Ottawa’s Museum Of Nature

When my daughter was home for Easter I offered to take her back to Ottawa so she wouldn’t have to take the bus.  This would save her the long bus ride, garner dad some brownie points, and give me several hours worth of discussion with said daughter as we drove to Ottawa.

A not-so-well-hidden reason behind this gesture on my part was my desire to get back to Ottawa so I could sketch at the Museum of Nature.   It never really makes much sense to spend ten hours driving (round trip) so that I could spend four hours sketching, but then we sketchers are a sorry lot when it comes to logic.  I got to DRAW!

We left at 5AM and I got to the museum by about 10:30AM.  I walked around a bit, and ended up in the mammal exhibition.  I generally draw bones in the dinosaur exhibits and so I’ve neglected the mammals.  Time to make up for that.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

I started with a grizzly bear.  It was a disaster and I include it here only as an example of sketching gone wrong.  I got the bright idea to try wet-in-wet while sitting on a tripod stool in a museum and with my extensive background of never having tried it before.  Eeeeeekkkk!  I wet the entire bear.  I can’t say whether I wet it too much or too little as I had a hard time seeing just how much water was on the paper in the subdued lighting.  What I do know is that when I started dropping in browns, I created something more akin to the big bang than a painting.  There was brown exploding everywhere and in an instant I had a bear-shaped outline that looked like something that came from the south end of a cow.  I quickly started dabbing at it.  I’m sure the other patrons thought I was under attack by some invisible creature as I flailed around.  As I said, it was/is a disaster.

With that mess behind me I decided it was snack time so I could regroup.  Then I returned to the mammal exhibit, determined to redeem myself.  I targeted the head of a thinned-horn sheep and, leaving wet-in-wet techniques for another day, achieved what I felt was reasonable redemption.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Across the corridor was an antelope scene and since I only had a short time remaining, I decided to give it a try rather than doing my typical walkabout to find a subject.  I worked fairly quickly and, I suppose, there are some errors but nevertheless, it was a fitting end to a great day.  When I was finished I realized that I was about 10 minutes late for my rendevous with my daughter.   Sketching and time just don’t mix well.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Can’t Get Enough Of Sketching Animals

Three of us headed back to the Federation of Hunters and Fishermen museum on Thursday.  We really love this place because the people are really nice, the facilities are great and because there’s soooooooo much to draw.  Once the snow melts it’s going to be a great outdoor site as well as they have hiking trails through a nature preserve that’s maintained by the organization.

I decided to draw a Merganser sitting on a post and, I’m afraid, I got more excited about the post than the duck.  Here’s the result in any case.  Hope you like it.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

We took a break, ate lunch, and then decided to do another, quicker sketch and my target was an otter.  I was trying to do more saturated watercolors this day and I’m not sure I succeeded but I did learn some things.  Practice, practice, practice.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Sketching Group Heads To Louise’s House

Louise is one of my favorite sketching buddies.  I call her mom, though I think she’s younger than I am.  This is mostly because I want her to adopt me so I can live in her incredible house.

That house was where all of us went last Tuesday.  She invited us out to sketch, chat and eat soup, the later being the best part.  On this day, however, it was raining so we were trapped inside one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever gotten to sketch within.  Her husband is a master craftsman and his work exists everywhere in this house.  Louise is an artist and so her ‘eye’ is reflected everywhere, with great stuff to sketch everywhere you look.

I found myself standing in front of well-stocked bookshelves, looking at the dozens of artbooks and sketchbooks from others that she has accumulated.  I could have spent the entire day there but eventually I decided I should draw something.  I made a mistake, choosing this small cabinet as my subject.  I didn’t really have time to do it justice as lunch was scheduled and I had to finish by then.  Shouldn’t have spent so much time with the art books I guess.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

I’m not really pleased with the result but I’m sharing it anyway.  You win some and lose some.  We broke for lunch and spent the next hour or so eating the best mushroom soup I’ve ever had, cheeses, fruits and veggies.  I was so stuffed I wasn’t sure I’d ever move again.. and then she brought a wonderful apple cobbler smothered with pecans.  It’s been said that there’s always room for Jello but I learned that one can even make room for apple cobbler.

I waddled around the house the rest of the day, making lots of small sketches of smaller items on various shelves.  I have to confess that I’m too lazy to scan all those so you’re stuck looking at one ugly sketch.  Sorry.

First Outdoor Sketch Of The Year

We’re starting to get a few days that are warm enough to get out and some of them are coming without rain.  I finally got to sit on my tripod stool, in the corner of a parking lot, and draw this house.  I was working more quickly than normal but thoroughly enjoying the process. A couple people came by and we talked about spring finally arriving and I felt that finally, really, really, it had.  Hope you like this sketch.  I hope to be presenting a lot more of them in the coming months.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stopping By The Local Plant Nursery

Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, maybe because winter just won’t leave us (it’s snowing right now) and I haven’t been sketching as much as I normally do.  A group of us did go out to one of the plant nurseries for a day of sketching, though, and I was attracted to a collection of plant boxes.  It’s not a fancy scene as the boxes were sitting on simple boards supported by concrete blocks, but I found the shapes interesting.  Here’s that sketch.  Hope you like it.  Hope we get some decent weather soon, too.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Sketching A Boat With Holes

Several recent posts featured sketches I’ve done at the Quebec Federation of Hunters and Fishers museum.  Most of those sketches have been of birds, mammals and fish.  The museum is a wonderful place for drawing these subjects because the people are friendly, the lighting good, and the displays rival those of any natural history museum.

Because of all those animal subjects available, it’s been hard for me to draw any of the other objects they have on display, but I’ve eyed this “boat” every time I’ve visited.  It’s not really a boat at all.  It’s a homemade live well, used to hold fish.  Its bottom is made of screening so that water can enter.  It’s only about two feet long and truly a beautiful piece of folk art.  Hope you like it as much as I enjoyed drawing it.

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

First Nations Ceremonial Headdress

With all the 100people2017 stuff going on, I forgot to post this sketch that I did last week at our museum.  I’ve looked at this headdress several times and each time I convinced myself that I wasn’t up to depicted all those feathers with pen and ink.  In a crazy moment I started drawing it.  The biggest challenge was keeping my eyes from crossing as I tried to follow the feather contours.  I was pleased with the outcome, though.  Hope you like it.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black (diluted 1:2)

Garneau Velo (Bicycle) Museum

A large producer of bicycles and bike gear is Garneau, Inc. and they are based in Quebec.  They have a factory and store just outside of town and associated with it Garneau has a small bicycle museum.  On display are really early vintage bicycles and tricycles, some made entirely from wood, but also some Schwinn bikes I had as a kid.  I guess that makes them ‘early vintage’ too.

Our group went there yesterday and we had a great time.  There were six of us, which was just about right for this small single-room museum.   Guylaine sat down to draw a Schwinn Stingray bicycle.  It’s classic banana seat and high-rise handlebars brought back lots of great memories.  I decided that rather than drawing a bicycle alone, it would be fun to draw Guylaine drawing the bicycle.  Here is my attempt at that.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

I find wooden bicycles to be quite marvelous.  The museum had quite a number of them, but I decided to draw this very large (front wheel is 29″dia) tricycle.  The amazing thing is that aside from the wheel bearings, rear axle, and pedal crank, the only metal in the bike is a y-shaped yoke that connects the body frame of the bike to the fork/handlebars.

Since it was all wood, I thought it fitting to draw it with brown ink so I used a Pilot 78G with DeAtramentis Document Brown ink for this sketch.

 

Road Trip To The RedPath Museum In Montreal

I’m a really lucky guy.  Why?  Because I’ve got a daughter who’s been accepted to the McGill Law program in Montreal.  Who cares, you might ask.  Well I ask you, what better excuse could there be for a certain sketcher to go to Montreal and sketch in the many great sketching locations that exist there.

My first trip took place last week, when my daughter went to an orientation at the law school.  It was a great day.  I emailed (is that a verb yet?) Marc Taro Holmes and asked if he was available.  Good timing and a bit luck found him having the day free for sketching.

We met at the RedPath Museum on the McGill campus and I spent the day attention torn between concentrating on my drawing and talking to Marc and watching him do some amazing watercolors.  For this post I’ll stick with showing you what I drew that day.

This heron and I spent some time together.  He (she?) was beautiful.  I was doing this standing up and when it came to the paint I ran out of hands, which led to things being out of control, and that’s putting it mildly.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

When we finished up in this part of the museum we decided to go upstairs to draw.   The stairwell is filled with a bunch of stuffed animals.  It was a very overcast/rainy day and this part of the museum was pretty dark but I decided to draw the head of a hippopotamus.  As I sat on the steps, I could see the outline well enough but there was considerable guesswork regarding the various undulations on the body of the animal.   It was both frustrating and fun to try to think about how the muscles would run around the head/neck of the animal.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

We’d had a long discussion about whether one should use pencil or not.  This internet meme is very popular and I don’t ascribe to it, though I’m very much in favor of leaving the eraser at home.  I’ll probably talk about it at some later date but here I’m only going to say that I decided to do some pen-only drawings.

I was fascinated by this very primitive stringed instrument, formed by a drum-like body with sticks strung through it to raise up the “drum” cover so that a bridge could rest on it to hold the strings.  The neck of the instrument was a long, somewhat rough stick with frets formed by ropes wrapped around it along its length.  I hope I’ve captured it well enough to show these features.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), PIlot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

I was getting sort of tired at this point but just to the right of where I was sitting was this clay statue that had a grass skirt and a bunch of feathers on its head.  I quickly sketched it but didn’t completely finish it as time ran out.  I played with some color when I got home but I don’t think it improved it much, if at all.

This day was a great day.  Heck, I think any day at the RedPath would be, but it was particularly great because the discussions that Marc and I had were fun and watching him work magic with watercolors was very insightful and inspiring.  Ain’t sketching and the sketching community great?

 

Mini-Sketchcrawl At The Morrin Center

Hubert, a member of our Tuesdays group, arranged for us to sketch at the Morrin Center.  This is an anglophone service center that holds lots of wine-drinking soirees and has a wonderful old library, with leather-covered tables, beautiful old railings and stairs, and an ambiance that can’t be beat.  The building itself used to be a women’s prison and they’ve retained a couple cells in the basement in their original form.  I think you could fit all the anglophones who live in Quebec City into this building and still have room for the wine (grin).

I decided to draw a bust that was sitting in front of one of the windows.  It wasn’t a particularly good cast but I liked the guy’s beard and mustache, which gave me ample opportunity to drive my Pilot Falcon around in my Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10) softcover book.  I’ve thought about adding some watercolor shading and may do that but I haven’t found the time.  Sorry.