Winter has been slow in coming to Quebec City, which has been great for those of us who like to sketch on location. I’ve gotten at least an extra month of sketching my favorite subjects, the buildings of Quebec.
But winter has arrived and as I write this it’s 11F (-12C) outside. This is just the beginning, as we’ll soon be experiencing much colder temperatures. So what’s a location sketcher to do? Common recommendations are to go to libraries, coffee shops, airports, and train stations. These are all great if the things you want to sketch are people but even then, these places tend to be people in motion, something that’s hard for the best sketchers and impossible for me. I’m the slowest sketcher on the planet.
But now that winter has set in, I’ve got more places and things to sketch than I ever thought possible. They’ve come in two forms thus far: museums and free concerts/events.
There are a bunch of museums in Quebec City. In addition to the large museums like Musee des Beaux Arts and the Musee de la civilisation there are numerous smaller museums scattered around the city, principally because this is a tourist town. Each has sketching opportunities and I expect to live in them this winter.
In particular, I’ve become a member of the Musee de la Civilisations as it seems the richest source of things to sketch. Right now there are displays of Nigerian art, Maori culture, Samouri armor, swords, and helmets, and a wide variety of permanent displays of Canadian and Quebec cultural people, places and things. And they’re very friendly to sketchers. There’s a cafe where you can get soup, tea and sandwiches. And, in a world with snow and cold outside, it’s warm.
My first adventure there was done with my buddy Yvan Breton. We went on ‘free Tuesdays’ and expected to find the place crowded with people taking advantage of the freebie. But we went in the morning and it wasn’t really busy so we set up in the Nigeria display and started sketching. I sketched some of the masks, doing them in a fairly small size and doing them fairly quickly. I just wanted to get a feel for sketching in the museum and I wanted to save time to walk around to look at all the exhibits. We had a great day.
Cities have events going on constantly. I’m not talking about Justin Beiber coming to town or NASCAR races. I’m talking about smaller events. A fashion show at the mall, school plays, an author signing event, club displays, craft shows, holiday events, etc. All of these provide things to sketch.
Here in Quebec City there are also a bunch of free concerts, many put on by our music conservatory, where advanced students gain stage experience. I’m new to these and time will tell but they’re a great opportunity to sketch people, the musicians and spectators as they don’t move much for extended periods of time.
A small sketchbook and a pencil are unobtrusive and just the thing. I initiated my new Stillman & Birn 4×6 Alpha series sketchbook at the last one. What could be more enjoyable than to listen to great music while you sketch?
I spent a delightful 1 1/2 hours listening to some truly gifted violinists. I’m going to use these concerts to practice my people quick-sketching skills. It’s a cinch I need the practice, don’tcha think? What are some of your favorite winter sketching locations?