The Value Of Warming Up As A Sketcher

I’ve heard many times that sketchers should warm up.  I suppose there’s a number of ways to do it.  You could draw circles, do a bunch of hatching, maybe draw some thumbnails, or do a few quicksketches.  I’ll be honest, I don’t do it.  Too lazy I guess.

As part of my March “biding my time til spring” regime, I went to one of the malls with the idea of drawing people.  These were quick sketches, of course, as people in malls are on the move.  They might stop for a minute but that’s a “long pose” in mall time.  What I noticed was that as I quick sketched people, my sketches got better (subjective assessment).  Maybe it was the McDonalds coffee but I have to think that it may have been due to becoming warmed up.  I’ll let you decide:

Page one:

2016-03-16MallPeople1This page definitely suffers from proportion problems, lots of errant lines, etc.  I don’t judge them too harshly as each figure took no more than 20-30 seconds, but…

Page 2:

2016-03-16MallPeople3These seem a bit better but that guy in the middle really looks weird.  He was very tall so maybe I just got carried away.

Page 3:

2016-03-16MallPeople2This is the third page I did and, in my opinion, they’re not bad at all.  Maybe I was warmed up.  Maybe I was just lucky.  I still find that drawing people so quickly is really tough.  There’s no time for assessing much of anything.  I just keep the pen moving.  What do you think?  Do you warm up?


Chapel Sketching Again

2016-03-13Chapel1Winter persists and so does this sketcher.  I met Yvan at the chapel associated with the Musée d’Amerique Francophone.  It’s warm and there are lots of woodcarvings and fixtures to challenge a sketcher.

I drew this large light fixture and found it quite fun.   As it turned out, there was to be a concert that afternoon and people were starting to arrive.  Yvan and I decided to sit in the back of the room and sketch people as they arrived.   That was fun and added to the enjoyment of the day.

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I then got the wild idea to sketch a set of statues that were part of the immense alter at the front of the room.  It was too far away to really see so I thought I might have some success by drawing the dark shadows and that maybe this would give me some guidance.  This was the result.  I might have learned something today.  In any case, I was one day closer to spring.









Universite Laval Collections Sketchcrawl

2016-03-11_Collections_UL_Me_Hubert.jjpgThe Université Laval Collections reopened recently, having been moved and renovated.  This is an extraordinary place that houses the remnants of the natural history museum that used to be in Quebec City as well as an impressive plaster cast collection that the art department abandoned long ago in favor of paint rollers.

We held our March sketchcrawl there, thanks to Madame Wagner, the curator, and Yvan Breton who arranged access for us.  Imagine having a large room, complete with tables, chairs and some spot lights and the ability to place one of the museum objects on that table to draw it.  It was fantastic!

Me, I sat in the hallway.  I wasn’t being anti-social, though.  I wanted to draw that mountain goat that sits in one of the collection display windows.  Hubert joined me, however, and we had a great time sketching together.


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

Those Egyptians Really Liked Bes

Here’s a couple small  vessels (shot glasses?), each different depictions of Bes, the dwarf god.  They’re part of the Egypt exhibition at our Museé de la Civilisation.  Maybe these were intended to ward off evil spirits from their spirits.  I don’t think the top squares on the green one were intended to look like a hat but they sure do, making it quite funny.

2016-03-10EgyptThese were drawn in an 8×10 Stillman & Birn softcover Alphas series book.  I’m just starting to use this size book but I think I’m really going to like it.  Bigger than the typical 6×9 but much easier to scan than a 9×12.  The softcovers are also so much lighter than hardcovers that it actually weighs the same as a 6×9 hardcover.

Sketching A Dwarf Egyptian God

Bes, the dwarf Egyptian god was represented, in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional form, everywhere in Egyptian society.  Seems he had a way of scaring evil spirits away and the Egyptians were very worried about evil spirits.

This is the second or third Bes statue I’ve sketched at our museum, all showing similarities but each unique in its own way.  I did this one in the 8×10 Stillman & Birn Delta softcover I reviewed not long ago.


Sketching My Pet Fish

Winter persists.  Attempting to maintain a stiff upper lip, this urban sketcher watches TV, reads art books and longs for warmer days.  Yesterday, I was watching a spring training baseball game, an indication that I won’t have to wait much longer.  I grabbed my small S&B softcover Alpha sketchbook (4×6) and looked around for something to draw.

I decided to draw my pet fish, Oscar.  He’s not a real fish; he’s made of plaster.  That means less to feed but he doesn’t wag his tail as much as live fish do.  Nevertheless, he’s great at posing for a sketcher.  Handsome little guy, don’tcha think?

(4x6) Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

(4×6) Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

Noisy Day At The Museum

Spring break was still going on when I headed to the museum.  Because of this I expected lots of kids, with parents trailing after them, but since it wasn’t ‘free Tuesday’ I didn’t expect quite the people density we experienced on Tuesday.  That turned out to be true but there were a lot of events going on for the kids, which generated a lot of noise.  The kids were having a great time but it wasn’t an ideal sketching day.


I love this small spigot from the 17th Century. Shove it into a keg and pour yourself a beer.

I decided to set my sights low and did only a couple small sketches.  I can’t wait for spring.  I miss sketching on the street.

What 1950s kid didn't have a Tonka truck?   It was good to see this one.

What 1950s kid didn’t have a Tonka truck? It was good to see this one.

Cancelled Concert – McDonalds Fun

This little guy was munching on a hamburger and fries. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

This little guy was munching on a hamburger and fries. Stillman & Birn soft-
Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan and I were going to sketch at a musical event in downtown Quebec City on Saturday morning but a blizzard was in progress and it was hard to get around town.  Schools and offices were closed and even the buses were having a hard time.

As I trudged through snow on rue St. Jean I couldn’t help but think about how silly it was for someone, someone I resembled, to be expending this much effort to get somewhere to sketch.  It was ‘free coffee’ week at McDonalds and I met Yvan there.  We got coffee and looked out the window at the storm as we drank it.

Rather than be completely defeated, we both got out our small sketchbooks and did some quick sketches.

This plow was sitting down the street from McDonalds. The view from our second-story window was a bit odd but it made for a fun quick sketch. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

This plow was sitting down the street from McDonalds. The view from our second-story window was a bit odd but it made for a fun quick sketch. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan's last name is Breton and this sign was hanging about half a block up the street. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan’s last name is Breton and this sign was hanging about half a block up the street. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

In many ways the storm and cancelled event could have soured the day.  But we had some great conversations about art, did a bit of sketching and, like most sketching days, it was a good day.  I’ll stop here as otherwise I’d have to start talking about the hours I spent the rest of the day clearing snow.


Kids, Kids, Kids…Kids And Me In Egypt

Yvan and I agreed to go to the museum Tuesday morning.  Both of us knew that it was spring break for the kids of Quebec but neither of us knew that this particular Tuesday was also “free” day.  When I arrived there were hundreds of people in the lobby.  So many, in fact, that I didn’t even wait to check my coat because the line was too long.  I just headed upstairs to the Egypt exhibit.

Realizing that the place would be crowded, I found a place where I had the side of a glass case at my back and a clear view of a statue and set up to sketch.  I spent the next hour or so in that one place, sketching one statue.

But the sketching was the least important activity; I talked to kids.  I love kids when I’m sketching.  It’s hard to concentrate on drawing and my sketches sometimes suffer, but I still love them.  They’re so inquisitive and I never have to listen to them tell me that they wish they had the talent to draw or that they’d love to draw but they just don’t have the time.  Kids are the opposite of adults.  For them, drawing is KOOL.  They do it too.  They’ll tell you what they like to draw.  They’ll tell you that they like your drawing.  They ask about my pen.  A couple asked how long I’d been working on the sketch.   But mostly they just stood around watching, at least until their parents came land hauled them away.  Many of them dragged their parents over to see my drawing.

And on this day there were kids everywhere.  I’ve never seen so many people at the museum.  There were at least half a dozen kids around me at all times and I spent more time chatting than drawing.  It was a lot of fun.  As I packed up to leave I got to see what was really going on behind me.  The exhibit room looked like a rock concert.  People everywhere and as Yvan and I left we found there were lines of people waiting to enter the exhibit.  It was extraordinary, but I had to wonder if I could have found a place to sit if I’d wanted to draw something else.  I’ll never know as we left with smiles on our faces.  Here’s the sketch I did during “free” day.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, watercolor pencils

Winter Food Court Sketching

My daughter’s was home from university for a week and we’ve had some snow storms.  These two things combined to keep me from going out sketching.  I was longing to do some so I headed out one morning to one of the big malls, and their food court.

2016-02-22womanorderingFood courts are great places to sketch people, either while they’re eating or when they’re standing in line to order.  All food courts are not created equal, however.  There’s a mall really close to my house that has two food courts and they’re both horrible sketching locations.  Why?  Because it’s hard to sit so you can  draw people ordering and their tables are crammed together, making it hard to sketch without someone slopping their Big Mac sauce on your sketch (grin).

But the one I went to is the newest in our city and it’s big, very roomy and there’s just the right distance between tables and vendors to allow lines to form in a couple directions (providing different angles) and the view open.

2016-02-22blondieThere’s not much to tell about the session.  I got a cup of coffee and started drawing.  I was using my Platinum 3776 with Platinum Carbon Black ink and I was sketching in a Stillman & Birn 4×6 softcover Alpha series book.  Great combination for this sort of thing as I like to add a bit of color when I finish up and the S&B paper accommodates that nicely.  I did time the session as I wanted to see how long I could keep doing it without getting tired.  I’m a lazy sketcher and have to push myself to sketch for long periods of time.  Come to think of it, long periods of time is a very relative term and, for me, “long periods of time” means relatively short.  Quick sketching is rather intense as people are moving a lot, but I managed to draw for 45 minutes, punctuated by coffee drinking.  I ended up with 14 sketches.  Here’s some of them.  I got tired of scanning.  I told you I am a lazy sketcher (grin).


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