A Weekend In Ottawa – Part 2

The day of my daughter’s graduation we did some more shopping and returned to Andrew Haydon Park.  It was still windy and still stormy but we like this park because there are a lots of geese and you can see the St. Lawrence River from there.

As a chipmunk foraged around us, I drew this sketch of a spit of land that sticks out on the other side of the marina associated with the park.  I forgot to include it in yesterday’s post.

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

A Weekend In Ottawa

For the last few years I’ve gotten to draw in the museums of Ottawa because my daughter was going to school there.  This past weekend was the end point of that part of her life as she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Ottawa.  We went there to spend some time with her and to attend her graduation.

I didn’t make it to any of the museums because we spent the weekend doing more exciting things, like laundry, shopping and grocery shopping (grin).

It was a hectic weekend, made a bit more unsettled by the fact that high humidity and high temps combined to provide a near constant threat of thunderstorms.  There was even a tornado warning at one point.

As it turned out, we didn’t see a lot of rain but there was a lot of wind.  We did sit in Andrew Haydon Park, though, and I did some quick sketches.  It’s hard for me to spend much time on sketches when I am with other people who are not sketching.

Stillman & Birn Epsilon (3×5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5)

 

 

Giving A Lamy Another Try

Long ago I decided that the popular Lamy Safari was not the pen for me.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that European XF nibs aren’t XF and to get a truly fine fountain pen nib requires purchase of an Asian pen.  The other reason, however, is my real problem with the Safari.  Its triangular grip may be fine for people writing with a fountain pen but I find it a real problem when I try to draw with it, mostly because I regularly move my hold point up and down the pen barrel and the triangular grip produces a lot of uncomfortable hold locations.

For some strange reason, though, I decided to try it again so I filled one with Platinum Carbon Black and went out walking.  We’re finally getting decent weather and I so thrilled with being out walking that sketching is taking a back seat.  The fact that my arthritis is causing my drawing hand to hurt may also have something to do with my reluctance to stop and sketch.

So when I was out I did a couple small sketches with the Lamy and my reassessment hasn’t changed my mind about it.  It’s not for me.  Here are the two small sketches I did.  The thick line and my clumsiness combined to create, at best, “ok” results.  It is nice to be able to be outdoors, though.

 

An Interesting View While Out Of The Wind

It got pretty windy when during our sketching session and because our temperatures are still cooler than normal, it got uncomfortable.  We all started looking for a place to draw while out of the wind and I chose the leeward end of Maison Dorion, a large house that is the headquarters for the St. Charles River Society.  I drew this scene.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

A Downtown Coffee Break

A few of us ended up at Paillard’s, a nice coffee shop in downtown Quebec.  I got a large café au lait in a bowl and settled into a seat with everyone.  Of course we all had sketchbooks and everyone started quick sketching everything and anything.

These sessions don’t yield great art.  That’s not the goal.  But it’s great practice for capturing things on paper, getting the old visual cortex thinking the way we need it to think.

I was working in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (8×5 landscape) and I started drawing the counter and the machines who live there.  No goal in mind other than to draw those machines.  When I finished with that I drank some coffee, talked too much, and started randomly drawing stuff, just filling a page.  I ended up with a chef’s head floating in my in my coffee.  It was fun.  Sometimes I want to do more careful drawing, sometimes not.  This was a not day.

Our Tuesday Group Hosted By Hubert Langevin

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I’m really behind in my posting but this event is so old that it’s starting to show up in the history books.  Way back when, about a week and a half ago, Hubert Langevin invited us to sketch at his house.  As a  big storm was predicted and we got to watch the snow going sideways through the large windows of his house as we drew objects Hubert had placed around for that purpose.  There were seven of us and we spent the day sketching, laughing and eating marvelous vegetable soup and fresh bread.  Lisette brought date bars for dessert.

I started sketching this smallish (15-20cm) clay woman.  She was so cute, even though she lacked a face.   Then I watched the snow fall, talked with everyone too much (I must drive them crazy) and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Then I sat down to draw a set of teacups set out as a still life.  We broke for lunch and then, with belly full, I returned to sketching tea cups, spoons and napkins.  My intent was to simply do a shaded contour drawing but somehow I got dragged down the rabbit hole of drawing all the decorations on the cups.  This was a lot of fun and not nearly as hard as one would suppose.  I hope you like it.  Thanks to Hubert for hosting us.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Platinum 3776, Platinun Carbon Black

Winter Chill Means Sketching At The Museum

It’s winter and so my feet move me, without thought, to the local museum for sketching sessions.  This day was no different and I found myself in the tiny “attic” display of all sorts of stuff, including this shelf.  I probably drew it smaller than I should have but what the heck – I use less ink this way (grin).

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

The Best New Product Of 2016 – Stillman & Birn Softcovers

I was reflecting on my sketching adventures of 2016 and it occurred to me that one 2016 product changed how I approach location sketching and how weird it was.  You see, since 2011 I’ve been using Stillman & Birn sketchbooks almost exclusively as my quality sketchbook of choice.  I’ve written about why.  I’ve talked about my preference for 10×7 spiral-bound Alpha books and how great they were.  But I don’t use them any more.  I still have an empty one sitting on a shelf and it’s been there for over a year, untouched.

I’ve moved on… a better product came along in the spring of 2016.  It’s the new softcover books from Stillman & Birn.  Same fantastic papers but they’re thinner, lighter, and they hold up to my abusive nature.  These books also added 3.5×5.5 portrait format to their line.  I’m convinced that all my whining about the lack of a small portrait book with good quality paper (the Moleskine sketchbook is horrible) is why they are now producing this book.  They wanted to shut me up (grin).  I love these little books.

S&B also added an 8×10 softcover format that I’ve fallen in love with.  It fits better in my bags than the more typical 8.5×11 or 9×12 formats but more important, with Beta paper, it weighs only 412gm while a hardcover version weights 870gm, though the hardcover does have a few more pages.  What this means to me is that I now carry 3.5×5.5 and 8×10 (portrait), and an 8.5×5.5 landscape books with me and all three weigh less than a single 8.5×11 hardcover.

These are the S&B softcovers I’ve used in 2016.  The numbers are simply volume numbers that I assign chronologically to my sketchbooks.  And because someone will ask, I use S&B exclusively for my non-casual sketching but I do use cheap sketchbooks when I doodle while watching TV and when quick-sketching people on the street.  Number 52 is actually a 9×12 wire-bound S&B Beta book, but the others (53, 54, 56, 58) are those cheaper books.  I cut 60lb spiral-bound 9×12 sketchbooks in half on my bandsaw, creating two 6×9 books.  These provide me with LOTS of cheap drawing surface.  These are full and on the shelf, products of 2016, but #61 is still ‘in progress’ and rests next to where I put my butt when I watch TV.

But it’s the Stillman & Birn softcovers that are the subject of this blog post and, as Tony the tiger used to say, They’rrrre GREAT!  They should get a product of the year award, or something.

Last Trip To The Museum Before Christmas

With my daughter coming home for Christmas, and Chantal getting a few days off, I won’t be doing any location sketching for a while.  But I did go with the gang to the museum for a pre-holiday sketching session.  They wanted to sketch some of the folk art nativity scene that is now in place there.  If nothing else, it demonstrates imagination on the part of its creator.  Have you ever seen a flying cow-fish?

I decided to sketch a wooden carving of a fusilier in another part of the museum.  It is fairly large, almost telephone pole diameter and quite black, as though it had been creosote treated.  In spite of this, it suffers from severe cracking in places.  Nevertheless, it’s an impressive carving, far more impressive than my sketch of it I’m afraid.  I got caught between wanting to include detail and the fact that the entire left side was in deep shadow, almost black.  Like every sketch, though, it was fun to do which is why I do them.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10) softcover, Platinum Carbon ink, Platinum 3776 pen

When I finished I headed up to the nativity scene and found everyone busy drawing.  They were talking about getting coffee, though, so I just sat down and waited for them.  The thing is, I can’t sit for very long without getting out a sketchbook and I did this quick sketch of Lisette, busy sketching some wooden guy (I think, but I was too far away to know for sure) in a large glass case.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (8.5×5.5) softcover

 

I’ll probably put together some sort of post during the holidays but I’m not sure what.  I willl be spending lots of time eating and sketching, though, so there will probably be something to post.  In the meantime, and since it’s December 23rd,

Happy Festivas

Off To Sketcher Museum Land

While our Museum of Civilization doesn’t have much to offer a sketcher this winter, it is pretty much the only game in town so a group of us were there, trying to take stock of sketching subjects for winter.

I’ve decided that I will sketch a bunch of the Inuit soapstone carvings because 1) they are available and 2) they offer lots of compound curves and soft edges to challenge my drawing skill.  Hopefully I’ll get better at them but until then, here are a couple that I did on Thursday.  Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5) softcover.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

 

This one speaks volumes of the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That's tough work if ever I've seen it.

This one speaks volumes about the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing a parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That’s tough work if ever I’ve seen it.