Citroen 2-CV

The Citroen 2-CV (deux chevaux-vapeur), is something of a blast from the past.  While not made in production numbers until after WWII, it was designed in the 30s to move a couple adults at a whopping 37 mph along French dirt roads.  I don’t know if they ever made it to the US but I never saw one until I came to Quebec and even here, the only ones I’ve seen are display items at a large restaurant.  But they smack of a pre-Volkswagon where inexpensive cars were kept light, low-powered and without power everything.

I went with Claudette to the north side of the city because she wanted to draw a large bear statue.  When we got there I found the 2-CV and knew what I had to do.  The subject I was looking at was painted bright red with white polka dots.  Why they had insulted this vehicle in this way is beyond me but I colored the sketch in more traditional colors.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10x7), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Even So, The Sketchcrawl Was A Success

Steps at Bois de Coulonge

Steps in the garden at Bois du Coulonge; Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Sometimes luck is on your side; sometimes it’s not.  I’m still not sure which of these occurred yesterday, when we held our second Croquistes de Quebec sketchcrawl.  The day before the event the weather reports were suggesting 20-30mm of rain for the day – not exactly what you want to hear as an organizer of an outdoor event.  But when Sunday morning arrived, the report had been downgraded to 1mm of rain.  It was windy and it had cooled significantly from the nice temps we’d had all week.  Things, shall we say, were not looking good.

But, intrepid sketchers that we are, Yvan and I arrived at Parc Parc du Bois de Coulonge bright and early with smiles on our faces, though our collars were turned up and hats pulled down tight onto our heads.  We started sketching, hoping beyond hope that someone else would show up.  I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that we were doubtful.


Agathe drawing a Hosta plant.

But alas, there are other crazy  dedicated sketchers in Quebec City and soon, Agathe showed up.  She’s a passionate sketcher that did a great sketch of me sketching.  I wish I had it to share with you.  Later she became interested in drawing some of the plants in the park.


Guylaine, trying to keep warm

A bit later Guylaine arrived and began drawing a building that’s right out of one of Disney’s animation movies, with more gables and turrets resting on its small footprint than any building deserves.  I think she was the really smart one among us as the building houses a coffee shop and she got to sit at a table while she drew.


Yvan, my mentor, doing what he’s always doing – drawing

It was cold, however, and very windy.  Rain seemed just around the corner, though it didn’t actually rain until Yvan and I were heading home late in the afternoon.  The two women had had enough by lunch time and left but since we had established both a morning and an afternoon meeting time, for those who couldn’t make it in the morning, Yvan and I felt compelled to stay.  We headed to the afternoon meeting place, and while our spirits were cold, they had yet to be dampened, at least not literally.

Yvan decided he was going to draw the grand building at the head of the large garden/fountain/open area that is the heart of the park.  Being of more modest abilities and energy, I decided to draw what is now the information center.  It used to be the hub building for three greenhouses that splayed out in three directions but had been removed.  I found the building fascinating, particularly from my perch on a hill above it.  I still need to draw some of the garden behind it.


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

One thing Yvan did during the day was accumulate drawings of the lamps and fixtures within the park.  I thought I’d share it with you to give you some indication of this guy’s talent.  These are his “quick sketches,” each taking him only 2-3 minutes.

Yvan'sLampPageIn the end, the bad weather reports and the cold reality diminished our numbers and was unlucky.  On other hand, four of us had a great time getting together to sketch.  Overall I think we were lucky because we all went home happy and dry.  Besides, it’s supposed to warm up tomorrow and I’ll be out sketching.

Sketching Marais Du Nord, Quebec

Marais du nord is one of my favorite places in the Quebec City area.  It’s only a few kilometers out of town but when you go there, you leave the hectic, noisy city behind and enter the world of chittering squirrels, bird noises and, most of all, the silence and peace that comes from being close to nature.

Marais du nord (north marsh) is situated within and around a large expanse of marshland between Lac Delage and Lac St. Charles and is maintained by a consortium of concerned citizens who decided that too much of the land around the lakes was being bought up and developed.  They took on the Herculean effort of convincing the government to give them money and developed the “park” (I’m not sure whether park or reserve is the better word) to maintain the marshland and to provide hiking trails, bridges, overlooks and benches for people wanting to get away from the city for a while.  A lot of Quebec kids are getting to see nature up close because of Marais du nord.

Chantal and I headed there for the day, mostly to clear our heads with a bit of hiking, lunch in the woods, and maybe, just maybe, to find some mushrooms to sketch.  She has a “mushroom book” in which she sketches mushrooms and the mushroom diversity at Marais du nord is extraordinary.

It was a glorious day, though it was cut a bit short by threatening clouds that dumped a few tons of water on us as we sat in the car.  Sometimes things do work out and we guessed right this time.  Nevertheless, we got some hiking done and found some of those mushrooms.

mushrooms from Marais Du Nord

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Because this was a hiking trip, the notion that I would spend a couple hours doing a landscape was out of the question.  Chantal is patient but there are limits.  There were mushrooms to find, afterall.  I saw this lack of time as an opportunity to force myself to put into practice some of the stuff that Marc Taro Holmes is trying to teach those of us taking his Craftsy Travel Sketching in Mixed Media course.

I’ve been doing a bunch of quick, single-line sketches, trying to capture a scene quickly and simplifying by elimination of details.  My typical sketching style makes it hard for me to capture a chunk of nature quickly; nature is just too darn complex.  So I decided to see if I could grab a scene quickly.  I didn’t use the single-line approach but worked VERY loose and quick, for me, and in 10-12 minutes I’d done this drawing.  This was nothing short of a miracle for me as I can burn an hour drawing a single tree.  The bridge would have taken another hour.  I did several of these quick sketches during the day and I was generally pleased with the results.  Maybe Marc’s right and that by the time I’ve finished up a few dozen of those single-line sketches I’ll have figured it out.

bridge at Marais du Nord

10-12 minute sketch in Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon & Kuretake #13 brush pen.


Marc Taro Holmes Comes To Visit

I’m fortunate to have some sketchers that I can sketch with regularly but I confess that sometimes I feel isolated from things like urban sketchers, as we have no regional group here.  So when Marc Taro Holmes said he’d like to come to Quebec City to sketch, I was pretty excited.   I’m a big fan of his and have learned a lot from his book and from his Craftsy courses.

2015-09-06ChouietteHe and his wife Laurel were to arrive Sunday morning and so I was sitting outside their hotel, waiting for them to arrive.  It seemed natural that I should sketch the hotel while I waited.

2015-09-06VietnameseWith that done, I did this quick sketch of a bronze bust of a famous Vietnamese guy, whose name eludes me.

I was getting a bit worried because they were very late in arriving.  As it turned out, most of their hold up was due to problems finding a place to park.  By the time they did show up, I’d done this sketch of a lamp post.  It’s amazing how much you can find to draw without moving.

2015-09-06lamppostAs Marc and Laurel had driven from Montreal, they needed a break before we headed out sketching and so we headed for a coffee shop.  Anyone who has met Laurel and Marc know they are very laid back, and absolutely wonderful people.  We talked about sketching, did the typical kibbitz about some of our sketching kit and then I made my confession.

“Marc, I’ve got a problem.  We’re going to sketch in places where I can sketch any day of the week.  I can’t look over Marc Taro Holmes’ shoulder any day of the week.  It’s going to be hard for me to sketch today.”

I’m pretty sure Marc thought I was kidding but…well, I wasn’t.  As it turned out, my statement was prophetic.  While I was embarrassed that all my pen could produce was babble, and precious little of that, I learned so much from watching Marc draw and from our conversations.   This is the only sketch I managed to produce while Marc produced four 16×20 sketches during the day.  It was a bit embarrassing.

2015-09-06From Terrace

Marc, doing his thing on the terrace near Chateau Frontenac

Marc, doing his thing on the terrace near Chateau Frontenac

The conversation stuff was another “problem.”  Marc can talk while he draws; I cannot, and our conversations were near nonstop.  In spite of me dropping the sketching ball, the day was very special to me and I hope Marc and Laurel enjoyed themselves in Quebec City.  Thanks, Marc, for a great day.  I promise to sketch more next time.

Here's the 'thing' Marc was doing. He spent the day working with dip pens and doing magic

Here’s the ‘thing’ Marc was doing. He spent the day working with dip pens and doing magic



Not Quick Sketching, But Quicker Sketching

I’ve been following Marc Taro Holmes’ new Craftsy course and as a result of that I’ve been doing a lot of his ‘single-line drawing’ sketches.  This is an exercise with two purposes – to get your hand to loosen up and to simplify what you are drawing.  It’s like doing push ups so you can hit a baseball.  It’s not the way to do most drawings.  It’s also not the equivalent of a blind contour drawing as you’re looking at what you’re drawing.

Canson watercolor paper (6x9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Canson watercolor paper (6×9), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

It’s taking me a while to get so I could do it, and I’m far from doing it well, but this exercise is really opening doors for me.  I struggle with the fact that my typical “style” is rather tight and SLOW.  Sometimes I want to capture something without spending a lot of time.  Sometimes I want to capture a LOT, and don’t have the time given my style.  So developing an alternative is useful to me.  Note that I didn’t say replacement.

Anyways, I’m starting to try to bring some of that more loose, quicker approach into my sketching and here’s an example.  Not a single-line drawing by any means but one done more loosely and more quickly than is my norm.  New adventures.

It was done on the same 6×9 sheets of cheap watercolor paper that I’ve been using for my single-line exercises.  BTW, Marc’s course is spectacular, providing more bang for the buck than most courses.  I highly recommend it.