Every August a very cool thing happens. The entire old port area of Quebec City is converted into a 1700s movie set, though the thousands of tourists wandering around is something of an anachronism.
Quebecers pay them no mind as they are dressed in costumes reflecting the era, from trappers to Louis XIV and everyone in between. They make traditional food and music. They dance. They sing. But mostly they just walk around, enjoying each other’s costumes. It’s a great big adult costume party with a huge dose of small-town fair added for good measure.
I love hanging out during the festival as the people are having so much fun in the midst of simplicity – a rare thing these days. As a sketcher, it’s an opportunity as the festival presents a target-rich environment. The only problem is that those targets are moving. You’ve got to choose wisely and have a little luck to find a subject that doesn’t walk out of sight during the very few minutes you have to sketch them.
This year the Collectif had a sketchcrawl and we all showed up in Place Royale, stuck our butts on the steps of the cathedral and began frantically drawing anything that moved, or rather, anything that stopped moving.
I haven’t taken the time to scan all the sketches I did in my little notebook but I scanned this one to show you my ‘warm up’ that morning. Nothing to speak of but it got my eyes focused on the crowd.
During this event I also did some sketches in the sketchbook I created by cutting a larger, cheap sketchbook in half.
I drew the banner and a bit of one of the buildings just to document some of the ambiance. It was a half-hearted attempt because my eyes wer on all the people. When my eye saw this hat, I had to draw the woman under it.
Occasionally some of the costumed people would stand still, even pose. The guy on the right was standing on the steps of the church talking about history and I took advantage of that. The guy on the left actually posed for the group but where I was sitting was too close to sketch all of him so I concentrated on his head.
This one is a reflection of the serendipity of street sketching. I was sitting in a really tiny park area and I had started drawing the woman on the right. I got as far as you see the sketch when she decided to run off with one of her friends. So, I started sketching the guy sitting at the edge of the park (behind the big flower pot), who was playing piano. As he was mostly not visible I added some of the facing restaurant as background.
This kind of sketchcrawl is intense. Unlike sketchcrawls in parks, museums or gardens where we lounge around, leisurely sketching, people sketching in a crowd is more like herding cats in terms of its frantic nature. But it sure is fun. And the best part of this day was that I was going to do it all over again “tomorrow.” I’ll talk about that – tomorrow.