Desperate Sketchers Brave The Elements

Last Saturday was supposed to be the Bazar des ruelles in Limoilu which is always a fun event.  This is a part of the city that, when built, included alley ways behind the houses.  I think those went out of style with the invention of ‘suburbs’ but it affords a great opportunity for the people in this part of Limoilu as they organize a huge garage sale every year, with signs and balloons all over the place, that direct wanderers up and down the ruelles to the many garage sales.  There are also places that sell hot dogs and there are things for kids to do as well.  In short, it’s a city-wide party.

I was supposed to meet my buddy Yvan at 8AM and we did meet.  We stood under umbrellas as the rain came down and even we could figure out from the note on the signs saying “in case of rain, we’ll do it Sunday” that we were alone.  We turned it into a sketcher social event, spending several hours talking art, drinking coffee and playing with fountain pens.  We also planned to meet again the next morning.

2013-06-09WindowSunday began with me standing, same place, same umbrella, different rain.  Yvan showed up with his umbrella and we stood.  Then we headed to the coffee shop where the guy there told us that the event had been rescheduled for next week (Jun 15th).  So, after coffee, and quite desperate to draw SOMETHING, we headed downtown to the library, where we did quick sketches of umbrellas with feet through the library windows.  I did this small sketch of a window across the street.  Yvan’s sketches were wonderful.  Mine were…not so much.   Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6) and a Noodler’s Creaper as the pointy device.

 

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It finally stopped raining so we headed for the old city and set up under an awning where the calesh horses get to snack and wait for tourists willing to part with a lot of money for a ride.  This is a sketch of the Kent Gatehouse (not surprisingly it’s associated with the Kent Gate, the middle gate of three gates that let too many cars have access to the old city.  It felt soooooo good to sketch something outdoors, though it was still too cold for comfort and threatening rain.  Stillman & Birn Zeta (5.5×8.5) and a Pilot Prera/Lexington Gray combination.  By the time we finished I was cold enough to express an urgency for getting indoors and preferably at a place where I could drink something warm.

2013-06-09BuildingWe’d talked about the McDonalds in the old city and I’d told Yvan about its’ nice second floor view.  We headed there for some well-deserved warmth.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get one of the ‘good’ seats until we were about to leave but  we grabbed them and quickly did sketches.  I did this building.  Yvan did something really nice.

 

We wandered around looking for something that turned our heads and we ended up sitting in a gravel parking lot for some apartments, looking up at this tower attached to an old building.  The sky spit rain on me on occasion which is why I left the sky blank.   Same S&B Zeta sketchbook; same Pilot Prera pen.

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I mention Yvan a lot but I never show you his sketches.  Yvan sketched the same tower that I did, did a much better job and then, while he was bored and waiting for me to finish, he did this sketch of me finishing up my sketch.  Yvan is amazing and I’m lucky to call him friend.

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Such is life for a mid-June sketcher in Quebec City this year.  The prediction is for sunshine this weekend, though, so I’m really excited.  Maybe summer will be better than spring.

 

Holiday Weekend Sketching

Last Friday was a crazy day, with trying to fit X hours of work into fewer than X hours of available time.  But I was desperate enough to get it done cuz Saturday was the beginning of three days of good weather and SKETCHING!!!!

2013-05-18MaisonGominSaturday I hopped a bus for the other side of town as I’d convinced my buddy Yvan that we ‘needed’ to sketch Maison Gomin.  This is a castle-like building that used to be a woman’s prison.  It’s now a funeral/crematorium place that drips money inside.  Seems there’s a lot of money in dead people.  Anyway, this sketch represents one end of the building.  The dragon sits on top of the other end, guarding the princess.  It was done in my Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook.  I used a TWSBI Mini and Platinum Carbon Black.

2013-05-19MoulinDesJesuites_siteSunday morning Yvan and I headed the the north part of the city and we sketched an old mill (17th Century) built and operated by Jesuits.  It’s now a historical landmark.

It was done in the same sketchbook with the same pen.  It suffers a bit from a change of heart on my part.  When I laid out the sketch I thought I’d let the end of the smaller building run off the page to the right.  But later I decided I wanted the end of it in the sketch and thought I could do that by simply shortening it.  I did that but the proportions of the building made it look odd, but then most of my sketches are odd so I guess it fits.

2013-05-19CadranSundialAs we were packing up I decided to do this quick sketch of a sundial which is unlike any I’d seen before.  It’s a tiny sketch, done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6).  I used Lexington Gray in a Noodler’s Creaper to draw it.   Color was quickly applied by waterbrushes filled with very, very dilute ink.

Monday I was going to stay home and work but I got the itch to sketch some more and so I wandered downtown.  I realized that I had never sketched the Musee de la Civilisation, where I spent the winter sketching.  So I took the opportunity and did this sketch of the left end of the museum complex.  Back to the S&B Alpha (10×7) for this one and the TWSBI Mini, though I switched to Noodler’s Lexington Gray for ink.  I prefer the dark gray lines to the stark black of Platinum Carbon Black.

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All and all, it was a great weekend, with good weather, good company, and a great time sketching.  I’m still thinking about it as this week it’s been raining almost constantly 🙁

Waiting for Spring

I feel like one of the guys in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot.  Every day they show up to meet with Godot.  Every day he doesn’t come.  He never does.  I’m beginning to think spring in Quebec is like Godot as while it’s officially been spring for a month, we’ve yet to see anything resembling spring.

I thought I’d share a few sketches I’ve done while waiting for a decent sketching day.  First, here are the last two sketches I did of the Nigeria exhibit at the Musee de la Civilisation.  Both were done in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon (5.5×8.5) sketchbook.

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Lexington Gray in TWSBI mini. Watercolor pencils.

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Lexington Gray in Noodler’s Creaper. Waterbrush with a few drops of Noodler’s Polar Brown in it.

This next sketch was my attempt to defy the elements.  I went out one morning because it was all the way up to 4C and it wasn’t windy.  As I sketched it got windy.  Then it started raining lightly.  I was driven from the street by hail and thought I was going to freeze to death (grin).  Done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta (5.5×8.5) sketchbook with a TWSBI mini filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray.

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Lastly, I took my new Wahl-Eversharp Symphony 913 pen for a test drive.  This is an old 14k gold flex nib pen and while it’s old technology, the nib is wonderful.  I was playing with ‘quick-sketching’ some buildings.  That term is relative and as I’m a slow sketcher, what I mean by this is that I only spent about 20 minutes doing this sketch on S&B Epsilon paper.  Watercolors applied in my typical, inept fashion.  I’ve got to devote some time to learning watercolors.

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Easter Weekend Sketching – Great Fun!

I started French classes last week and it sucked the life, or at least the time out of my sketching week.  So I hit the four-day weekend called Easter with wild abandon, sketchbook in hand.

2013-03-30NigeriaI’ve already reported on my Friday adventure with Yvan and Claudette but on Saturday I met Yvan at the museum and we sketched and talked about sketching.  Yvan has incredible patience and I have an endless stream of questions.

Then we headed downtown to see Terry Bouton, sitting in her window again.  This time she was doing quick oil paintings, on mylar, while people posed for her.

2013-03-30LibrarySketchingFrom there we went to the library and did some quick-sketching of people sitting outside, while we sat in comfy chairs looking out at them.  Life is sweet.

2013-03-31Nigeria1Sunday was a repeat performance.  Yvan and I had a great time sketching at the museum but as it was supposed to be warm in the afternoon, I had my eye on the door.

By the time we left, though, I was hungry…very hungry and I don’t think about much besides food when I’m hungry 🙂

2013-03-31Nigeria2We wandered around the old port area, assessing the situation there.  The ice is gone from the St. Lawrence but the personal boat harbor is still iced over.  We successfully added to our list of ‘gotta sketch…’ subjects.  By the time we got to the Farmer’s Market we decided we had to sketch something and, jointly, chose to sketch of one of the hotels (it has great tower in the middle of it) and the convent that’s behind it.

It was only as we were setting up that I realized that I didn’t have a large sketchbook besides my museum book.  I could have sketched in that but it’s only got a couple more pages left in it and I’d decided it would end up woth 100% museum sketches.  So, with my S&B Alpha (4×6), I decided to do a ‘baby sketch’ of the tower alone.

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Then we headed down to see Terry again as Sunday was sculpture day.  People were posing while she sculpted clay masks of their likeness.  Pretty cool.

With Starbucks next door, I decided that I needed a scone and cup of coffee.  Yvan obliged and followed me in.  He sat at a window counter and started sketching people who were walking by and standing at the intersection.  Two hours later and whole lot of ‘how do you …’ and ‘that’s amazing…’ from me, and explanations from him and it was time to head home.  Can it get better than this?

I think I’ll save my Monday exploits for the next post as this one has gotten rather long.  [Sigh]… tomorrow it’s back to French class.

 

Still More Museum Sketching

A late snow storm and associated cold weather has kept us off the streets and in the museums.  I met with my buddies Yvan and Claudette on Wednesday and we headed into the Nigeria exhibit at the Musee de la Civilisation.  Claudette and Yvan set up to sketch different masks and I wandered, and wandered.  For some reason I wasn’t in the mood to do a single object.

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Then it occurred to me; I hadn’t sketched any of the museum interior.  I looked around and chose this view, because I hadn’t yet sketched the large statue and because Yvan was somewhat visible behind it.  I thought the background of display cabinets in the darkened room would balance the large statue nicely.  It was done in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon (5.5×8.5) with a Noodler’s Creaper flex pen and Lexington Gray ink.  I did the color with watercolor pencils but, when I got home, I went over most of it with a gray wash to highlight the display cabinets and to reflect the dark exhibit room.

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2013-03-22Nigeria2Today Yvan and I went back and I did these two objects.  Same S&B sketchbook, same tools.   Hope you like them.

Quick Sketching On The Bus

2013-03-17OnBus1I suffer from motion sickness when I read on the bus.  And the first couple times I tried to sketch on a bus, I had the same problem.  But I’ve persisted and, it seems, I’m becoming able to do quick sketches on the bus.  It’s a bumpy ride on a bus so I’m learning to study the subject as I bounce along, adding lines at the stops.

2013-03-14Bus1These are not great sketches, but I’m starting to have fun doing it.  Here are four I’ve done recently.  All were done in an inexpensive 4×6 notebook I bought from the dollar store, though it cost $2 (grin).  I used a Noodler’s Creaper flex pen to do the paper scratching.  A waterbrush with a few drops of fountain pen ink added was used for shading/color.

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Learn Sketching By Playing

I’ve been very lucky.  When I became interested in sketching last September I had the Internet.  I could surf from site to site; I got lots of great information and saw the work of lots of other sketchers.  I spent time looking at Monet’s sketchbooks too.

If you compare Monet’s sketchbooks to what you see modern sketchers posting on the Internet you see a big difference.  Monet’s not as good as those modern artists.

Well, that could be one interpretation.  Another is that modern sketchers use the Internet to post their good sketches and not posting the numerous sketches done in the act of learning, practicing, or investigating ideas.  I concluded this explanation was more likely, mostly because I’m a fan of Monet’s work.

After a year and a half of experience as a sketcher, I realize my own behavior validates that explanation.  I post sketches regularly, but only a small fraction of the sketches I actually do and none of the many scribbled pages where I learn and develop pretty much everything I can do with a pointy device.  It’s too bad the learning process isn’t more evident on the Internet and this post is an attempt to correct that biased view of at least one sketcher’s output.  Here’s your chance to see that ‘dark side’.  Clicking on the photos will let you see how I play to learn.

I confess that it’s hard to show my, shall we call them, lesser sketches.  The pages shown here belong to a pile of similar sketches that have one goal.  My urban sketches are typically done with constant-width lines and I’m trying to learn to vary the pressure on the pen to allow me to take advantage of variable line width.

2013-03-06FlexPenI begin with this one, mostly because of the right-hand page.  This is one of several that look like this.  As an aside, to those who don’t want to use good sketchbooks because you’re afraid to muck them up, this is one of my Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbooks (4×6).  I don’t use cheap paper even when doodling.  All I was trying to do was to get used to how hard I needed to press on a Noodler’s Creaper flex pen to get lines of different shapes and densities.  The sketch on the left was done from an existing sketch drawn by my buddy Yvan.  He was kind enough to give me a series of sketches he’d done from sketches of the masters.  Mine are less masterful than his but I’m learning a lot by copying these sketches.

2013-03-07FlexPenHere’s another spread of sketches copied from sketches.  Nothing much more to say about the technique of copying other people’s work except to say that it allows me to concentrate on the lines and let’s me ‘feel’ what it’s like to make them.

2013-03-05FlexPen_PolarBrownBut there are other ways of learning/practicing techniques.  I’m a building sketcher.  Here’s a quick sketch of one of the towers in old Quebec.  I did this one by copying a quick sketch I did of the area.  Copying my own work, but with a new look/technique, helps me see the difference in a special way because I know the original so well.

2013-03-05FlexPenI’ve also been doing a lot of museum sketching, sketching Nigerian masks and statues.  While there on Tuesday, I also did this quick sketch of a praying mantis on top of a pole with some gizmos supporting it.  Not anything like my typical cartoon style but I actually like how this one turned out.

I wondered how this varied line width stuff would affect quick sketching and so while waiting at to see my rheumatologist I started scribbling.  The page on the right are just pieces of people who were either sitting or standing, doing the same thing I was.

2013-03-05FlexPenDoctorOfficeThe left page was when I started thinking I’d be called any second so I was looking for tiny things to sketch.  The first thing I sketched was a McDonald’s burger box.  Then I sketched the backpack and then scribbled that poor excuse for a building sketch.  As I still hadn’t been called, and the guy had finished his hamburger, I sketched him, his head becoming the burger box.  Is this how Picasso’s cubist period started?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my dirty laundry.  I have a lot of it.  Much more, in fact, than the cleaner stuff  I post regularly here and in Facebook groups.  It’s fun.  It’s how I learn..  How about you?  Do you have sketchbooks full of stuff like this?  Monet does.