Ferry Dock Sketching

I use any excuse to take the ferry from Quebec City to Levis, which is on the other side of the St. Lawrence River from us.  I do it because 1) I like boats, 2) my bus pass makes it free, and 3) did I mention that I like boats?

On this day, I did it because Yvan wanted to sketch the ferry station, which is an old train station that’s been sort of messed up by neglect and its conversion into a ferry dock.  But they’re planning on tearing it down and he wanted a sketch of it.  Seemed like a plan to me.

But when I got there, something about sketching the station just didn’t turn my crank that morning so I found an alternative, this building that was probably a hotel at some point and may still be.  I like the way the cliff jutted up above, dwarfing what is actually a very large building.
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It was done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) sketchbook with Pilot Preras and Platinum Carbon Black and Noodler’s Lexington gray inks.  Hope you like it.  It was sure fun.

A Red Flag Will Stop A Sketcher Every Time

As an urban sketcher, with a penchant for the mundane, I couldn’t pass up this scene. The railroad track in the background feeds into the train station here in Quebec City. A passenger train was headed inbound. The track in the foreground is a seldom-used track that allows a connection between a huge cargo facility on one side of a river and another one on the other side. Not much traffic but they’re not interested in any at all when the passenger trains come and go (only a few times a day).

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And so, they clip this flag to the track, to let anyone thinking of taking their train engine for a spin, not to do it. The bright red flag created an interesting scene, at least to me. Done in my Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) with a Pilot Prera, PCB ink, W&N artist watercolors and limited skill.

40th Worldwide Sketchcrawl – Quebec Style

Last weekend was the 40th Worldwide Sketchcrawl and a group of sketchers in Quebec City participated.  We were blessed with great weather, had a great turnout,  and we had a great time… except I lost my entire watercolor kit.

DanielVincent

Daniel Potvin (blue shirt) and Vincent (tan shirt), one of his students.

Our numbers increased significantly this time around for the simple reason that Daniel Potvin, an enthusiastic sketcher, who happens to teach animation at Université Laval, brought some of his students – a group of very talented folks.

We met just inside the St. Jean Gate, in Artillery Park.  Both of these are tourist hotspots so there were lots of people around.

Yvan

Yvan did welcoming duties while sketching the St. Jean gate.

Yvan took up station and offered a welcome to everyone as they arrived.  We agreed to meet for lunch at 12:15 and so we each went our own way to hunt down the ideal sketching subject.  I was looking for shade.  (Note to self.  Next time do a formal group photo as the group has gotten too large to cover them all with a snapshot.)

group

CelinePierre

Celine and Pierre sketching the Kent Gate

With lots of sketching behind us, we broke for lunch and gathered under a large shade tree.  Some brought lunches, some went foraging at the many food vendors in the area.  We talked, shared sketchbooks, ate and generally had a mini-sketching party.  It was great!

Natalie

Natalie sketching the Kent Gate tower.

Eventually, we decided that we should sketch some more and so we did.  I was pretty beat by that time and I suspect others were as well but heck, it was a great day and so we sketched.

Claudette

Claudette sketching on Rue d’Auteuil.

In the end, it was a big success, we got to meet and talk with some new sketchers and we all took home great sketches to remind us the day.

One complete failure on my part was that I got no good photos of the spread of sketches, laid out during lunch.  The problem was that they were part in the sun and part in the shade, with leaf shadows all over them.  I’ll have to do better next time.  This time around, you should be able to see (real soon) at least some of those sketches on the Worldwide Sketchcrawl site.

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Couldn’t resist this. It was at least 15-feet high and part of summer festival. S&B Zeta (5×8)

Somewhere, between the old city and home, my entire watercolor kit fell out of my sketching bag and I lost it.  Anyone who finds a green case with a watercolor palette, some Escoda travel brushes, water bottle and misc….it’s mine (grin).  Here are the sketches I did during the event.

This is a Celtic Cross in Artillery Park. 3x5 and done with a Pilot Prera.

This is a Celtic Cross in Artillery Park. 3×5 and done with a Pilot Prera.

 

Church next to Kent Gate.  S&B Zeta (5x8), Pilot Prera.

Church next to Kent Gate. S&B Zeta (5×8), Pilot Prera.

 

Urban Sketcher Communes With Nature

I had a wonderful time last Saturday.  I was invited to the house of long-time friend, Pierre Therrien, along with two other sketching buddies, one of them being Pierre’s constant companion and main squeeze, Celine.

I picked Yvan up and we headed to Pierre’s house, which is just south of the North Pole, I think.  We drove and drove and drove.  Pierre lives in a forest.  His home looks out on gorgeous forested landscape areas and is near Jacques Cartier River, a very sketch-ogenic river.  It is a sketcher’s dream.

We spent the first hour chatting about everything and anything and spent some time drooling over his art library.  Then we decided that maybe sketching time was wasting away so we headed outside and broke out the pointy devices.  Yvan, Celine and Pierre set up in front of the house to draw the ‘paysage’ that splays out in front of it and ends with a backdrop of the Laurentian mountains which, to a Rocky Mountain guy like myself, have always more resembled hills than mountains.  Everything’s relative, I guess, and so are mountains.

2013-07-06_Larry-chez-Pierre_St-Gabriel-Valcartier_4_smBut I’m an urban sketcher so I started wandering around.  I found myself in a far corner of a field, looking back at Pierre’s house.  Photo is courtesy of Yvan.  You can see that I was very comfy as I had a full chair rather than my stool.

All alone was I, except for the curious ants, too many biting flies and a Theridid spider.  I tried to strike up a conversation with the spider but she didn’t say much.  She just glared at me for plunking my chair down so close to her web.

Here’s the view I had and the partially completed sketch:

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I had decided to try out my new Uniball UM-151 (.28mm) pen on Stillman & Birn Alpha paper and I’ve concluded that it’s a wonderful combination.  I’m going to be ordering some more of them ‘real soon.’

After lunch I returned to my perch, with the addition of a portable umbrella that shaded me from what was now a very hot sun.  I completed the ink sketch and added color, using a waterbrush and W&N artist colors.  I’m a hack watercolorists but I’ve got to get back to using real brushes.  Here’s the finished sketch:

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Sketching On A Summer Morning

It’s fun to be out sketching early in the morning.  Quebec City wakes up slowly and if you are out walking at 7AM, you’re mostly alone.  Of course this morning I met up with my buddy Yvan and we found ourselves on Rue des Remparts, a great sketching street that skirts the upper portion of the old city.  We chose a scene, that was really the backyard and garage areas of several houses.  The location also provided a nice shade tree under which I could sit.

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The sketch was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbooks using a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black.  W&N artist watercolors and a a waterbrush were used to add color.  Before it was done I was wishing I’d brought my real brushes along.

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Uniball Signo UM-151 For Sketching

I’m a fountain pen guy but I’m a sucker for a new pointy device regardless of type.  Pete Scully, a well-known urban sketcher swears by Uniball Signo UM-151 pens and uses them regularly.  I’ve never found any of the fine tip versions in the stores around here but I finally decided to order a couple from Jet Pens.

And I’m glad I did!!  I’m a fan of Pilot’s Hitec-C3 and C4 pens as they’ve got very fine points, don’t wear down like the nylon-tip pens, and they have replacable cartridges.  Unfortunately, they’re not waterproof so I can’t use them when I want to use watercolors with my pen/ink sketches.

SignoUM151

The Uniball Signo UM-151 pens, in .28 and .38 mm sizes solve that problem as their inks are pigment-based and thus are waterproof.  I bought mine in ‘brown-black’ as I wanted a dark brown pen and haven’t been able to find a brown/waterproof fountain pen ink that makes me happy.  I should say, up front, that I don’t understand Uniball’s tip dimensions except to say that the line width is less than the size of the tip, which is fine but it’s hard for me to report the actual line width for comparison to other pens.

Mitsubishi, manufacturers of Uniball pens says that their .7mm pens produce a .4mm line.  I couldn’t find a similar description of the .28 and .38mm pens.  What I can say is that the .28mm line is significantly finer than that from a Micron 005, which is claimed to be .20mm.  In any case, it’s fine…and when hatching a small sketch, it’s just dandy…or ‘peachy’ as my dad used to say.

I’ve only had the pens a couple days so I can’t say much about long-term performance except to say that the rollerball should hold up better than the fine nylon tip pens, which I find wear down annoying fast.  As replacement cartridges cost only $1.65 from Jet Pens, ink capacity isn’t much of a problem either.

2013-07-05SignoTestHere’s my first test drive of the pen.  I used the .28mm on this tiny Rhodia pad (3×4).  The pen doesn’t skip a beat.  Stippling works better than I expected from a ball-tip pen, though if you stipple a lot, you need to roll it occasionally on a piece of scrap if the ball goes dry.  Otherwise it’s a point-and-shoot device.

I was sitting on my porch, waiting to head out for a day of sketching in the country, and I used the Pilot Signo to draw this Impatiens flower in a Strathmore Series 400 “Drawing” sketchbook.  Notice that even with the pink, there’s not bleed from the brown-black ink.  Makes me very happy.

2013-07-06Flower

These pens come in a bunch of colors and after seeing a couple sketched by Pete where he used the dark green, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those.  For myself, the .38mm is a better pen for sketching 5×8 or larger but the .28mm is a treat for details, hatching, and when you’re working small (eg – 3×5).

The best part of these pens is that they’re CHEAP!!!  From Jet Pens they’re only $2.50 and replacement cartridges only $1.65.  The bad news is that individual cartridges are only available in blue, black, red and, blue-black.  I’m hoping they make brown-black available ‘real soon.’

2013-07-07Apartment

Today I went out for an early morning walk along the river.  I sat down on a bench to watch a family of ducks and before you could say ‘fanatical sketcher’ I had my little Strathmore doodle book in hand and I was scribbling out this sketch with the Uniball UM-151-28 pen.  It’s about 3×5 in size and all I had was a small waterbrush to add color.  Given the small amount of time consumed on this quick sketch, I like the result and my new UM-151 pen.

Sketching Tiny Town

The Ursuline Convent in Quebec City was founded in 1639, which makes it the earliest learning institution for woman in North America.  It’s also seems that they owned half the old city at one point.  Ok…maybe that’s an exaggeration but they owned a lot of land and buildings and still do.  But most of the private residences and some of the other large buildings have been sold off.  The curent compound is home to the convent, a school, and it’s a popular tourist stop.

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One of the private residences still held by the Ursulines is this place.  I’m not sure how big it is but it’s got to have the smallest entrances of any on Quebec.  Its unique nature made it a great sketching subject, though gray on gray isn’t the ideal color scheme, I suppose.

The building on the left if the Ursuline library and museum.  If you get to Quebec City, be sure to visit, if only to talk to the very nice people who work there.  After we were done sketching, they let us browse through their library where we found several books used to teach drawing to students.  While I’ve yet to tour the museum, they told me that there is a section on how drawing was taught to students.  I’ve got to get back there to see that.

I did the sketch in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook using a TWSBI Mini with Platinum Carbon Black ink.  I added some color… well, gray… with W&N artist watercolors.

2013-07-02Ursulines

 

Sketching Between Rain Days

We’re still getting more rain than we should and certainly more rain than I want.  But we got a weekend that only started under rain and high winds.  We ended up with slightly damp conditions and warm temperatures.  There was this scary yellow ball in the sky.  Not sure what that was but it seemed harmless enough.

Yvan and I took advantage and we went to Artillery Park, an area in old Quebec City that has a bunch of old military buildings and fortifications.  It’s also where a munitions factory operated until 1964.  Now the large buildings are museums surrounded with park areas, cannons and high walls – a great place to sketch.  And we did.

I sketched a building called Redoubte Dauphine.  It’s an impressive structure and I set up at the base of it, sitting on the edge of a parking lot.  I sort of botched the perspective by placing a couple lines incorrectly.  As I didn’t want to restate them in their correct locations, I made the best of it and finished it with the wonky angles.  Do me a favor and squint a lot when you look at the sketch.  Maybe you won’t notice (grin).  The sketch was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook with a Pilot Prera and Lexington Gray.

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It was very hazy and cloudy so I decided to return to add color/details, when there was some sun to provide contrast.  I packed up and went looking for Yvan.  I located him, sitting high above me on a wall.  In fact, I noticed that you can see him as a tiny orange blotch on the right of the photo above.  He was sketching something and I thought it’d be fun to do a quick sketch of him.  I did it in my Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6) with a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black.

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I climbed the hill you see in the first sketch and entered a tiny park area associated with what was once an officer’s quarters.  I liked the shape of the end of that building and so quickly sketched it.  Same small sketchbook; same pen/ink.

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2013-06-29OldBuildingSiteThe eastern edge of Artillery Park is bordered by an old rock fence.  On the other side of it there’s a grand old apartment building that’s no longer inhabited and, sadly, it’s crumbling from neglect.  It pokes its second story above the rock wall and I liked the view, of the back of the building and so I sketched it.  Same sketchbook, same pen, same fun experience.  Every sketching day is a great day.

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Rain and Wind – Will It Ever Stop?

Yvan and I were supposed to go sketching but it was very windy and rain was threatening.  Since the new Paris exhibit had opened at our Musee de la Civilisation, we headed there instead.  They have some great vehicles there that I want to sketch but geez they’re complicated.

This one is a 3-wheeled steam-powered vehicle produced by Dion-Bouton in 1885.  It just oozes ‘cool’ in my opinion, but I’m sort of biased towards anything that’s steam-powered.  Clearly a vehicle that would be comfortable putting around in a steampunk novel.

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This was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook using a Pilot Prera and Lexington Gray ink.  It provided a great hour and a half of fun.  Hope you like it.

Cheers — Larry

Paris In Quebec City…Sort of.

The Musee de la Civilisation launched its new Paris 1889-1920s exhibit by holding a special grand opening on a Tuesday evening.  As I’m a member I got an invitation and Yvan and I decided to go.  We saw it more as a reconnoitering session than anything else so our plan was to quickly run through the exhibit, noting what would be good to sketch.  This exhibit will be one of our principle sketching subjects this winter.

We decided, though, that we should go early enough that we could sketch in the old port for a couple hours before the event and that’s what we did.  We sat in Place Royale, a tourist hot-spot and boy, were there tourists.  Because of our lousy weather it didn’t seem like summer to us until we looked at the sea of people.  So, we looked up and I sketched this roof line over the heads of the tourists.  Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Pilot Prera and Lex Gray ink.

2013-06-18PlaceRoyaleC

When we finished up we still had some time and we wandered into a place adjacent to Place Royale that has a cannon battery pointing out at the St. Lawrence, to protect Place Royale from the tourist and ferry boats.  This is the gate into the place but from the inside, looking out.  I felt a bit rushed so it got a bit wonky but I like the sketch nevertheless.   Same sketchbook and pen/ink combo for this one.

2013-06-18GateC