Road Trip To Montreal – Part One

The last time I left home on a sketching trip was in 2017 when I went to meet Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel for the best sketching day of my life.  Since then health issues hobbled me (quite literally) for nearly two years, part of which I couldn’t hold a pencil, let alone draw with one.

So, it was no small thing for me to head to the bus depot and head down the road, thanks to my rheumatologist.  I was going to Montreal to see my daughter but also to meet up with Marc for a couple sketching sessions.  There would be lots of chatting involved as well since we hadn’t seen each other for so long.

The bus was to depart at 5AM so, a bit bleary-eyed I sat at the bus station at 4:45.  What’s a guy to do but draw.  I did a couple quick sketches before they started loading the bus.  Here they are.

I’m a look-y-lu when I travel and don’t have to drive.  I can’t wait to see the sights as we whiz along the highway.  Once the sun started to come up I saw turkeys, deer, a couple ravens, some ducks and a lot of landscape and architecture.

When I arrived in Montreal the first thing I had to do was coax my bum leg to climb a significant hill to get to my daughter’s apartment, and I did, albeit slowly.  The two of us had breakfast and then parted as I headed to meet Marc.  After a bit of a snafu (sp?) about which Starbucks we were going to meet in, we used the magic of our cell phones to find each other.

The day was amazing for the beginning of March in Quebec.  It wasn’t bitterly cold.  In fact, it was sunny and about 2C and for crazy sketchers, that’s sketching weather… almost.  Marc and I decided to draw the top of a large cathedral that’s downtown.  There’s a park right next to it, too close to draw the cathedral from, but we decided to find a bench and draw.  We found benches but they were covered in snow so we sat on the backs of a bench and drew.

This turned out to be an experiment on more than a leg-testing level.  Marc is always suggesting that I draw too slow.  It’s hard to argue because molasses runs downhill faster than I draw.  My problem is that if I start drawing fast I lose control of the proportions, leave important stuff out, etc.  Still, I was determined to try and, truth be told, I had to do this to keep up with Marc, who does magnificent drawings in mere minutes.

And so I drew two of the domes quickly, trying my best not to distort them too much.  It suited the winter weather conditions to sketch quickly.

With that sketch done, we started looking for something else to draw.  This was hard because of all the snow and the need to sit in the sun.  It was also starting to get breezy so we decided to go into the cathedral.  I made several quick sketches but when a church service started both Marc and I felt like interlopers and so we decided to leave.  Here’s one of my sketches.

Strathmore Mixed-Media (184lb), DeAtramentis Brown ink

Marc directed us to an observation area in, I think, the Bonaventure Hotel where we looked out over the city and the same cathedral we drew earlier.  Maintaining my frantic (for me) sketching pace, I quickly sketched a lot of the roof tops of the cathedral.  Something of a strange view but one, I’m sure, is familiar to the resident pigeon population.

Strathmore Mixed-Media (184lb), DeAtramentis Brown ink

I never did complete it because I also wanted to draw another church nearby.   We both were getting hungry so we headed for a nearby food court and spent the afternoon talking art and solving the world’s problems.  With the world’s problems solved, we headed to Marc’s house where I spent a spectacular evening with Marc and Laurel.  In spite of a lot of walking my leg held up pretty well.  Some limping did occur but it was not extreme.

This post has gotten pretty long so I’m going to stop here.  I’ll show you what I did on day two in the next post.  As Tigger says, Ta, Ta, For Now.

I Love Cupcakes, Don’t You?

I’ve always been a fan of cupcakes.  They always look so good, with their creamy frosting and nifty little pleated dress.  I also like their size.  Just right for a snack.

I decided to draw one because the word of the week from our sketching group was “patisserie.”  The French have far more imagination when it comes to pastries and I seem to love all of them, but I settled on a cupcake.

I decided that I wanted to use gouache, trying to produce that creamy look of frosting.  As I don’t know how to use gouache that might not have been a great idea but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I started with an ink drawing, followed by some watercolor washes.  Then I started adding gouache to the light side of the frosting.  I had to add a couple layers of gouache to get a fully-opaque look.  I’m not sure how well this integrates with an ink drawing but here is the result.  I need more practice to figure out gouache but I wasn’t displeased by this result.

Strathmore 184lb Mixed Media paper, watercolor/gouache

Domestic Sketching

Urban sketching is a popular topic on the internet and in the summer I love to spend my time, on location, drawing pretty much anything.  When winter comes, however, I’m always at a loss because snow and cold prevent those activities.

So, I turn to “domestic sketching,” the act of drawing stuff that’s laying around the house.  For me it doesn’t matter what it is as it’s the process of drawing that’s important to me, not what the product is.  On this day I drew a shoe.  I spent a lot of time blocking in this drawing because I wanted the proportions to be right but the ink drawing went pretty quickly once the locations of all the major parts was determined.  Maybe I’ll draw its brother next.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), DeAtramentis Document black

 

Sketching “La Brou”

It seems that ‘back in the day’ there was a local TV show call “La Brou.”  As much I can assess, it was a low-budget show about a group of guys who met at a bar and talked.  There was swearing involved 🙂  There’s an exhibit about it at our museum but it’s not very sketch-a-genic.

But, in the museum cafe there are some support materials and it seemed like a great idea to add a cup of tea to a comfortable place to sit and sketch.  It proved to be a very enjoyable sketching session.

Strathmore 184lb Mixed Media paper, DeAtramentis Document Black, Wing Sung 3008 fountain pen

A Trip To The Hunting & Fishing Museum

Quebec’s hunting and fishing organization does a lot of wonderful work.  In addition to maintaining a large nature reserve and conducting several conservation programs, they maintain a fabulous museum filled with spectacular taxidermy specimens, all waiting for sketchers to put them to paper.

Several of us went there last week and spent several hours enjoying the place.  I started with this coyote.  He had a somewhat sleepy left eye that could have been real or the result of the taxidermy.  In any case, I think he has a beautiful face.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10 softcover), DeAtramentis Document Black, Platinum Prefounte pen

We stopped for lunch, taking advantage of their well-equipped eating area. It looks out on the surrounding forest, which is now deep in snow.  I confess that with coffee in hand and good company it was a bit hard to head back to sketching.

When we did I decided that I’d draw one of the many deer heads on display.  I chose this one and did a very relaxed drawing of him and his wonderful antlers.  I love drawing antlers, though visually I find them hard.  When I finished everyone was packing up to head back to town.  I’m sure, though, as the winter bears down on us, that we’ll be back.