Sketching Rocks In St. Vallier

Louise and Fernande

Louise and Fernande

I’m a lucky guy to have friends like these.  Plans for this sketching session in St. Vallier came from discussions between Claudette and Louise, who are best buddies.  Louise hosted the event as she lives in St. Vallier, a beautiful village about half an hour from Quebec City.  Plans were made.  The weather checked.  It was on the calendar.

When the day came we faced a very cool morning with very windy conditions.  Undaunted, we piled into Claudette’s car and headed to St. Vallier, which is on the south coast of The St. Lawrence River as it opens up into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It’s always windy there so we were concerned that it might be too cold to sketch.





It was windy when we arrived, but sunny.  As we walked to the rocky areas we were all bundled up as though we were invading the North Pole but the sun was out, our pens warmed up, and we were ready to draw rocks.

We found some parts of the coastline where we could be sheltered from the wind and it was quite pleasant.  We sketched and chatted all morning and then climbed the hill back to Louise’s house for lunch.  Homemade cream of mushroom soup, wine and sandwiches was an unexpected treat, served in a gorgeous solarium that doubles as Louise’s studio.  Then, having eaten more than I should have, Louise brought out a strawberry upside-down cake.  When we were finished I needed a siesta.  Louise has agreed to adopt me.

Rocks at St. Vallier (Stillman & BIrn Alpha 9x6, Uniball UM-151,.38 pen

Rocks at St. Vallier
(Stillman & BIrn Alpha 9×6, Uniball UM-151,.38 pen

But there is no rest for the sketcher.  We headed back down the hill for a shorter, but fun sketching session.  It had warmed up so, out of the wind, I could actually unzip one of the two jackets I was wearing.  I did one drawing during this session but didn’t get a chance to add color.  I’ll do that and post it later.  Thanks to all, and especially Louise for her hospitality.  Life is sweet.

Louise, our host.  She was sitting next to a storm wall, drawing trees that rose above it.  (Stillman & BIrn Alpha 9x6, Uniball UM-151, .38 pen

Louise, our host. She was sitting next to a storm wall, drawing trees that rose above it. (Stillman & BIrn Alpha 9×6, Uniball UM-151, .38 pen

T-shirt Sketching

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.  Everyday is t-shirt day in Phoenix.  But I now live in Quebec City and May 26th was the first day this year that I could go walking in jeans and a t-shirt, my typical street-sketcher garb.

It was glorious and as I headed out for a long walk and sketching session I had high hopes that I’d get a lot of sketching done.  That didn’t happen.  Some sort of Forrest Gump think happened and I just kept walking…and walking…and walking.  It was so much fun that the thought of sitting down to sketch never occurred to me.  I covered 7.5 kilometers on my walk and enjoyed every step.

I did come across a new sort of streetlamp in Vanier and I did sit down and sketch it.  I used a Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray and moved the pointy end around in my Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6) sketchbook.  Then I walked some more.  It’s been a long time coming but real spring is finally here.


Sketching Doors In Quebec

If you spend any time wandering the streets of the old city of Quebec you will notice the doors.  Everywhere you look, it seems, there are magnificent doors.  Some are all wood, some include lots of metal.  Others have sculpted stone frames.  I’ve always told myself that I should sketch them and I finally took a step in that direction.  This is a door at 30 Rue St. Ursule.

I used a Hero 9296 X-fine pen for this sketch.  It’s sort of a poor man’s Pilot Prera.  It has some virtues, not the least of which is that it’s very inexpensive, and some drawbacks.  I’ll probably put together a blog post about it ‘real soon.’


Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Hero 9296, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Sketching In Victoria Park

Most people who know my sketches know that I like fire hydrants.  Their variety is simply amazing.  This little guy was in the middle of a large park in Quebec City.  You’ll notice the sign that sits on an 8-foot high pole. It indicates the existence of the hydrant.  They all get covered with snow here and the signs let people know where they are.  For me, they will forever be fun to draw.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lexington Gray

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Once Upon A Time We Had A Zoo

There was a time when Quebec City had a zoo.  It was a good zoo.  It was a place where you could go to not only commune with animals but also to walk the large, wooded grounds and have a picnic.  Then a really dumb, and completely unavoidable political decision, was made and we no longer have a zoo.

What do you do with a huge tract of land that had a bunch of moats, fences, and buildings scattered all around it.  What Quebec did was fence off most of it and turn the front section into a small park to serve the population in the northern portion of the city.  It’s a beautiful park, with waterfalls scattered along the small river that runs through it.  It’s also just a short bus trip from my home.

My daughter and I went there.  She took her Kindle.  I took my sketchbook.  We had a grand day, enjoying one of the first days where we could be outside without coats.  I chose this scene.  The small building used to be one of the administration buildings of the museum.

cheap toned paper sketchbook, Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lexington Gray

cheap toned paper sketchbook, Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Are You Sure It’s May?

I was walking back from the museum and found this guy, sitting in the park, looking out at the river.  I could almost see what he was thinking.  All of us who live in Quebec City are thinking it.  Note his heavy coat.  Note the lack of vegetation of any kind.  This is nearly mid-May and while Quebec City is known for its cold, this is getting ridiculous (grin).

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), TWSBI Mini, Noodler's Lexington Gray

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), TWSBI Mini, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Sketching The Bar Laitier

One of the things I’ve always wondered about are the small ice cream places that exist in Quebec City.  We have a fairly short summer and most of them simply close up in the fall and sit idle all winter.  Things must be moving slowly for them this spring as we haven’t had much ice cream weather thus far.  But the stores persist, in spite of the short selling season.  I wonder how.

This is one of the cutest.  It’s on chemin St. Louis in the old city and is very inviting, or it will be when it warms up a bit more.  Done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6) with a Hero 9296 pen and Lex Gray ink.  New pen for me but so far I like it.  I always like new pens.



With A Spring In My Step

It’s amazing!  As I headed for the museum I couldn’t believe it.  Spring had really sprung.  The sun was out.  It wasn’t windy.  And it was warm.  Well, maybe not warm by normal standards.  It was 47F, but compared to what we’ve been experienced it was warm.

I’d told Yvan that I’d meet him at the museum but I couldn’t resist stopping in the park in front of the train station to draw a cool kiosk that resides there.  I was about 20 minutes late to the museum but it was worth it.  It felt sooooooo good to be sketching outdoors.


Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (9×6), Pilot Prera, Lexington Gray

I spent about an hour sketching at the museum and decided that I “needed” to get back outside to enjoy the sunshine.  I was almost giddy as I walked the town, looking for things to sketch.  But I didn’t want to stop to draw.  I was having too much fun wandering, taking inventory of my city, making a mental list of things I want to sketch.  In the end, I only did a couple really quick sketches but I walked nearly nine kilometers.  It was sooooo fun, but I was beat by the end of the day.  It’s gonna be a fun summer.

Sketching Masters Of Olympus

maitres_olympeIt’s the end of April and our high temps are still in the mid to low 40s (F).  Couple that with spring rains and I haven’t had much opportunity to sketch outdoors.  So, when the new Masters of Olympus exhibition opened at the Musee de la Civilisation I saw it as an opportunity to sketch something new.  Museum sketching is a winter thing, even if winter is at the end of April.

This exhibition is a presentation of Greek and Roman gods, mostly in the form of statues, busts, and painted pottery.  The exhibition must have been laid out by a sketcher as there are lots of little nooks and crannies in which you can stick a stool to sketch and most of the statues are viewable from multiple points of view.  In fact, following the opening ceremony the news promo for the exhibit made a point of saying that people were there sketching.  I love my sketcher-friendly museum.

I decided to start this new exhibit by putting a toe in the water.  In fact, I drew the whole foot.  This foot came from what must have been a huge statue as this broken portion of the foot is at least three feet long.

big foot

Pilot Prera, Lex Gray ink – Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

Channeling Anita Davies

I bought a sheet of Arches hot-press watercolor paper and wanted to see how it responded to my pens and watercolors.  I cut a small section from the sheet (4×6) and got out a Pilot Prera.

Thinking I would let Google give me inspiration I searched for, and found, a bunch of small houses.  One of them reminded me of the many houses Anita Davies has drawn ( and I love her clean, simple, approach to her architectural sketches.  I decided I’d try to do one in her style.  Apologies to Anita as I didn’t come close to her standards and probably missed her style.  But it was fun and I found working on the hot-press paper to be lots of fun.