Collectif Rendevous At The Museum Of Civilisation

The Collectif group in Quebec City held its annual rendevous at Quebec’s Musée de la civilisation last Saturday.  Unfortunately, a bunch of the regulars were playing snowbirds in one for or another and so turnout was down from previous years.  Nevertheless, we had a great time.

I started sketching in the Egypt exhibit, where I drew this pharoah mask.  I used Faber-Castell Albrecht-Durer watercolor pencils for color.  It’s hard to deal with color in that exhibit because it’s so dark so it’s hard to know what you’ve got until you’re done and eating lunch (grin).

Pharoah mask, Egypt

Fabriano Artistico CP, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Falcon

I took a short break by wandering around a bit and when I saw this large Australian aboriginal totem I had to translate it to paper.  Pretty simple drawing.  Lots of fun.  It’s good to be back out sketching.

Australian totem

Fabriano Artistico CP, DeAtramentis Document Black, Pilot Metropolitan

Sketching Over The Holidays

I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that the holiday season is more a disruption than something to celebrate.  I’m an old guy, set in my ways and those ways are for me to go sketching.  But with all the hoopla my routine has gone bonkers and my sketching has become scattered.  I thought I would just post a smattering of the many small, generally incomplete sketches I’ve done over the past week or so leading into New Years.

2015-12-29EgyptHere’s a sketch I did one day at our museum.  Another Egyptian guy, standing stiff against a wall, or so it seems.  I don’t really know who he is but he was fun to draw and that’s good enough for me.

He was done in a Stillman & Birn Gamma book with my Namiki Falcon and DeAtramentis Document ink.  Color was mostly burnt sienna with a bit of ultramarine to produce the grays.  I played with the notion of making him look like stone, which he was.  I’m not sure how successful I was in this.

2015-12-31ornamentsOtherwise sketching has been a bunch of doodles here and there, mostly on photocopy paper.  On New Years Eve, however, I was watching TV with Chantal and I drew these three ornaments that were laying on a table.  Color was done with watercolor pencils but the sketch was done on cheap paper and so I couldn’t use a lot of water or move the color very much.

2015-12-31ornaments2I was still bored by the TV so I picked up my Sailor fude pen and decided to give it a whirl.  I’ve never adapted to the fude pens because I typically want thin lines and there are better tools for that.  But I’m determined to improve my ability to draw heavy-line, quick sketches for some reason.  I started out by drawing the same three ornaments.

As I scanned this for the post I couldn’t help but think of a conversation I’ve been having with Tina Koyama about what or whether the degree of expressiveness in a sketch says about what the artist was feeling, either about the sketch or the subject.  The two sketches above were done within minutes of one another and yet one was done with an “expressive” stroke while the other was done in a more controlled fashion.  I’m pretty sure I was wishing the holidays would be over during both sketches (grin).

I turned my fude pen to my imagination and one thing I drew was a bunch of imaginary carriage lanterns.  I’d talked to Yvan about meeting to draw some at the museum where there’s a carriage exhibition going on so they were probably on my mind.  Anyways, prior to drawing these I looked at a couple sketches I’d done of some a few months ago but these were all done in a very few minutes. While I think they reflect bits and pieces of ‘the real thing’, they’re purely imaginary.

2015-12-31imaginarylanternsNow that the holidays are over, I should return to a more normal schedule.  I’m still a couple sketches/days behind on the blog but I’ll get caught up “real soon.”

Thursday Museum Sketching Group

Some of us in Quebec City have met at our Musee de la Civilisation for a while now, sometimes on Tuesday, sometimes Thursday, and sometimes both days, but we seem to be making the Thursday morning meetings a regular event, mostly due to emails sent out by Claudette to let us know what day we’re supposed to show up.

These sessions are really fun and quite different from a typical sketchcrawl.  Rather than an all day affair, these are only two to three hours.  We sketch for most of that time but then meet in the cafe for coffee/tea and to talk about drawing.  If we’re lucky we can get Yvan talking as he always teaches us something interesting about drawing.  Mostly, though, it’s just a regular, fun get together that keeps us all in touch and yet doesn’t require the commitment of an entire day.

At the last session I drew this Egyptian musical instrument called a sistrum, or at least that’s what the sign said it was.  I’m not sure how it’s supposed to work or what sounds it makes but I suspect it’s sort of like a tamborine and that you shake it.  I suspect there are supposed to be wires running through the other sets of holes.  In any case, it’s a paradox of simple, rusted strap-metal with small, carved characters stuck onto it.  Very interesting shapes to draw.

Egyptian musical instrument

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

I wandered around, had a conversation with Claudette and knew I was running out of time.  Claudette had shown me her sketch of this little guy so I sat down and did this quick drawing of him, or her.  Hard to tell with otters.

Egyptian river otter statue

Stillman & Birn Gamma, Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Right now, there are eight of us who are regulars at Thursday Sketching Group.  We won’t be meeting Christmas Eve day and probably not New Years Eve day, but otherwise, why don’t you come out and join us.  You’ll have fun.  I guarantee it.

Sketchcrawl at Pavilion Laurentienne

In what seems a recurrent theme, I’m way behind in blogging.  Maybe it’s the season, or maybe I’m just slowing down.  It was a week ago that we held our monthly sketchcrawl, this time at Pavilion Laurentienne, which is a building on the Université Laval campus.  They have a series of statues and they were our targets.  I missed them entirely, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule and since it wasn’t bitter cold (probably 38F) I decided to try to do a quick sketch of the building entrance.  While probably not the right format, I decided to do it in my new, 3×5 softcover Stillman & Birn sketchbook.  I sketched it quickly but even so, I was pretty cold by the time I finished so I didn’t add any color until I got warmed up inside.

Stillman & Birn Alpha 3x5, Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha 3×5, Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Once inside there was the normal meet and greet that starts most of our sketchcrawls.  We ended up with eight people and the day was really fun.  Everybody but me was sketching statues but I was into ‘testing’ my new sketchbook so I continued with the tiny format.  Instead of statue sketching, I began to draw fellow sketchers.

Andre Gagnon was my first subject.  He’s not only a really fun guy, he’s a wonderful artist.  This day he was doing some fantastic work with a white pencil on black paper.

As I did this sketch I thought about testing something I thought of after I did the review of the Stillman & Birn softcovers.  Since the Alpha paper buckles slightly if you use a lot of water, I wondered how not having a hardcover would affect how the book would close.  With the hardcovers the buckling isn’t a problem as it happens as the sketch dries and once the cover is closed, the paper tends to flatten out.  So, as I added color to Andre, I really dumped a lot of water onto the paper.  In fact, it was too much for me to manage as I’m mostly ignorant of wet-n-wet techniques.

Andre Gagnon

I continued these little sketches, avoiding the statues for the day.  Here’s one I did of Yvan Breton, artist extraordinaire, who I consider both mentor and friend.  Note the “easel” he’s using.  It’s hung around his neck, very portable, and it can be used whether standing or sitting.  We’ve sort of jointly been improving the design and I’ll do a blog post about it “real soon” (which means I have no idea when I’ll get to it).  Again, I went heavy on the water as I wanted several pages that had been abused badly.

Yvan BretonThere’s one thing I noticed from my sketches that day.  I made everyone much fatter than they really are.  I wonder if they’re going to speak to me after I post these.  We’ll see.

After lunch Yvan started drawing a fig tree that was in the atrium.  He said it was hard to capture without adding all the details and I quipped (it’s easy to advise if you don’t have to take the advise), “Just draw it in two minutes and you’ll figure out how to do it.”

Unfortunately, my brain was listening and it decided that I was going to draw the tree quickly.  I exceeded “two minutes” by an order of magnitude but I did draw it fairly quickly, leaving out much of the detail.  I used watercolor pencils to color this one.

Fig treeAt this point we wrapped up the sketchcrawl and some of us headed for the bus stop.  Yvan and I ended up on the same bus and he started drawing a woman he could see in front of him.  She had a bright red hat that was an eye-catcher but I couldn’t really see her face because of a “thingie” that blocked my view.  I drew her anyway, or at least her hat.  This was done in a Field Notes book and thus the gridded paper.

2015-12-13busOh yeah…my watercolor/softcover experiment.  The paper holds up better than it should for a 100lb paper, but those of us who use S&B Alpha paper have come to expect that.   And I think I’m correct to be a bit more concerned about these softcovers staying closed after soaking pages with watercolor.  It’s not a big deal but as there’s no weight to the cover, it simply won’t squish the paper flat.  But, I now carry it with a rubber band wrapped around it and all is well.  I may even install a more typical closure band if I can ever get caught up on the blogging (grin).

 

It’s Winter – Gone Fishing

I knew it couldn’t last. I was forever hopeful but our balmy low 40s (F) December has come to an end with freezing rain.  Oh well, I’m way behind in my blogging anyway.

Last week I met the gang at the museum but I decided to give the Egypt exhibit a break from me and sat down instead in front of a fishing exhibit.  Seems there was a prominent Canadian ethnologist by the name of Richard Gauthier who a day job in the field, but his hobby was fishing and the study of fishing practices in Canada. To that end he amassed a large collection of old fishing equipment.  We’ve been blessed with a small exhibit of some of these fishing artifacts and they’re great sketching subjects.

I started with Richard’s hat.  I have much to learn about the use of watercolor pencils to achieve tonal gradation but here’s my rendition of his hat.

Stillman & Birn Delta (5.5x8.5), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (5.5×8.5), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

When I finished with the hat I got up and wandered around the museum.  Half of it has been closed due to a fire that took place in early summer (construction guys seem prone to burn things down as they try to build them up) and I wanted to have a look at what it looked like now that that wing of the building was open again.

I spent so much time doing my walkabout that by the time I got back the other sketchers were nearly finished for the day.  I did this quick sketch of a fishing scale as they finished up.  You know what they say, “A bad day fishing is better than most other days.”  I think that applies to sketching as well.

fishing scale

Stillman & Birn Delta (5.5×8.5), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Another Sketch From Egypt

This time of year is always tough for me on the sketching front.  Besides it being a busy time of year, I always get lethargic while getting used to living in the dark (we’ve only got about 9 hours of daylight these days).  To top it off, this year I’ve had the flu and now seem to be have some intestinal thing.  This has been very disappointing because our weather has been very atypical (ie low 40s F) and I should be out walking/sketching.

Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that while I continue to draw (scribble?) at home, I haven’t gotten out sketching much.  Here’s a sketch I did the last time I was at the museum.  The model for it is a leg from a ‘bier’, the low table upon which a sarcophagus was placed.

This guy is Bes, a dwarf god.  He must be popular as there are several versions of him in the museum’s Egyptian exhibit.  He was hard to draw because it’s so darn dark in the exhibit that it’s hard to see the shapes.  On several occasions I had to swing my booklight around and shine it on him so I could see the statue.

Bes, the dwarf Egyptian god

Stillman & Birn Beta, Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

A Morning At The Museum

I realized that I never posted sketches from my last trip to the museum.  My only excuse was that I was still dealing with the flu and wasn’t much in a blog-writing mood.  But as I looked at them I realized they told a story of the day in a way that only sketches can.

When I arrived at the museum I was feeling ok.  Not great but not good enough that I hadn’t cancelled the trip.  There were five of us and we all headed to the Egypt exhibition.  I realized two things.  I’d forgotten my stool and I’d forgotten my light.

The exhibit is pretty dark so it was hard to find a subject where I could get enough light on the paper to see what I was doing.  I found this little statue (about 40cm high) and if I stood close enough to its glass case, the spotlight that was on it illuminated my paper, sort of, and so I drew.  I remember noting how hard it was to draw something when you stand that close to it.  I used a watercolor pencil to add the color.

2015-11-26StatueBy the time I finished this sketch, though, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck.  I went sat down and stared into the dark for a while, interrupted only by a couple short conversations with students about the drawing above.  Mostly I was waiting for the others to finish as I just wasn’t up to standing and sketching.

Eventually I got up and walked to where Claudette was sketching and sat down to watch her.  She was mostly in the dark but I decided to do a quick-sketch of her.  Mostly I was making it up as it really was hard to see her.  In fact, I completely missed the fact that she had a sweater laid over her shoulders.  We need more light in our museum exhibits (grin).

2015-11-26ClaudetteWhen the others were done we headed to the museum cafe for coffee and to share sketches and to talk sketching.  This must have revitalized me a bit as while we typically leave after coffee, I decided to stop and do a quick sketch of a fishing creel that’s part of a small historic fishing exhibition going on right now.  I guess I felt guilty that I hadn’t accomplished more.

2015-11-26CreelI remember thinking how stupid itwas to be drawing in a museum while feeling the way I do.  I also remember thinking that the dedication to drawing that drew me to the museum was why I can’t understand people who say they don’t have time to draw.

 

Sometimes It’s More Than Sketching

The change of seasons, for me, means transition from street sketcher to museum sketcher.  It’s a sad time, but also an exciting time. There’s so much shape variation in museum exhibitions.

Our Musee de la civilisation has a new exhibit just opened that presents Australian/New Zealand aboriginal art and as I play didjeridu and love aboriginal art, I’m quite excited about it.  Most of the exhibit is paintings, rugs, and such but there are some statues and masks that I’ll be taking advantage of this winter.

I was there a few days ago, drawing a large wall-hanging mask.  So were a bunch of kids on school outings.  The kids were great as they’d come to see what I was doing and when I talked to them I got half a dozen more coming to see what was going on.  This begat more and more kids to the point where I was mostly just talking to them about the watercolor pencils, waterbrushes, and how much fun it is to draw.  Kids “get it.”  They haven’t learned the feelings and emotions about art that adults somehow acquire.

Eventually they wandered away, though, and I got back to drawing.  I was really enjoying the music and serenity of the room.  A mother and her two young daughters (I’d guess they were 4 and 6) came by and, again, the kids were interested and, as is often the case with parents, the mother told them to leave me alone.  I told her it was fine and I showed them what I was doing.

The older girl had some sort of writing/sketching book with her and started to draw with me.  The younger one, of course, wanted to draw too, which sent mom scrambling for paper and pencil.  She found some paper but had only a Seattle Seahawks pencil with her and it needed sharpening.  I sharpened it and we chatted as I did.  They were on vacation from where some of my favorite urban sketchers live – Seattle.

The kids drew a bit and I finished my sketch.  The older girl came over to show me her drawing and I asked her if she wanted to use my watercolor pencils to color her drawing.  Her look was priceless and I loaned her one pencil at a time.  The same thing happened with the younger girl.  We had a regular sketchcrawl going on.

I wish I had been smart enough to take some photos.  Sadly, all I can share is the sketch I did, but it was the most insignificant thing that happened on this day.

aboriginal mask

Stillman & BIrn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, Albrecht-Durer watercolor pencils

Colder Than Mars, They Said

Have you noticed that the news exaggerates everything?  They no longer report.  Rather, they compete with Downton Abbey and football games for viewers and will do everything and anything to make their program entertaining.  I expect that soon, Captain America or Thor will replace Wolf Blitzer as anchor of CNN.

It’s really sad.  The week we were told about how Canada was “colder than Mars” a couple days ago.  While it’s true that, for a period of a few hours, a part of Canada was colder than where NASA’s robot was on Mars, but Canada didn’t get to -200C when the sun went down like it does on Mars.

Heck, we only got down to -40C and it had warmed all the way up to -36C by the time I got the bright idea to walk to the museum to meet my buddies for a sketching session.   For those who are Fahrenheit-challenged, -40C is -40F.  Warmer than Mars on a summer’s eve for sure, but still sort of cold by freeze your skin standards.

So off I went, the intrepid sketcher, walking as fast as I could on a 40-minute walk to the museum.  A smarter sketcher would have just hopped on a bus but no, I “needed the exercise.”

facehurtsBy the time I got there I realized that I’d been crazy.  I could no longer feel my fingers in spite of the heavy gloves I was wearing.  My face was on fire and the I was starting to think in terms of how much further I could walk before I’d fall over.

But I finally arrived…warmth.  Next problem was how to sketch when I couldn’t feel the pen.  I walked around for about 15 minutes before deciding to do a looser sketch than my typical approach, maybe as a result of Liz Steel’s course.  I sat down in front of the largest head in the Olympus display.  It’s at least two-feet tall and very impressive – more impressive than this sketch suggests.  My fountain pens were really cold so I used a Uniball Vision Fine hybrid gel pen, adding a hint of color with Faber-Castell watercolor pencils.  Of course, it was drawn in a Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook (10×7).

We took a break, had some tea, and then did a bit more sketching before calling it a day.  I took the bus home, a nice, warm bus.

2015-01-08Olympus1

 

I’m A Little Teapot, Short And Stout…

I’m a little teapot, short and stout,
here is my handle and here is my spout.

That’s what sketching is all about.  You find a subject and you put the pieces in their proper locations.  Then you’re done.  Easy peasy, so what’s the big deal?

I’m having a ball in Liz Steel’s Foundations class.  She’s showing us different ways of organizing drawings and the various ways of getting those parts in the right places.  This week was “climb out on a thin limb and draw without measuring anything, no set up, no nothing.”  This is where eraser users do a lot of scrubbing as “oops…it should be just a bit to the right” or “eek…that’s too long” start being uttered in less than muffled tones.

And so I was at the museum, wandering around looking for something to draw.  I’m sort of getting tired of drawing statues of Greek gods and so I found myself in the Quebec history exhibit.  It’s an exhibit where you’d think Quebecers lived in caves in the past was the exhibit exists in near darkness, making it hard to sketch anything.  Heck, some of the stuff is downright hard to see.  Not sure what’s going on there.

But as I was in Liz’s course (she being the patron saint of teacup sketching), and as I was staring at some tea cups, saucers and teapots, I figured I’d found my subject for the class.  The only problem was that these items were scattered around a case, not clustered together as in a still life.

But with a bit of mental sliding items around, and a few pen marks to indicate location, I created the arrangement depicted here and went to town with my Namiki Falcon.  Here is my handle, here is my spout.  I’m really enjoying the De Atramentis document inks and sure hope that Goulet Pens gets some of the other colors back in stock real soon.  This sketch took me about 20 minutes, maybe a couple more.  It was fun.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10x7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, watercolor pencils

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, watercolor pencils