Sketching At Vinoble De Bacchus

The Artistes dans les parcs went to Iles d’Orleans to visit Vinoble de Bacchus for a day of painting en plein air.  Bacchus is the god of wine so it was only fitting that his vineyard was beautiful.  All of the buildings are painted white with blue roofs and the vineyards overlook the St. Lawrence River.  We had a great time.

I wandered around a while, just enjoying the place.  There was a lot to see and I took it all in.  The last time we came I couldn’t walk up/down the hills to the vineyards and so I was enjoying the freedom my rheumatologist has given me.

Eventually, though, I sat down to sketch this building.  I just liked the door.  Do we need more reason than that?  I don’t think so.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis black, Daniel Smith watercolors

Then it was time for lunch, a very long lunch.  A big part of the raison d’etre of the Artistes dans les parcs are its social aspects and the vineyard’s ambience and services emphasized this on this day.  They sell yummy cheese plates, serve wine and we could sit outside on a perfect day and talk, and talk, and talk.

While that was happening I did this small sketch of a planter that sat nearby.  Not much of a sketch but I thought I’d throw it in as a remembrance of that fine afternoon.  Thanks Bacchus, for letting us visit your vineyard.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6), DeAtramentis Document Black

Where Have The Alligators Gone?

The Artistes dans les parcs went back to what is now called Parc des Moulins, but the area used to be the Quebec zoo.  Oh how I wish we still had animals to draw but politics brought the zoo to an end, a needless end.

Anyway, it was a hot day but I set up in the sun at one end of a large impound that used to house the alligators. It’s a pond with small islands for alligator basking and a building at one end so people could look down on the critters.  The islands are now overgrown so while this sketch doesn’t have any alligators, it does have lots of plants.  The mandatory alligator-proof wall is still in place around it and it seemed only fitting that it be included in the scene.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document brn/blk, Wing Sung 8009, Daniel Smith watercolors

The Urban Sketcher View

I’ve only been an urban sketcher.  Yes, I’ve drawn stuffed animals and a few flowers but mostly I go out somewhere, sit down and draw what’s in front of me, on location.  I like this because I don’t have to make stuff up.  I can see the objects ‘in the flesh’ and from all angles.  Drawing from photos is boring and, somehow incomplete.

But there’s a downside to urban sketching.  You’re always faced with cluttered, complex landscapes.  Drawn verbatim, you end up with confused, messy sketches.  Everyone says “simplify,” but in my opinion, this is the hardest thing to do in art.  What to leave out, what to leave in.  Where should the border of the sketch be>  How do you treat those edges?  Do you zoom in or out to capture a subject?  Too many decisions… too many choices.

I went with Yvan to draw boats.  Specifically we wanted to draw some of the tugboats that are moored in the Quebec City harbor.  I found a place out of the wind and set up to draw a tugboat on the other side of the harbor.  I had this view.

I’m not a master of composition but even I know this is a cluttered view and that having a big rope cutting across a drawing with no reason isn’t a good idea.  So, “simplify” is what I’m told so that’s what I do.

Even so, it was going to be hard to make that tugboat the star of my sketch if I drew it from that far away.  So, the solution was to zoom in, forcing the tugboat onto center stage.  I also decided to greatly simplify the background.  And I started to draw my tugboat.

I was happy with this result but zooming in did present a new problem.  If the boat is drawn that large, don’tcha want to see a lot of detail?  Of course, but because the boat is actually so far away, you can’t see the details.  Some details are faked as a set of textural marks.  Others are left out completely.  It’s a balance I guess.  A balance that makes me realize just how much I still need to learn about sketching.

Cap Rouge Marina Sketching

We were at the Cap Rouge Marina last Sunday and it was a wonderful day, though a bit on the warm side.  I relish the heat, partly because I’m from Arizona and partly because I know that all too soon we’ll be back in heavy coats and complaining about winter.

I was in the mood to draw rocks and found a bunch of them on the other side of the mouth of the river that flows into the marina and out into the St. Lawrence.

When I finished I walked down to where some other people were sketching and I started sketching a sailboat that was moored on the ‘flats’, which turns into a giant grassland at low tide.  I’d just gotten started when it was announced that it was time to gather for lunch.  I share it in its unfinished state as I never got back to it.  By the time lunch was over the boat was laying on its side in a sea of grass, waiting for the tide to come back in.

After lunch I walked to the other side of the marina and drew this scene, that is looking across the marina.  By then it was blisteringly hot and I cooked on my tripod stool for the duration of the drawing.  It was an end of a great day and, once again, I owe Denise a big thank you for organizing the event.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document brn/blk, Daniel Smith watercolors

Are You Afraid Of Clowns?

Many people are afraid of clowns for some reason.  They might be scared to death if they walk down rue St. Paul in the old port area of Quebec City because, between two buildings there is a humongous inflatable clown head scrunged between the two walls.  I think it’s cute but it could also be scary, depending upon your point of view.  I had to draw it.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6), DeAtramentis Document Black, Wing Sung 8009, Platinum brush pen

Doodling Near The Train Station

I was sitting in the park in front of our train station, just enjoying the light water spray from the fountain there.  It was a beautiful day and I’d been out doing my walking exercise.

I love the train station and have drawn it several times but never from this angle through the trees.  As it turns out I drew it a bit wider than it actually is but she’s still a stately building even if I gave her a bit more weight.

Sketching At Saint Petronille

The Artistes dans les parcs provided a unique opportunity to sketch at La Foyer de Charite Notre Dame (I think I have that right).  Anyways, it’s a huge estate, built on a hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  It was built by the guy who started the Bank of Montreal.

It’s a gorgeous place with lots to draw but the hilly terrain didn’t make my bad knee very happy.  I was so happy to be out sketching, though, that it didn’t really matter.

Here’s a sketch of my buddy Yvan sketching a fountain.  I’ve started using the Moleskine watercolor book I mentioned recently and I really don’t like the paper.  The colors just all look dull to me when compared to the same paint on my S&B sketchbooks.

After lunch we were up high on the hill.  My knee didn’t want to move, so I decided to draw the coastline I could see when I looked over the cliff.  The tide was out and I was faced with this scene.

I did a few other, tiny sketches but otherwise I just sat on the porch and enjoyed the view.  What a wonderful day.  Now, what do you do with an expensive sketchbook you REALLY don’t like?

Old Expo Exhibition Hall

I go to our new Grande Marché almost every day.  Part of the reason is that I’m trying hard to walk as much as possible to rebuild strength in my bad leg.  But the other reason is that there’s just something soothing about seeing all the local farmer produce on display.  I can’t really explain why that is so and the hectic nature of lots of people running around buying stuff would argue against it, but it makes me happy for some reason.

The other day I drew the corner of a really large, classic building that used to be the Science & Technology building on the fairgrounds on which the Grande Marché sits (it used to be the Agriculture building).  Anyways, I just love the corners of this building.  This was a quick and small sketch.  Some day I’ll have to do a larger one.

The Year Of The Plant

Since my mobility is been limited by my bad knee, it seems I’ve traded in drawing architecture for drawing plants.  I can’t say that’s a bad thing exactly but it sure is different, putting me in unfamiliar territory.

I was at another Artistes dans les parcs event, this time at the Domain Maizeret Arboretum.  Lots of trees, lots of grass, and a wonderful pond and creek, though this time of year the later is mostly hidden by tall foliage that surrounds it.

Having no imagination at all, I found it difficult to find something to draw.  But where there’s a coneflower, there’s something to draw.  Better yet, two coneflowers.  A botanical artist I am not, but I really had a good time drawing these. For some reason it was very relaxing.

It had become quite hot and I wasn’t in the mood for a complex subject.  I got the idea to try to do a very quick sketch attempt of a ‘landscape’ to see if I could manage a minimal ink, mostly color sketch.  I drew some steps and then picked up a big brush and started placing blobs of color around them.  Near the end I went back to the pen to add some structure.

Mostly I think I failed at this because all my foliage lacks texture and depth.  It was an interesting experiment, though, throwing detail to the wind and just capturing the structure of the scene.  I post it here because I’m not easily embarrassed (grin).

 

The Lonely Sentry And Cheating On An Old Friend

I was wandering around a place called Domain Maizeret, a large park not far from my house.  There is a huge building in the middle of the park where most of the activity is centered and around it is forested land with walk paths so we can go in and feed the mosquitoes.

When I saw this scene I didn’t see a garbage can.  I saw a sentry, bravely holding up its “no bicycles” sign as it protected the forest entry from marauding bicyclists.  I decided to do another paint first experiment.  Some day I’ll do one that doesn’t fail, or that fails to a lesser degree.  I don’t expect progress overnight (grin).

I had fun with this one, mostly because I just couldn’t get the sentry idea out of my head.  While I was sketching, not a single bicyclist got past the sentry.  I do hope walkers appreciate its effort.

Moleskine watercolor portrait format (5×8), DeAtramentis Document brn/blk, Wing Sung 8009

A confession and apology to Stillman & Birn

I’ve been using Stillman & Birn sketchbooks almost exclusively for about eight years.  When I started with them they didn’t have all the products they have today, but I bought a pile of Alpha-series 10×7 spiral-bound landscape books and I filled them.  As they came out with other options I tried those too, though Alpha and Beta series are my favorites.  I’ve filled a bunch of their newer softcover books as well.  When they released their 3×5 books I started using those, replacing the cheap small books I’d used for quick-sketching people.

But there was a time that I used the small Moleskine (landscape) watercolor books.  I loved their covers but always felt that the larger landscape books became unwieldy when balanced on my knee.  So I joined the throngs of people asking begging Moleskine to produce portrait versions of these sketchbooks.  In spite of repeated letter-writing campaigns, they never did and since S&B was serving my needs I didn’t much care.

But Moleskine finally answered the call, with both A5 and A4 versions in portrait format.  I didn’t buy one… at first, but eventually I started feeling guilty that I’d whined so loudly ‘back then’ and yet hadn’t bought one now that they were producing them.  And so I did buy one.

The sketch above was the first sketch in my new A5 Moleskine book.  I feel like I’m cheating on S&B by using the darn thing (grin).  S&B have been there, thick and thin, relieving me of the burden of finding the right sketchbook.

I tell myself that I haven’t stopped using S&B sketchbooks and its true.  Right now I carry two of them next to this new Moleskine.  Still I feel guilty.  I also feel bad that now I have a sketchbook to fill that has paper that’s not as good as my other sketchbooks.  Serves me right for being a cheater (grin).