New Restaurant In Quebec

I don’t have an official count but I think Quebec City has more restaurants per capita than most cities on the planet.   I pass no less than 9 of them on my way to a new one that has just opened and I don’t live in what one might call a dining hotspot.

But open it has, a new Vietnamese restaurant named Ubong.  If the outside is any reflection of the inside, though, I’m sure it will be successful as they’ve completely remodeled the building and painted it with this stunning yellow and green paint and trim.

It’s on a well-traveled street and every once in a while I’d have to stop as a truck or bus blocked my view and there was a steady stream of pedestrians, some of whom stopped to say hello.  I really enjoy this part of street sketching.  It was sketched in my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) and I used a Uniball Signo UM-151 (.38) in black, followed by drawing the window and door frames using a brown-black version of the same pen.  W&N artist watercolors added a bit of shadow and color.

2013-08-06UBONGC

The Thrill Of The Chase

I’m a sketcher… a street sketcher.  What excites me about sketching is the process, not the results.  I love the feeling I have as I sit, studying a subject, drawing lines – oblivious to everything around me.  I love people who stop and ask questions.  Often they’re the same questions (eg – Do you sell these?  Did you go to art school?  How long have you been doing this?) but there’s always a smile attached and some simple chit-chat that connects me to my fellow humans.

And part of the process, for me, is finding something to sketch… the thrill of the hunt.  It’s pretty rare that I plan to go some particular place to sketch some particular thing.  That takes half the fun out of it for me.  I like to just strike out, in any direction, looking for something that catches my attention.

The other day I did just that.  I walked to a main intersection near my house.  There were metro buses that head east/west/north/south and I decided to hop the first one that came along.  I found myself heading east and, once I had passed areas I knew well, I got off the bus.  I continued, walking east until I came across a small park.

I walked into it and sat on a bench.  I looked around.  There were ravens in one end of the park and I thought about sketching them.  There were swings, slides, and what looked like a hamburger that kids could ride.  It sat on a large spring.  These would make a nice sketch, too.

Then I noticed a small mechanics shop stuffed between two larger buildings.  I walked to that corner of the park, picked out a shady area, plunked myself down on my tripod stool, and started this sketch.

My hunt was a success.  I spent a blissful hour while my pen entertained me as no television ever could.  Life is good.

2013-08-02MechaniqueC

Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) sketchbook; Pilot Prera pen; Platinum Carbon Black ink; W&N artist watercolors

Big Building In A Little Town

Quebec City is not an industrial town.  We have no massive factories except for our paper mill.  Rather, we have government…lots of government as we’re the capital of the province of Quebec.  And we have the oldest walled city in North America and cruise ships visit us regularly.  We do tourism.  And so we have lots of politicians and tourists.  We also have UbiSoft, the video game manufacturer so we have animators…story-tellers.  In short, no big factories to sketch.

But we are also a port and the largest building around that port is a huge grain elevator and ship loading facility along the northern side of our marina.  Lots of train cars and boats visit the place as grain is moved onto awaiting ships.  In short, it’s a big, intimidating building to sketch 🙂

I took it as something of a challenge and so became my sketch of the Bunge grain elevators. Done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8 x 2) sketchbook with a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black ink.  W&N watercolors give it a bit of color.  Click for a larger image.

2013-07-31BungeC

Portraits In The Park

Last weekend I attended an annual event that brings portrait artists together in a park area in front of the Gallerie d’Art Magella-Paradis.  This gallery, in association with the La Societé Artistique de Charlesbourg organized the event and Alain Fortier and Lucien Lanoie were the prime movers to make it happen.

René Chamberland doing his thing.

René Chamberland doing his thing.

And what a fun day it was.  By my count there were a dozen or so portrait artists who drew each other and anyone else they could get to sit for them.  René Chamberland even sketched me.  With great company, in a great place, and with a dose of great weather, the day was pretty special.

Richard is drawing a lovely lady who volunteered to pose for him.

Richard is drawing a lovely lady who volunteered to pose for him.

Luceien Lanoie ran the 20-minute sessions and helped portrait artists as he walked around the area.

Lucien Lanoie ran the 20-minute sessions and helped portrait artists as he walked around the area.

Some of the artists taking a break to get something to drink and chat a bit.

Some of the artists taking a break to get something to drink and chat a bit.

I’m an urban sketcher, not a portrait artist but that didn’t keep my pen in my pocket.  I did several sketches during the day, including these sketches of the artists doing what they do best.  These were done in a small 3×5 sketchbook using J.Herbin 1670 ink.  Is it urban sketching to sketch a portrait event?  I think it is (grin).

2013-07-28GillesSketching2013-07-28YvanSketching2013-07-29Rene

 

 

Do You Sketch The Boring Stuff?

I like to sketch boring stuff.  I guess I should be more precise and say that I like to sketch things that other people find boring, or worse, don’t even notice them at all.  Things like garbage cans, fire hydrants, telephone poles… and plain, ‘boring’ buildings.

2013-07-26

So when I saw this view of the end of a 3-store complex, it called to me.  I set up my stool, sat down, and got out my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) sketchbook.  I used a Pilot Prera loaded with Platinum Carbon Ink to do the sketch.  I was happy with the results.2013-07-26Building_site

What do you think?  Do you sketch boring stuff?

2013-07-26Building

More Small Sketches… More Fun

I’m continuing to have fun with small 3×5 (or smaller) sketches.  Thought I’d share a few more with you.

2013-07-18MaryDooleyCThis is a small, adorable building that is the home to a dress designer.  It looks like something from a fairy tale and seemed like a great small sketch subject.  As with my previous small sketches, this one (and the others here) were done in a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.  This particular one was done with a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black ink.

2013-07-21KamouraskaCWe took a day trip down (up?) the southern coast of the St. Lawrence River to Kamouraska.  I’d hoped to sketch some of the great buildings there but instead I did this sketch of my daughter looking out at the ocean (the Atlantic is out there somewhere if you look far enough).  I like this one a lot, probably because of the subject matter.

2013-07-23shipCI was walking across the bridges that crosses the St. Charles River just as it flows into the St. Lawrence and decided, without much thought, to sketch this scene.  I think the scene would have been better served by a larger format but the little sketchbook came out and the pen started jittering around the paper.  I’m not a fan of sketching while standing and this is further evidence that I’m not very good at it.  But they can’t all be great.  It was still fun, which is why I do this.

2013-07-23guyCLastly, and certainly least, I was taking a break on Terrace Dufferin, a large boardwalk associated with the Chateau Frontenac.  Across from me was this guy, looking out at the St. Lawrence.  I took out my cheap sketchbook thinking I’d just do a one-minute sketch of him and, big mistake, I started the sketch in portrait format, thinking I was only going to draw him and couple boards to represent the bench.  Then I sort of got carried away making squiggles to represent the railing and before I knew it I was having to draw him smaller than I planned, the bench became more integral to the sketch, and in the end I had a tiny, 2×2 vignette of a guy on a bench.  It’s sort of scratch and way too small but again, quite fun and I thought I would share it as an example of improper planning… or maybe just the right amount 🙂  This one was done with a Uniball Signo UM151 (brown-black) pen.  I really like these pens and I’m now armed with several of them.

Sometimes You Just Need A Challenge

ArtisticLicenseIf you know Brenda Swenson’s “75-day Challenge”, you know the concept of casting aside the pencil, even for organizational purposes and sketching directly with pen.  It’s said, and I believe it to be true, that doing so for a lot of sketches, will improve your ability to see and put what you see on paper.  The process moves a lot of thinking to early in the process, ensuring that when you do lay down a line it’s in the right place.

I do a lot of ink work but typically use a pencil to lightly outline main masses and relationships in a sketch.  But sometimes a guy just needs a challenge and I was feeling like one when I started looking at this railing and post.

I set up to sketch it (Stillman & Birn Zeta -5×8, Pilot Prera) and decided to do it ‘ink-only’, though I confess that I drew a pencil horizontal line at the top of the railing and a vertical line at the inside of the post.  Then I got out my pen and stared.  And then I stared some more, measuring, seeing, and occasionally putting a dot on my paper.  Then I drew the lines… and the curves.  For me it was a struggle with all the curved wrought iron to render.  And there are screw ups… there are always screw ups.  It’s my signature move.  But generally, I like the results and had a lot of fun with the process.

2013-07-24railingC

 

While Walking Through The Park One Day….

Yvan and I planned a sketching session on St. Denis street and we were to meet there.  This street has many majestic residences and a large grassy area in front of them so it’s an ideal place to sketch.

As I arrived I realized that I’d forgotten my WalkStool.  This is a big problem as my knees and me don’t much like sitting on the ground, for fear that we’ll never be able to get back up.

And so the search began for a sitting place with something in front of me to sketch.  It’s not really rocket science but I wandered around for a while before finding such a combination.  I ended up in the Parc des Governeurs, a small park between the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City’s tourist landmark and the American consulate.

2013-07-20GovernorsPark

Both of these buildings are great sketching subjects but I chose this more humble structure that sits in the park.  Yvan suggested that it was once a toilet but these days it looks to be used by maintenance people.  In any case, it had a bench, in the shade, and so I sketched it in my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) with a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black ink.  I used Lexington Gray for the stairs in the background.  I’m enjoying the contrast between these two inks.  As always, I used Winsor & Newton watercolors like crayons to add some color.

Ferry Dock Sketching

I use any excuse to take the ferry from Quebec City to Levis, which is on the other side of the St. Lawrence River from us.  I do it because 1) I like boats, 2) my bus pass makes it free, and 3) did I mention that I like boats?

On this day, I did it because Yvan wanted to sketch the ferry station, which is an old train station that’s been sort of messed up by neglect and its conversion into a ferry dock.  But they’re planning on tearing it down and he wanted a sketch of it.  Seemed like a plan to me.

But when I got there, something about sketching the station just didn’t turn my crank that morning so I found an alternative, this building that was probably a hotel at some point and may still be.  I like the way the cliff jutted up above, dwarfing what is actually a very large building.
2013-07-18LevisBuildingC
It was done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) sketchbook with Pilot Preras and Platinum Carbon Black and Noodler’s Lexington gray inks.  Hope you like it.  It was sure fun.

Do You Sketch Small?

I’ve always carried a small sketchbook with me for doing quick-sketches of things.  But more and more I’ve been sketching in 5×8 or 10×7 sketchbooks. Working larger is fun and lets me ‘stretch’ my gaze a bit more.  The result is that my small sketchbook became a cheap dollar store sketchbook that wouldn’t tolerate watercolors while my larger sketchbooks are all Stillman & Birn, first-class sketchbooks. The ‘gap’ between small and large had become greater in my sketching.

So I tried one of Stillman & Birn’s 4×6 sketchbooks.  In fact, I’ve nearly filled two of them.  The paper is fantastic, as always, but a 4×6, thick sketchbook is too ‘big’ to be called a ‘small’ sketchbook, at least for this street sketcher.  I need something I can stuff in a pocket.

And so I bought a Moleskine watercolor book.  I don’t much like its landscape layout but it’s tolerable in this small size.  The larger one is almost painful to manage if you try to balance it on your knee while sitting on a stool, which is my typical approach.  I do wish they’d produce a portrait format sketchbook with their watercolor paper.  Heck, what I really wish is that Stillman & Birn would produce a thin (30pages?) 3×5 sketchbook with their Epsilon paper.  Then I’d be a very happy sketcher.

This is a Celtic Cross in Artillery Park. 3x5 and done with a Pilot Prera.

This is a Celtic Cross in Artillery Park. Done with a Pilot Prera.

Anyways, I’ve started doing small pen & ink watercolors again and I’m really enjoying it.  I thought I’d share some with you.  All of these were done in the tiny Moleskine.  I’ll mention the pen used in captions.

2013-07-14factory

Factory building along the Riviere St. Charles. Sakura Micron 01.

Lamp on Plains of Abraham. Uniball Signo UM-151 "brown-black" .28

Lamp on Plains of Abraham. Uniball Signo UM-151 “brown-black” .28

 

Cast metal fountain on Plains of Abraham.  Pilot Prera, Platinum Carbon Black.

Cast metal fountain on Plains of Abraham. Pilot Prera, Platinum Carbon Black.

Large light inside the Kent Gate. Pilot Prera.

Large light inside the Kent Gate. Pilot Prera.

Cartier-Brebeuf Park. Pilot Prera

Cartier-Brebeuf Park. Pilot Prera

2013-07-18hydrantC

Pilot Prera w/Platinum Carbon Black