It’s winter and so my feet move me, without thought, to the local museum for sketching sessions. This day was no different and I found myself in the tiny “attic” display of all sorts of stuff, including this shelf. I probably drew it smaller than I should have but what the heck – I use less ink this way (grin).
One of the permanent exhibits at our Museé de la civilisation reflects the First Nations of Canada. It’s a wonderful exhibit that leans heavy on videos and audio, but that also holds a large collection of First Nations artifacts that are good sketching subjects.
I was there on Thursday and decided to draw a “scene” that amounted to a large, floor drum and a manikin wearing ceremonial garb. The manikin was hard to deal with as a sketcher because it was black foam and almost without a face. The dark room, dark outfit and dark manikin did make drawing the figure difficult. Like all my moving of pens around on paper, it was fun and made the day a good one.
Currently there is an exhibit that is a set of rooms, each unique in its own way. They form something of a ‘find _fill_in_the_blank’ treasure hunt for kids who are visiting the museum.
For the most part they are not worthy of a sketcher’s attention, with one exception. One room is supposed to be an attic area, an accumulation of junk. This ‘junk’ is so well spectacular, though, that it’s unconvincing as such. What it is, however, is a small room with a whole lot of stuff packed into it and much of it is worth drawing. The space is crowded however, and some things are more sketchable than others simply because you can find a place from which to sketch them.
I was there last Tuesday and sketched this little insect/curio cabinet and some stuff that was sitting on top of it. I hope you like it.
With my daughter coming home for Christmas, and Chantal getting a few days off, I won’t be doing any location sketching for a while. But I did go with the gang to the museum for a pre-holiday sketching session. They wanted to sketch some of the folk art nativity scene that is now in place there. If nothing else, it demonstrates imagination on the part of its creator. Have you ever seen a flying cow-fish?
I decided to sketch a wooden carving of a fusilier in another part of the museum. It is fairly large, almost telephone pole diameter and quite black, as though it had been creosote treated. In spite of this, it suffers from severe cracking in places. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive carving, far more impressive than my sketch of it I’m afraid. I got caught between wanting to include detail and the fact that the entire left side was in deep shadow, almost black. Like every sketch, though, it was fun to do which is why I do them.
When I finished I headed up to the nativity scene and found everyone busy drawing. They were talking about getting coffee, though, so I just sat down and waited for them. The thing is, I can’t sit for very long without getting out a sketchbook and I did this quick sketch of Lisette, busy sketching some wooden guy (I think, but I was too far away to know for sure) in a large glass case.
I’ll probably put together some sort of post during the holidays but I’m not sure what. I willl be spending lots of time eating and sketching, though, so there will probably be something to post. In the meantime, and since it’s December 23rd,
In the nanotechnology exhibit of our museum rests a glass box and inside is a stick and a small plant – a terrarium of sorts. It’s raison d’etre is to house two of the oddest creatures – leaf-tailed geckos.
They’re only six inches long. They have none of the flair of the whiptail lizards I used to chase when I lived in Arizona and none of the venom of the gila monsters I avoided. No, if you walked by these guys in a forest you wouldn’t even see them and quite often that’s the situation in our museum as well. I’d been waiting for today.
You see, the reason they’re in our nanotechnology exhibit is that they have nano-hairs on their feet. These are hairs so fine that they can cling to glass, those hairs ‘sticking’ to glass molecules using Vanderwaal forces, the forces that hold molecules together. And finally, today, one of these lizards was sticking to the glass out where I could see and draw him.
The view I had was a top view and I wanted to capture both its shape and the fact that when they do this they are squashed down flat to the glass. They remind me of how Wile E. Coyote looks after the Roadrunner dropped an anvil on him. They are really flat. In the end it doesn’t make much of a sketch but I walked away quite satisfied that I’d accomplished the task.
There I was, with John Connor, fighting against the machines. Somehow my fountain pen didn’t seem quite up to the task. Truthfully, neither was I. The machines had taken over the Earth and they were in the process of exterminating the human race. They were everywhere, as was evidence of the carnage. What’s an urban sketcher to do? Draw, of course. A little thing like the annihilation of the human race can’t slow down an urban sketcher.
Ok…so I lied. Actually, I was at our Museum of Civilisation, in the nanotechnology exhibit. In that exhibit is a full-size model of the Terminator of movie fame in all its shiny metal glory and, of course, it’s posed over several broken skulls. In honor of John Connor I did my best to capture the remains of the 2029 urban landscape. I drew the skulls.
[note: this was done last week but I forgot to press the publish button]
We returned to the museum of civilisation on Thursday and I continued sketching Inuit soapstone carvings. These are not precise carvings but they have a smoothness about their surfaces that is impressive when you realize they’re generally done by hand. More importantly, traditional Inuit carving is a form of story-telling, a reflection of Inuit life.
I started a two-page spread in my Stillman & Birn 8×10 Beta softcover book but only got the central sculpture done. It depicts a family’s successful hunt.
While our Museum of Civilization doesn’t have much to offer a sketcher this winter, it is pretty much the only game in town so a group of us were there, trying to take stock of sketching subjects for winter.
I’ve decided that I will sketch a bunch of the Inuit soapstone carvings because 1) they are available and 2) they offer lots of compound curves and soft edges to challenge my drawing skill. Hopefully I’ll get better at them but until then, here are a couple that I did on Thursday. Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5) softcover.
We can’t catch a break with the weather it seems but Yvan and I sat under an awning in open-air atrium at the museum and sketched very large potted plants. This area becomes a restaurant when weather permits and these huge pots will be moved around to decorate the area. I was struck by the fact that while these huge planters were very similar to one another, none of them were exactly alike.
I went to our Thursday museum sketching session in spite of being more than a little bored with sketching at the museum. The walk was cold and snowy and when I arrived I wasn’t much in the mood to sketch but I found myself in the Native American exhibit, which is part of the permanent collection at the museum.
I approached the morning with my little, red Field Notes book instead of my normal sketchbook. I spent a lot of time wandering but when I stopped I did these small sketches. It wasn’t the most productive morning but, as always, it was fun chatting with friends.