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.

sketch, Sketching Small In Ottawa

I got to spend a week in Ottawa, mostly visiting my daughter but I also wandering around and sketching.  I’m in the process of scanning the sketches and thought I’d start a short series of posts with a few of the many tiny sketches I did while there.  The tan ones were done in one of my mustache books while the red ones were done in a Field Notes Sweet Tooth notebook.

2016-06-20people1I’m going to include only two of the people sketches I did, mostly because I’m lazy and didn’t want to scan any more.  The first is my favorite of all of them; a woman wearing a hijab.  This scarf was gorgeous, with silver threads running through it that made it glisten.  I got caught up in the curves and folds of the fabric to the point that my coffee went cold.

2016-06-20people2This one was a bit unique in that I was waiting for me daughter at school and saw this unusually talk Asian woman.  Not an important sketch by any measure but I enjoy capturing the variability of the human form.

If you follow this blog you know that I’ve been having fun sketching with the Field Notes Sweet Tooth edition, particularly the red notebook of the set.  I’m going to have to buy a couple more packs as I’m using up my red ones.  It’s really fun having the red as a mid-tone with black and white inks on either side.  Here are a couple lamp posts, one of my favorite sketching subjects.

2016-06-21lamp post12016-06-21lamp post2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016-06-26artgallery

 

My daughter and I bought sandwiches and walked down to the Ottawa River where 7-stage canal locks lower boats from the Rideau Canal to the river.  It’s a beautiful place and we fed chipmunks and watched a young rabbit chow down on the foliage a few feet from us.  I mentioned to her that I wished that I had a loose and quick style that would allow me to capture things like the Art Museum that was visible up the hill from where we sat.  To demonstrate that I don’t have one, I did this sketch of it in just a few minutes between sandwich bites.

On another day I started walking from Parliament towards a pair of statues that honor firefighters, but I ended up doing sketches along the way and didn’t get to the firefighters until late in the afternoon.  By then I’d been pretty well beaten down by the particularly hot day so I decided to do a small ‘red’ sketch.  I’m really glad things worked out the way they did as I really liked the result.  Hope you do too.

2016-06-24fireman

 

The Parents Head To Ottawa

Last weekend Chantal and I headed for Ottawa.  It was a holiday weekend and we went to visit our daughter who is in school there, but as I write this I realize that it was more than that.  Because of a lot of good stuff that happened, our daughter wasn’t going to come home for the summer as she normally would so the trip was at least as much an attempt to deal with that disappointment as anything else.

That’s a simple way of explaining that this wasn’t a sketching trip.  In spite of that, I did a bunch of quick sketches throughout the visit and I thought I’d present some of them as an indication of how easy it is to fit urban sketching into a trip that is otherwise occupied with things that make most people say “I was too busy to sketch.”

We arrived on Friday and our daughter was still at school so we got some lunch, went to an art store (more of a crafts store as so many have become) and then headed to one of the parks.   As we walked around I saw this scene and decided that I’d do a very quick, thumbnail-style sketch just to capture the major masses.  I didn’t worry much about proper perspective or drawing accurate lines and the initial sketch took only a few minutes.  Then my daughter called and said she would be there shortly so we stayed put.  I decided to add some more lines to the drawing and, ultimately, I slopped some color on the sketch.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

2016-05-20-56cherryblossoms

Field Notes “Sweet Tooth” (3×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black, Uniball UM_153 white pen

I was sitting under a flowering crab apple tree (I think) and  I decided to sketch of some of the flowers in my red Field Notes “Sweet Tooth” notebook and I thought it came out pretty well for a 3-4 minutes I spent doing it.  I was rewarded by my daughter showing up with an “hic c’est beau.”

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out as a family, eating in market area, buying candy and listening to street musicians.

The next morning, however, was laundry day.  We gathered up ever stitch of clothing, bedding, and towels and hauled them to a laundromat where we commenced to feed an obscene number of dollar coins into the machines.  We drank coffee, ate muffins, and I drew this little scene in the tiny coffee shop associated with the laundromat.  Not much but it was fun to do and made the time pass more quickly.

2016-05-21-48LaundryDay

taned notebook, Platinum 3776,

Then it was off to the grocery store where we bought one of everything and two of some things.  My biggest fear was that there wouldn’t be room for it all in my daughter’s apartment.  Parents do get carried away some times.  And we did, of course.

Once we shoehorned all the groceries into their proper places, we headed off on a quest for shoes.  Understand, this was two women and an old guy.  We went EVERYWHERE looking at shoes.  I knew my life would end while looking for size 9 flats.

But surprise, surprise, we tracked down the illusive ideal shoe, bought two of them then went to a park where geese lived and they had lots of baby goslings running around.  They were fun to watch and I should have sketched them but I was worn out from the shoe chase.  Eventually we got hungry and headed for my daughter’s favorite Korean restaurant.

After dinner we walked to Major Hill Park, a park where the towers around Parliament poke up above the trees.  We drank bubble tea and enjoyed the changing sky as sunset was near.  I did a couple quick sketches in the failing light and probably should have settled for just a silhouette.

Parliament library roofline, FN Sweet Tooth, Platinum 37762016-05-21-56majorhillpark2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did a bunch of park hopping the next day, mostly because we just wanted to be out in the sun.   We sat for a long time in Andrew Haydon Park, looking out at the boats having fun in the Ottawa River.  There wasn’t much close to me to draw so I drew some rocks.  I love drawing rocks, though I’m not particularly good at it.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

As it got hotter, though, the desire for shade took hold and we ended up in a park along the Rideau River.  Another place to practice my sloth, I was getting quite good at it, particularly because there were a group of guys in a drum circle providing entertainment.  I did break out the sketchbook to do this quick capture of a few of the players.  It’s not very detailed but it’s the best I can do in a few minutes.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8×5), Platinum 3776

2016-05-22-48RideauRiverKidI did several really quick (< 1-min) sketches of people as they wandered by where we were sitting and I’ll share only this one of a small boy who stopped to admire the river.  We had a delightful dinner at the apartment and then headed out to wander some more, ultimately ended up back at Major Hill Park.  It was pretty dark when we got there so sketching anything other than the proverbial black cat in a dark room there were no real sketching opportunities.

That was a last thing on my mind anyway as we had our mitts full of frozen yogourt.  It was the best there is, or so sayeth my daughter.  I think its the first time I’ve ever had any that didn’t come out of a carton.  We’d stopped at Menchies to get it and that was a fun experience unto its own because of the way you put together what you want and then pay by the weight of your concoction.  I drew the spoon in honor of the place.

2016-05-23-54MenchiesSpoonSo there you have it – our trip to Ottawa.  Urban sketching adds so much to trips like this, even if you don’t have time to do it.  Does that make sense?  Hope so.