A Sketching Challenge: Chapel Altar

I love drawing the ornaments and carvings in churches but confess that I find most churches to be pretentious.  Still, there I was, in the chapel associated with the Musée d’Amérique francophone when I got the bright idea to sketch the huge, monolithic, altar.  Because of the complicated nature of it, doing a proper, accurate drawing would have required many hours.  I only had two.

So I “steeled” myself (i.e. tried to channel Liz Steel) and set to work.  My eyes crossed several times as I tried to draw all the bits and details of this 30-foot high structure.  It was both fun and tiring, and it humbled me a bit, which I guess is the goal of such structures.

Musee d'Amerique chapel altar

Fabriano Artistico CP (7.5×11), Pilot Metropolitan, DeAtramentis Document Black

Urban Sketcher Goes Rogue

I’m an urban sketcher, or at least almost everything I draw is done ‘on location’ – drawing what I see.  I’ve not be too interested in ‘expressive’ or abstract drawing.  I’m not into adult coloring books.  I just draw stuff and wandering my city looking for things to draw is part of my equation.

But it’s winter here in Quebec and while it’s amazingly warm for us at the beginning of February our high temps are still in the -10 range so sketching on the street, my usual location, isn’t really practical.  I know that Nina Johansson uses vodka so her paints don’t freeze but I’m an old Arizona boy and I’d have to consume a lot of vodka to keep myself from freezing.

And so, this is the time of year when I start drawing people in coffee shops, restaurants and at the library.  This is a time when I draw in our museums.  This is the time of year when I’ll draw the occasional cast drawing in an attempt to improve my ability to see halftones and to render objects.

One thing I’ve never done in art was to make stuff up.  I’ve done it as a writer but I haven’t felt that I had sufficient handle on form, light and shade, and the rest to conjour drawings from my memory.  Yvan keeps telling me that I should develop that ability as it helps so much when drawing on location but, well, I haven’t done so.

Until yesterday.  I was playing with creating some watercolor backgrounds for doing ink sketches on to of them and when my brain looked at the bright Quin Gold blob I’d put in the middle, I saw a ‘tall mountain island fortress’ and so I started drawing.  It was a feeble effort, but an effort nonetheless, to draw something from my imagination.  I had fun and will probably do this some more.

2016-01-28FantasyIsland

Sketching Doesn’t Have To Be Good To Have a Good Day Sketching

Sometimes my sketches don’t work out.  Yvan and I headed to the south shore of the St. Lawrence to sit in the new ferry terminal and sketch the Quebec City skyline on the north shore of the river.

The view is great but the buildings are small from that distance.  On a clear day the morning sun provides sufficient contrast to allow one to make out the building relationships but on this morning, Mr. Sun was sleeping in and the buildings sort of blended into one another.  We tried to sketch and while Yvan was successful (he always is), I struggled with a couple false starts and I never did get a decent sketch done.  This was the best I could muster.

Platinum 3776, DeAtramentis Document Black

Platinum 3776, DeAtramentis Document Black

The results may suggest that this wasn’t a great sketching day, but exactly the opposite was the case.  Yvan and I went downstairs and got coffee at the newly opened Tim Hortons.  I did a small sketch out the window but the real fun was that we got out some watercolor paper and started discussing color, mixing and matching.  I’m sure this is how kids feel when they finger paint but, of course, we were very adult about it and we had a lot of fun.

Levis waterfront buildings

small 4×6 sketch – Platinum 3776, DeAtramentis Document Black

As we played with my paints, we talked about drawing, my favorite subject.  Yvan is a veritable fountain of drawing knowledge and I’m finally experienced enough to understand what he’s telling me most of the time.  His mentorship is priceless.  It was a spectacular sketching day.  Tomorrow we’re headed back to the museum.  I love it that I have to maintain a calendar of my sketching sessions.

 

Collectif Rendevous At The Museum Of Civilisation

The Collectif group in Quebec City held its annual rendevous at Quebec’s Musée de la civilisation last Saturday.  Unfortunately, a bunch of the regulars were playing snowbirds in one for or another and so turnout was down from previous years.  Nevertheless, we had a great time.

I started sketching in the Egypt exhibit, where I drew this pharoah mask.  I used Faber-Castell Albrecht-Durer watercolor pencils for color.  It’s hard to deal with color in that exhibit because it’s so dark so it’s hard to know what you’ve got until you’re done and eating lunch (grin).

Pharoah mask, Egypt

Fabriano Artistico CP, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Falcon

I took a short break by wandering around a bit and when I saw this large Australian aboriginal totem I had to translate it to paper.  Pretty simple drawing.  Lots of fun.  It’s good to be back out sketching.

Australian totem

Fabriano Artistico CP, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Metropolitan

Cruising Down The Nile

Egyptian culture was inseparable from the Nile River.  It was a source of water, provided fertile soils for agriculture, fish were a ready protein supply, and the bullrushes that grew along its banks provided material for baskets, floor mats, and other Egyptian stuff.

But heck, you gotta suppose that Egyptians used it for fun too.  Swimming might not have been a great idea because the Nile was home to crocodiles but how about hopping in the family yacht and going for a cruise.  Egyptians must have done that.  And one of the objects in our museum’s Egyptian exhibit is a large (4-feet long) wooden model of an Egyptian boat, complete with several people standing on deck.  It seemed that sketching it was the right thing to do.  Hope you like it.

Fabriano Artistico cold-press, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Metropolitan F

Fabriano Artistico cold-press, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Metropolitan F