Sketching In Parc Jeanne D’Arc

We’re in an intermittent rainy period so it’s been hard for us to plan our weekly get togethers but I recommended that we gather at a large park associated with the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.  This place is beautiful and in the middle of it is a large statue of Jeanne d’Arc, after whom the park is named.  Weather reports said it would be sunny in the morning and that the rain would only come later in the afternoon.

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (8x5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (8×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

So some of us did show up and we were greeted with cool (16-degree) temps and significant winds that made it feel quite cool.  All the smart people (ie – everyone but me) wore long pants and jackets.  I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Undaunted, I sat behind a bunch of tulips and started drawing.  The flowers were blowing around and I’m sure my body temperature was dropping.  Nevertheless, I did draw three tulips before I had to choose between hypothermia and getting up and walking around.

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Platinum 3776

I visited everyone else, saw what they were drawing and then walked up and down the garden a couple times, half looking for something to draw and half just trying to stay warm.  Eventually I decided to do a quick sketch of one of the drinking fountains.  I love them but I need more time and temperature to do them justice in a sketch.

I kept moving but at this point my shorts/tshirt garb and frozen physiology had become foolhardy.  I certainly couldn’t concentrate on drawing so I was close to calling it quits.  One more lesson learned, maybe.

But I saw Hubert sketching and I related to his scrunched down form, head poking out from between the turned-up collars of his vest.  It just seemed tell the story of my day and I had to quickly sketch him as well.

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Alpha, Platinum 3776

More Sketches From Yvan’s Garden

I promised I’d post the rest of my sketches from Yvan’s garden and here they are.  We did have a lot of fun that day.

These were in a window box and difficult to draw because they were in the shade. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8x5), Platinum 3776

These were in a window box and difficult to draw because they were in the shade. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5), Platinum 3776

This small birdfeeder brought delight in the form of black capped chickadees, gold finches, and sparrows. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8x5), Platinum 3776

This small birdfeeder brought delight in the form of black capped chickadees, gold finches, and sparrows. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5), Platinum 3776

I don't even know what this is but it was fun to draw. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8x5), Platinum 3776

I don’t even know what this is but it was fun to draw. Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5), Platinum 3776

A Look At Part Of Quebec City’s Port Area

I was out walking and took the opportunity to sketch a bit of Quebec City’s port area.  This is small portion of it, which is the place where Riviere St. Charles empties into the St. Lawrence River.  It’s an ever-changing scene as large ships dock on each side of it for loading and unloading.  It’s good to be out in the sunshine again.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8x5) softcover, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5) softcover, Platinum 3776

The Parents Head To Ottawa

Last weekend Chantal and I headed for Ottawa.  It was a holiday weekend and we went to visit our daughter who is in school there, but as I write this I realize that it was more than that.  Because of a lot of good stuff that happened, our daughter wasn’t going to come home for the summer as she normally would so the trip was at least as much an attempt to deal with that disappointment as anything else.

That’s a simple way of explaining that this wasn’t a sketching trip.  In spite of that, I did a bunch of quick sketches throughout the visit and I thought I’d present some of them as an indication of how easy it is to fit urban sketching into a trip that is otherwise occupied with things that make most people say “I was too busy to sketch.”

We arrived on Friday and our daughter was still at school so we got some lunch, went to an art store (more of a crafts store as so many have become) and then headed to one of the parks.   As we walked around I saw this scene and decided that I’d do a very quick, thumbnail-style sketch just to capture the major masses.  I didn’t worry much about proper perspective or drawing accurate lines and the initial sketch took only a few minutes.  Then my daughter called and said she would be there shortly so we stayed put.  I decided to add some more lines to the drawing and, ultimately, I slopped some color on the sketch.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

2016-05-20-56cherryblossoms

Field Notes “Sweet Tooth” (3×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black, Uniball UM_153 white pen

I was sitting under a flowering crab apple tree (I think) and  I decided to sketch of some of the flowers in my red Field Notes “Sweet Tooth” notebook and I thought it came out pretty well for a 3-4 minutes I spent doing it.  I was rewarded by my daughter showing up with an “hic c’est beau.”

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out as a family, eating in market area, buying candy and listening to street musicians.

The next morning, however, was laundry day.  We gathered up ever stitch of clothing, bedding, and towels and hauled them to a laundromat where we commenced to feed an obscene number of dollar coins into the machines.  We drank coffee, ate muffins, and I drew this little scene in the tiny coffee shop associated with the laundromat.  Not much but it was fun to do and made the time pass more quickly.

2016-05-21-48LaundryDay

taned notebook, Platinum 3776,

Then it was off to the grocery store where we bought one of everything and two of some things.  My biggest fear was that there wouldn’t be room for it all in my daughter’s apartment.  Parents do get carried away some times.  And we did, of course.

Once we shoehorned all the groceries into their proper places, we headed off on a quest for shoes.  Understand, this was two women and an old guy.  We went EVERYWHERE looking at shoes.  I knew my life would end while looking for size 9 flats.

But surprise, surprise, we tracked down the illusive ideal shoe, bought two of them then went to a park where geese lived and they had lots of baby goslings running around.  They were fun to watch and I should have sketched them but I was worn out from the shoe chase.  Eventually we got hungry and headed for my daughter’s favorite Korean restaurant.

After dinner we walked to Major Hill Park, a park where the towers around Parliament poke up above the trees.  We drank bubble tea and enjoyed the changing sky as sunset was near.  I did a couple quick sketches in the failing light and probably should have settled for just a silhouette.

Parliament library roofline, FN Sweet Tooth, Platinum 37762016-05-21-56majorhillpark2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did a bunch of park hopping the next day, mostly because we just wanted to be out in the sun.   We sat for a long time in Andrew Haydon Park, looking out at the boats having fun in the Ottawa River.  There wasn’t much close to me to draw so I drew some rocks.  I love drawing rocks, though I’m not particularly good at it.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

As it got hotter, though, the desire for shade took hold and we ended up in a park along the Rideau River.  Another place to practice my sloth, I was getting quite good at it, particularly because there were a group of guys in a drum circle providing entertainment.  I did break out the sketchbook to do this quick capture of a few of the players.  It’s not very detailed but it’s the best I can do in a few minutes.

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8x5), Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Gamma (8×5), Platinum 3776

2016-05-22-48RideauRiverKidI did several really quick (< 1-min) sketches of people as they wandered by where we were sitting and I’ll share only this one of a small boy who stopped to admire the river.  We had a delightful dinner at the apartment and then headed out to wander some more, ultimately ended up back at Major Hill Park.  It was pretty dark when we got there so sketching anything other than the proverbial black cat in a dark room there were no real sketching opportunities.

That was a last thing on my mind anyway as we had our mitts full of frozen yogourt.  It was the best there is, or so sayeth my daughter.  I think its the first time I’ve ever had any that didn’t come out of a carton.  We’d stopped at Menchies to get it and that was a fun experience unto its own because of the way you put together what you want and then pay by the weight of your concoction.  I drew the spoon in honor of the place.

2016-05-23-54MenchiesSpoonSo there you have it – our trip to Ottawa.  Urban sketching adds so much to trips like this, even if you don’t have time to do it.  Does that make sense?  Hope so.

 

Cartier Monument And More…

French explorer Jacques Cartier made a couple trips to what is now called Quebec.  On his second visit, in 1535, he and his crew wintered only about 10 minutes from my house, at the confluence of the St. Charles River and the Lairet River.  Why he didn’t stop by for coffee is unclear.  Maybe the timing wasn’t right.  Maybe he knew how bad my French was.

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Our group was sketching Limoilou just before I headed to Ottawa last weekend and decided to draw the monument erected in his honor in spite of his snubbing me when he was here.  The monument sits in what is now called Cartier-Brébeuf park in honor of you know who.

Sweet Tooth FIeld Notes, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Sweet Tooth FIeld Notes, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

When I finished the sketch I started wandering around, trying to find the other sketchers.  I came across Lisette and Hubert who were drawing an old Catholic church that has become Quebec’s clown school.

They still needed a few minutes to finish up so I decided to do a quick sketch of the church chimney.  Once they finished up we all met for lunch.  All in all, it was a great day as we’re finally getting to sketch outdoors.

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

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

 

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