Street Sketching On January 8th

Part of the reason for this blog’s existence is to give me a place to document my sketching journey.  Today is a day of recording, not one of presenting good sketches.

I was out for a walk yesterday, in Quebec City, where January high temperatures average around 20F (-7C).  Of course, the low temps are, well lower.  So typically, street sketching doesn’t happen in January.

But as I walked, on the 8th of January, I realized just how warm it was as I took my hat and gloves off because I was overheating.  Some minutes later I came upon one of the impressive old mansions here and I decided to see if I could do a quick-sketch while standing on the sidewalk, in January.

2016-01-08house

I grabbed my 4×6 toned paper sketchbook and went at it, very quickly, and very loosely trying to capture the house’s complex structure.  I failed miserably but it didn’t matter.  I had sketched on location, outdoors, in January.  I’ve joked with a few climate change denialists that I was planning on selling citrus and palm trees to the residents of Quebec City in the not so distant future.  Maybe I was right.

Since that sketch is so poor, I’ll try to improve the esthetics of the post by showing you my latest “mustache book,”  As much as I love these little books, the felt glasses and mustaches glued to the cover leave much to be desired so I glued one of my sketches to the cover and then covered it with laminating material.  What’cha think?

MustacheNotebook48

 

Not Everyone Is A Sketcher

I know.  It’s hard to believe but not everyone is a sketcher.  Some misguided souls spend their leisure time doing things besides pushing pens and brushes around paper and discussing the virtues of Hansa yellow vs Cadmium yellow.

One such person is a guy I used with work with.  Let’s call him Jim.  Jim likes to spend his time standing in cold water, throwing a string with a piece of fluff on the end of it into just the right place with the idea that he may catch a fish.  Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t.  It’s not that important.

It’s called flyfishing and, if some of my trips are any indication, it is properly named as you can catch a lot of flies on such adventures, or rather they catch you.

Flyfishing has much in common with sketching.  It’s a process-oriented thing, where the joy is in the doing, not necessarily in what is produced.  Just like a sketcher who does produce a good sketch, flyfishermen are pretty excited when they do catch a fish.  And just like how the sketcher turns the page and starts another one, the flyfisherman typically releases the fish and starts the process of trying to catch another one.

And so it was for my friend, Jim, as he stood in Lyons Den Channel Pool on the Miramichi River in New Brunswick.  His cast was well-made.  Jim was in the zone, enjoying the ambiance of the place, enjoying his time on the river.  Then it happened, Jim hooked the biggest salmon of his life, an 18-pound fish.   His heart was probably still pounding after landing it, looking at his success, and as he released the beautiful fish back into the river.  It was time to make another cast, but maybe, like I do once I complete a sketch, he took a short break before returning to the river to make another cast.

Jim sent me a photo of that fish and when he did he mentioned that he’d spent some time looking at my blog and that he was appreciative of my sketches.  I couldn’t resist the thought of sending him a sketch of himself and his big salmon and so with the photo displayed on my laptop, I went to work.  Here is the result…a man, his success, and I hope, an indication of the enjoyment that comes from doing something you love.

2016-01-02Corrigan

Sketching Over The Holidays

I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that the holiday season is more a disruption than something to celebrate.  I’m an old guy, set in my ways and those ways are for me to go sketching.  But with all the hoopla my routine has gone bonkers and my sketching has become scattered.  I thought I would just post a smattering of the many small, generally incomplete sketches I’ve done over the past week or so leading into New Years.

2015-12-29EgyptHere’s a sketch I did one day at our museum.  Another Egyptian guy, standing stiff against a wall, or so it seems.  I don’t really know who he is but he was fun to draw and that’s good enough for me.

He was done in a Stillman & Birn Gamma book with my Namiki Falcon and DeAtramentis Document ink.  Color was mostly burnt sienna with a bit of ultramarine to produce the grays.  I played with the notion of making him look like stone, which he was.  I’m not sure how successful I was in this.

2015-12-31ornamentsOtherwise sketching has been a bunch of doodles here and there, mostly on photocopy paper.  On New Years Eve, however, I was watching TV with Chantal and I drew these three ornaments that were laying on a table.  Color was done with watercolor pencils but the sketch was done on cheap paper and so I couldn’t use a lot of water or move the color very much.

2015-12-31ornaments2I was still bored by the TV so I picked up my Sailor fude pen and decided to give it a whirl.  I’ve never adapted to the fude pens because I typically want thin lines and there are better tools for that.  But I’m determined to improve my ability to draw heavy-line, quick sketches for some reason.  I started out by drawing the same three ornaments.

As I scanned this for the post I couldn’t help but think of a conversation I’ve been having with Tina Koyama about what or whether the degree of expressiveness in a sketch says about what the artist was feeling, either about the sketch or the subject.  The two sketches above were done within minutes of one another and yet one was done with an “expressive” stroke while the other was done in a more controlled fashion.  I’m pretty sure I was wishing the holidays would be over during both sketches (grin).

I turned my fude pen to my imagination and one thing I drew was a bunch of imaginary carriage lanterns.  I’d talked to Yvan about meeting to draw some at the museum where there’s a carriage exhibition going on so they were probably on my mind.  Anyways, prior to drawing these I looked at a couple sketches I’d done of some a few months ago but these were all done in a very few minutes. While I think they reflect bits and pieces of ‘the real thing’, they’re purely imaginary.

2015-12-31imaginarylanternsNow that the holidays are over, I should return to a more normal schedule.  I’m still a couple sketches/days behind on the blog but I’ll get caught up “real soon.”

January Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

Built over 200 hears ago as the city's first prison, the Morrin Centre now also houses one of the world's most beautiful libraries, Vieux Quebec, Quebec City, QC, Canada

Built over 200 years ago as the city’s first prison, the Morrin Centre now also houses one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, Vieux Quebec, Quebec City, QC, Canada

I’m a bit late in announcing this and for that I apologize.  Holidays have messed with my internal clock.  The next Croquistes de Quebec sketchcrawl will be held at the Morrin Center library.  Yvan went above and beyond to allow us to sketch there.

If you’re not familiar with the Morrin Center it’s the home of the Literary and Historical Society of Québec, an anglophone organization.  The crowning jewel of this organization is its library, which, with large, leather-covered rectory tables, bookshelf-lined balconies and tight winding stairways, is Quebec’s version of the Hogwarts library, without the book that scream at you.

Unlike most of our sketchcrawls, this one will be in the afternoon only, from 1PM to 4PM.  You can get details of the event from the Croquistes’ website.  I’ve never gotten to sketch there so I’m looking forward to it.  See you there.

A Day At The Chapel

When I talk about “our museum” I’m generally referring to the Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec City.  But we do have other, much smaller museums, one of them being the Musée de l’Amérique francophone. This small museum exhibits are mostly disappointing as while they have considerable display space, it is very poorly utilized and the exhibits are…well boring. 

2015-12-27steepleBut, with winter upon us, Yvan and I decided we should visit and see if we could find something to sketch.  We did, though not in the museum.  Between the museum entrance and the exhibits is a chapel that you walk through to get to the elevator that takes you to the exhibits.  There, you can sit in the warmth of the place, look out the window and sketch.  That’s what I did to sketch this quick drawing of the tower over one of the old seminary buildings (not the Université Laval Dept of Architecture).

What really drew our interest, however, were all the small decorative carvings that ring the main chapel area.  These are handcarved floral designs, with lots of symmetry, curves, and details.  To Yvan, this means fun challenge.  To me it means scary, but a good kind of scary.

We decided that we would draw a bunch of these as it would form good practice.  I admit that I struggled with this first one but I also enjoyed the mental challenge of depicting a piece that is largely symmetrical but that also has a sprinkling of asymmetry due to the vagaries of its handcarved nature.  Can’t wait to go back to do more.  I’m hoping I”ll improve my use of watercolor shading on subsequent sketches.

Decorative carving