Another Trip To The Hunting And Fishing Museum

Oh my goodness.  It’s been ten days since I’ve posted.  I’m running as fast as I can but it just isn’t fast enough.  I’ve done some more extreme sketching, went to a gathering at the Morrin Center in Quebec City, my daughter came home for “reading week” and we just got back from Montreal where I got to spend the day with Marc Taro Holmes.  I’ll try to get blog posts written on all these things in the next couple days, but today I want to show you a couple more sketches that I did when several of us went back to the Quebec hunting and fishing museum.

I was struck by this duck because I had never seen one before and I didn’t know what it was.  There was no label on it.   I drew it because of its atypical orientation but it wasn’t until I got home and talked with Mr. Google that I found out that this is a a Eurasian duck called the Ruddy Shelduck and that it’s very common in India.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

With so many beautiful animal subjects at the museum it’s easy to ignore the multitude of antique and modern fishing and hunting equipment on display.  But on this day I was struck by a long row of antique fishing bobbers, or floats if you prefer that term.  While they did have an example of modern, red/white plastic bobbers, most of them were very old, wooden bobbers.  Rather than drawing them in a row, I created this composition and liked the result.  Hope you do too.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

A Street Sketcher Tries To Paint

Last Sunday we had our monthly sketchcrawl and it was a unique event.  We gathered at the main Quebec City library, in a large room associated with their art collection.  We were tasked with finding a painting we liked and then doing our own take on the subject matter.  There were, I think, nine of us and we had a lot of fun, particularly because we were all in the same room so we could talk.  I tend to go silent when I sketch but I took breaks to see what others were doing.

I chose a large watercolor of a bunch of kids playing in tide pools, thinking I could turn it into a fun sketch.  I started by blocking out the locations of the kids, indicating the horizon and generally getting the sense of what I wanted to do.

Then it happened.  I decided that rather than starting to draw with my fountain pen, I’d indicate the shadow areas to begine to define the kids.  This led to adding some color and I was like Alice falling into Wonderland as things quickly went out of control.  The first thing I realized was that converting a large (22×30 painting) into a 7×10 sketch wasn’t consistent with the amount of detail I was planning and so some reassessment took place.  That wasn’t so bad as my skills with a a fuzzy stick leave much to be desired.  I was really wishing I had my fountain pen in hand rather than a fuzzy stick.

But I persisted, doing things for the first time at every turn.  Still, the sketch started to look suspiciously like kids in tide pools so I convinced myself it wouldn’t be that bad.  Eventually, as a last step, I did get out a fountain pen and added some lines and details, though I kept things a bit vague.  I learned a lot, including how much I need to learn about watercolors.  While it was frustrating at times, it was also a lot of fun.  Maybe I’ll figure out fuzzy sticks eventually.

I had a hard time scanning this one.  I suppose it was because of all the very pale blues in the sky and water but I gave up and took this cell phone photo of it.  The colors aren’t quite right and the lighting isn’t even, but you can get an idea of what it looks like, I think.

Fabriano Artistico CP 7×10, Daniel Smith watercolors

Sketching Animals – The Sequel

We had so much fun at the la Fédération québécoise ​des chasseurs et pêcheurs during our first visit that we decided to get back as soon as we could, which was last Tuesday.  There were five of us this time and we had a great time together.  I do hope we can return ‘real soon.’

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10) softcover, Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I decided to draw one of the deer and I struggled to get the antlers right.  And I didn’t.  I find some days I just ‘see’ better than other days.  Not sure why.

When I finished that I wandered around a bit.  There’s so much to see and study there.  Eventually, though, I settled down in front of a couple Canada Geese.  By the time I got them drawn it was time for lunch and we all got together, shared our projects, and chatted up a storm.  Then I added color to my geese.   I’m sure we’ll go back again, and probably real soon.  Next stop, though, is the Croquistes de Quebec sketchcrawl.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

 

Portable Painter Watercolor Palette

The opening photograph for this blog post was stolen from the Portable Painter website.  I hope they don’t mind.  It shows my new toy, but before I put paint into it.  It also shows the 12 half-pans that come with the palette that makes it very quick and easy to get started using it.

Steve Padden (designer) launched this product as an Indigogo project (like Kickstarter) and I ordered one immediately.  The Portable Painter website has a great video and I encourage you to watch it if you’re even a little bit interested in moving your paint on location.

This is what mine looks like once I put paint into it.  The half-pans that come with the Portable Painter fit loosely into their compartments and because of this I felt it necessary to anchor them in the box so they didn’t fall out if I turned the palette upside down.  I used little bits of double-sided tape for this and that seems to work well and because it’s so thin, it allows the half-pans to sit well in the case.

Normally I don’t talk about products I haven’t actually used on location but “use” when it comes to a half-pan palette is more about set up and take down than about actually using it for painting so I feel a bit more on solid ground here.  Sliding the two water containers off the case and clipping them to the ends is very quick and easy, as is reversing the procedure.  The mixing areas are similiar to others I’ve used.  I’ll take a brite-boy to those before actual use but they look great and provide about twice the mixing area of the Cotman Sketcher palette.   The one thing I would have liked to see is a place to put the metal clip while you’re painting.  It becomes an odd-man-out while you’re painting.

While I haven’t actually painted from it, I did drape it across my leg as shown in the video and that works very well.  Right now my water comes from a small bottle I hold in my hand so the two water reservoirs will be a nice improvement.  The kit should also work really well if I’m working on a flat surface as it’s quite stable with the reservoirs as feet.

Those of you who use the Cotman Sketcher palette, and there are a lot of you, this is a major improvement because of the water reservoirs and larger mixing areas.  This comes at almost no size or weight costs.  Here are photos comparing the Cotman Sketcher to the Portable Painter, with and without the water containers attached.

I’m not sure about current pricing of this item.  While its retail price is $30, it looks like you are still be able to buy it at a discount from the Indigogo launch site like I did.  The Portable Painter website will direct you there so if you’re interested, now is the time.

Sketching Animals That Don’t Move

What could be better for a sketcher than a place where there are hundreds of animals that don’t move.  Daniel Chagnon, an organizer for the Le Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec (CALAVQ) organized an event at la Fédération québécoise
​des chasseurs et pêcheurs.  This is a bit outside the domain of CALAVQ, which is primarily a portraiture group, but Daniel has been organizing more and more of these events and it’s very exciting to see.

I didn’t know that the Quebec hunters and fishermen had a museum/training center but this place is incredible for those of us scrambling to find winter sketching places.  It’s a bit of a drive but access is free, though they appreciate donations.  There is a lunch room with microwaves, vending machines, etc. AND several hundred taxidermy specimens just waiting to be drawn.  The hard part was deciding what to draw and being satisfied even though you didn’t get to draw everything.

There were a dozen of us sketching in the building and a lot of sketches were produced.  I found myself drawing too quickly and I was a bit disappointed in that.  I sometimes get ahead of my skis and it shows up in the results.  My attempt at drawing a wolf is a case in point.  I blocked it in quickly (ie too quickly and I got one foot in the wrong place.  I drew the eye incorrectly, tried to correct it, only making it worse.  Still, it looked like a wolf, sort of.  You might notice that it’s not displayed here 🙂

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), PLatinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I moved onto the wildfowl area and drew this elegant bufflehead.  Here I bumped into my watercolor ineptitude and had trouble obtaining a really dark black, but I was generally happy with the result.  Robert Bateman I am not.

After lunch I decided that since I’d drawn fur and feathers that it was time to draw a fish.  I like the small vignette surrounding this one.   Striped bass used to be common to the stretch of the St. Lawrence River around Quebec but they had nearly disappeared until the fishing and hunting organization started a program to build up their populations.  They are being grown and planted along the river and fishing regulations prohibit the taking of this fish.  From what I could read, the program is making good progress towards their reintroduction.

I slowed down just a bit, partly because of my early morning lesson and partly because I was just getting tired.  I think the result was more in tune with my norm…only a few mistakes (grin).  Thanks to CALAVQ and particularly Daniel for organizing this event and introducing us to the museum.  We’re heading back here on Tuesday.