day allowed us to fill up on quiet and that’s worth doing.  Give it a try, it’s refreshing, particularly during an election year.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3.5x5.5)

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3.5×5.5), Pilot Metropolitan, J.Herbin Cacao de Brezil washable ink.

Speed Dating – Sketcher Style

I’ve mentioned that I’m in an experiment mood these days and with the Nouvelle France Festival event coming up (the equivalent of duck hunting for a sketcher, with lots of targets that are all moving too fast) I was walking along my river (riviere St. Charles in Quebec City) pondering how “extreme” the sketching is at that event.  I was remembering how last year I had a great time but went home with lots and lots of bad and incomplete sketches, though I think I did post one or two.

2015-08-05-15minutes3Anyways, as I was thinking about this I arrived at the Palais du justice de Quebec, or rather Le parc de l’Amerique-Latine that sits between the court building and the river.  This park is filled with statues and busts of some of the ‘greats’ of Latin America.  I know almost none of them, but as a sketcher, I’d drawn several of them.

It occurred to my aging and weary brain that I could use this cluster of targets for rapid fire target practice, sketcher style.  Sort of training for the Nouvelle France event.  Yeah…I know…you’re right.  But as Steve Martin used to say, “I’m a wild and crazy guy!”

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I decided to give myself fifteen minutes to draw as many of the busts as I could, using only a pointy device and sketchbook.  No arms tied behind my back to make it hard and no need for camouflage to sneak up on the targets.  Nope, just me, my fountain pen and fifteen minutes.  I set a timer on my phone and got to work…frantic work, at least for me as I’m very much a plod along sketcher.  Precious seconds were wasted walking between targets and setting up my tripod stool.  I need more training as a tripod setter-upper.

2015-08-05-15minutes1I finished a third bust at 14 minutes so used the last minute to draw an extra eye, at a more leisurely pace.  It was an interesting and fun exercise.  I hope it’ll help me be successful when Festivale de Nouvelle France rolls around.  Do you do crazy stuff like this?

Sketching At The Mt. Herman Cemetery

Last Saturday our sketching group, Le Collectif, held a sketching event at the Mt. Herman Cemetery.  It’s located just south of Sillery and stretches down to the cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence.  This cemetery is nearly 200 years old, and contains, mostly, the remains of British, Scottish, and Irish people who did much to grow Quebec into what it is today.   And as you wander the rolling hills of the cemetery, below its canopy of old maples, ashes, and elms, you can’t help but be drawn to the names on the headstones, many dating to the middle of the 19th Century.

It must have been the case that marble was a lot cheaper back then than it is now as there’s a lot of it in this cemetery.  Tall, statuesque monuments, requiring a team of people to put in place, have stood for 100 years or more and they provide enduring symbols of what materials and craftsmanship can accomplish.

Our trip coincided with a memorial/commemoration of the retirement of the last of five Treggetts, that have acted as directors of the cemetery.  This was a bonus on the day as I got to meet Mark Brennan, the new director, his right hand, Maureen, and several other fine people who didn’t seem put off by my poor French and even allowed me to speak some English.  Oh…and they gave use cookies and coffee.

Mt Herman cemetery scene

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

But it was sketching we came for so it was sketching we did.  The morning was cold, wet and windy so actually sitting down to sketch was a struggle, and bordering on foolhardy.  Ultimately I came across this scene and set about putting pen to paper.  There are dozens, if not hundreds of scenes like this so I hope to do more sketching here before it becomes too cold for outdoor sketching.

Mt Herman headstone (1871)

Moleskine watercolor book (3×5), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbn Black

The cold morning fatigued me and it was hard to get onto the next sketch so I was slow in doing so.  Besides, the other sketchers were scattered around the grounds and I wanted to say hi and see what others were doing.  I’m nosey that way.  So, I did a lot of walking instead of sketching and it was fun.  I did sketch this headstone, dated 1871.

Mt Herman cemetery headstone

Moleskine watercolor book, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Fernande, my regularly sketching partner was there and we ate lunch together and chatted about the day.  By then the sun had come out and it sort of revitalized us a bit.  After this late lunch we started looking around for something that plucked at our 2PM sensibilities and I found it in this modest headstone, made of large, cast stones with a Celtic circle and plaque attached to it.  I found three in the cemetery that used similar construction, though each was unique.  I’m doing the ink-sketch-a-day event that’s going on right now so I approached this as an ink-only sketch, including a lot more hatching than I would normally add.  Then I decided to add some color anyway.

By the time we finished it was time to head up for the memorial.  Sadly, the time we were given for this was 3PM but by 2:40, when we arrived, the service was over.  We were, however, in time for coffee, cookies, and comraderie with some very fine folks.  Thanks, Mark and Maureen.  We had a great day.

A Summer’s Day At Berthier, Quebec

It’s been three days since I went out sketching with the gang.  It didn’t make it to 60F that day so, of course, as we headed out for a road trip to Berthier, Quebec the prediction was for temps in the mid-80s with a humidex pushed to over 90F.  Mr. Jetstream is oscillating like crazy these days.

This trip was timed perfectly as we would be sketching next to the St. Lawrence River, where there’s always a breeze to cool things down.  Claudette, Fernande, Yvan and I headed over the bridge with Fernande at the helm.  Once on the south shore we turned east along the river on our way to pick up Louise in St. Vallier, half an hour away.

Monologue 9x12, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Monologue 9×12, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Berthier is just down the road from St. Vallier and I’d never been there before.  I’ll be going back ‘real soon’, though.  It’s a sketcher paradise.  There is a small marina with lots of sailboats to sketch.  There is a quay with benches so you can sit and sketch either passing boats or the other side of the St. Lawrence, which features Mount Tremblant.  There is a large park area with lots of picnic-partaking folks to draw.  There are rocks along the coastline and farm buildings if you look in the other direction.  And if that ain’t enough, there’s a place to get coffee and restrooms to cycle it.

The five of us headed for the marina to sketch boats.  I wanted to capture the height of the masts and  chose a scene and vertical format to emphasize their extraordinary height.  I probably worked too fast but that’s always the case when I’m with a group.

Moleskine watercolor 3x5, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Moleskine watercolor 3×5, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Monologue 9x12, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Monologue 9×12, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Once finished there we sketched a bit more, up in the park area and then set up at a table overlooking the marina for lunch.  We’d collaborated and brought cheeses, baguettes, grapes, and wine for lunch.  Claudette made some fantastic roasted peppers that were great along side cucumber slices.  We were living high.  I ate too much.

To be honest, by the time lunch was over I needed a siesta.  I sketched some but decided that a coffee might perk me up.  I think it did and I sketched some more but the sun and food had slowed me to a crawl.

Monologue A6 sketchbook, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Monologue A6 sketchbook, Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Evidence of that is here.  I’d sat down on a bench looking out at the river.  It was thoroughly enjoyable but there wasn’t much to sketch except for a large ‘other side of the St. Lawrence’ sort of sketch and I didn’t have the energy for that.  But, in front of me, on the storm wall was a light, part of a series of them along the wall.  Behind, and well below them were rocks and the river.  So, I drew one light, drinking coffee and breathing in the fresh air.  I was thoroughly content with the day and this sketch was the final drip from my pen.