Domestic Sketching: Quebec City When I Was Born

I’ve mentioned that this winter I was going to try to learn to draw at an indoor workspace and to draw from photos.  I know it sounds odd to those of you who do it all the time, but I’ve spent five years drawing on location and have a really hard time drawing in a ‘studio’ or from photos.

In this I’m very much like the dog that’s got to walk around in circles a couple times before it lays down.  Location sketching, for me, is about discovering something to draw, which requires wandering a bit.  There is no wandering in a studio.  Once I get going on an indoor drawing I seem to be able to do it and even enjoy it, but initiating the behavior… that’s harder.

I decided it was time, though, to draw from a photo.  Looking for something that would motivate me to do so, I decided that I should draw from a photo that is not of something I can go out and see.  The idea of historic sketching must have come from my watching the new Timeless series, which is about time travel, but as I already have a lot of historic photos of Quebec City I thought that was where I should begin.  I chose a photo of a trolley, both because I like trolleys and because it was taken in the year that I was born.

I started by lightly drawing everything using a Platinum Carbon Pen, keeping the lines very light so I could cover my errors if needed.  This is what I ended up with:

7.5x11 Fabriano Artistico cold press, Platinum Carbon pen

7.5×11 Fabriano Artistico cold press, Platinum Carbon pen

To bring a more solid nature to the drawing I started increasing the contrast, using a Platinum 3776 pen and a Platinum brush pen.  This got the drawing to this point:

2016-11-21trolly_bwThen it was time for color and touch up.  I still struggle with watercolors but at least I’m starting to pay attention to it.  I was pretty happy with the results.  Hope you are as well.  I think I’ll be doing more historic sketching.

2016-11-21trolley

I’m Back Drawing Soapstone

[note:  this was done last week but I forgot to press the publish button]

We returned to the museum of civilisation on Thursday and I continued sketching Inuit soapstone carvings.  These are not precise carvings but they have a smoothness about their surfaces that is impressive when you realize they’re generally done by hand.  More importantly, traditional Inuit carving is a form of story-telling, a reflection of Inuit life.

I started a two-page spread in my Stillman & Birn 8×10 Beta softcover book but only got the central sculpture done.  It depicts a family’s successful hunt.

2016-11-14fishingfamilySorry about the poor photo.  I found it impossible to scan a two-page spread and didn’t have lights set up to photograph it properly.

Domestic Sketching: Let’s Try Imagining A Pine Tree

It seems there will be a continuing series of sketches being done by this urban sketcher that have nothing to do with urban sketching.  I’m forcing myself to draw at my desk.  I’ve even cleaned it off so I don’t have to shove stuff out of the way to do it.  I’m going to call this domestic sketching and label results as such.

Anyways, my first sketch was a small, defoliated tree and I thought it only fitting that I should follow it up with a pine tree.  As it turned out, I drew two of them, the second coming simply because I wanted to try to do a classic Christmas tree shape.  Probably shouldn’t have cuz it looks out of place in this sketch, at least to me.  One thing I’ve noticed about sketching at home, with good light, a desk and a good chair.  The sketching is a whole lot easier.

Fabriano Artistico (7.5x11), Pilot Falcon

Fabriano Artistico (7.5×11), Pilot Falcon

When It’s Cold, Sketch Quickly

We are getting a reprieve from the relentless march into winter.  We’ve had a couple days where the temps have gotten up to 6-7C (low 40s for the metric-challenged).  It’s also been very windy but yesterday the winds dropped to a reasonable level and I just couldn’t pass up the possibility of doing some outdoor sketching.

2016-11-15quickies

I decided to go armed with quick-draw (pun intended) materials so I took a couple of 10×14  Coroplast sheets, cut some 6×9 sheets of cheap multi-media paper, and I taped two sheets on each side of the coroplast.  These were shoved into my bag and out the door I went.  The idea was that I needed to do sketches quickly so I didn’t have to sit for a long period, which cause my old Arizona bones grow cold and I get grumpy.

2016-11-15ship_c

I managed to get a couple sketches done with considerable walking in between, each sketch taking only 15 minutes or so.  I applied the color at home.  Hope you like them.  For me it was a major victory and gives me some hope that I’ll be able to do some outdoor sketching using this method.  As it gets colder I can shift more and more towards Marc Taro Holmes’ “5to7 sketches” where you use 5-7 lines to do sketches very quickly.   Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

2016-11-15skyline_c

The Saga Of A Sunday Sketchcrawl

Last Sunday was our monthly sketchcrawl.  We were to meet at a historic house, the Maison Alphonse-Dejardins, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in Levis.  I was excited to visit the place and thankful that Yvan had arranged for us to sketch there.

Early Sunday morning, I set out on a walk to the ferry that took me just a bit less than an hour.  The ferry took 10-15 minutes to cross and then I had to climb a cliff (a gazillion stair steps are provided) and then into the older part of Levis where the house resides.  I was there at 10AM.  The air was crisp, which is a fancy way of saying I was glad I was wearing gloves, but I knew that people would be showing up soon.

But they didn’t.  Nobody came.  In fact, the house itself was dark.  I began to wonder if I’d written the date wrong.  Cell phones are handy at such times and the website announcement made clear my error.  Because of the house’s Sunday schedule, it didn’t open until the afternoon so the sketchcrawl was scheduled for 1PM.  @#%$!!

And so I walked to the stairs, descended the cliff and walked to the ferry.  I crossed the St. Lawrence and walked home.  I didn’t do the math, though, and when I arrived at home I realized that to get back to Levis by 1PM, I’d have to leave in… about 10 minutes [sigh].

I gave some thought to not returning but being the devoted sketcher (or fool – you decide) I put my coat back on and headed out the door…to walk an hour, take the ferry, climb the cliff, and make my way to the house.  I made it but since I’d been on the move from 8:30 to 13:00, I was exhausted and wasn’t much in the mood to sketch.  I just wanted to sit down.

The house, though, is sketcher heaven if you like sketching items you’d find in a Victorian house.  It’s a place I’ll be going to several times this winter for just that reason.  But on this day I found myself in the kitchen and in one corner there was a wooden, hand-agitated washing machine.  It had been semi-restored as a display piece but the staves that made the body of the machine had been glued together and the metal bands that would normally hold everything together were placed, somewhat askew, just for show.

2016-11-13washer

I couldn’t look at it without seeing it as a cartoon and so, channeling Gary Larsen as best I could, I drew it as such.  It’s not my best work but I had fun doing it which is my criterion for success.  And I only had one more trip between the Maison Alphonse-Dejardins and my place.  I went to bed early that night.