Pumpkins are still everywhere I look, so I drew another pile of them. I suppose, now that Halloween is over, that Christmas decorations will be all over the place. The retail world has spread “celebration” (buy stuff you don’t need) of this holiday over two months and, for me, this has completely diluted the joyful atmosphere of the holiday. I’m not sure I’ll do many Christmas sketches. Maybe some cash registers (grin).
It’s turning cold here and our outdoor location sketching season is nearing an end. The last Artistes dans les parcs outing took place at the Parc des Fondateurs, which is a gorgeous park near Stoneham, Quebec.
The Huron River runs through this park and I was looking forward to drawing some rocks and rapids. I was disappointed to find that the steep descents to the river kept me and my bad knee from fulfilling that goal so all I could do was look down and imagine it. Denise did give me some photos she took so maybe I can draw from them this winter.
Instead I decided to draw the barn, which used to be a barn but it now seems to be a building where the nearby church holds banquets and parties. It’s where we all gathered to eat lunch and to stay warm. The large door openings are now large viewing windows and several people did their drawing from inside. I should have because it was cold for a guy who grew up in Arizona. I have to confess that I rushed this sketch because of this but here it is. I hope to draw this building again some day, maybe when it’s a bit warmer.
I’d spent so much time wandering the park when we arrived that by the time I finished this sketch it was time for lunch. We all gathered inside, sat around a big table and chatted. Eventually, though, it was time to brave the cool, wet day and head back out. I decided to walk out of the park and set up in a parking lot of some sort of municipal building so I could draw the church.
I was making good progress when it started to rain. I persisted. The rain continued, plopping drops of water onto wet ink. I was using Platinum Carbon Black for this sketch (in a Hero fude pen) and PCB dries more slowly than DeAtramentis Document inks, particularly when it’s cold. The combined slow-drying and wet water was creating little bomb-craters on my drawing, to say nothing of the discomfort I was beginning to feel while standing there with no protection.
So, I packed up walked to the parking lot and swapped my big sketching bag for a small ‘scribble’ book and a pen and I went wandering, looking for places to stand out of the rain and sketch.
Eventually the rain stopped and I sat down to quickly sketch this odd structure. It was small and part of a children’s playground. Its total height couldn’t have been more than eight feet and all it had available for kids were two shallow tables. I assume that there are some toys to play with on those tables during the summer but none were in evidence when I was there. Still, it was cute as could be so I did this quick sketch.
All in all, it was a great day in spite of the cold and rain. We talked about trying to do a couple indoor events this winter but since a lot of the members of this group are oil painters with easels and such it’s unclear what will happen. I’m just thankful that Denise Bujold is such a nice person and willing to organize these events.
The thing about backyard plants is that they’re always there. Chantal plants them, tends, them and I always say “I’m going to draw them.” I never do because they’re always there. But about this time a year, when the days are getting shorter and cooler, I realize that very soon, they won’t be there. This happens every year but I’m a very slow learner.
And so I make the point of drawing some flowers. I can’t possibly draw them all because, like a student waiting until the night of the exam to study, I don’t have enough time because I’ve ignored the task all summer.
The silly thing is that I thoroughly enjoy sitting in the yard with all my concentration directed at a bunch of leaves and flowers I know little about. Chantal tells me these are anemone flowers. I know nothing about cultivated plants except they’re fun to draw as long as you don’t have the attitude that they’re “always there.”
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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).
Why would anyone draw a single squash? Because it was there, of course. There need be no other reason. And so it was as the squash sat on our kitchen island and I drew it. This one was odd-looking in that while most Sunburst squashes are round, but flattened, this one was almost as high as it was round.
If I were Charlie O’Shields (Mr. Doodlewash) I’d have a charming story to tell you about how Philippe prepares squash or how his mother forced him to eat it when he was young. I’m not nearly as talented. I buy squash, I cook squash, I eat squash and now I can say I’ve sketched squash. Anyway, I had fun sketching it.
“I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time” – Otis Redding
I had to meet some people in front of the Notre Dame cathedral and there’s a tiny park in front of it, which is where I was, with some time to kill.
Since becoming a sketcher I rarely ‘kill time.’ These interludes between the activities of life are sketching opportunities for me, whether it be waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting for a friend to show up.
And there I was, on a sunny morning, sitting on a bench, with a book statue looking down on me. What’s a guy to do. I got out my Moleskine watercolor book. I hadn’t used it in a long time for some reason but it seemed just right for this little sketch.
Quebec City is a mosaic of small enclaves, one of which is Trait Carre, an area filled with big, beautiful elms and maples that surround beautiful old homes, some of which have become art galleries. There’s a library with grass on its roof, a large dual-steeple cathedral and an ambiance of a very rural community, though it sits in the middle of the hustle and bustle of our city.
The sketchcrawl was coordinated by Daniel Chagnon and was part of the schedule of activities organized by Le Collectif (http://calvaq.com). We weren’t a large group this day but, in a way, that’s what made it fun. I got a chance to chat a bit with Lucien and Diane, who do most of the organizing for the group. My French is very poor and I get lost when there are a lot of people speaking French simultaneously so the low turnout this day was a bonus for me.
Daniel knows the area well and we got a tour of the area before we each headed off in our own directions to sketch. I decided to sketch this house and did it in a small format (3×5).
We met for lunch, chatted about upcoming events, fountain pens and ink and we shared the sketches we’d done thus far. We decided to get back to sketching and I headed to a scene I wanted to sketch. It called for a larger format and the largest book I had with me was a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8) so I decided to do a two-page spread. I spent nearly two hours on this one and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent and the conversation I had with a young guy who was interested in my work. Hope you like it too.