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.

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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

Just Got Back From Sketching Ottawa… Sort Of

Sometimes things work out.  Sometimes they don’t.  I used the excuse of picking up my daughter so that I could blitz around Ottawa sketching everything in sight – or so thought when I left Quebec City at 4:30AM.

Why so early?  Because I wanted to be at the Nature Museum when it opened at 9:30AM.  And that’s what I did as  I walked in the door at 9:35.  There was only one problem.  I was starting to feel poorly, like I gotta sit down poorly.  I didn’t, but instead I started walking around my favorite museum.  Everything I looked at seemed “so complicated” or boring.  I had absolutely no energy for sketching, or much of anything else.  I sat down and just stared across the lobby.

For the rest of the day I bounced around Ottawa, trying to right the ship and get some sketching done.  I went to the War Museum for the first time.  I’ll need a book light to sketch that place but it’s fantastic and I’ll return, hopefully with more energy.

I continued to mope my way through the day, walking a lot, accomplishing nothing.  I did a bunch of little quick-sketches but little else.  I’m not one to have a hard time finding things to draw or lacking in motivation to do it but there it was, in front of me… ALL DAY.  What a wasted opportunity.

Eventually I picked up my daughter and we went out for a great Korean dinner and I spent that night crashed on her floor.  In the morning we parted ways as she had an afternoon exam and I was determined to get some sketching done.  I was feeling better and like that little train climbing the hill, I was chuffing “I think I can, I think I can.”

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

And I did.  I went back to the Nature Museum, which for some reason was being overrun by huge groups of kids.  Normally I like interacting with the kids but there were so many of them I actually felt like I was in their way.  I drew this sketch of a marsh wren and its nest and then decided to head for less populated pastures.  I had an hour or so before I was to meet my daughter for lunch.

I actually did get some more sketching done but I haven’t scanned them, so they’ll have to wait for another day.  Check back for part II of my Ottawa wanderings ‘real soon.’

 

 

Museum Sketching Fatigue

As the internet brings me sketches of cherry blossoms, crocuses popping out of the ground, and various pronouncements of spring, we’re bracing for a foot of snow tonight.  Spring will come to Quebec but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to live long enough to see it.

We were back at the museum again, a place I’m really tiring of this year.  In the past the exhibits have been very interesting and full of variety but the main exhibit this winter has been Egyptian Magic and, well, there are only so many times one can sketch another stone statue of a mummy or the favorite Egyptian god, Bes.  To make matters worse the exhibit is very dark.  You can’t even see many of the display items it’s so dark and after a while it becomes downright depressing.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Yvan and I sketched this guy because he was outside the exhibit and there was decent light.  It’s not a real artifact, however, as you can buy one at the museum store 🙂

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

After that I decided to go to the Australian aboriginal exhibit.  It’s mostly tapestries and such but I found these guys fun.  Meet Mimih, who is something of a jokester god.  They’re tall (8-feet or so), thin and they hide in the cracks between the rocks in Arnhem land.  It took forever to put all those dots on him with a Uniball white pen but at least there was light in the room.

The snow is starting.  Maybe I should trade in my sketchbook for a snowboard (grin).

They Say It’s Spring

They say that this is the first day of spring.  It must be true but from where I stand, it doesn’t seem like it.  It’s currently -15C outside.  It looks like mother nature is going to tease us with a warm up this week, though, and we may actually get above freezing so there is hope.

During our Thursday sketchers gathering at the museum last week, I got in the mood to challenge my abilities to draw stuff and I chose subjects that weren’t all that photogenic but that I thought might be difficult for my brain to get my hand to move in the right direction.

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I started with this headrest.  I saw it as a challenge because it was both handmade from wood and also centuries old.  Thus, in addition to having odd, curved surfaces, it was also somewhat asymmetric and the top was a bit askew.  It was a fun subject.

There’s a new exhibit all about nanotechnology and they’re got a series of microscopes, showing their development history.  I chose this early, somewhat simple microscope as an ellipse/alignment challenge.  It worked out ok but I really should have drawn it larger and taken more time with it.  Baby steps.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

 

Universite Laval Collections Sketchcrawl

2016-03-11_Collections_UL_Me_Hubert.jjpgThe Université Laval Collections reopened recently, having been moved and renovated.  This is an extraordinary place that houses the remnants of the natural history museum that used to be in Quebec City as well as an impressive plaster cast collection that the art department abandoned long ago in favor of paint rollers.

We held our March sketchcrawl there, thanks to Madame Wagner, the curator, and Yvan Breton who arranged access for us.  Imagine having a large room, complete with tables, chairs and some spot lights and the ability to place one of the museum objects on that table to draw it.  It was fantastic!

Me, I sat in the hallway.  I wasn’t being anti-social, though.  I wanted to draw that mountain goat that sits in one of the collection display windows.  Hubert joined me, however, and we had a great time sketching together.

2016-03-11MountainGoat

Stillman & Birn softcover Delta series (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Those Egyptians Really Liked Bes

Here’s a couple small  vessels (shot glasses?), each different depictions of Bes, the dwarf god.  They’re part of the Egypt exhibition at our Museé de la Civilisation.  Maybe these were intended to ward off evil spirits from their spirits.  I don’t think the top squares on the green one were intended to look like a hat but they sure do, making it quite funny.

2016-03-10EgyptThese were drawn in an 8×10 Stillman & Birn softcover Alphas series book.  I’m just starting to use this size book but I think I’m really going to like it.  Bigger than the typical 6×9 but much easier to scan than a 9×12.  The softcovers are also so much lighter than hardcovers that it actually weighs the same as a 6×9 hardcover.

Sketching A Dwarf Egyptian God

Bes, the dwarf Egyptian god was represented, in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional form, everywhere in Egyptian society.  Seems he had a way of scaring evil spirits away and the Egyptians were very worried about evil spirits.

This is the second or third Bes statue I’ve sketched at our museum, all showing similarities but each unique in its own way.  I did this one in the 8×10 Stillman & Birn Delta softcover I reviewed not long ago.

2016-03-08Egypt_Bes

Urban Sketcher Boredom As He Awaits Spring

Have you ever wondered if bears open an eye, look out of their den at the snow and wish that spring would arrive because their stomach is growling?  Naw…me neither but that’s how I feel right now.

Our winter has been relatively mild but from the view of this urban sketcher, it’s been very long.  Sure, I’ve been going to the museum to sketch but a good portion of the fun of sketching for me is wandering around, looking for something interesting to sketch.  I’ve got the darn museum memorized; there are no surprises.

It’s times like this that I wish I liked to sketch from photos, but I don’t.  So, for the most part, I’m a bored urban sketcher, doodling just to keep my hand moving.  I thought I’d share a few pages of doodles with you.  These were all done in a 4×6 Stillman & Birn Alpha series softcover.

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2016-03-05boredom3

2016-03-05boredom2

As you can see, it’s a melange of tiny sketches, some ear practice and some hatching scribbles thrown in for good measure.  Sometimes I’ll fill a whole page with circles or bad ellipses.  I do a lot of this stuff on photocopy paper and when sheets are filled they are wadded up and thrown in the garbage.  Just for giggles, here is one of those sheets.  Sorry for the wrinkles.  It was pulled from my garbage can (grin).  I also apologize that some of the sketching is upside down.  I don’t pay much attention to that when I’m filling these pages since my garbage can isn’t particular.  Do you do this sort of thing or am I the only one?  I bet I’m the only one dumb enough to share them.

2016-03-05boredom4

 

 

 

 

Sketching My Pet Fish

Winter persists.  Attempting to maintain a stiff upper lip, this urban sketcher watches TV, reads art books and longs for warmer days.  Yesterday, I was watching a spring training baseball game, an indication that I won’t have to wait much longer.  I grabbed my small S&B softcover Alpha sketchbook (4×6) and looked around for something to draw.

I decided to draw my pet fish, Oscar.  He’s not a real fish; he’s made of plaster.  That means less to feed but he doesn’t wag his tail as much as live fish do.  Nevertheless, he’s great at posing for a sketcher.  Handsome little guy, don’tcha think?

(4x6) Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

(4×6) Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

Cancelled Concert – McDonalds Fun

This little guy was munching on a hamburger and fries. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

This little guy was munching on a hamburger and fries. Stillman & Birn soft-
Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan and I were going to sketch at a musical event in downtown Quebec City on Saturday morning but a blizzard was in progress and it was hard to get around town.  Schools and offices were closed and even the buses were having a hard time.

As I trudged through snow on rue St. Jean I couldn’t help but think about how silly it was for someone, someone I resembled, to be expending this much effort to get somewhere to sketch.  It was ‘free coffee’ week at McDonalds and I met Yvan there.  We got coffee and looked out the window at the storm as we drank it.

Rather than be completely defeated, we both got out our small sketchbooks and did some quick sketches.

This plow was sitting down the street from McDonalds. The view from our second-story window was a bit odd but it made for a fun quick sketch. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

This plow was sitting down the street from McDonalds. The view from our second-story window was a bit odd but it made for a fun quick sketch. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan's last name is Breton and this sign was hanging about half a block up the street. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4x6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

Yvan’s last name is Breton and this sign was hanging about half a block up the street. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink

In many ways the storm and cancelled event could have soured the day.  But we had some great conversations about art, did a bit of sketching and, like most sketching days, it was a good day.  I’ll stop here as otherwise I’d have to start talking about the hours I spent the rest of the day clearing snow.