White-Face, Nigeria Style

2013-04-05NigeriaSome of the Nigerian masks are coated with a kaolin clay, making them very white.  In places the clay has worn off and so some of the wood shows through, giving the masks an interesting texture/coloring.  I was only semi-successful in capturing that look in this mask.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook, Pilot Prera and Lamy Safari, both filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray.  Brown and black watercolor pencils provided some color but I really needed a cream pencil for this one.

Make Friends With Museum Staff

I got out of French school on Wednesday and rushed downtown to meet with Claudette at the museum.  We sketched for a couple hours and then went out to the lobby area where we sat in big comfy chairs and Claudette told me of plans for a trip she’s taking in May.

As we talked, one of the security guards came over, a well-suited man in tow.  It turned out, this guy was responsible for the organization and implementation of the Nigeria exhibit, bringing it here from France.  The security guard had told him of our sketching and she wanted us to show them to him.  Which we did.  It was pretty special.  I’m not sure the best part was meeting the guy or that the security guard thought enough of us to go out of her way to introduce us.  Have I mentioned how great our Musee de la Civilisation and its staff are and how well they treat who sketch there?

2013-04-03NigeriaHere’s the sketch I did that day.  It’s truly an amazing piece and I didn’t do it justice.  What’s truly amazing is its size.  You see the ‘head’ at the bottom?  It’s big enough that a guy puts his head inside it.  The front has been broken off but you can get an idea how large the piece is from comparison to a man’s head.  The figure must stick up on top of the wearer’s head by three feet.  I don’t know how they wear these huge things.  This piece is also unique within the exhibit for its reddish-brown color – much more red than anything else.

Done in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon (5.5×8.5) sketchbook with a Pilot Prera and Noodler’s Lexington Gray.  Color comes from a couple brown, a red and a black watercolor pencil.

 

Easter Weekend Sketching – Great Fun!

I started French classes last week and it sucked the life, or at least the time out of my sketching week.  So I hit the four-day weekend called Easter with wild abandon, sketchbook in hand.

2013-03-30NigeriaI’ve already reported on my Friday adventure with Yvan and Claudette but on Saturday I met Yvan at the museum and we sketched and talked about sketching.  Yvan has incredible patience and I have an endless stream of questions.

Then we headed downtown to see Terry Bouton, sitting in her window again.  This time she was doing quick oil paintings, on mylar, while people posed for her.

2013-03-30LibrarySketchingFrom there we went to the library and did some quick-sketching of people sitting outside, while we sat in comfy chairs looking out at them.  Life is sweet.

2013-03-31Nigeria1Sunday was a repeat performance.  Yvan and I had a great time sketching at the museum but as it was supposed to be warm in the afternoon, I had my eye on the door.

By the time we left, though, I was hungry…very hungry and I don’t think about much besides food when I’m hungry 🙂

2013-03-31Nigeria2We wandered around the old port area, assessing the situation there.  The ice is gone from the St. Lawrence but the personal boat harbor is still iced over.  We successfully added to our list of ‘gotta sketch…’ subjects.  By the time we got to the Farmer’s Market we decided we had to sketch something and, jointly, chose to sketch of one of the hotels (it has great tower in the middle of it) and the convent that’s behind it.

It was only as we were setting up that I realized that I didn’t have a large sketchbook besides my museum book.  I could have sketched in that but it’s only got a couple more pages left in it and I’d decided it would end up woth 100% museum sketches.  So, with my S&B Alpha (4×6), I decided to do a ‘baby sketch’ of the tower alone.

2013-03-31VerrafinTower

Then we headed down to see Terry again as Sunday was sculpture day.  People were posing while she sculpted clay masks of their likeness.  Pretty cool.

With Starbucks next door, I decided that I needed a scone and cup of coffee.  Yvan obliged and followed me in.  He sat at a window counter and started sketching people who were walking by and standing at the intersection.  Two hours later and whole lot of ‘how do you …’ and ‘that’s amazing…’ from me, and explanations from him and it was time to head home.  Can it get better than this?

I think I’ll save my Monday exploits for the next post as this one has gotten rather long.  [Sigh]… tomorrow it’s back to French class.

 

Spring Sketching Has Begun…Almost

On Good Friday I met with Claudette and Yvan at the Musee de la Civilisation to sketch but we were facing a day that seemed enticingly warm.  When I type that I have to chuckle.  I’m an Arizona guy so for me to say that a high temperature around 40F is warm is, well, an exaggeration that comes from a brain that’s spent the last few months without sketching outdoors.

2013-03-29Nigeria1We sketched indoors and packed up around noon.  I did this sketch  during that session.  I sort of screwed up the eyes somewhat but it was fun doing this sketch anyway.  With a rock wall for a beard and hat, what’s not to like?  It was done in an S&B Epsilon (5.5×8.5), with a Pilot Prera and Lexington Gray ink.

Then, Yvan and I headed downtown where one of his friends was sitting in a window, sketching people on the street who were willing to pose for ten minutes.  That was fun to watch, for a while, but I got cold just standing around and I decided it was time to head home.  And so I did.

When I arrived home my wife and daughter were out shopping so I decided I’d wander the neighborhood and see if I could sketch something outdoors.  After all, it WAS 42F!!

2013-03-29_1stAvenueI’ve walked by this building many times and have said “I’ve got to sketch that” an equal number of times.  It was built in 1927 but today was the day it was going to be sketched.  Besides, I wanted to try out my new Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.  I used my Pilot Prera/Lex Gray combo  and, because I had my museum stuff with me, I used watercolor pencils to do the color.  I was uncomfortably cold towards the end but clearly spring sketching is about to begin and I’m getting excited.  Sorry that much of the light blue in the sky and in the snow got lost in the scanning process.

Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbooks Have Arrived

Yippee!! Stillman & Birn’s new Zeta series sketchbooks have been released.  Double-yippee – mine was plopped into my mailbox this morning.

S&BEpsil_Zeta

I’ve been using Stillman & Birn sketchbooks since December 2011, when I bought my first Alpha series sketchbook.  I rarely brand any product ‘best’ as, for me, product choices shouldn’t be spoken of in that way.  Stillman & Birn is my one exception to that view as they are simply the best.  While I still experiment with pens, inks, and even watercolors, I no longer buy any sketchbook that doesn’t have Stillman & Birn embossed on the its back.

Mostly I have used Alpha series sketchbooks.  I have 4×6, 5.5×8.5, and 9×12 hardbound and 10×7 spiral bound versions of this series and several of them rest, full of sketches, on my shelves.  I’ve also filled a 6×8 Beta series sketchbook, which is its heavier-paper counterpart.

2013-03-24Nigeria1This winter, however, I started using a 5.5×8.5 Epsilon series book.  I’ve had a 9×12 version of this series on my desk for a long time and use it as my learning platform as I can do a lot of small sketches on a single page when trying various techniques.

If you’ve seen any of my museum sketches (eg – Samurai helmets, Nigerian masks and statues), you’ve seen the results of ink and watercolor pencils on Epsilon paper.  Here’s my latest sketch in my current Epsilon 5.5×8.5 sketchbook.  Epsilon paper is simply awesome for ink and wash as the paper is very smooth and double-sized which makes the watercolors remain bright.  I just love the stuff.

So when S&B announced that they were going to create Epsilon-like paper in their heavier, 180lb format, I got very excited.  While the 100lb paper of the Alpha and Epsilon papers are more than up to the task of accepting my watercolors, there are times when I want to play with wet-in-wet in a bigger way and the 180lb papers are just amazing for such purposes.

2013-03-07CamelliaSenensis

Here’s the first sketch I did on this paper.  It was done rather quickly as “spring” in Quebec is still pretty cold so it’s not as detailed as most of my building sketches.  It’s a sketch of my favorite tea store.  I’ll be showing you more sketches on Zeta paper ‘real soon’ as it should start warming up in the days ahead.  Thanks, Stillman & Birn for making my sketching life easier.