I was at our civilisation museum the other day and my joints were bothering me. It was hard to draw and, even more, it was hard to concentrate because of the pain. But I sat, stared at, and drew an Inuit stone carving of an Inuit stalking a seal. I loved how a complete scene was captured in the rock.
Denise Bujold is doing an amazing job of organizing events for us to attend. While most art groups are held together by the love of a particular medium or way of working, this one is held together with smiles. It seems everyone is working in a different medium, some carry easels, others tripod stools. But everyone shows up with smiles on their faces and that’s all we need.
This week we assembled at Domain Cataraqui, which at one time was a huge estate. I guess it’s still a huge estate but now it serves several purposes, most central of which is a cooking school. For a sketcher, there is a large cluster of unique architecture and gardens that are all surrounded by forest. Oh…and it’s quiet, one of my favorite things.
Yvan and I arrived a bit early and we chose an area to start sketching. I decided to do a larger sketch of a view of the building complex and because I’m slower than molasses as a sketcher, it took me until lunch to complete it.
Everyone else had set up and were painting on the other end of the estate so I headed up there to take part in the smiles, some chit-chat, and maybe some lunch. It was a gorgeous day and sitting in front of a multi-million dollar mansion just felt right.
When I can, I’ve been joining the Artistes dans les Parcs, a painting group. Denise Bujold has created this series of friendly gatherings in Quebec City parks where people show up and create art. Yvan and I are the odd fellows of the group because most set up easels and paint in oils, acrylics, and watercolors while we scribble away in our sketchbooks. It’s a fun group, though, and they accept our ‘odd’ ways.
We met at the Parc des Moulins on Saturday and spent the morning drawing/painting. This place used to be the Quebec City zoo until a political battle over funding caused the whole thing to go belly up. Now, part of it is a park and it gets its name because of a windmill (moulin) that lives in the park. On this day, we all clustered around a picnic bench, and I chose this scene to draw.
August 26th was our 30th wedding anniversary. Thinking about that, Chantal deserves a medal for living with me that long. We decided to celebrate by getting off planet Quebec City and spending a couple days in Rimouski, a smallish town on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, just as it begins to open up into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Originally I planned on it being just the two of us but Chantal thought it would be fun to bring Jodie along. Turned out that was a great idea because my bum knee limited my ability to do some things and Jodie gave Chantal some company while she them.
We stayed at a rustic hotel that sits right on the coast, a rocky intertidal area right in front of the place. Excepting that there was no coffee available on site and a 20-30 minute shopping trip to get some, it was an ideal place.
Our first day there wasn’t great because it was very windy and cold. Yep…cold. No heat wave that day. We visited a museum/lighthouse/submarine place and Jodie and Chantal wanted to tour the submarine. We weren’t sure that my knee could manage the bulkhead doors and the requisite steps downward so I went and sat in the car. This allowed me to do this quick sketch of the rocks, etc. in front of me.
Rimouski is a fishing town and on every corner is a poissonerie (fresh fish store) and associated restaurant. We went for Korean food and it was spectacular. If you’re ever in Rimouski, foresake the crab dinner and head to Parfum of Korea, an oddly bilingual named restaurant. We filled up on Bokkeum, grabbed coffee to go and headed back to the hotel, where we spent the evening staring at the river/ocean (you can’t see across at this point and the water is salty).
The next day we drove to Matane, a fishing/university town a couple hours north of Rimouski. We did this mostly just to enjoy the trip and the wonderful coastline scenery along the way but also with a purpose. I wanted to draw a fishing boat and Mr. Google told me they had lots of them. When we got there I was disappointed. Matane itself is nice enough. We discovered a great beach covered with small round rocks and lots of sand. We also discovered a fish ladder, all ready for the salmon run up the river… next week. Oh well, it was cool to see even without the fish.
But we couldn’t find fishing boats anywhere. So we went to the information center which exists in the form of an old lighthouse. Chantal went to discuss the whereabouts of the fishing boats with the information folks. I set up and started drawing the lighthouse.
We learned that the fishing boats are actually a bit south of Matane in their own artificial harbor area so we headed there. It turned out that most of them were off somewhere, probably making a nuisance of themselves in the world of crabs, shrimps, and fish of several species. But there were a few in port and a sketcher only needs one. Here she be. I was frustrated with the hot-press paper I was using and so this one never saw a brush.
What’s Up With Hot Pressed Paper?
We had a great time on that trip but my first use of hot-pressed paper was a disaster. What’s up with it anyway? I was using Fabriano Artistico HP. Unlike the CP I normally use I couldn’t get this stuff to stay wet? I was constantly fighting with lines in my washes. And EVERYTHING just seemed ‘flat.’ It seemed to suck the life out of the paint. What am I doing wrong? Can anyone advise?
You know those puzzles we had when we were kids? They were cut from wood and had no more than half a dozen pieces, which matched with our little hands and puzzle-making abilities when were three. Well, it seems, I drew one.
Not really. In reality I was standing at the end of St. Denis street in Quebec City, looking up the hill at the depicted scene. What was different was that I decided to paint it as a bunch of interlocking shapes. As a basis for this I drew, in pencil, a very light box around the building and then drew boxes where the windows rested.
Then I grabbed a paint brush, a scary instrument in my hands. You see, I’m trying to figure out a few things with watercolors. I’m trying to figure out how to mix paints thicker than the pastel-like colors we beginners often use. Mostly this has resulted in over-kill in my sketches but I’m making progress. The other thing I’m investigating is whether I can sketch directly with a brush. This is definitely putting the cart before the horse but it’s become a nothing ventured, nothing gained sort of thing for me.
Anyhow, I became overwhelmed with painting thoughts as I tried to ‘draw’ this with a brush. I drew each shape, trying to “build the wash” (Holmes-style), avoid any outline effect, and also trying to keep the shape correct. I was so consumed with those tasks that the thought of actually trying to draw the scene got lost in the shuffle. After I’d created my kid’s puzzle, I used a pen to draw window frames and such but nothing was going to help this sketch much. Interesting exercise. It’s said that we learn from our mistakes. I must have learned a lot with this one.
The heatwave has driven us into the parks because we can sit in the shade. But before that happened, I’d drawn a little store on the corner of rue Cremazie and rue Cartier in Quebec City and I’d forgotten about it. I added some color to it this weekend and thought I’d share it as a change of pace from all the trees I’ve been drawing lately (grin).
Last week Yvan told me of a group, the Artistes du Parc, who were meeting at a large park, Domain Maizeret, and that he was going there to sketch with them. They are a watercolor group and I tagged along. We had a great time in spite of the heat wave.
When we arrived there was only one person there. She was painting the large community building that’s the centerpiece of the park. It turned out that she was the organizer, Denise Bujold. Denise is a bubbly, enthusiastic person whose personality says “Join us, we’re about to have fun.” I now have a brochure with a schedule of another half a dozen events that she has planned. If you look up the word organizer in a dictionary you might find her picture. Yippee!
Yvan and I did the sketcher thing, which was to wander around, looking for something to draw and then we proceeded to ignore one another for the next hour or so. I went to the other side of the large building and decided to draw the scene shown below, mostly because there was a good patch of shade where I could plunk my butt on my stool and draw. Here, courtesy of Denise, is a photo of my fat self doing just that, or rather faking that I was painting because by then I had finished. I don’t normally have a big, silly grin on my face when I draw but heck, she was taking my picture. Ya gotta smile for the camera.
I’ve got to do something about that tiny tripod stool though. It’s really hard for me to sit down and even harder to get up. I’m convinced that some day I won’t be able to (grin)
I did get to meet another person who came to the event, Nicole. I suspect that most stayed away because this was in the middle of our heatwave and by then we were all hearing about the people dying because of it. Still, it was a great day and the beginning, I hope, of a new sketching/painting relationship.
I’ve mentioned the heat wave that’s occurring on planet Quebec City and it still rages on. Yvan and I thought that maybe we should sketch in my backyard, which is shady and close to a fridge full of ice cold water. This turned out to be a good idea and we had some fun in spite of the heat. Here’s a sketch I did of part of the perimeter of our yard. Too many leaves.
I’m still trying to integrate my life as a sketcher with my life as a gimpy old man with a bad wrist but I’m finding the problems managable, which makes me happy as a clam. An arthritic clam for sure, but a happy one.
I just got back from Montreal. Went there with a friend and thus I didn’t get to sketch at all, but when I got back I contacted my buddy Yvan about sketching. We decided to head to what was Quebec City’s zoo. A small portion of it has been turned into a park and we figured we could find some shade there and something to draw.
Shade was more important than subject because we’re in the middle of canicule, the time when we start feeling foolish for having complained so much about the cold. Called the ‘dog days of summer’ in English, or on the streets, ‘hotter-than-hell,’ this is the time of people go to hospitals with heat exhaustion. We went sketching.
Truth is, it hasn’t been horrible for us on planet Quebec City because while temps and humidity are very high, we’ve had a nice breeze which has kept conditions tolerable. Oh, and we had shade, lots of shade. We decided to draw the entry gate to the park. It’s a great subject and I didn’t do it justice.
I have to say that I’m out of practice. While I include my drawing and seeing skills in this mostly I’m talking about my juggling skills. I only have two hands and a mouth that can sometimes provide hand-like assistance, so drawing and painting while sitting on a stool is a practiced skill. On this day I was dropping things constantly. My paper towel blew away several times. The water spilled. I knocked my palette off its perch. But I got to sketch and that’s what was important. Not my best sketch ever but sketching isn’t about what you produce, or it shouldn’t be. Here it is, warts and all.
I’ve mentioned the Collectif before, whose complete name is Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec because people here love long, impossible to remember names. They are mostly a portrait group and like nothing more than to sit around a naked person while they draw in a stuffy room. In recent years, though, they’ve discovered that sketching outdoors is fun, too, and so have started scheduling outdoor events during the summer.
They scheduled an event at a large garden in Ste-Foy, or rather Quebec City. Which name you use depends on whether you acknowledge the aggregation of the small cities into what now makes up metro-Quebec City. For me it will always be Ste-Foy though I realize that people reading this blog might be confused by my using the two names to refer to the same place. Such is life on planet Quebec City.
The garden is a large one but mostly rows and rows of different species of plants, and thus most of it is not the same as a typical botanical garden. If I knew more about gardens I’d probably know why this is the case. In any event, it’s a great place to draw flowers but I didn’t do that on this day. Instead, I drew a small kiosk and the surrounding vegetation. It was a nice day and the sketching was relaxing. When I was done I walked around to talk with everyone and to look at what everyone was drawing. By the time that was done my knee was screaming at me and so I settled for the one sketch for the day. I hope you like it.