Sketching in the First Nations Exhibit

One of the permanent exhibits at our Museé de la civilisation reflects the First Nations of Canada.  It’s a wonderful exhibit that leans heavy on videos and audio, but that also holds a large collection of First Nations artifacts that are good sketching subjects.

I was there on Thursday and decided to draw a “scene” that amounted to a large, floor drum and a manikin wearing ceremonial garb.  The manikin was hard to deal with as a sketcher because it was black foam and almost without a face.  The dark room, dark outfit and dark manikin did make drawing the figure difficult. Like all my moving of pens around on paper, it was fun and made the day a good one.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Kicking The Year Off With A Croquistes De Quebec Sketchcrawl

We had a great sketchcrawl on Friday.  Yvan arranged for us to sketch at the Université Laval Collections and somewhere around a dozen sketchers showed up.  Some of us sketched stuffed birds, mammals and insects while others took advantage of the large collection of plaster heads.  Still others sketched items in the large display windows outside the facility.

It was made particularly special because some of the people who showed up were not using the typical pen & wash approach that so many of us use.  Johanne was using charcoal and a white pastel pencil to capture likenesses from the plaster heads, while others did beautiful renderings with pencil.  It was fun to talk with them about their approaches and to appreciate the results.

I did a lot of talking because, unfortunately, my arthritis flared up in my drawing hand.  It does this on occasion and is not only painful but it hampers my ability to draw.  I did do one sketch before it got the better of me though.  It is a tufted-ear squirrel.  I think it’s Sciurus vulgaris but I’m not certain of that as there was no label on the specimen.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

In spite of my hand, I had a ball because of all the great people in attendance.  It’s hard for us to have sketchcrawls in winter because it’s so cold outside, so it’s special when one is as successful as this one.  Thanks to Yvan for organizing it and to Madame Wagner for hosting us.

Sketching In The Museum Attic

Currently there is an exhibit that is a set of rooms, each unique in its own way.  They form something of a ‘find _fill_in_the_blank’ treasure hunt for kids who are visiting the museum.

For the most part they are not worthy of a sketcher’s attention, with one exception.  One room is supposed to be an attic area, an accumulation of junk.  This ‘junk’ is so well spectacular, though, that it’s unconvincing as such.  What it is, however, is a small room with a whole lot of stuff packed into it and much of it is worth drawing.  The space is crowded however, and some things are more sketchable than others simply because you can find a place from which to sketch them.

I was there last Tuesday and sketched this little insect/curio cabinet and some stuff that was sitting on top of it.  I hope you like it.

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

Last Trip To The Museum Before Christmas

With my daughter coming home for Christmas, and Chantal getting a few days off, I won’t be doing any location sketching for a while.  But I did go with the gang to the museum for a pre-holiday sketching session.  They wanted to sketch some of the folk art nativity scene that is now in place there.  If nothing else, it demonstrates imagination on the part of its creator.  Have you ever seen a flying cow-fish?

I decided to sketch a wooden carving of a fusilier in another part of the museum.  It is fairly large, almost telephone pole diameter and quite black, as though it had been creosote treated.  In spite of this, it suffers from severe cracking in places.  Nevertheless, it’s an impressive carving, far more impressive than my sketch of it I’m afraid.  I got caught between wanting to include detail and the fact that the entire left side was in deep shadow, almost black.  Like every sketch, though, it was fun to do which is why I do them.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10) softcover, Platinum Carbon ink, Platinum 3776 pen

When I finished I headed up to the nativity scene and found everyone busy drawing.  They were talking about getting coffee, though, so I just sat down and waited for them.  The thing is, I can’t sit for very long without getting out a sketchbook and I did this quick sketch of Lisette, busy sketching some wooden guy (I think, but I was too far away to know for sure) in a large glass case.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5) softcover

 

I’ll probably put together some sort of post during the holidays but I’m not sure what.  I willl be spending lots of time eating and sketching, though, so there will probably be something to post.  In the meantime, and since it’s December 23rd,

Happy Festivas

Leaf-tailed Geckos In Quebec

In the nanotechnology exhibit of our museum rests a glass box and inside is a stick and a small plant – a terrarium of sorts.  It’s raison d’etre is to house two of the oddest creatures – leaf-tailed geckos.

They’re only six inches long.  They have none of the flair of the whiptail lizards I used to chase when I lived in Arizona and none of the venom of the gila monsters I avoided.  No, if you walked by these guys in a forest you wouldn’t even see them and quite often that’s the situation in our museum as well.  I’d been waiting for today.

You see, the reason they’re in our nanotechnology exhibit is that they have nano-hairs on their feet.  These are hairs so fine that they can cling to glass, those hairs ‘sticking’ to glass molecules using Vanderwaal forces, the forces that hold molecules together.  And finally, today, one of these lizards was sticking to the glass out where I could see and draw him.

The view I had was a top view and I wanted to capture both its shape and the fact that when they do this they are squashed down flat to the glass.  They remind me of how Wile E. Coyote looks after the Roadrunner dropped an anvil on him.  They are really flat.  In the end it doesn’t make much of a sketch but I walked away quite satisfied that I’d accomplished the task.

Sketching The Red Door

I love the doors of Quebec.  I’ve often thought that an entire sketchbook filled with doors and windows of Quebec City would be great.  If were even a little bit organized in my approach to sketching, I might just do one.  For today, though, here’s a single door, well actually two of them, done from a photo (my photo) on 7.5×11 Fabriano Artistico cold press.  I love this paper but it’s a bit rough for my very fine fountain pens.

2016-11-25door

Domestic Sketching: Quebec City When I Was Born

I’ve mentioned that this winter I was going to try to learn to draw at an indoor workspace and to draw from photos.  I know it sounds odd to those of you who do it all the time, but I’ve spent five years drawing on location and have a really hard time drawing in a ‘studio’ or from photos.

In this I’m very much like the dog that’s got to walk around in circles a couple times before it lays down.  Location sketching, for me, is about discovering something to draw, which requires wandering a bit.  There is no wandering in a studio.  Once I get going on an indoor drawing I seem to be able to do it and even enjoy it, but initiating the behavior… that’s harder.

I decided it was time, though, to draw from a photo.  Looking for something that would motivate me to do so, I decided that I should draw from a photo that is not of something I can go out and see.  The idea of historic sketching must have come from my watching the new Timeless series, which is about time travel, but as I already have a lot of historic photos of Quebec City I thought that was where I should begin.  I chose a photo of a trolley, both because I like trolleys and because it was taken in the year that I was born.

I started by lightly drawing everything using a Platinum Carbon Pen, keeping the lines very light so I could cover my errors if needed.  This is what I ended up with:

7.5x11 Fabriano Artistico cold press, Platinum Carbon pen

7.5×11 Fabriano Artistico cold press, Platinum Carbon pen

To bring a more solid nature to the drawing I started increasing the contrast, using a Platinum 3776 pen and a Platinum brush pen.  This got the drawing to this point:

2016-11-21trolly_bwThen it was time for color and touch up.  I still struggle with watercolors but at least I’m starting to pay attention to it.  I was pretty happy with the results.  Hope you are as well.  I think I’ll be doing more historic sketching.

2016-11-21trolley

When It’s Cold, Sketch Quickly

We are getting a reprieve from the relentless march into winter.  We’ve had a couple days where the temps have gotten up to 6-7C (low 40s for the metric-challenged).  It’s also been very windy but yesterday the winds dropped to a reasonable level and I just couldn’t pass up the possibility of doing some outdoor sketching.

2016-11-15quickies

I decided to go armed with quick-draw (pun intended) materials so I took a couple of 10×14  Coroplast sheets, cut some 6×9 sheets of cheap multi-media paper, and I taped two sheets on each side of the coroplast.  These were shoved into my bag and out the door I went.  The idea was that I needed to do sketches quickly so I didn’t have to sit for a long period, which cause my old Arizona bones grow cold and I get grumpy.

2016-11-15ship_c

I managed to get a couple sketches done with considerable walking in between, each sketch taking only 15 minutes or so.  I applied the color at home.  Hope you like them.  For me it was a major victory and gives me some hope that I’ll be able to do some outdoor sketching using this method.  As it gets colder I can shift more and more towards Marc Taro Holmes’ “5to7 sketches” where you use 5-7 lines to do sketches very quickly.   Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

2016-11-15skyline_c

Drawing Trees In The Morning

I mentioned that I’m trying to get myself drawing at home rather than on the street.  It sure is a struggle and I’ve definitely got to get a place set up to do it.  But I’m pretty good at the clear-the-deck arm sweep that will shove a bunch of stuff out of the way and provide me a place for some paper.

That’s what I did the morning I decided to draw a clump of foliage.  Notice that I’m not setting my sites too high.  I have to convince my brain that it should be drawing in the morning while I’m having my morning coffee and I don’t want to discourage it.  I did upgrade my paper, though.  This one was done on Fabriano Artistico CP, which may be a bit to rough for my fine fountain pens but we’ll see.

Platinum 3776 SF, Platinum Carbon Black

Platinum 3776 SF, Platinum Carbon Black

One thing is clear.  It’s a LOT easier to draw and paint in a studio with the paper resting on a flat surface.  Heck, it’s not even windy (grin).

Sketching A Mineral Display

We’re entering sketching winter in Quebec City.  This is when the notion of street sketching is absurd and so we’ve got to start looking for hard to find indoor locations to feed our urges to put pen to paper.

I got an email from Claudette telling me about permission she obtained for us to sketch a rock display in the lobby of one of the government buildings.  My initial reaction was “huh?” and an assumption that I didn’t understand the French (my default reaction to most things because it is generally true).  I love drawing rock cliffs and even piles of rocks but a geologic display of rocks?  Didn’t make sense.

I almost didn’t go but I’m glad I did as it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  Besides it was warm inside and raining outside.  During the morning session I drew three rocks, a green one, an almost clear one, and a yellow one.  I’d give you more details about these minerals but that’s all I know.  Geology is not my thing.  The results aren’t great art but they do represent a lot of fun and I’d love to have another shot at drawing some of these unique and complex shapes.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Platinum 3776

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

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Platinum 3776

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

2016-10-20orpiment