Sketching At A Winery

The Artistes dans les Parcs leader, Denise Bujold arranged for us to spend a Thursday sketching at a winery on the Ile d’Orleans, not far from Quebec City.  She surprised us by using her superpowers to give us ideal weather as well.   There were sixteen of us scattered around the winery, drawing, painting or enjoying each other’s company.  It was quite a day.

I decided to draw this scene, not part of the winery but across a field from it.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get more depth into this sketch.

We all took a break for lunch, sitting at some picnic benches available for visitors to the winery.  The sun was so inviting that I wanted to lay down in the grass and fall asleep.  Ah…to be a kid again where that wouldn’t be seen as rude (grin).

Rejean had done a small vignette of a cluster of grapes and I decided I needed to do one too.  I have a tough time walking down hills right now but I found I could walk along a road that wound its way around some buildings and served as a way for tractors to get to the lower level.  Eventually I got to the head of one of the fields and found  a cluster of grapes near an end post, creating an ideal subject.  I was pretty happy with the result and the entire day.

Off To Miriam’s Cottage Again

When faced with opportunity, a sketcher shouldn’t hesitate and Yvan and I are no exceptions.  Miriam invited us to sketch at her place on Ile d’Orleans and we jumped at the chance.  The location is beautiful and Miriam is there to sketch with us.  What’s not to like?

The day was delightful, though my hands seemed to have a mind of their own.  These days, straight lines are becoming hard to make.  But we had a lot of fun sketching together and enjoying the day.  Here are a couple of my sketches from the day.

 

 

Sketching On The Island

I got the chance to hitch a ride with Claudette and Yvan, who were headed to the Ile d’Orleans for a day of sketching.  It happened to be on a “good” day for my leg and hand so I was optimistic.  The day was ideal.  We’re still experiencing high temps and humidities but I’m learning that Quebec City’s “colder than everywhere else” translates into “cooler than everywhere else” when the world is facing heat waves.

We ended up in the town of St. Jean, which is on the northern end of the island and we parked near a large church and strategically positioned to walk across the street for coffee when our session was over.  We headed off in the other direction, though, down onto the intertidal zone near the St. Lawrence.

This rock-encrusted area is gorgeous and affords great views across the river as well as back towards the church and other houses along the river front.  For me it was slow-going as I walked like a drunken sailor over the uneven surfaces, trying not to upset my new overlord – my knee.  It was so nice to be out sketching that I hardly noticed, but people watching must have wondered what was wrong with me.

I decided on a scene and to work in a little 5×7 spiral bound book from Winsor & Newton.  The paper is 100% cotton and the size is really convenient.  I was only half content with the results but since I’m trying lots of different watercolor techniques I’ve never used before, I expect very little from the results.  It was fun, though, to play around with some dry-brushing and wet-n-wet (complete fail on that one).

Then it was time for coffee and we had a great time looking sketchbooks that Claudette had filled while on a recent trip.  When we finished we drove to Miriam’s cottage, though she wasn’t on the island this day.  It was threatening rain so Claudette and I set up inside a large barn and drew outward from it.  I wanted to emphasize the framing of the scene by the barn door but I feel that I let the depth of the scene escape me so I was pretty disappointed with the end result.  The doing, as always, was a lot of fun.  Funny how it works that way sometimes.  I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t stick with pen and ink and leave the watercolor to others.

 

A Sketching Adventure To Miriam’s Cottage

One of the nicest people in the world has a cottage and a large tract of land on the south side of Ile d’Orleans, which itself resides in the middle of the Ste Lawrence River.  Her name is Miriam and she invited Yvan and I to sketch with her and we jumped at the chance.

We started the day with tea on the deck, watching for boats going by.  Miriam has decided to draw the large ships as they go by, not a small feat since the view of the river is little more than an opening in the tree canopy and these ships, big as they are in reality, are pretty small when seen from her cottage.  But binoculars and a sketcher’s will surmounts these minor problems.

After tea we hiked up the hill to sketch a small barn sitting at the top of a hill.  It’s a beautiful scene but I confess that I got overwhelmed by the sea of green which, we concluded, was a field of bok choy.  Throw in a forest on the other side of the road and I didn’t know what to do with all that green.  I didn’t really need to tell you that; it is evident in the sketch.  Still, the weather was wonderful and the shade plentiful so I was a happy camper.

Jinhao ‘el cheapo’ pen, R&K SketchInk (Lily), DS watercolors.

As we were walking back to the house we were blessed by a conga line of four young racoons as they made their way up a creek bed.  That was quite fun.  Eventually they entered a culvert under the road and we never saw them again.

Lunch required a return to the deck, more ship watching and a session of “let’s get our palettes out and start making blotches of color  and mixing them together.”  Everyone plays that game… don’t they?  Well we did and had a ball for at least an hour.

When it was time to return to sketching, Yvan and Miriam wanted to draw the large rocks in the forest next to her cottage.  We walked in to the forest and all I could see was green, green, and more green.  This wasn’t reality but my PTSD from the morning’s greenery wouldn’t let me see anything else.  So I started wandering until I found this lonely shovel leaning against the barn wall.  It needed to be sketched.

We gathered for another cup of tea and discussed future plans.  Miriam agreed that if we’d leave, she’d let us return ‘real soon’ so we did.  I can’t wait to get back there.

Fresh Air On Ile d’Orleans

This time of year the temperatures cool (most of our days don’t get above 20C) and day length is shorter.  We become aware that soon we’ll be cooped up in our houses except for when we have to go out to shovel snow.

And so we take advantage of any good weather day and play outdoors.  For Chantal and I that generally means a couple trips to Ile d’Orleans, a large island near Quebec City which is largely inhabited by farmers and cows.  Specifically, head to a cafe on the south side of the island where we can eat brioche, drink good coffee, and breath clean air as we look out over the St. Lawrence River.

And that’s what we did last weekend.  Coffee and brioche were fantastic as always and, just as ‘as always’, after we’d sat for a while we decided to drive around the island.  We headed east and ended up in St. Francois, one of six small towns on the island.  The highlight there is a little candy store, though on this trip we avoided it.  Instead we parked in a parking lot next to the church, sat on a bench, and drew what was in front of us.  This is what it looked like.

We drove on, stopped at a park on the east end of the island.  There’s a very tall tower here that, if you climb to the top, provides a fantastic view eastward along the St. Lawrence.  We didn’t climb it because, right now, my right knee and ankle aren’t being very cooperative.  Instead, we got back in the car and headed for a place with the name Maison des nos Aieux.  There is a large cathedral in front of this place but the “maison” refers to a large house that sits on a bunch of land that’s been turned into a park and flower garden.  The “aieux” refers to the fact that the place is to honor the original inhabitants of the island and there’s a large monument with their names on it.  We like to stop there because it’s so peaceful to just sit on one of the many benches and breathe some more clean air.  I’ve sketches several things here but today I got fascinated by a simple water spigot, which suited the short time frame we were there.  Sometimes simple is just right and this was one of those cases.  A fitting end to a great day.

Late Fall Sketching Is The Best

Ever notice that when things come as a surprise they’re just a bit better?  We’re experiencing some late fall weather that’s been really great and it’s extended my outdoor sketching season.  This surprise has been sweetened even more by my boss and true love (some call her my wife) wanting to sketch with me.  Life is great.

We found ourselves on Ile d’Orleans, the island I’ve mentioned in recent posts and we were back in the park I discussed here.  Chantal wanted to sketch the large hotel building and I sat down to sketch an old house on that sits on a hill in the park.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Brown

When I finished up I went looking for Chantal and found her working away on her sketch.  Not wanting to interrupt her, I sat down and started doodling details of the building she was drawing.  I need to do this more often cuz it’s fun… lots of fun.  I probably could have organized them better on the page but I gave that no thought as I just kept scibbling until the pages were full.  You might want to click on the graphic to enlarge it a bit.  Do you ever do this?

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

 

Urban Sketching On A Rainy, Windy Day

What’s an urban sketcher to do when the weather turns bad.  One thing is to go with other sketchers to a cafe where you can sketch and talk about sketching, pointy devices and anything else that might interest the group.

That’s what we did on Thursday.  We drove to a great cafe and bakery on Ile d’Orleans.  Called La Boulange, it’s a grand old house that’s been converted to a cafe.  Great place to sketch in good weather and bad as there are lots of great scenes to sketch outdoors when weather permits.

On this day Yvan and I rattled on about fountain pens while Fernande and Claudette had fun drawing a family.  Looking through a passageway from the bakery to the restaurant tables, I saw this scene.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x8), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

 

A Couple Hours On Ile d’Orleans

Ile d’Orléans is a large island just east of Quebec City.  It’s farm country and we locals go there to pick strawberries, apples, raspberries, and to buy corn and other vegetable crops when in season.  It’s also a place where sketchers, at least one, spend time enjoying the fresh St. Lawrence River air.

The family piled into the car for a trip there last weekend.  In hindsight we were overly optimistic as it was far too windy and cold to be on the island.  Of course, we went for the ice cream.  There’s a place that dips ice cream cones in very thick, milk chocolate so you end up eating a very cold chocolate bar with a soft center.  What’s not to like.

After consuming enough calories to keep me going for about a week, we headed down the road looking for something to draw.  While it’s not officially open for tourists yet, we ended up at the maritime museum.  There were choices to be made.  Wander around in the cold or sit in the car and draw.  My family chose the former; I chose the later.

2013-09-30IleD'OrleansBoat

The result of my isolation was 1) my family got very cold and 2) I drew this building which is a wood shop in which many chaloupes (large row boats) were built.  I’ve included a sketch I did in 2013 of one of those boats as well as the building sketch I did this time.

2015-05-16IleD'OrleansShop

Another Trip To Ile D’Orleans – Pt 2

I left you, in part one of this saga, with me very relaxed in a small park, having just sketched a lamp post.  It was a very nice day and only 10AM, so I got in the car and drove to the other end of St. Jean, which is a really small town so it only took a couple minutes.  I returned to the place where I’d sketched this during a previous visit to the island (Ile d’Orleans).

2013-09-18IleDOrleans1This time of year our maple trees put on a show for the tourists and we become overrun by cruise ships that come in from the Atlantic just to see this spectacle, so I decided to do another sketch of this area that featured the blazing colors of our forests.  While this sketch was done from the pier, I moved much closer for the new one, concentrating on just a couple of the homes so that the trees could dominate.  I did this new sketch in my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) using a Pilot Prera filled with Platinum Carbon Black ink.

2013-09-30IleD'OrleansStJean

Click to enlarge

I’m a slow sketcher and something this size takes me a while – a while sitting on a little tripod stool on rocks, in the sun.  You get the picture.  I was pretty tired when I finished so I started driving down the southern coast of the island, looking for a nice place to eat a lunch and just relax.

Along the way I was doing what sketchers do; I was taking ‘inventory’ of potential things and places to sketch along the way.  I’ve got to spend more time on the island as there’s a lot to sketch there.  As I was driving I noticed a sign that said “Parc Maritime” and way down below the road I could see what looked like a couple boats and a parking lot.  It seemed as good a place as any to eat lunch so I turned around, found the entrance, and drove down to Parc Maritime.

A half hour tour later I had learned that the town of St. Laurent revolved around this facility in the early 20th Century and that it had been a major hub for the construction, repair, and storage of the cargo vessels that ran around the St. Lawrence, mostly moving wood products.  It had been an enormous facility employing everyone in St. Laurent and a lot of people who came from surrounding towns during the summers.  This is a great place to visit, an amazing place to sketch.  I was told that I could return to sketch anything I wanted as long as I paid the entry fee (grin).

I was pretty tired and hungry, though, so I wandered the forest, looking at remnants of the lisses, which were row after row of large railroad track-like thingies they used to slide large ships out of the water and then move them laterally along the shore for storage.  This is a really nice place, hidden from view for the most part by the fact that it’s now tree covered and well below the main road.

When I finished lunch it was getting late but I decided I had to sketch something so I chose a small chaloupe, a heavy-duty rowboat.  There is a shop on the premises where they built them and I’ve got to get back to sketch all the cool benches, tools, and a water-powered bandsaw contained within.  But today I limited myself to one of the boats.  This one was done in my small Moleskine watercolor (3×5).  Hope you like it.

2013-09-30IleD'OrleansBoat

It will soon be too cold to visit the island.  These days, on the weekends, there are just too many people as it’s apple-picking time and people who want to do this form kilometer-long lines of cars, all waiting to drive over the bridge and onto the island.  This is not for me but maybe, during the week….   We’ll see.

Another Trip To Ile D’Orleans – Pt 1

I finally got out sketching and it was a fantastic day. Unseasonably warm and not much wind so I headed back to Ile d’Orleans where I sketched and froze the last time I was on the island. This steeple is attached to a church that’s on the eastern end of the island, in the town of St. Jean.  Its bright orange roof must serve as a visible beacon for the cargo ships that come from the Atlantic and are making their way towards Quebec City.

The church is across the street from a place that sells great brioche and coffee.  Last time I was there they’d lost electricity because of high winds so there was no coffee but it’s a regular stop for me when I get out to the island.

Moleskine watercolor (3x5), Pilot G-TEC-C3 pen

Moleskine watercolor (3×5), Pilot G-TEC-C3 pen

Once I sketched the steeple, I walked across the street to get my coffee and danish and this time it was closed because, it seems, it is closed on Mondays. Disappointment didn’t last too long, though.  They have a lot of chairs in a very pleasant garden area so I took one and set it up so that I could sketch one of the unique lamp posts in St. Jean.

2013-09-30IleD'OrleansLamppost

Moleskine watercolor (3×5), Pilot G-TEC-C3 pen

Have you noticed that some sketches are more ‘relaxed’ than others as you do them? That’s certainly the case for me. In this case, I’d just finished staring hard at all the detail in the steeple and mostly just wanted to sit.  Because of the situation, I was sitting on a gorgeous ‘throne’ in the form of a sculpted, cast-iron chair, with grass beneath my feet. The temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, and I was sitting in the shade.  If I’d gotten any more relaxed I would have fallen asleep.  The worst day sketching is a good day but some are better than others.