Emergency Road Trip

This summer has become one for the record books in terms of how little sketching I’ve been able to do.  The lousy weather was bad enough but being rushed to the hospital with heart problems really put a damper on my sketching just when we started getting some good sketching days.  Happy as a clam following recovery from that, though, I was starting to get out sketching until…

My daughter is still in Ottawa and she decided to fall down a bunch of stairs.  It could have been worse, but she badly sprained her ankle and was suddenly on crutches.  To put this in context, she’s in Ottawa alone and needs to walk 20-25 min each way to work every day.  To make matters worse, her timing was unfortunate because she had arranged to take the bus to Montreal to pick up the keys for her new apartment.  And so she called mom and dad.

The result was that we dropped everything and drove five hours to Ottawa and the next morning we drove to Montreal and back (another four hours).  Back in Ottawa, we spent the night and the next day we drove back to Quebec City (another five hours).  What a weekend.  I’m old; I was exhausted.

So…not much sketching time that weekend, but we did sit in a park or about an hour and once we got Jodie sitting and her leg propped up I did some quick sketching.

Certainly not the best scene ever but this is what I could see over the trees.  It was nice to scratch out this sketch in a Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10).

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Platinum 3776, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

I then go out a small Stillman & Birn Epsilon (3×5) book, looked around and quickly drew these two apartment buildings on the other side of the Rideau River from where I was sitting.

I took a short break and took a walk along the river.  The Rideau River has bike/pedestrian paths on both sides of the river and it was nice to get out and do some walking.  When I got back I drew this little scene, again, viewed across the Rideau River.

New “Sketchbook” From Ottawa

When I was in Ottawa I visited a stationary/card store because, well, that’s what I do.  It was a delightful store, though their pricing on fountain pens was really high ($68 for a Lamy Safari) but it costs nothing to look.  There were several things I wanted to buy but I guess I was in a “do I REALLY need that” mood and I didn’t buy most of them.  The one exception was this tiny notebook made by Clairfontaine.  It contains really smooth, thin paper that’s not idea for drawing but gosh it’s cute.  I had to have one.

I’ve only done a couple sketches in it but it’s fun to draw this small on occasion.  I think I’ll get $4.00 worth of fun from it.

A Weekend In Ottawa – Part 2

The day of my daughter’s graduation we did some more shopping and returned to Andrew Haydon Park.  It was still windy and still stormy but we like this park because there are a lots of geese and you can see the St. Lawrence River from there.

As a chipmunk foraged around us, I drew this sketch of a spit of land that sticks out on the other side of the marina associated with the park.  I forgot to include it in yesterday’s post.

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

A Weekend In Ottawa

For the last few years I’ve gotten to draw in the museums of Ottawa because my daughter was going to school there.  This past weekend was the end point of that part of her life as she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Ottawa.  We went there to spend some time with her and to attend her graduation.

I didn’t make it to any of the museums because we spent the weekend doing more exciting things, like laundry, shopping and grocery shopping (grin).

It was a hectic weekend, made a bit more unsettled by the fact that high humidity and high temps combined to provide a near constant threat of thunderstorms.  There was even a tornado warning at one point.

As it turned out, we didn’t see a lot of rain but there was a lot of wind.  We did sit in Andrew Haydon Park, though, and I did some quick sketches.  It’s hard for me to spend much time on sketches when I am with other people who are not sketching.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon (3×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5)

 

 

Ottawa’s Museum Of Nature

When my daughter was home for Easter I offered to take her back to Ottawa so she wouldn’t have to take the bus.  This would save her the long bus ride, garner dad some brownie points, and give me several hours worth of discussion with said daughter as we drove to Ottawa.

A not-so-well-hidden reason behind this gesture on my part was my desire to get back to Ottawa so I could sketch at the Museum of Nature.   It never really makes much sense to spend ten hours driving (round trip) so that I could spend four hours sketching, but then we sketchers are a sorry lot when it comes to logic.  I got to DRAW!

We left at 5AM and I got to the museum by about 10:30AM.  I walked around a bit, and ended up in the mammal exhibition.  I generally draw bones in the dinosaur exhibits and so I’ve neglected the mammals.  Time to make up for that.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

I started with a grizzly bear.  It was a disaster and I include it here only as an example of sketching gone wrong.  I got the bright idea to try wet-in-wet while sitting on a tripod stool in a museum and with my extensive background of never having tried it before.  Eeeeeekkkk!  I wet the entire bear.  I can’t say whether I wet it too much or too little as I had a hard time seeing just how much water was on the paper in the subdued lighting.  What I do know is that when I started dropping in browns, I created something more akin to the big bang than a painting.  There was brown exploding everywhere and in an instant I had a bear-shaped outline that looked like something that came from the south end of a cow.  I quickly started dabbing at it.  I’m sure the other patrons thought I was under attack by some invisible creature as I flailed around.  As I said, it was/is a disaster.

With that mess behind me I decided it was snack time so I could regroup.  Then I returned to the mammal exhibit, determined to redeem myself.  I targeted the head of a thinned-horn sheep and, leaving wet-in-wet techniques for another day, achieved what I felt was reasonable redemption.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Across the corridor was an antelope scene and since I only had a short time remaining, I decided to give it a try rather than doing my typical walkabout to find a subject.  I worked fairly quickly and, I suppose, there are some errors but nevertheless, it was a fitting end to a great day.  When I was finished I realized that I was about 10 minutes late for my rendevous with my daughter.   Sketching and time just don’t mix well.

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

Ottawa Sketching??? Adventure

Chantal and I headed off to Ottawa on a five day trip to visit our daughter.  Of course, I hoped to get some sketching done as well but on this trip it wasn’t the high priority.

Nevertheless, I contacted folks in the Ottawa Urban Sketchers via Facebook and one of the members said she’d send me an email to arrange a session.  Sadly, my host server’s spam mail filter decided it was spam so I never received it.  While disappointing, truth was, the rain would have likely scuttled any chance of meet up.  Next time for sure.

While waiting for our daughter to get out of work, Chantal indulged my passion by agreeing to wander around the nature museum while I sketched this guy.  While Fred Flintstone’s pet looked like a baby brontosaurus, I suspect that cavemen might have been happier with this dog-like beast.  The display only had the leg and back armor on one side, I drew it as it sat and thought it pretty cool.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5softcover), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5softcover), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

We had a ball the rest of the week but there wasn’t much sketching involved.  I did a bunch of quick-sketches as people ran up and down the shopping malls while the family shopped.  We visited museums and walked a lot.  We ate too much.   We dodged the rain…lots of rain.

One evening I was sort of antsy about not having done any sketching so while the family was reading, I tried to channel Paul Heaston and drew my daughter’s kitchen.  I’m afraid that Paul and I had a bad connection because I don’t have the hatching/drawing skills that Paul has but I had fun doing it and that’s all that matters.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3.5x5.5softcover), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3.5×5.5softcover), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

Sadly, it was time to leave but Ottawa hasn’t seen the last of me yet.  Besides, someone was coming for a visit in Quebec City and I had to be there to greet her.  More on that next time.

Ottawa’s Agriculture Museum

I forgot about this sketch yesterday when I was posting building sketches from my Ottawa trip.  My daughter and I spent part of a day at the Agriculture Museum in Ottawa and I drew this beautiful old barn.  It should have been included in the last blog post.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776

Sketching Ottawa’s Buildings

As I was riding the train to Ottawa I was planning where to point my feet for my upcoming sketching adventure.  First stop was to be Parliament, where I wanted to sit directly in front of Parliament’s Peace Tower and draw the entire building in one-point perspective.  It’s classic Ottawa.

There were two problems with that idea.  The first is that every government building in the city seems to be under construction, or if it isn’t, you can’t go there because of some other construction.  The entire Parliament area is full of cranes, fencing and the buildings are shrouded in scaffolding.  All of this, I’m told is being done in anticipation of July 1, 2017, which will be the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation.

Ok…but what’s that huge, can’t see the building stage that’s sprawled out in front of Parliament.  Well, that is for Canada Day 2016.  Sometimes timing is everything and mine wasn’t great this time.

Undaunted, I decided to draw a portion of the Langevin building, which is a very long government building.  I have no idea what they do within it but the south side steps of the East Block building served as a great perch to draw it.  And so, with lots of tourists walking by, I drank coffee and drew a building.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum carbon black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum carbon black

If you walk south on Elgin from Parliament you’ll find an old house (mansion?) that seems to have been converted into a small hotel or B&B.  What’s striking about it is that all around it are modern high-rise buildings.  It was a must-draw but I was unsure what to do with it.  On the one hand I wanted to draw it small with the huge skyscrapers surrounding it.  But this would shrink the building so much that I wouldn’t be able to give it any of the ‘from a different time’ feel that it exuded.  In the end I decided to just draw the building, without any of the large buildings.  Someday I’ll do it the other way I’m sure.

2016-06-24ElginHouse

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Sketching Ottawa Statues

There are a lot of “old dead guy” statues in Ottawa and while interesting, I was looking for something different when I wandered around evaluating  statues for sketching.  I found two that I liked a lot.  Hope you approve of my choices.

This statue sits in a small triangle of dirt/grass with cars whizzing by on all three sides of it.  It’s near the National Art Gallery and while I’ve been there several times, I’ve never even noticed it because of its location.  But heck, there it was and there was a large tree under which I could sit while I sketched it.  Like the streets surrounding it, the statue is a 3-sided affair, though you can only see two sides of it in my sketch.  It’s Haida, I think and quite beautiful.

 

2016-06-23haidastatue

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I was walking from Parliament towards Confederation Park and as I passed the post office on Spark Street I noticed a couple of large lions protecting the doors.  In truth, they themselves were caged by large fencing put up to protect people like me from construction going on around the facade of the building.  This made it hard to find a place where I could sit to draw.  I walked around the building and found there are actually half a dozen of these guys standing around in the sun.  They’re enlarged heads make them all the more majestic and I had to draw one.  I found a place where I can climb up on some large concrete blocks, set up my stool and draw.  I only fell off once.

2016-06-24Lion

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

Dinosaur Hunting In Ottawa

My favorite place in Ottawa is the Museum of Nature.  It’s four floors of sketching heaven.  Museums seem to be turning into videos and photographs but not the Museum of Nature.  It’s all about “stuff” and most of it is worthy of a sketcher’s time.

Right now, the Museum of Nature has a special dinosaur exhibit.  While their permanent collection holds a large exhibit of North American dinosaurs, a new exhibit features dinosaurs from other parts of the world.  The significant thing about this is that while those of us in the US and Canada know the dinosaurs of North America, the breakup of Pangea and resultant dinosaur species radiation on their respective continents produced a diversity we don’t normally get to see.  And there I was, looking up at a whole bunch of them.  All of these sketches were done in a landscape format (5.5×8.5) Stillman & Birn softcover sketchbook.

Amargasaurus sp. from Argentina. Huge herbivore (9meters)

Amargasaurus sp. from Argentina. Huge herbivore (9meters)

Suchominus, a bipedal dinosaur with a crocodile-like head. This guy was 11 meters long

Suchominus, a bipedal dinosaur with a crocodile-like head. This guy was 11 meters long

Drawing bones may not be for everyone but for me, there is no better exercise for the visual brain as there’s so many facets, so many overlapping parts, and so many contours that they really require keen observation and some relationship planning if you’re going to get sketches even a little bit correct.  And so I did a bunch of them during my time in Ottawa.  The fact that the museum is air-conditioned and Ottawa was quite toasty while I was there didn’t hurt my motivation either.

Another reason this sketching was fun was the kids.  The museum was full of them everytime I went there and while this meant is was quite loud, there’s nothing better than kids when you’re sketching.  They ask all the right questions and none of the wrong ones.  They don’t ask you why you do it or give you excuses for why they ‘have no talent for drawing’ because all of them draw.  Many fine discussions with the kids.

Carcharodontosaurus from Egypt. This guy is distantly related to the Great White shark and its teeth reflect that relationship. Huge is the operative word. I sketched this from the only skull example of this animal

Carcharodontosaurus from Egypt. This guy is distantly related to the Great White shark and its teeth reflect that relationship. Huge is the operative word. I sketched this from the only skull example of this animal

Carnotaurus from Argentina. I found this on interesting because while it was huge, its head was much smaller than most of the carnivores

Carnotaurus from Argentina. I found this on interesting because while it was huge, its head was much smaller than most of the carnivores

The newest acquisition to the museum is this skull.  It’s called Xenoceratops foremostensis and it lived in Alberta.  Similar to other ‘ceratops’ species in the permanent collection, but with two huge horns above its eyes.  I thought it was gorgeous and had to draw it.

2016-06-26XenoceratopsIf you want to improve your drawing “eye”, give dinosaurs a try.  They’re fun.