Quick-sketching At The Grande Marche

Finally, maybe, kinda-sorta, the holiday season is behind us.  Every year it’s the same.  There’s the build-up to Christmas, with Christmas bringing the thought that the holidays are finally over.

But at our house it starts all over again because my daughter, my wife, and my wife’s mother all have birthdays during January.  This year was extra-busy because it was my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday so Chantal’s been running around, buying out the stores in preparation for the party.  That party was supposed to be going on RIGHT NOW, but lo and behold, the hospice facility where my mother-in-law is living right now just quarantined itself due to an outbreak of flu. The 100th anniversary party cancelled.

Otherwise things are returning to normal and I’m starting to do some sketching outside the house.  I spent a couple sessions at the Grande Marche, quick-sketching people and its kiosks.  Boy, do I need practice with quick-sketching.  I’ve lost my knack for it almost completely.  One has to do it regularly to be successful and my health problems got me out of sync with street sketching.

This scene was created by drawing people as they arrived at this kiosk, followed by drawing some of the kiosk clutter for background.

For this one the approach was a bit different because my goal was to draw the end of a long coffee shop so I started with the big shapes of the counters.  A guy came along and stood while he poured milk and sugar into his coffee (from counter on the left) so I drew him and then went back to drawing all the “stuff” that was coffee shop.

I moved to a different location and found a condiment cart sitting next to a wall and decided to draw it.  I always find it hard to “draw” all the little bits, trying to generate instead a series of textures to represent them.  In the end I think the sketch was too small to worry about it.  It was fun to get out with pen in hand.  Did I mention that I need practice…lots of practice.

Preparing For 2020

At the end of each year I look at the sketchbooks I have in progress.  If I include my two practice sketchbooks there were six of them.  Two were almost filled, though, and I make an effort to fill those before we turned over the calendar to 2020 for I can get a fresh start on the year.  Besides, both of those books were portrait format and I find that I prefer working in landscape mode.

To replace one I grabbed a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) from my sketchbook stash.  I love this format and Stillman & Birn books are still my favorites.

For the second replacement, however, I decided to try something new.  Out of curiosity I’d picked up a pad of Strathmore 184lb Mixed Media paper.  I cut a bunch of 9×12 sheets in half and created a 26-sheet sketchbook.  I made covers from thick cardboard and took it to Bureau en Gros (Staples to those outside of Quebec) where they neatly spiral bound it for me.

The plan was to wait until 2020 to start using them but I couldn’t wait to try the Strathmore paper so I sketched the small support table that sits to the left of my drawing table.  I really like drawing on the paper and, at least for these light washes, the paper does fine.  I think I’m going to like it even if it isn’t S&B.

So I’m all set for 2020.  I want to thank everyone who followed my blog in 2019 and all who have taught me so much by posting their own work on their blogs, YouTube, Instagram, and the rest.  Happy New Year.

Platinum Prefounte Fountain Pen

Last minute Christmas present, perhaps?  I just picked up one of the new Platinum Prefounte fountain pens.  Goulet Pens is selling it for $10USD and I paid only $15CDN locally.  This pen is a bargain, and more.

If you’re familiar with the Platinum Preppy you know something about this pen as it’s pretty much a “super” Preppy, with significant improvements.  First, it looks great and comes in orange, red, blue or green.  You can get it with fine or medium nibs, just like the Preppy.

While the Preppy caps are prone to breakage, the Prefounte cap is a significant upgrade.  Much stronger, and with a very positive click when you cap the pen.  More important, however, is that this pen includes Platinum’s super-d-duper no evaporation double cap seal.  The packaging claims you can leave ink in it for a year without much loss.  Try that with your Lamy (grin).

As a street sketcher, one of the things I really like about Platinum pens is that they are the one company that sells a waterproof ink for their pens in cartridge form.  This is also wonderful if you’re trying to get someone involved with sketching and/or fountain pens because they don’t have to deal with pen filling.  You just throw in a cartridge, about $3 for four of them, and you’re all set.  I’ve been using a Platinum Plaisir that way for quite a while.  This new Prefounte is lighter, though and I know I’m going to love it.  Kinda silly since I’ve got a bunch of high dollar pens sitting around but I don’t have to worry about losing these cheaper solutions.

I apologize for the horrible photos but I wanted to get this post up this morning and the overhead light in my studio isn’t the greatest for taking close up photos.  Goulet Pens, though, has good photos 🙂

I should add that the pens don’t come with red nibs; Prefounte nibs are silver.  I made the mistake of buying the medium nib, didn’t like it, and exchanged one of the Preppy nibs.  Of course I did this strategically to show you that this was possible.  Sure I did (grin).

Artistes Dans Les Parcs In A Park Building

The Artistes dans les parcs organization is, as their name suggests, a plein air group that gather in parks to paint.  But at the last event of the year, Yvan lobbied for them to continue into winter, holding indoor events much as we sketchers hold events.

This is a somewhat harder task for a larger group that typically work on easels with oils and acrylics but, somehow, Denise Bujold, the miracle-worker leader of the group, pulled it off.  She found a great room in a town west of us and we all headed there on a Sunday.

It was truly a social gathering because sketching subjects were limited and most of the people had brought photos along and they were painting from them.  But it was also a wonderful day because we got to experience the work of others. I learned some things about oils and got to see someone using pastels for the first time.  Likewise, with several sketchers nearby, these painters got to see what we do, which led to discussions of our sketchbooks.

Denise had set up several objects for us to draw.  One of them was a small teddy bear in Christmas garb and he proved popular with those of us sketching.  Here’s my attempt.

I’m a curious guy and with so many different activities going on I didn’t get any more sketching done that day.  I was too busy watching the other artists.  We also had an extended lunch period where I mostly sat listening, trying to follow several simultaneous French conversations.  I always find this quite impossible.  Still, somehow it’s fun.

A Christmas Card Gathering

With winter upon us we’re into cold weather sketching routine, which means doing things indoors.  Still, we like to sketch together and so, every year, we reserve a room at our local library and draw/paint Christmas cards.  I’m not much of a card giver but this event is a lot of fun.

Sitting in a room without a subject wreaks havoc on my lack of imagination and this is reflected in my results.  I’ve seen a lot of examples of a red vehicle carrying a Christmas tree and so that was my first stop.  I found a volkswagen photo on my phone and went to work.  This was the result:

I decided to draw a little house and remembered a few examples drawn by someone on Instagram.  Sorry, but I can’t remember her name.  Anyways, I drew this one from a memory of those little houses.  Hers were better.

I thought about snow and got out some white gouache.  The sole reason for this one was that I wanted to spatter white gouache to make snow because I’d never done it before.  The rest was an afterthought.

As always, card-making day was fun, with lots of laughs and time with good friends.  The cards produced weren’t the real goal anyway.