Wandering The Alleyways Of Quebec

We’ve finally gotten a couple days where we could sketch outdoors and we’ve taken advantage of it.  A group of us met to wander the alleyways and do some sketching together and we had a lot of fun doing just that.  What alleyways may lack in terms of esthetics, they more than make up for in the form of interesting shape complexes and textures.  If only there were fewer stairs to draw (grin).

Stillman & Birn Delta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Every gathering of sketchers has periods where we ignore one another because we’re lost in our sketching but eventually we get hungry and we come together.  This day was no exception and we gathered at the local coffee shop for food and to chatter away about pens and paper.  Then it was back on the streets, or alleyways in this case, in search of something else to draw.

I decided to sketch a sketcher.  Yvan was sketching up a storm when I sat down to sketch him and while I don’t do him justice, he was a cooperative model.  All in all, it was a wonderful day.  We were teased by those couple days of good weather and I’m looking forward to more of them.  Yesterday it snowed.

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Rain In The Alleyways

Last Sunday was our May sketchcrawl through the alleyways of Limoilu but things didn’t go as planned.  My first sketch was interrupted by rain, big drops hitting the sketch before the ink had dried that created ink splats to form on the page.  A quick run to the coffee shop where Yvan and Ginette shaking off their own rain.

This was Ginette’s first sketchcrawl and we had a great time getting to know each other as we sat in the cafe, sketching people.  Clearly she was the highlight of this sketchcrawl as it just went downhill from here.

We are almost desperate to sketch outdoors and the sketchcrawl was supposed to be our first outdoor sketchcrawl of the year, so when the rain stopped we headed out again to do the proverbial try, try again.  Same results, and in my case it was worse – another sketch ruined.  We decided to pack it in and that was probably a good thing because almost immediately the rain started coming down in buckets.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

The attempts to sketch alleyways put me in the mood to try again as in Quebec City alleyways provide large shape-clusters that are both appealing to me and challenging, particularly all the stairways going up the back of the structures.  So, when the weather turned nice on Wednesday, I headed out to sketch.  Here are two sketches I did that day.  They don’t have any color on them because I forgot to put my watercolor kit in my bag.  Hope you like them.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

 

First Outdoor Sketch Of The Year

We’ve completed the first week of May and we have yet to see our first 60F temperatures in Quebec City.  In fact, they say, it may freeze tonight.  But, we now have several crocuses peaking out of the ground and that’s a good sign.  I think they’re teasing but Mr. Weatherman says it may hit 70F later this week so I guess spring has finally sprung.

A couple days ago, however, it did get into the 50s and so I headed out to do some sketching.  I wore gloves, jacket and sweater and it wasn’t too bad as I sketched this building, though by the time I got to adding color, I was ready to move around to warm up.   Here it is, though, my first outdoor sketch of 2016.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

Sketching Ottawa – Part Two

Yesterday I talked about not feeling well during my sketching trip to Ottawa.  I want to post a couple more sketches from that trip and comment on some of the comedy of the trip as well.

Do you ever go somewhere and it seems that nothing is working in your favor?  I mentioned that when I showed up at the Nature Museum I wasn’t feeling well.  What I didn’t mention was that the entire bird exhibit was closed for renovations, as was the cafeteria.  No birds, no lunch menu.

I went shopping in the Ottawa market, after becoming completely lost in the Rideau Centre maze (a more confusing mall I have never seen) to visit the paper store there, because I wanted to pet a few fountain pens.  As I entered the store it was immediately evident that it wasn’t my lucky day.

The pen side of the store was completely covered in plastic and there were people behind the plastic installing new cabinets.  Normally I would turn to all the nifty tidbits they sell but those racks were smashed up against one another to make room for the construction activity.  I left without scratching my fountain pen itch.

I was starving at that point, wanted to visit the art store in one of the malls and so I drove to the St. Laurent mall.  After a disappointing visit to the art store, I got myself a really nice vegetarian burrito, sat down to eat it, took one bite, and the fire alarm went off.  The announcement said to wait for instructions so I started eating faster, wondering if I should eat or pack it all up for a rapid exit.  Ultimately it turned out to be a false alarm but as I sat there I wondered, “what else could go wrong?”

2016-04-21people3I returned to the downtown area with the idea of sketching some of the buildings around Parliament.  I went to a park that’s just east of Parliament because it offers a nice view of some of the buildings.  Seems it’s a popular hangout and justifiably so.  But, at the time I arrived, even an artist who was feeling well would have a hard time because of the bright sun smacking them in the face if they looked at any of those buildings.  It’s definitely a morning sketching site.  I turned to quick-sketching people instead and there were plenty of targets because it had gotten quite warm, something that, being from Quebec City really appreciated.  I did a bunch of these quick sketches.  Here are two of them.

2016-04-21people1

The next morning  was looking good.  I was feeling better and I decided to sketch a gazebo in a park near my daugher’s apartment.  I was having fun when it started to rain a little bit.  With no cover to be found except for the gazebo, I headed downtown, knowing I could return to finish that sketch when I came back to meet my daughter for our departure for Quebec City.   This turned out not to be such a great plan, though the bubble tea I had while waiting for the misting rain to stop sure was good.  The problem then became cold as the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped as the front moved through and I finished this drawing as my bones cooled.  When the ink dried, or maybe a little before, I headed for my daughter’s apartment to warm up and add the color.

In summary, a lot of little things went wrong on this trip, in addition to my not feeling well, but sketching always makes a trip fun and this one was no exception.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

We Went Sketching At Celine’s House

Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

We’re still anticipating spring and hard-pressed to find sketching venues that we haven’t visited a dozen times this winter.  Celine suggested that we all go to her place for a sketching session and we  jumped at the chance, because Celine has a great studio environment and lots of props just waiting to be sketched.

Five of us had a ball sketching, laughing and chatting that day.  My first sketch was a small plaster head of what can only be an Irishman.   I did it in my conventional manner, using a fountain pen.

2016-04-13earFor my second sketch I chose a large plaster ear that Celine had hanging on her wall.  Only an artists have a plaster ears on their walls and I wanted to take advantage of Celine’s ear.  As I started drawing the first couple lines, however, I realized that so much of an ear is defined by soft edges that I decided to take a different approach.  I got out a waterbrush that’s filled with very dilute ink and started drawing all the shadow shapes.  I used multiple layers to achieve a couple different values.  In this way, I blocked in the overall shape of the ear and then I could add some ink lines to emphasize contour and  some shapes.  I was pretty pleased with this approach and I might find myself doing it more often.  Doing this sort of thing is great practice in seeing form.  Thanks, Celine, for a great day.

Drawing Chapel Arches

The Croquistes de Québec held their April sketchcrawl at the chapel associated with the Musée de l’Amérique du Francophone.  It’s really hard finding indoor places to sketch in the winter and so I’ve been to this chapel enough this winter to say that I’m ‘all full up.’  Nevertheless, I always enjoy sketching with others.

Turnout wasn’t great, probably because others are as tired as I am of sketching indoors, but there were five of us in attendance and we had fun, though this sketchcrawl wasn’t as long in duration as our summer sessions will be.

I decided to draw some arches.  I always have trouble drawing when I have to look upward.  I wonder whether it’s because of the view itself or the fact that my sketcher head-bob up and down from subject to paper, is so extreme.  Either way, it slows the sketching process and always results in some wonkiness working its way into my drawing.  Next month we’re going to sketch the alleyways of Limoilu – outdoors.  Spring had better be here by then.

Stllman & BIrn Beta (9x12), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stllman & BIrn Beta (9×12), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Sketching A Native American Exhibit

A pair of snowshoes provided some symmetry practice.

A pair of snowshoes provided some symmetry practice.

 

 

I went to our Thursday museum sketching session in spite of being more than a little bored with sketching at the museum.   The walk was cold and snowy and when I arrived I wasn’t much in the mood to sketch but I found myself in the Native American exhibit, which is part of the permanent collection at the museum.

This large cup was made from seal skin and sewn with reindeer sinew.

This large cup was made from seal skin and sewn with reindeer sinew.

I approached the morning with my little, red Field Notes book instead of my normal sketchbook.  I spent a lot of time wandering but when I stopped I did these small sketches.  It wasn’t the most productive morning but, as always, it was fun chatting with friends.

This is a small stone carving of an Inuit fisherman who is laying on the ice, looking into his fishing hole.

This is a small stone carving of an Inuit fisherman who is laying on the ice, looking into his fishing hole.

Sketching At A Plant Nursery

I had a great time on Thursday.  Normally we meet at the museum to sketch but Claudette knows someone at one of the major plant nurseries and she arranged for us to sketch in their large greenhouses.

We arrived at 10AM and spent the next two hours sketching, chatting, and generally having a great time.   As I entered the room I noticed a large concrete tortoise sitting on a shelf.  He was gorgeous and I lamented to Yvan that I wished he were on a lower shelf as if I sat on my stool, he would have towered overhead.  But luck was with me as they actually had several of them, one of which was sitting on a large flat table at my eye height as I sat on my stool.  So I drew him.  Isn’t he cute?  I should have drawn some ground for him to walk on.  I think he would have appreciated that.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Platinum 3776

When I finished, my back needed a rest so I wandered around, checking what everyone else was drawing.  I’m nothing if not nosy.  Francine is just back from a couple months visiting the sun in Mexico so it was fun to catch up with her.   She’d sketched a stone fish that I liked very much so I decided to draw it too.  I decided to do it in my red Field Notes book, a small book that’s providing me way too much fun.  I suppose ‘serious’ artists don’t draw stuff like this but I had a lot of fun doing it.

Field Notes (Sweet Tooth Red); Platinum 3776, Uniball UM 153 white pen)

Field Notes (Sweet Tooth Red); Platinum 3776, Uniball UM 153 white pen)

When I finished I realized that it was almost 11:30 so I checked with everyone again to find out how much longer they would be sketching.  We typically break for lunch no later than 12:00 and it sounded like today would be no exception.  So, I started wandering, looking for something else to draw.

I was in a nursery so flowers and plants were everywhere but I just wasn’t motivated to draw any of them.  Not sure why but I was more in the mood to keep drawing garden decorations.  I spent time looking at garden gnomes, nearly decided to draw a different turtle but then I saw these fat green frogs.  I couldn’t resist.  It was akin to drawing a ball with eyes.  Hope you like him.

2016-03-31frog

Museum Sketching Fatigue

As the internet brings me sketches of cherry blossoms, crocuses popping out of the ground, and various pronouncements of spring, we’re bracing for a foot of snow tonight.  Spring will come to Quebec but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to live long enough to see it.

We were back at the museum again, a place I’m really tiring of this year.  In the past the exhibits have been very interesting and full of variety but the main exhibit this winter has been Egyptian Magic and, well, there are only so many times one can sketch another stone statue of a mummy or the favorite Egyptian god, Bes.  To make matters worse the exhibit is very dark.  You can’t even see many of the display items it’s so dark and after a while it becomes downright depressing.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

Yvan and I sketched this guy because he was outside the exhibit and there was decent light.  It’s not a real artifact, however, as you can buy one at the museum store 🙂

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

After that I decided to go to the Australian aboriginal exhibit.  It’s mostly tapestries and such but I found these guys fun.  Meet Mimih, who is something of a jokester god.  They’re tall (8-feet or so), thin and they hide in the cracks between the rocks in Arnhem land.  It took forever to put all those dots on him with a Uniball white pen but at least there was light in the room.

The snow is starting.  Maybe I should trade in my sketchbook for a snowboard (grin).

They Say It’s Spring

They say that this is the first day of spring.  It must be true but from where I stand, it doesn’t seem like it.  It’s currently -15C outside.  It looks like mother nature is going to tease us with a warm up this week, though, and we may actually get above freezing so there is hope.

During our Thursday sketchers gathering at the museum last week, I got in the mood to challenge my abilities to draw stuff and I chose subjects that weren’t all that photogenic but that I thought might be difficult for my brain to get my hand to move in the right direction.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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

I started with this headrest.  I saw it as a challenge because it was both handmade from wood and also centuries old.  Thus, in addition to having odd, curved surfaces, it was also somewhat asymmetric and the top was a bit askew.  It was a fun subject.

There’s a new exhibit all about nanotechnology and they’re got a series of microscopes, showing their development history.  I chose this early, somewhat simple microscope as an ellipse/alignment challenge.  It worked out ok but I really should have drawn it larger and taken more time with it.  Baby steps.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

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