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.



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