First Outdoor Sketch Of The Year

We’ve completed the first week of May and we have yet to see our first 60F temperatures in Quebec City.  In fact, they say, it may freeze tonight.  But, we now have several crocuses peaking out of the ground and that’s a good sign.  I think they’re teasing but Mr. Weatherman says it may hit 70F later this week so I guess spring has finally sprung.

A couple days ago, however, it did get into the 50s and so I headed out to do some sketching.  I wore gloves, jacket and sweater and it wasn’t too bad as I sketched this building, though by the time I got to adding color, I was ready to move around to warm up.   Here it is, though, my first outdoor sketch of 2016.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

May Sketchcrawl Down Limoilou Allies




Some of the most fascinating parts of a city are behind the scenes, the back doors if you will.  In parts of Quebec City, most notably Limoilou, these are accessible to the artist through the ruelles or allies.  Most parts of Quebec City don’t have them but Limoilou has them and that’s where we’re headed for our next sketchcrawl, on Sunday May 8th.  For details of the event, head to Croquistes de Quebec website  for details.  If you need motivation, here’s a wonderful video that the Ottawa Urban Sketchers did when they did an similar sketchcrawl.  See you there.


Speed Sketching In The Cold

It’s the end of April.  People who are smarter than me, and thus live in habitable places on Earth, are starting to tend their gardens, put their boats in the water, and they’re out sketching with their friends.  The internet tells me this is so.

gloves1That is not the case here in Quebec.  Most of our snow has melted, but it’s done so very slowly this year, not in the typical slush-creating manner.  This is because it just won’t warm up.   We’ve had a couple days where it seemed that spring had come but then old mom nature opens the fridge again and we’re back to wondering…will spring ever come?

And so it was when I decided to try out my new arthritis gloves.  Huh?  Yes, arthritis gloves.  A friend of mine bought them for me because I suffer from the problem; he’s a really nice guy, and he saw them in a store.  He has also heard me talk about wanting thin gloves with no fingers for sketching and so he bought them.  For the arthritis, they’re sort of like wrapping an ankle with an ace bandage.  The pressure just feels good.gloves2

None of that is important here.  What’s important is their use as sketching gloves and I can say they are ideal.  Unlike other fingerless gloves I’ve tried, they are tight-fitting, thin gloves with no seams in the way and the fingerless endseams don’t get in the way of my pen.  I can draw with them as though I weren’t wearing gloves at all.

Gloves, however, don’t keep an Arizona boy warm when it’s cold outside so there were compromises made when I went outside to try them out.  I just walked down to the end of my street, which dead-ends into a large exposition building complex, sat down on my stool in the middle of a parking lot (unused at the time) and decided to see what kind of building sketch I could do in 10 minutes.  I figured that would be all I could endure and I was just about right.  Color was done quickly with a minimal watercolor set and a waterbrush and I did exceed the 10-minute timer beep by about 30-seconds as I slapped on some finishing sky.  It’s not much but I got to sketch outdoors and try my gloves.

As I came home, the guys who were doing brickwork on the house next to mine were packing up for the day.  They told me they had to quit because their mortar was freezing.  Maybe it’ll warm up tomorrow.


Sketching Ottawa – Part Two

Yesterday I talked about not feeling well during my sketching trip to Ottawa.  I want to post a couple more sketches from that trip and comment on some of the comedy of the trip as well.

Do you ever go somewhere and it seems that nothing is working in your favor?  I mentioned that when I showed up at the Nature Museum I wasn’t feeling well.  What I didn’t mention was that the entire bird exhibit was closed for renovations, as was the cafeteria.  No birds, no lunch menu.

I went shopping in the Ottawa market, after becoming completely lost in the Rideau Centre maze (a more confusing mall I have never seen) to visit the paper store there, because I wanted to pet a few fountain pens.  As I entered the store it was immediately evident that it wasn’t my lucky day.

The pen side of the store was completely covered in plastic and there were people behind the plastic installing new cabinets.  Normally I would turn to all the nifty tidbits they sell but those racks were smashed up against one another to make room for the construction activity.  I left without scratching my fountain pen itch.

I was starving at that point, wanted to visit the art store in one of the malls and so I drove to the St. Laurent mall.  After a disappointing visit to the art store, I got myself a really nice vegetarian burrito, sat down to eat it, took one bite, and the fire alarm went off.  The announcement said to wait for instructions so I started eating faster, wondering if I should eat or pack it all up for a rapid exit.  Ultimately it turned out to be a false alarm but as I sat there I wondered, “what else could go wrong?”

2016-04-21people3I returned to the downtown area with the idea of sketching some of the buildings around Parliament.  I went to a park that’s just east of Parliament because it offers a nice view of some of the buildings.  Seems it’s a popular hangout and justifiably so.  But, at the time I arrived, even an artist who was feeling well would have a hard time because of the bright sun smacking them in the face if they looked at any of those buildings.  It’s definitely a morning sketching site.  I turned to quick-sketching people instead and there were plenty of targets because it had gotten quite warm, something that, being from Quebec City really appreciated.  I did a bunch of these quick sketches.  Here are two of them.


The next morning  was looking good.  I was feeling better and I decided to sketch a gazebo in a park near my daugher’s apartment.  I was having fun when it started to rain a little bit.  With no cover to be found except for the gazebo, I headed downtown, knowing I could return to finish that sketch when I came back to meet my daughter for our departure for Quebec City.   This turned out not to be such a great plan, though the bubble tea I had while waiting for the misting rain to stop sure was good.  The problem then became cold as the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped as the front moved through and I finished this drawing as my bones cooled.  When the ink dried, or maybe a little before, I headed for my daughter’s apartment to warm up and add the color.

In summary, a lot of little things went wrong on this trip, in addition to my not feeling well, but sketching always makes a trip fun and this one was no exception.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Just Got Back From Sketching Ottawa… Sort Of

Sometimes things work out.  Sometimes they don’t.  I used the excuse of picking up my daughter so that I could blitz around Ottawa sketching everything in sight – or so thought when I left Quebec City at 4:30AM.

Why so early?  Because I wanted to be at the Nature Museum when it opened at 9:30AM.  And that’s what I did as  I walked in the door at 9:35.  There was only one problem.  I was starting to feel poorly, like I gotta sit down poorly.  I didn’t, but instead I started walking around my favorite museum.  Everything I looked at seemed “so complicated” or boring.  I had absolutely no energy for sketching, or much of anything else.  I sat down and just stared across the lobby.

For the rest of the day I bounced around Ottawa, trying to right the ship and get some sketching done.  I went to the War Museum for the first time.  I’ll need a book light to sketch that place but it’s fantastic and I’ll return, hopefully with more energy.

I continued to mope my way through the day, walking a lot, accomplishing nothing.  I did a bunch of little quick-sketches but little else.  I’m not one to have a hard time finding things to draw or lacking in motivation to do it but there it was, in front of me… ALL DAY.  What a wasted opportunity.

Eventually I picked up my daughter and we went out for a great Korean dinner and I spent that night crashed on her floor.  In the morning we parted ways as she had an afternoon exam and I was determined to get some sketching done.  I was feeling better and like that little train climbing the hill, I was chuffing “I think I can, I think I can.”

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

And I did.  I went back to the Nature Museum, which for some reason was being overrun by huge groups of kids.  Normally I like interacting with the kids but there were so many of them I actually felt like I was in their way.  I drew this sketch of a marsh wren and its nest and then decided to head for less populated pastures.  I had an hour or so before I was to meet my daughter for lunch.

I actually did get some more sketching done but I haven’t scanned them, so they’ll have to wait for another day.  Check back for part II of my Ottawa wanderings ‘real soon.’