Sketching At Quebec City Hall

Quebec’s city hall is a gorgeous building that spans a hillside, the south end being somewhere around 20-25 meters higher than the north end.  It was built back before humanity decided that what a building looked like was unimportant as it was made operational at the end of the 19th Century.  It’s got pointy roofs with lots of gables, turrets and a very fancy entrance.

It’s also got a relatively new open area along the south wall, with a shallow pool and fountain and a whole bunch of inviting chair and table sets that, I’m sure were put there for sketchers, though it seems that downtown employees and tourists alike use them when they eat lunch.  That’s ok.  We sketchers are willing to share.

It was a sunny and, for this time of year, warm day as I arrived downtown.  I decided to sit and look around, my sketching equivalent of a dog circling before lying down.  I noticed the decorations over some of the windows and decided they would be my target.  They were beautiful.  They were challenging.  What more could a sketcher ask for?

I was trying a new ink, Noodler’s Red/Black.  I had filled a Lamy Safari with it and while it’s not my favorite pen, it was handy as a test bed.  Red/Black is a washable ink, and each ink has it’s own properties when it comes to how ink lines will respond to water so there’s always a step into the unknown when you add water.

For the second time I made the mistake of trying to do this step with a waterbrush and, more than a little bit, lost control over the washed ink.  Real brushes are the only way to go for this if you want to maintain any semblance of control – I’m not a fan of so-called “happy accidents.”  But it was a fun afternoon and I hope to repeated it soon, but with more control over the water.

Quebec City Hall Decorations

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Lamy Safari, Noodler’s Red/Black

Chasing The Queen Mary 2

Last Saturday was a good day.  The Queen Mary 2 arrived in Quebec and Nicolas and I had decided to meet it.  He’s a photographer and wanted to get some photos of it as it steamed up the St. Lawrence towards Quebec, so we decided that a good way to make that happen was a very long walk down the south shore of the St. Lawrence, across from Ile d’Orleans.  You see, photographers are as crazy as sketchers when it comes to getting to the right place to capture a scene.

To get there I walked nearly an hour to get to the ferry landing in the old port.  We met up and took the ferry to get across the river.  Then it was a very long walk, along a beautiful walk and bikeway that runs along the coast to the Davie Shipyards.  From there we continued walking through the St. Lauzon part of Levis and on to a gorgeous view of the island and when we arrived we could see, far into the distance the QM2 heading in our direction.  It only took 2 1/2 hours of walking to get there.

20151003_QueenMary2_1_smMy plan was to sketch as we waited but I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a sissy when it comes to cold.  It’s my Arizona upbringing I think.  While the sun was shining and it must have been at least 10C, we were getting some very significant northeastern winds that were….brrrr….cold.




Nicolas set up to take photos.  I stood with my neck scrunched down into my jacket and my hands in my pockets.  And I stood.  And stood.  Then I stood some more.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more.  I got out my sketchbook, gritted my teeth and did this sketch.  It took me no more than 2-3 minutes and I didn’t add any color until I got home.  Still, I managed to one sketch.




Once the QM2 had passed, and Nicolas had gotten his photos, we headed back to town.  It occurred to both of us that we were hungry so we headed to the main street of old-Levis and had a great lunch.  With belly full, and some 22,000 steps behind me, I was beat and ready to head home.

We got a good view of the QM2 moored to the Quebec City side of the river from the top of the gazillion stairs that are required to get a person down to river level and we headed directly to the ferry.  As the ferry docked in Quebec City we got a close up view of the ship.  It was a very good day.


October Croquistes de Quebec Sketchcrawl

I’ve talked about walking along my river, sketching on my river, and seeing ducks and flowers on my river.  It’s not really my river but the St. Charles River passes within a few minute walk of my house and the paths along its banks are a handy way for me to walk downtown, so I spend a lot of time on it.

Where Riviere Lairet exits into Parc Brebeuf

Where Riviere Lairet exits into Parc Brebeuf

The Croquistes de Québec will hold their October sketchcrawl on my river, or rather, at Parc Cartier-Brébeuf, on Sunday, October 11.  Parc Brebeuf is the confluence of the St. Charles and Lariat rivers; the Lariat runs mostly underground these days but is exposed to daylight just before it dumps into the St. Charles.  The park is a famous place as Cartier, explorer extraordinaire for the French government, overwintered (1535) in his ship, back when the St. Charles River was more open to ship traffic.  Now only kayaks and canoes ply its waters.

1st Avenue Bridge, just downstream from Parc Brebeuf

1st Avenue Bridge, just downstream from Parc Brebeuf

The sketchcrawl should be lots of fun so don’t be discouraged by our cooler weather.  Forecasts are for decent sketching weather and Yvan has arranged for us to use the Maison Dorion-Coulombe, which is a beautiful and large house along the banks of the river if you decide it is too cold.

We’ll meet at the usual time (9:30AM) and sketch all day so bring a lunch, a sketchbook, and your favorite pointy device.  Expect to be greeted with smiles.  For more details, head over to the Croquistes de Québec web page.   See you there.


Monument in Parc Brebeuf

Apple Picking Time In Quebec

2014-09-14ladderBecause we have a large grocery store only a minute away, I can buy 10 lbs of apples in less than 10 minutes.  It will cost me 99-cents a pound.  Or, I can drive for half an hour, pick my own apples, pay 99-cents a pound, and drive home.  It’ll only take me 90 minutes.

So, of course, once a year, we head out to pick apples.  It’s fun.  I don’t know what it is about apple picking, but clean air and greenery is always appealing to me.

The place we go is on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River and at the back of the orchard, just above the St. Lawrence, is the top of a church that was built in 1667.  It existed on the site until 1720 so one assumes that this ‘steeple’ came off the church at that time.  It’s been repaired with modern nails and bolts to hold it together and architecture in early Quebec wasn’t very fancy but I like it.


A Bad Sketching Day

Does it ever happen to you?  You agree to meet people for a sketching session and when you arrive you’re just not inspired to sketch?  It doesn’t happen to me very often but when it does, the results aren’t pretty (grin).

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

And so it was when I agreed to meet five of my sketching buddies at the Latin Park, or whatever they call the place where there are a bunch of statues of famous South American folks.  The smiling faces and upbeat attitudes that always come with sketchers were there and the day was gorgeous, as it’s still considerably warmer than it should be this time of year.  But, for some reason, I just wasn’t in the mood to sketch.

I sat down to draw this guy, or this hunk of stone that looks like a guy.  I worked faster than normal, mostly because of my disinterest, I think.  The drawing result wasn’t horrible but I decided to try something different with the watercolor and made a mess of it.

From there I started sketching one of the most boring buildings in Quebec, the bus station, which is also an expansion to the train station, one of the most beautiful buildings in Quebec.   I’d only just begun when everyone finished their first sketches, so we headed into the Dept. of Justice, the back of which looks out on the park, and we found toilets, coffee, and then returned to the park to eat lunch.  That was fun and we talked about film festivals, the weather and sketching.

Everyone decided to do some more sketching so I went back to my bus station sketch.  Why do we build such bland, soulless structures?  As I look around Quebec it’s easy to see that there was a time when people cared about the esthetics of the world around them.  Now it’s all just glass boxes full of cubicles.  So sad.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

After I finished that sketch I did a couple quick sketches of statue pieces but it just wasn’t an inspiring day for me.  Still, any sketching day beats a non-sketching day.