Urban Sketching In 2029???

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.

Stillman & Birn Beta softcover (8x10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black (diluted)

Stillman & Birn Beta softcover (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black (diluted)

I’m Back Drawing Soapstone

[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.

2016-11-14fishingfamilySorry about the poor photo.  I found it impossible to scan a two-page spread and didn’t have lights set up to photograph it properly.

Off To Sketcher Museum Land

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.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

 

This one speaks volumes of the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That's tough work if ever I've seen it.

This one speaks volumes about the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing a parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That’s tough work if ever I’ve seen it.

Rainy Tuesday Sketching

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.

Large planters at museum

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Sketching A Native American Exhibit

A pair of snowshoes provided some symmetry practice.

A pair of snowshoes provided some symmetry practice.

 

 

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.

This large cup was made from seal skin and sewn with reindeer sinew.

This large cup was made from seal skin and sewn with reindeer sinew.

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.

This is a small stone carving of an Inuit fisherman who is laying on the ice, looking into his fishing hole.

This is a small stone carving of an Inuit fisherman who is laying on the ice, looking into his fishing hole.

New Tuesday Museum Sketchers Group???

This winter it has become a habit for five or six of us to meet at the museum for a sketching session on Thursday mornings.  I really look forward to it.  I go on other days as well but it’s fun to meet and talk with some fellow sketchers.

Field Notes (3x5), Pilot Prera F, Noodlers Polar Brown

Field Notes (3×5), Pilot Prera F, Noodlers Polar Brown

Claudette suggested that we meet on Tuesday this week as well, and while some of the ‘regulars’ couldn’t come on Tuesday, she managed to get a couple sketchers I don’t see often to show up so there were seven of us sketching this morning.  Why is it so exciting for sketchers to gather together only to ignore one another for extended periods of time?  Don’t know myself but it sure is fun.

I started the day with a little five-minute (maybe?) sketch to try out the yellow Field Notes book that comes with the blue and red books I’ve reported on recently.  It’s a small wooden statue and I guess the yellow notebook passes the suitability test.  I’ll probably do more in this book, though I prefer the red and blue books.

After wandering around a bit I headed to the new nanotechnology exhibit to draw a Mayan 3-tube flute.  It’s made of clay and I haven’t a clue why it’s part of the nanotechnology exhibit.  Maybe I should have read the plaque.

I’d filled my Falcon with Noodler’s Lexington Gray which I haven’t used in quite a while.  I’d forgotten how much its “water-resistant” nature doesn’t work on papers with lots of sizing.  I applied some color with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush and everything acquired a gray overcast from the ink.  Back to DeAtramentis Document Black for me.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Pilot Falcon, Noodler's Lexington Gray

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Pilot Falcon, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Field Notes Sweet Tooth: A Sketchbook?

FNsweettooth

I confess that I’ve been a subscriber to Field Notes, a series of small (3×5) collectible notebooks, for the past year.  These are handy notepads but mostly they come with paper that’s too light for sketching, at least with fountain pens, and they generally come with pesky lines or grids on their pages.

A while back, though, they did one of their quarterly releases that included 70# white paper.  It did have a light grid but it could  be easily ignored and proved to be a useful sketchbook at least for those of us who like the convenience of having a small, light sketchbook with us at all times.  And Field Notes have done it again… sort of.

This time they’re released a set of three colorful notebooks (Easter colors??) with a couple significant twists on their typical approach.  This time, the 70# paper is BLANK… just like we like it.  And it’s RED, BLUE and YELLOW… which we like…err…uhm… I’ll let you be the judge.

2016-03-22lampWhen I received mine I was very unhappy.  Who the heck needs paper with these ridiculous colors.  I threw them on the debris field and this my desk and didn’t even open them.

Then Tina Koyama “experimented.”  She’s much smarter than I am and saw the potential.  You can see her results here, and here.  The results were undeniable; I had to try them.

Like Tina, I started with the red one.  I took it with me when I went to meet some people to attend a small art exhibition.  I stood outside and in spite of the cold decided that I should try to draw a lamp on red paper. This was not a great idea because my hands quickly became frozen and I was struggling to get the white Uniball pen to write in the cold.  Nevertheless, I had started my adventure down the small red road.

2016-03-23FNtestThat night I sat at my desk with a photo of a street lamp on my laptop.  I only spent a few minutes on it but the red paper made it a lot of fun.

The next night I was watching TV with my wife and as I’m prone to do, I got a bit bored not doing at least one other thing while watching the glass teat.  So, after checking my Instagram feed, becoming frustrated with vitriole on Twitter, and checking in to see what the Blue Jays are doing in spring training, I got my red Field Notes, my Platinum 3776 and I grabbed the glass container that holds my watercolor water on my desk.  Watching TV became more fun as I drew that container.

 

2016-03-23waterjug

I’m a guy who loves drawing lines more than anything else.  I’m drawn to watercolors mostly cuz everyone else is, proving that I’m as much of a lemming as anyone else.  But the red paper releases me from the thought of adding color so I can just enjoy drawing with my fountain pens.  It won’t be the only sketching I do as I’m not sure how well it fits into my urban sketching passion, but for sitting around the house drawing, it’s pretty sweet… or is that sweet tooth?

I did give the approach a try while I was at the museum and drew this interesting flask.  It’s a flask which was traditionally filled with perfume.  Egyptians gave these to each other as part of a New Years celebration.  This was fun and may show me the way to incorporate the toned paper into a location session as this only too me a few minutes between my normal sketching.

2016-03-23NewYearsFlask2016-03-24hydrantI was more doubtful about the other two colors but, again, Tina led the way.  This morning I decided I should try the blue book so I could post a result in this blog post.  I decided a fire hydrant might be nice and as I’d just filled a Pilot Metropolitan with Nooder’s Red-Black I started drawing.  Not good…really bad, in fact.  Noodlers Red-Black is supposed to be “water-resistant.”  It is not… not even a little bit.  I touched the drawing with a small brush with the idea of pulling a bit of shading from the lines and those lines just exploded.  Thank goodness I was drawing a red thing because I was in chase my tail mode trying to clean up the mess.  I wasn’t very successful and smarter people would probably not post this sketch.  Here it is.  Not the fault of the Field Notes but it’s a great example why I don’t use Noodler’s “water-resistant” inks.

And so I had to try again so I could provide something…anything in the blue book that looked ok.  I did this quick architecture/landscape sketch from my limited imagination.  Hope you like it.

2016-03-24house

 

Museum Sketching Fatigue

As the internet brings me sketches of cherry blossoms, crocuses popping out of the ground, and various pronouncements of spring, we’re bracing for a foot of snow tonight.  Spring will come to Quebec but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to live long enough to see it.

We were back at the museum again, a place I’m really tiring of this year.  In the past the exhibits have been very interesting and full of variety but the main exhibit this winter has been Egyptian Magic and, well, there are only so many times one can sketch another stone statue of a mummy or the favorite Egyptian god, Bes.  To make matters worse the exhibit is very dark.  You can’t even see many of the display items it’s so dark and after a while it becomes downright depressing.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Yvan and I sketched this guy because he was outside the exhibit and there was decent light.  It’s not a real artifact, however, as you can buy one at the museum store 🙂

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

After that I decided to go to the Australian aboriginal exhibit.  It’s mostly tapestries and such but I found these guys fun.  Meet Mimih, who is something of a jokester god.  They’re tall (8-feet or so), thin and they hide in the cracks between the rocks in Arnhem land.  It took forever to put all those dots on him with a Uniball white pen but at least there was light in the room.

The snow is starting.  Maybe I should trade in my sketchbook for a snowboard (grin).

They Say It’s Spring

They say that this is the first day of spring.  It must be true but from where I stand, it doesn’t seem like it.  It’s currently -15C outside.  It looks like mother nature is going to tease us with a warm up this week, though, and we may actually get above freezing so there is hope.

During our Thursday sketchers gathering at the museum last week, I got in the mood to challenge my abilities to draw stuff and I chose subjects that weren’t all that photogenic but that I thought might be difficult for my brain to get my hand to move in the right direction.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I started with this headrest.  I saw it as a challenge because it was both handmade from wood and also centuries old.  Thus, in addition to having odd, curved surfaces, it was also somewhat asymmetric and the top was a bit askew.  It was a fun subject.

There’s a new exhibit all about nanotechnology and they’re got a series of microscopes, showing their development history.  I chose this early, somewhat simple microscope as an ellipse/alignment challenge.  It worked out ok but I really should have drawn it larger and taken more time with it.  Baby steps.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

 

Those Egyptians Really Liked Bes

Here’s a couple small  vessels (shot glasses?), each different depictions of Bes, the dwarf god.  They’re part of the Egypt exhibition at our Museé de la Civilisation.  Maybe these were intended to ward off evil spirits from their spirits.  I don’t think the top squares on the green one were intended to look like a hat but they sure do, making it quite funny.

2016-03-10EgyptThese were drawn in an 8×10 Stillman & Birn softcover Alphas series book.  I’m just starting to use this size book but I think I’m really going to like it.  Bigger than the typical 6×9 but much easier to scan than a 9×12.  The softcovers are also so much lighter than hardcovers that it actually weighs the same as a 6×9 hardcover.