Life In The COVID Lane

I’ve got to say that COVID isolation is both positive and negative for me.  It’s great that both my wife and daughter are home all the time, a real bonus for a retired old guy like myself.  It also gives me some time to get a bunch of house repairs done, a long list of which has accumulated during my two years of bad health.  And COVID isolation my wife time to rebuild and work in her garden which was neglected as she ferried me to doctors for those two years.

In spite of my telling her that it’s “not my hobby,” I’ve been spending more time with garden tools than with my fountain pens.  So I apologize for the lack of blog posts, but all this stuff is just how we’re coping with the stress of life in 2020.  COVID isolation has disrupted my “daily sketch” regime in a major way.  Oops.

Here’s a sketch of our garden staging area.  By that I mean that we went to a garden center, filled our vehicle with a jungle of plants and many of them are shoved into this area as they wait for garden beds to be created for them.  I drew this the day we finished a couple raised bed vegetable gardens and moved a whole bunch of plants from this area to their new home.  Hope you like it.

Refining My Scribbles

The COVID stuff has caused me to be somewhat apprehensive about spending a long time in one place while sketching and I’ve got to walk a lot each day as I build strength in my bad leg.  These two things combine to have me doing very quickly, fairly sloppy scribbles where I capture something in a couple minutes.

As time has gone by, however, I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable being out and about and so the other day I slowed down a bit.  I’m still capturing subjects quickly but I’m choosing smaller subjects so I can be a bit more careful with my lines.  On this day I drew a couple tree bases.  I think I’m going to draw a bunch of tree bases as these were fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I’m posting, here’s another one I did in my backyard.  Chantal tells me they are snowballs… in summer (grin).

It Was A Perfect Day

Weather for many of us is weird this year, but I suspect we need to get used to weird.  We’re in the middle of another heat wave, with records set in Montreal and everyone crying that their beaches are not open due to COVID.

Have you ever thought of how different a plein air artist views weather from the rest of the world?  I have a love/hate relationship with sun.  Love it for shadows.  Hate it for how it blinds me when it reflects off my sketchbook.  Gardeners, on the other hand, want every photon our stingy sun will give us.

Generally rain limits my sketching opportunities and right now we aren’t getting any (should be thunderstorm time), but farmers are in dire straits for the same reason that I’m happy.

Wind…yuck from my point of view, though a slight breeze on a hot day is welcome.  I doubt the the windsurfers being dragged across the Ste Lawrence River by brightly colored kites see it that way.

We’ve been a couple degrees luckier than Montreal and while it’s blistering hot today, we had an absolutely perfect day a couple days ago.  Jodie and I headed to the small park that’s just south of our house, her with a book and me with sketching gear.  It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve sat on my stool and let the world drift away for an hour or so.  From a nice, shady spot, I sketched this old brick residence.  I think the building complex may be part of the church that is behind it but I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I had a perfect day.  We even made milk shakes in the afternoon.

Fabriano Artistico (7×8), DeAtramentis Document Black, Platinum Plaisir

My Creativity Doldrums

I watched the old Moby Dick movie, starring Gregory Peck the other night.  There’s a part of the movie where the Pequod (his ship) can’t move because of a loss of wind… the doldrums as they are called by sailors.  I feel similarly stuck as I’m struggling to “find time” (code for being too lazy) to draw.

It’s easy to blame COVID isolation, the daily doses of bad news, and even (especially?) the feckless leadership from the White House on so many fronts.  The news is definitely overwhelms the senses.

But then I think of my own situation and, well, I can’t complain.  I live in a country that takes COVID seriously and our governments at all levels have treated it without politics.  The results have been very positive.  And the other day I watched as our Prime Minister stood, amidst throngs of Black Lives Matter protesters as a full participant, no walls built around him, no guns or amoured police – just the Prime Minister, knowing that he was safe.  I’m sure there were a couple secret service people nearby but…  So this is my world.  Why am I in the doldrums?

A bit more reflection, however, provided clues.  I just finished a list of stuff we have to buy at the garden center and renovation store today, though it’s supposed to rain a lot today so that might be put off until tomorrow.  That may be a good thing as my knees and wrist hurt quit a bit from a long day of building the first of two raised-bed gardens we’re building.  The wheelbarrow I restored a week ago got its first workout yesterday.  I thought about the front door lighting fixtures I’ve got to install, the set of stairs I’ve got to replace and the painting that needs to be done.  As George Takei is fond of saying, “Oh my.”  I think I’ve found the reason I’m not sketching more (grin).

Left: Bic pen; Right: DeAtramentis Document Black. The book is a FIeld Notes “Dime Novel” notebook.

Not wanting to post without pictures, here’s the last two “scribbles” I’ve done while out walking my arthritic leg back into shape.  Hopefully those creativity winds will start blowing real soon.

 

Mixed Media And Shari’s Wheelbarrow

Recently I decided to work in a different medium, in fact a couple of them.  Now that my arthritis is kinda-sorta under control we’re doing more gardening this year and it was time for me to restore and old, rusty wheelbarrow we have.  It got sidelined with a broken wheel and it was left outside our cave.

Here’s the result.  I painted with most of it with Rustoleum, but used Minwax oil-stain on the wooden parts.  Once I fashioned a new axle it was smooth sailing.  Much easier than watercolor.

Most urban sketchers know Shari Blaukopf, or at least her art and most of those people know about her wheelbarrow sketches.  Most of us really enjoy them and I was quite disappointed when she announced that her wheelbarrow had broken.  Funny how you can get attached to things you’ve never seen in person.

Anyways, now that I have a wheelbarrow it seemed only proper for me to lean it against a tree, Shari style, and draw it.  It was fun to sit in the back yard with a pen in my hand.   It’s blistering hot here right now but the breeze kept it tolerable as I drew.  Urban.. + Sketch…, yep, this is a real live urban sketch (grin).

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document Black, Wing Sung 3009