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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Portable Palette Campaign On Indiegogo

portable-painter

Hey everybody, take a look at this.  It’s a nifty travel palette that packs up small, provides two nice water holders and it fits over your leg so you don’t have to hold it when you paint.  It’s part of an Indiegogo campaign so I pledged to get one.  It’s worth a look.  There are a bunch of photos, including a series of their prototype.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/portable-painter-painting-travel#/

Off To Sketcher Museum Land

While our Museum of Civilization doesn’t have much to offer a sketcher this winter, it is pretty much the only game in town so a group of us were there, trying to take stock of sketching subjects for winter.

I’ve decided that I will sketch a bunch of the Inuit soapstone carvings because 1) they are available and 2) they offer lots of compound curves and soft edges to challenge my drawing skill.  Hopefully I’ll get better at them but until then, here are a couple that I did on Thursday.  Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5) softcover.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

This is an Inuit hunter, hiding behind a hide-covered shield, trying to sneak up on a seal.

 

This one speaks volumes of the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That's tough work if ever I've seen it.

This one speaks volumes about the rigors of living in the extreme north. This woman, wearing a parka and gloves is shown giving birth. That’s tough work if ever I’ve seen it.

Trying To Sketch Cirque D’Soleil Wannabes

[Note: I wrote this last week and forgot to push the “publish” button.  Here it is, albeit it’s a bit of old news]

Once a year I have a very humbling sketching experience.  Actually, I have a lot of those but this annual event is particularly impactful.  A group of us go to the local École de Cirque, a circus school in an old church, to sketch the circus students while they practice.  Quite separate from sketching, it’s a very exciting time because the main hall is full of trampolines, trapezes, and open areas where these very talented people practice their trade.  If nothing else it informs your brain that hard work is the road to being “talented.”

Done with Lamy ink, melted with a waterbrush. These were 'warm ups' before we actually entererd the hall.

Done with Lamy ink, melted with a waterbrush. These were ‘warm ups’ done before we actually entererd the hall.

For me to begin sketching at the École de Cirque is hard for two reasons.  The first is that I’m simply mesmerized by what is before me.  There was a juggler who was balancing a ring on his head while juggling several other rings, passing smaller ones through the ring on his head as he juggled.  He was amazing.

The other reason I have a hard time is that it’s just soooooo hard.  I’m not good at sketching people anyway, but I can hold my own when sketching people who are sitting or standing and I even have a good chance at capturing people wandering around in a shopping center.  In all these cases, though, I have points of reference.  Feet on the ground, heads above feet… at least that.  But in the case of circus performers I don’t even have that and I get very confused, very quickly.

I switched to a Duke 209 (fude pen) and waterproof ink. I struggle with fude pens but wanted to give them another try. Color was added after the fact and in somewhat haphazard fashion I confess.

I switched to a Duke 209 (fude pen) and waterproof ink. I struggle with fude pens but wanted to give them another try. Color was added after the fact and in somewhat haphazard fashion I confess.

There’s another thing and I wonder if I’m the only one who struggles with this.  I can’t convince my brain that I actually have time to sketch these people.  My brain seems to decide that if I can’t do the sketch in 10-15 seconds, I can’t do a sketch, which is untrue, even with the performers moving around so much.  But my brain directs me to give up completely on size and proportion estimation and to just start scribbling – the end result being people that look like space aliens or melted people.  I’m sharing some of these with you as an example of poor sketches that were a lot of fun to do.  Too often I think fun and product get tied too closely together by many.  They have nothing to do with one another.

Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover (5.5x8.5) sketchbook was used for all these sketches. I really love this format for doing this sort of sketching

Stillman & Birn Alpha softcover (5.5×8.5) sketchbook was used for all these sketches. I really love this format for doing this sort of sketching.

Somehow, during the page above I decided that a divide and conquer strategy was in order, or maybe I was just fascinated how the well-muscled athletes provided a great opportunity to do “life drawing” while muscles were being exercised.  That turned out to be a lot of fun.

2016-10-28circus42016-10-28circus52016-10-28circus6In the end, I had a bunch of sketchbook pages and memories.  Memories of how amazing these people were; memories of how hard it was for me to draw them, and memories of how much fun sketching is even if it’s not going as well as I’d like.  I thought it only fitting for me to share these pages with you.  I hope all of you are saying “I can do better than that” (grin)