Jupon Presse On Rue St. Jean

We’re getting bonus summer here.  Maybe it’s payback for the lousy June and July we had 🙂  In any case, I’ve been taking advantage of it and doing a lot of walking and sketching.

I found myself on Rue St. Jean, one of the iconic streets that lead from the old city through, coincidentally, the St. Jean Gate.  A few blocks from the old city is an old church and an accompanying cemetery with headstones that date back into the 1700s.  This was the ‘edge of town’ cemetery back then, I suppose.

It has become a park, as the graves were all moved at some point, though many of the original gravestones remain, it’s where downtown people go to eat lunch and enjoy the trees and park benches.  I was going to draw some of the old head stones, but as I rounded the end of the church I saw this store across the street from the church.  I’m sure I’ve walked under those awnings a bunch of times but I’ve never noticed them.  From the cemetery the store was hard to miss and I found the place really cute.  So I drew it.

ps – I was asked the other day what watercolors I use.  I use Daniel Smith and love them.  I wish they’d pay me to say that but they don’t.  You can get their color chart here.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Sketching In St. Vallier

Last Wednesday several of us drove to St. Vallier at the invitation of Louise Denault, one of our sketching buddies.  This was very exciting because St. Vallier is a beautiful place, with a wide variety of sketching locations.

4x6 toned paper, Platinum Carbon pen, Platinum Carbon Black ink

4×6 toned paper, Platinum Carbon pen, Platinum Carbon Black ink

I took advantage of the fact that, for once, I wasn’t driving and so I did some quick sketches along the way.  The bumps in the road added to the scribbly nature of the sketches but it was fun anyway.

We picked up Louise at her house and headed to a side road overlooking the valley and its agricultural fields.  Everyone set up next to a wheat field with the expanse of the valley behind it, but I walked down the road to sketch an outbuilding I’d seen as we arrived.

outbuilding in St. Vallier, QC

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Claudette and Louise came to where I was sketching just as I was finishing and we walked back to the group together.  It had been determined that it was time for lunch and that we would head back to Louise’s house for lunch.

As everyone else was packing up I looked out at the valley and decided it would be an opportunity to do another one of those one-line sketch drawings and so I did one.  I did ‘cheat’ a bit and lifted my pen a couple times to keep the drawing a bit cleaner, but by the time everyone was packed I’d done the sketch, added some darks, and was slopping paint on the piece of cheap Bristol on which I did it.  I mention this last thing because it was a mistake.  I thought I’d grabbed a piece of watercolor paper but instead I was trying to herd water on a piece of slippery, coated paper and I was using a waterbrush to do it.  That was exciting.  But this was a few minutes of fun and the result isn’t horrible (grin).

6x9 Bristol paper, Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

6×9 Bristol paper, Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Lunch was to die for, and if I’d eaten one more bite that might have happened.  Louise provided quite a spread, with a beautiful salad, lots of cheeses, smoked sturgeon, quiche, baguettes, and wine… lots of wine.  I was stuffed.  And then Louise mentioned the pies…two pies.  And, of course, we had to try both of them 🙂

Louise’s house is amazing but it’s the backyard, with its gardens, gazebo and view of the St. Lawrence that is the real jewel and we were eating in said gazebo.  I’m used to a protein bar and a coffee when I go sketching.   This was different, a really good kind of different 🙂

And now that we were done with lunch, it was time to get out sketching again.  So, barely able to move, I left the gazebo completely delier, my new French word for the day.  It means to be loosened up, and boy, was I loose.  Any looser and I would’ve fallen down.  I needed a nap.

Off we went, to a small nature park not far from St. Vallier.  It was a parking lot, picnic tables, some trails and a gazebo set up for bird watching along the coast.  Most of us decided to draw the gazebo.  Here’s mine.

gazebo near riviere Boyer

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

It was a great day but by then we were all pretty worn out and called it a day.  Thanks to Louise for all her hospitality, her zucchinis, and that fantastic lunch.

Standing On The Corner…

Standing on the corner…
    …watching all the girls go by. — Four Lads

I’m old enough to remember a time before rock-n-roll.  It was an era between big band music and Elvis Presley, where pop music came either from crooners or quartets of men or women.  Lyrics were silly, but happy.  Melodies simple and memorable.  When I was a kid there was a song, Standing on the Corner, whose melody caught the attention of this kid.  I must have been six or seven.

As an old sketcher I was standing on a corner and I suppose there were girls walking by, but what I noticed was the light pole and the block wall next to it.  In the background and up the street a bit is where Rene Levesque lived, undoubtedly the best known and most beloved of Quebec’s Premiers.  I did this quick drawing of the scene.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (6x9), Namika Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black


Sketching Alone In A Garden

I went to a large garden the other day.  It was overcast but warm and windless and the garden was nearly deserted.  I wandered around and finally decided to draw a scene that included an arbor that bordered one side of a central area in the garden.  I thought I’d show you the steps I took in drawing it.  The sketch was done as a two-page spread in a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9) sketchbook.

pencil scaffolding for drawingI laid out all of the objects in the scenes, most represented only by an irregular, but properly proportioned blob, but it’s during this stage that I get all my proportion thinking accomplished.  This solves two problems for me.  First, it’s too easy to start concentrating on details if I start with pen and then proportions take a back seat until it’s too late.  Doing this in pencil mentally separates it from “drawing” for me.  The second thing is that when I do pick up my pen, I no longer have to think about sizes of the objects relative to one another.  I know they will fit into their blobs and so I can really have fun while drawing.

ink stage of the drawingOne could say that this is actually two steps.  I drew everything with a Namiki Falcon and DeAtramentis Document Black ink and then I added some darks with a Kuretake #13 brush pen.  If the darks are a second step, it’s a step I don’t do well with.  If it’s not a separate step, I still don’t do well with it.  I just don’t ‘get’ where I should put the darks and/or what marks work best to depict darks I see in the real world.  But in the end, this is what the ink drawing looks like.

FinishedI’m really at a loss when it comes to watercolor techniques.  I can mix colors but I really have no clue what to do with them once they’re mixed (grin).  Nevertheless, this is what the sketch looked like when I was done.

I don’t always work this way.  Sometimes I skip the pencil stage and try to do the proportion/perspective stuff while drawing with ink.  I know the internet is fond of saying that ‘direct-to-ink’ is what real men do and that it’s faster.  While I think that nonsense, in my experience, it takes me longer to do a drawing like this when I skip the pencil step than when I include it.  Note, however, no erasers were abused in the creation of this drawing until the end of the ink stage when I run a kneaded eraser over the entire drawing to remove all the ‘blobs’ of the pencil sketch.

finished drawing

The View From The Car

BoulangeRdI rarely sketch from a vehicle as others do.  Truth is, I rarely have a vehicle available to me.  But a few days ago, with rain stifling my ability to walk and sketch outdoors, I went to Ile d’Orleans with my daughter.  We parked in front of the Boulange and after consuming one of their great pastries we got in the car and started to sketch.

The cadence of our activity was interesting.  Scribble, scribble, turn-the-windshield-wiper-on/off, scribble, scribble.  We had a great time, though I suspect most would think us nuts.  This is what I drew.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

I was asked several times this weekend what watercolors I use and I have to admit that I rarely mention them on this blog.  I’m more of a line guy than a color guy and so it never crosses my mind to mention it.  But, it is the case that I use Daniel Smith watercolors almost exclusively.  I switched from Winsor & Newton about six months ago.