Spring Has Finally Sprung

A week or so ago I walked to Bassin Louise, which is the part of our port area where private owners keep their boats.  All winter they (the boats) sit on land, wrapped in their cocoons of blue plastic.  When spring does arrive there’s a mad dash to get them in the water so their owners can enjoy them during our all-to-short summer.

During my visit I noticed two things.  There were no boats in the water in spite of it being May.  In fact, in shaded parts of the port there was still ice in the water.  At the time it occurred to me that sailors may be the only people more frustrated with our lack of spring than we sketchers.

It does seem that we’re finally getting hints that winter isn’t going to last forever and I’ve managed a flurry of outdoor sketching activity this week.  I decided to head back to Bassin Louise to see how the sailors were doing.  When I arrived I saw that a few boats had been put in the water – maybe a dozen of the couple hundred that will eventually fill the harbor.  I’m not sure the lock that lets them exit into the St. Lawrence River is functional yet but there were people working on sails, polishing chrome, etc.

While my face is incapable of launching a thousand ships, I thought that maybe my imagination might get one of them moving so I sat down to do a quick sketch of one of the boats moored in the harbor.  It’s seen here, heading out into the St. Lawrence.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (9x6) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Gamma (9×6) softcover, 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


May Sketchcrawl Down Limoilou Allies




Some of the most fascinating parts of a city are behind the scenes, the back doors if you will.  In parts of Quebec City, most notably Limoilou, these are accessible to the artist through the ruelles or allies.  Most parts of Quebec City don’t have them but Limoilou has them and that’s where we’re headed for our next sketchcrawl, on Sunday May 8th.  For details of the event, head to Croquistes de Quebec website  for details.  If you need motivation, here’s a wonderful video that the Ottawa Urban Sketchers did when they did an similar sketchcrawl.  See you there.


Speed Sketching In The Cold

It’s the end of April.  People who are smarter than me, and thus live in habitable places on Earth, are starting to tend their gardens, put their boats in the water, and they’re out sketching with their friends.  The internet tells me this is so.

gloves1That is not the case here in Quebec.  Most of our snow has melted, but it’s done so very slowly this year, not in the typical slush-creating manner.  This is because it just won’t warm up.   We’ve had a couple days where it seemed that spring had come but then old mom nature opens the fridge again and we’re back to wondering…will spring ever come?

And so it was when I decided to try out my new arthritis gloves.  Huh?  Yes, arthritis gloves.  A friend of mine bought them for me because I suffer from the problem; he’s a really nice guy, and he saw them in a store.  He has also heard me talk about wanting thin gloves with no fingers for sketching and so he bought them.  For the arthritis, they’re sort of like wrapping an ankle with an ace bandage.  The pressure just feels good.gloves2

None of that is important here.  What’s important is their use as sketching gloves and I can say they are ideal.  Unlike other fingerless gloves I’ve tried, they are tight-fitting, thin gloves with no seams in the way and the fingerless endseams don’t get in the way of my pen.  I can draw with them as though I weren’t wearing gloves at all.

Gloves, however, don’t keep an Arizona boy warm when it’s cold outside so there were compromises made when I went outside to try them out.  I just walked down to the end of my street, which dead-ends into a large exposition building complex, sat down on my stool in the middle of a parking lot (unused at the time) and decided to see what kind of building sketch I could do in 10 minutes.  I figured that would be all I could endure and I was just about right.  Color was done quickly with a minimal watercolor set and a waterbrush and I did exceed the 10-minute timer beep by about 30-seconds as I slapped on some finishing sky.  It’s not much but I got to sketch outdoors and try my gloves.

As I came home, the guys who were doing brickwork on the house next to mine were packing up for the day.  They told me they had to quit because their mortar was freezing.  Maybe it’ll warm up tomorrow.


April Sketchcrawl At Museum Chapel

musee-amerique-francophoneSpring rains have started so soon we’ll be able to have our sketchcrawls outdoors.  On Sunday, April 10th, at 10:00AM, though, the Croquistes de Québec will meet at the chapel associated with the Musée de l’Amerique Francophone.  If it’s warm enough the area around the museum is full of sketching targets, but if not we can sketch in the chapel.  Some of us have been sketching there throughout the winter and since the place is full of statues, woodcarvings and fixtures that are worthy of sketching.   Check the Croquistes de Québec site for details.  I’ll include a few of the sketches I’ve done in the chapel as examples of the possibilities.  See you there.


Musee d'Amerique chapel altar

Decorative carving2015-12-29square2