Living With Adjusted Family Sizes Because Of COVID

For many one result of COVID isolation has been housing reorganization and behavioral adjustment.  Some households have seniors who have been moved home by the kids while others have adjusted their family situation by having kids move home with us seniors.  Pro and con, adjustment is the best descriptor of what we all must do in such situations.

When the virus hit Quebec and we shut down our activities, the first thing we did was a rapid drive to Montreal to pick up of our daughter. Given that Montreal is the hot spot in Canada for COVID right now, we’re feeling pretty smug about our decision.

The result has been a social adjustment to having a 22-year old living with us.  Truthfully, it’s mostly positive but it means spending more time talking, cooking, baking, and generally doing family stuff… and fewer alone activities like art.

My daughter wasn’t the only thing we brought back from Montreal though.  We crammed the car full of her plants and together with our plants they turned our house into a jungle.  Every flat surface is covered with plants and we rarely eat dinner at our dining table because it’s just too darn much trouble moving all the plants (grin).

I see this as a good thing because I have new sketching subjects.  One of her plants was a sad little Fiddle Leaf Fig.  It only had two leaves, hanging onto a single short stem.  But, we’ve been in isolation now for nearly forever and so it’s grown.  It now has four leaves and a fifth is beginning to sprout.  I decided I should draw it.  I probably did it too quickly but heck, it only has four leaves.  Here she is, in all her youthful glory.

Aside from isolation, how has your family life changed?  We don’t talk about that enough.  Has it affected your art in any way?

Urban Sketching In Isolation

Many of us have lamented that our urban sketching lifestyles have been disrupted by COVID-19.  We sit in houses thinking of better days when we sat in public places drawing the scenes before us.  And some of us have reported our “solutions” to this.  Tina Koyama talks about standing in a street circle and drawing what’s around her.  I’ve mentioned my 2-min sketches while on walks. Others have succumbed to looking out their windows for subjects.

I may have found a way to up my game as an isolated urban sketcher.  Maybe you’ll think I’m not urban sketching at all, but it feels like urban sketching to me.  Here’s what I did.

1) I went for my daily walk and found a scene worthy of sketching (are there any that aren’t)?
2) I stood, leaning against a tree, while I studied the scene, thinking about drawing it.  I noted the relative locations of all the major objects and ‘saw’ the major angles and proportions that related the objects to one another.  I thought about what I’d eliminate from the scene, where the center of focus would be.  I even mentally traced around one of the cars and some of the major tree branches just to etch them into my mind a bit.  I probably spent 5-min doing this, just as though I was actually going to sketch the scene.
3) Then I took a couple photos and rushed home.
4) I cropped a photo to reflect what I’d been thinking while on the street and drew some organizational lines and blobs to organize the paper and then started sketching from my laptop screen.  This is what it looked like when I finished the ink.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document Black ink, gouache

5) I’m still experimenting with gouache and still stumbling over myself with it.  Nevertheless, I decided to use gouache on this sketch and had some fun trying to move back and forth between transparent and opaque approaches.  Very confusing but lots of promise.  I got James Gurney’s new course yesterday and, shazaam, that’s exactly what he starts the course talking about.  Can’t wait to try some of the things he talks about.

BUT, excepting that I was sitting at a table rather than on my stool, it felt like urban sketching because of the immediate translation of a scene I’d just looked at and the one I was putting on paper.

I won’t split hairs whether this is “real” urban sketching or not as I don’t much care.  But if I can repeat this process during my isolation, I’m going to be a happy camper.  The only thing I miss is meeting up with friends after the sketching session.  I have to settle with bugging my wife and daughter with “Hey, look at this.”  Give it a try.  You just might like it.

 

One Rock Leads To Another

As I’m prone to do these days, I was sitting around, listening to a podcast when a pen leaped into my hand and drew a rock.  I thought, that’s ok, but it needs a friend.  So I drew another rock.  Pretty soon I had a pile of rocks so I put a bit of sand in front of the pile, a bit of ocean and sky behind it, and I had a landscape…well, sort of.  In truth the rocks don’t go together as well as they would if I were drawing them on location but l’m ignoring that and sharing it with you.

I’m still walking, and still doing 2-min sketches.  I’m finding that while these are sloppy and unsatisfying, they have gone a long way to remove the “couped up” feeling that isolation was causing me.  Now I go out almost anticipating those couple minutes where I put pen to paper.  How are you adjusting to your new situation?  Any tricks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Curious Pig

In Quebec City we have a couple restaurants called Cochon Dingue (crazy pig).  In the old city there is one that faces a main street but they have a back entrance on a rather famous pedestrian street full of shops to grab tourist dollars.  Next to the the entrance is a rather plain window that looks in on this backdoor entrance.  It seems I was not the only one interested in that window.

SM-LT watercolor sketchbook

Snow In April Ain’t So Bad

We had a snow storm for about 24 hours and got, they say, about 15cm of the stuff.  I didn’t think I’d be able to walk today because of it but it seems our ground is sufficiently thawed and most of it has melted already, leaving the sidewalks suitable for walking.  So, I did.

This time I took a clip with me to hold my sketchbook open while I sketched.  That helped some.  Very low expectations helped more.  I think that if I can expect nothing from 2-3 minute sketches (maybe 5 for this one), done while standing, I won’t be disappointed and I’ll have a little fun.  It was only 1C when I was out and windy but I got to stand next to a wind break while I tried to scribble a likeness of this little Fiat.  I think the proportions are right but the shapes most certainly are not.  Oh well…it’s a generic car sketch 🙂

Platinum Plaisir, 4×6 hardcover sketchbook of unknown origin