Visiting The Visiting Geese At Cap Tourmente

Geese are travelers.  In summer they’re in the arctic, making babies and making happy sounds.  In winter, they’re in the south, hanging out and working on their tans.  But to get from one place to the other, they need a place to stop, get something to eat, rest up, and maybe check the weather.  My understanding that they don’t much like fast-food joints and prefer vegetarian fare, particularly that provided by the extensive salt marshes along the St. Lawrence River.

CapTourmenteOne such salt marsh is part of the Cap Tourmente nature reserve and that’s where Chantal and I headed last weekend.  We love wandering around the area, looking at the geese and just enjoying being out on a nice, sunny day.  This was a walking day, not a sketching day but at one point we found a bench and sat down to rest.  Having fun is hard work.

Near our bench was the remains of a stone building that is too far gone to know what it was when it had four walls and there weren’t trees growing out of it.  I got out a 6×9 piece of watercolor paper and started drawing, using my Namiki Falcon.  This was the result.


Categories: Art

Apple Picking Time In Quebec

2014-09-14ladderBecause we have a large grocery store only a minute away, I can buy 10 lbs of apples in less than 10 minutes.  It will cost me 99-cents a pound.  Or, I can drive for half an hour, pick my own apples, pay 99-cents a pound, and drive home.  It’ll only take me 90 minutes.

So, of course, once a year, we head out to pick apples.  It’s fun.  I don’t know what it is about apple picking, but clean air and greenery is always appealing to me.

The place we go is on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River and at the back of the orchard, just above the St. Lawrence, is the top of a church that was built in 1667.  It existed on the site until 1720 so one assumes that this ‘steeple’ came off the church at that time.  It’s been repaired with modern nails and bolts to hold it together and architecture in early Quebec wasn’t very fancy but I like it.


A Bad Sketching Day

Does it ever happen to you?  You agree to meet people for a sketching session and when you arrive you’re just not inspired to sketch?  It doesn’t happen to me very often but when it does, the results aren’t pretty (grin).

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

And so it was when I agreed to meet five of my sketching buddies at the Latin Park, or whatever they call the place where there are a bunch of statues of famous South American folks.  The smiling faces and upbeat attitudes that always come with sketchers were there and the day was gorgeous, as it’s still considerably warmer than it should be this time of year.  But, for some reason, I just wasn’t in the mood to sketch.

I sat down to draw this guy, or this hunk of stone that looks like a guy.  I worked faster than normal, mostly because of my disinterest, I think.  The drawing result wasn’t horrible but I decided to try something different with the watercolor and made a mess of it.

From there I started sketching one of the most boring buildings in Quebec, the bus station, which is also an expansion to the train station, one of the most beautiful buildings in Quebec.   I’d only just begun when everyone finished their first sketches, so we headed into the Dept. of Justice, the back of which looks out on the park, and we found toilets, coffee, and then returned to the park to eat lunch.  That was fun and we talked about film festivals, the weather and sketching.

Everyone decided to do some more sketching so I went back to my bus station sketch.  Why do we build such bland, soulless structures?  As I look around Quebec it’s easy to see that there was a time when people cared about the esthetics of the world around them.  Now it’s all just glass boxes full of cubicles.  So sad.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

After I finished that sketch I did a couple quick sketches of statue pieces but it just wasn’t an inspiring day for me.  Still, any sketching day beats a non-sketching day.

Relaxing At Mt Herman Cemetery

Mt. Herman Cemetery

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

One of my favorite places in Quebec City is the Mt Herman Cemetery.  It’s an old English cemetery that dates back at least to 1800 and is situated on a heavily forested, rolling hill landscape.  People go to Mt Herman to read, meditate, walk around, have picnics, let their kids see a bit of nature.  Of course, some come for a longer stay, which is the raison d’etre of a cemetery.

Me, I go there to sketch and to enjoy the quiet of the place, and that’s what I was doing about a week ago.  During my time there I did a couple sketches.  Nothing special, and not much to say about them except that both subjects were crafted during the 1860s.  We do live our history here in Quebec.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (6x9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & BIrn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

I’m Four Years Old

When you are as old as I am, birthdays aren’t a big deal beyond preferring them to the alternative.  But when I can say “I’m Four Years Old,” well that’s better, and I’m now a four-year-old sketcher.

I can’t really say what day it was that I read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and bought into his notion that the value of art comes from the doing of it rather than the end product, but it was sometime in September of 2011.  At the time, I couldn’t draw anything.  I’d been told when I was a kid that I had no talent for art and I’d spent almost 60 years believing it.  Times change and now I don’t believe that “talent” has anything to do with it, though if persistence is a talent maybe there is truth in “you’re so talented” as I’ve been persistent if nothing else.

Anyways, back then I started drawing cubes… lots of cubes.  I figured that lots of things fit into cubes and so if I could draw cubes in any orientation, I’d have a good start on drawing pretty much anything.  And you know what, I think I was right.  Books told me I should also add spheres, cones and cylinders to the mix but otherwise, I started to build a foundation for drawing.  I got pretty myopic about it too, worrying only about the drawing, using paint like crayons and not giving it much thought.

Sadly, I don’t have any of those pages of cubes.  I was using photocopy paper and throwing everything away.  It wasn’t until I posted a couple simple sketches in a sketching group and mentioned my circular file approach to storage that someone said, “Hey, hang onto that stuff.  You’ll want to look back on it some day.”  And so I started my first sketchbook.

By this time I’d heard about urban sketching and that looked like a good idea to me – all except for that going out in public to sketch stuff.  That sounded really scary!

But I was determined.  I took a small 4×6 sketchbook, with horrible paper, and headed to a shopping center.  I’m an analytical type and I reasoned that if I sketched a manikin she wouldn’t get mad at me and I wouldn’t have to worry about her leaving.  I was right on both counts.


2ndLocationsketchIt was still scary, though and I held my sketchbook close to my chest, drawing as quickly as I could in the hope that nobody would see me.  Once again, the strategy worked and I finished the sketch, got up immediately, and walked away.  It was only in hindsight that I saw the reality.  Nobody cared what the heck I was doing.  Everyone just walked by, too busy in their own affairs to care about me and my manikin sketch.  My second ‘urban sketch’ was a post box and it didn’t get angry either.   But I got “bold” and soon I was sketching my coffee cup in the middle of McDonalds (grin).

By this time I was 1) having a great time sketching, or trying, anywhere I wanted.  It doesn’t take long before you figure out that nobody cares what you’re doing and the fears are unfounded.  My only limitations were, and still are, my ability to draw and paint.  But I wanted to draw buildings and so one day I bit the bullet and drew this one, my first location sketch of a building.  Since then I’ve done, literally, thousands of sketches, almost all of them done on location.  I’ve filled more than 40 sketchbooks.  I think I’m a little better at sketching than I was when I started but that doesn’t really matter.  I’m having fun and it’s become a part of my life.