Getting Away From The Noise

For the last few weeks our street has been under construction.  The city is replacing sewer/water lines, repaving the street, replacing our sidewalks, installing new streetlights and, hopefully, they’re going to re-sod the parts of our lawns that are currently torn up.

What does this have to do with sketching?  Not much I suppose except that Chantal and I were all full up with the noise, particularly the beep, beep, beep of trucks and machinery backing up.  So we left.

We drove out to Ile d’Orleans, the large island I mentioned a couple posts ago.  We headed directly to La Boulange, a little slice of heaven that overlooks the St. Lawrence and that has great coffee and pastries.  During our visit we also learned that they have fantastic pesto pizza.  We enjoyed good food, sunshine and some quiet as we at on their veranda.

2016-09-21-60laboulangestatueThe only sketch I did from that location was this little quickie (maybe five minutes) that I scribbled into a small Stillman & Birn (3.5×5.5) sketchbook.  The bit of color was splashed on from a 4-color palette I carry, using a waterbrush as my splashing device.

When the pizza, coffee and pastry was gone we decided to head to the other side of the island (north side) to visit the large church, and its associated park because it’s a great place to sketch.  Chantal wanted to sketch the gazebo that sits at one end of the park.  I decided that was a pretty good idea and we enjoyed some more sun as we sat together sketching.  This was my result.  It was really nice to get away from the noise and we returned refreshed and ready for another round of beep, beep, beep.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5x5.5), Platinum 3776

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

A Perfect Sketching Day On Ile d’Orleans

Just east of Quebec City, in the St. Lawrence River, there is a huge island that is filled with farms, vineyards, and about a gazillion apple trees.  We go there in early summer to pick strawberries.  Mostly though, we go there to sketch because the small towns that run around its perimeter are full of sketchable subjects and because it’s “out in the country.”

At one of our gatherings Miram Blair came to sketch with us and she offered for us to come to her summer cottage on the island and since there aren’t many outdoor sketching days left in our year, I decided to contact her and arrange for us to descend upon her like sketchbook-carrying locusts.  She graciously agreed to host us.

As it turned out, only three of us could go but go we did, arriving about 10AM on a cold, blustery day.  As it turned out, Miriam doesn’t just have a cottage.  She has a huge barn and a bunch of land associated with her cottage and her cottage has a huge room that serves as kitchen, dining room, and studio.  It’s also a little slice of heaven.  No wonder Miriam is always in a good mood.

We decided to sketch outdoors first, in spite of the wind and the threat of rain.  We figured we could sketch until we got too cold and then head indoors to sketch the amazing stuff Miriam has hanging on her walls, sitting in window frames, and on cabinets in the large room.

I, being the consummate sissy, decided that I couldn’t sit in the wind so I took up a position just inside the door of the barn and drew this scene.  I’d taken a large folding chair with me because my back was still barking at me and, as it turned out, I was really comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I never really finished the sketch.  I just stopped when everyone went inside.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Brown, Zig brush pen

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Brown, Zig brush pen

The brave folks, the ones who sat in the wind and drew the barn, were cold so we made our way into the house and for the rest of our time with Miriam, that’s where we stayed.  It was soooooooo much fun.

I spent a lot of time just looking at all the stuff Miriam has collected, mostly during local walks from the looks of the bird nests, shells, driftwood, etc. that graced her room.  She has two long tables, set end to end and a dozen beautiful wooden chairs lining their sides.  We used a few of them as we ate lunch, flipped through art books, and talked.

Eventually, though, we got back to drawing and I chose this scene.  When I started I wasn’t sure how successful I could be with it but I sure had fun doing it.  It’s a very different kind of drawing than my typical building sketches as I had to do a bunch of visual planning to get the bottles in the right places.  In the end, though, I was really happy with it as it captured the spirit that is Miriam’s place.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10), Platinum 3776

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

Stillman & Birn (4x6), Duke 209, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3.5×5.5), Duke 209, DeAtramentis Document Black

Miriam has a small dog named Nicki.  He and I became friends and he sat with me while I did my first sketch and because I gave him a bite of my sandwich 🙂  But as we were packing up to leave, Nicki was laying on the floor and in spite of three sketchers who were all around him as we packed up our gear, he wouldn’t budge.  I grabbed my small sketchbook and did this quick sketch of him.  It was a great end to a perfect day.

The Spires of Quebec City

If you follow my blog you know that there are a lot of pointy things that rise up from the citiscape and that I love to draw them.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the old city area where there seems to be more churches, tall fountains and statues than there are people.  I’m trying to work my way through some severe back pain that’s limiting my ability to sketch (can’t sit on my stool as it’s too low), but I found a bench facing a nice stack of those pointy things and I drew this.  The statue is in front of the old post office and I’m looking west, towards City Hall.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10)

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

The Public Pool In Limoilou

I walk a lot which means that I know every park within a couple hours walk of my house because I often take a break in them.  One such park is in Limoilou and it has a public pool.

I was sitting in the park, resting my bones when I decided that it was worthy of a sketch.  It’s not the best composition ever put to paper and it was done quickly, but it was fun so I share it here.

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

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

Heading Towards Autumn As A Sketcher

This time of year is crazy for me.  It’s entirely self-inflicted, though our orbiting world has some play in the matter.  You see, we’re hurtling towards the Autumnal Equinox.  Now, if you live in Arizona this probably means nothing to you but if you’re a sketcher, living in Quebec City, it means everything.

The Autumnal Equinox means my days as a street sketcher are numbered because it will soon be too cold to sketch outdoors.  It’s leaning that way already.  And so, each year, without intention, I become frantic to “get out there and sketch.”  I can’t help myself.  There are also the “We gotta go _fill in the blank_ before it gets too cold to do so” events and this adds short trips to hither and yon in an attempt to keep up with an Earth that’s flying along at 108,000 km/h.  How’s a guy to keep up?

So, we’ve been day-tripping and I’ve been sketching and the days have become so full that I don’t have any time to even scan my sketches, let alone write blog posts about them.

So I apologize for my lack of presentation but rest assured, I’ll make up for it as things slow down a bit.  In the meantime, here’s a rather quick sketch I did of a cute little storage building (not sure of its orignal purpose) that lives in the Parc des governors in Quebec City.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10)

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

A Bit Of The Chateau Frontenac

The symbol of Quebec City is the Chateau Frontenac.  I call it Hogwarts as that’s what it reminds me of, when I don’t see it as a tourist attraction.  There’s a large terrasse that runs along in front of it and Chantal and I were sitting there, taking a break from a long walk we were taking.

We decided to draw.  It would have been impossible to draw the entire Frontenac as we were far too close to even see it in it completely, so Chantal drew one of the towers while I drew this portion of it.  I did it fast enough that some wonkiness (as Liz Steel calls it) was baked into the result and I confess that I like that.  Hope you do too.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10), Platinum 3776

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

Parc Cartier-Brebeuf On A Sunday Afternoon

While my daughter was visiting we were at Parc Cartier-Brebeuf, a park near my house.  It’s on the St. Charles River and was the spot where Cartier overwintered during one of his trips to what is now Quebec City.

While Chantal and Jodie talked, I did this sketch of the information center of the park.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8x10), Platinum 3776

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

Sketching On Ile Aux Grues

IleAuxGruesMapIle aux Grues (Crane Island) is the largest islandof an archipelago in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, near the point where it widens into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It can only be reached by ferry and then only when the tides are favorable enough to provide enough depth for the ferry.  The few children that live there go to school on an airplane every day, which sounds pretty cool to me.

Last Wednesday, though, it was sketching day and five of us went sailing to Ile aux Grues for a day of sketching.  It was an ideal day.  As we learned late in the day, this included a breeze which kept the mosquitos away from us.

The hike across the island is 1.2 km through oat and corn fields, with church steeples sticking up out of the greenery and everywhere you looked was a sketching subject.  There is just one idyllic scene after the other on the island and it was hard to decide where to stop, until we came to the location of this scene.  All of us wanted to draw it so we spread out to our favorite perch and point of view and set to work.  Next time I do this scene I’ll get closer.  Maybe I’ll also be better 🙂

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Esterbrook J2048, DeAtramentis Document Black

Then it was time for lunch and more walking.  Some started searching for a bathroom.  But once lunch was over we split up again to sketch.  I walked back down the road to a place we’d passed that I thought particularly interesting and started sketching.  It was so pleasant that once in a while, I’d pop out of my sketching meditation and just sit, looking out at a ship passing by or a seagull squawking about something.  This was a day that sketchers dream of, only I was living it.

But, at one point, the rest of our group came marching down the road in my sketch and ‘decided’ that my sketch was finished, which is why I present it in kinda-sorta, almost finished condition.  They wanted to walk down to the cheese factory (the island is known for its high-quality cheeses) and that’s just what we did.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (6x9), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (6×9), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

There’s not much point in buying cheese if you’re not going to eat some of it so we all reconnoitered around a picnic table in the camping area and chowed down on cheese and crackers.

After a while we realized that we had to make our way back to the ferry landing and the person in the campground gave us “instructions” (note the quotes) for how we could “just walk down this dirt road and turn right.”  Well, that put us in the middle of a mosquito-infested forest with what was sort of a trail, but not really.  We did eventually make it back to the ferry but this is exactly why men don’t ask for directions 🙂

Our day wasn’t done, though.  We had an hour to wait for the ferry and so we drank some coffee and I wandered down the queue with Yvan where he gave me a great lesson in starting with general pencil tone, followed by drawing on top of it.  It was quite an eye-opener.  Now, if only I can get it into my brain.

Summer Sketching On The Plains Of Abraham

The largest park in Quebec City is officially called Battlefield Park.  It’s just west of the “old city”, the walled part of Quebec City and it was named Battlefield Park because this is where the British climbed the cliffs and fought the French for control of the city in a famous battle.

But we locals still call it the Plains of Abraham because, well, that’s what it’s called.  Abraham was a farmer who farmed the land before the Brits came along and it’s not likely that we’ll start calling it Battlefield Park anytime soon.

On this day, however, we were there to sketch, near a large open area that has rollerblade and running circuits that measure, I think, a kilometer around.  I sat in the sun and made this sketch of what used to be the natural history museum before it was decided that we didn’t need one 🙁

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5c8.5), Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5c8.5), Platinum 3776

Nouvelle France People Sketches

2016-07-09-57TraitCarre2Yvan and I went to Galleria Margelis-Paradis in Trait Carre because the Charlesbourg Watercolorists were having an event to promote the gallery, their group, and their upcoming participation in Quebec’s annual Fete de Nouvelle France celebration.

2016-07-09-57TraitCarre1I’m not much of a people sketcher, particularly when the targets are moving, which was the case as the watercolorists were talking with visitors, showing them period items and paintings.  But, practice makes perfect and I’m sure I only need to draw a couple thousand more before I figure it out.  Anyways, here’s a few of the sketches I did that day.  All were done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover sketchbook with my Platinum 3776 pointy device.