Sketching At Parc Chauveau

Denis Couture, our fearless leader

Denis Couture, our fearless leader

I don’t know what it is about French but the names of French organizations are impossible.  This includes the Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec, the name of an artist group in Quebec City.  They were established to facilitate winter life drawing sessions and that is still their principle activity but they are starting to organize outdoor summer activities as well.  This past weekend was the second year that we assembled at Parc Chauveau, a park on the north side of Quebec City.  It’s a beautiful place. The St. Charles River runs through it, providing considerable sketching fodder.

Organized by Denis Couture, a really nice guy who teaches drawing and photography at a local college, it was truly a shame that on this day, there were only three of us in attendance.  The up side is that the day was a bit more laid back as we could do pretty much what we chose to do.

Our first stop was the river, in a place where a large tower of rock, remnants from long-term erosion, juts up from the river.  It seemed fitting that we should draw it.  I decided it might be fun to put it in the background and to make Fernande, one of my sketching buddies, the central focus for the scene.  This was also the first time I got to use my new Namiki (Pilot?) Falcon.  I think I’m in love.  More on that later.

Stillman & Birn Delta (6x8), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (6×8), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Denis knows the area quite well and he suggested that we climb back up to the road and cross the bridge to the other side of the river where there are rest rooms, picnic tables, and a trailhead for the Parc lineaire trail that runs for 32 km along the St. Charles River.  In fact, if I would have followed it for about 16 of those kilometers I would have arrived home.

As we ate lunch Denis suggested that we walk the trail some and that the views from high above the river were wonderful.  He was right about that but for my next sketch I plunked my tripod stool down in the middle of the forest, off the trail, and started drawing some unknown plant.  For a building guy, I was surprised how much fun this was and how much I wanted to do it.  I used a different approach from my usual pen first, watercolor as an afterthought approach.  I think I’ll talk about this separately as this post is becoming a bit long.

Stillman & Birn Delta (6x8), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (6×8), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

In spite of the poor turnout for the event, we had a really great time.  The rest of the folks just missed out.

Quebec City: 44th Worldwide Sketchcrawl

Twas that time again and to participate in the 44th Worldwide Sketchcrawl we all gathered at the Jardin Botanique Roger-Van Den Ende de l’Université Laval.  French names are often more than a mouthful.  This is a large garden run by and adjacent to Laval University.  The university gave us the run of the place, a very large place with tons of flowers and other things to sketch.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather than we got.  Sunny, warm but not stifling hot and the garden provided considerable amounts of shade, though not always in the required spot.

It was difficult to count the participants as we spread out across the landscape.  Maybe we should have had a “sketcher hunt” the way kids hunt for Easter eggs as you could walk the trails and find sketchers scrunched down over plants, drawing away, or hiding in the shade while trying to draw an arbor.  By my count, however, we set a new sketchcrawl record with 27 participants.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.

20140712_122421The name of the game was to find some shade, identify something to draw, and then “just do it” as the saying goes.  Much sketching was done on this day but we broke for lunch a little after noon and met in a large tent that exists for this purpose.  It was fun to see most of the sketchers all in one place and to kibbitz and share sketches.  Unfortunately, I took photos of this before everyone arrived but by the time they did I was embroiled in conversation and sketchbook swapping.

Here is evidence of sketching being committed and the perpetrators (click on a photo to see a larger view):

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And here is a small sampling of the sketches that were done this Saturday:

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This post is getting long enough that I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to post the sketches I did when I wasn’t taking photos of sketchers (grin).  By the end of the day I think we’d all learned and/or remembered a few important things.  These are:

1) Sketching is fun.
2) Sketching with other people is funner.
3) The shade moves quickly in Quebec City this time of year.
4) Anticipation – we’re all looking forward to the next sketchcrawl.

Halloween door sketching

A week or so ago I posted a sketch of a fancy door in Quebec City.  A comment from a long-time friend, Pat Roberson, asking for more door sketches has resulted in this one.

A week ago I saw this door but I was on my way to St. Vallier to sketch with friends and so couldn’t sketch it.  It’s not one of the old, classic Quebec City doors, but Pat is such a fan of Halloween, and apparently doors, that I just had to go back and sketch this aperture into the bright orange house with black trim.  Hope you like it, Pat.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lexington Gray

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray

Sketching The Riviere Lairet… Sort Of

Once upon a time there was the Riviere Lairet.  It meandered through what became Limoilu as Quebec City spread north from its origins atop Cap Diamond.  Ultimate, Limoilu was swallowed by Quebec City during a large merger but everyone still calls it Limoilu.  We’re a stubborn lot.

From the photos I’ve seen one of the basic problems with the Riviere Lairet was that lots of water ran in it in the spring and almost none in the summer.  The result was a fairly deep canyon running through what was quickly becoming a very populated area.

Maybe more important, the canyon had a lot of very fast-flowing, dangerous water at one time of year and at other times it became a dumping ground for the less civic-minded members of Limoilu.  So it was decided, in the mid-20th Century, to build a huge pipe to convey the spring waters underground from north of Limoilu all the way to the St. Charles River – my river.

Parc_Cartier-Brébeuf_smThese days, the Riviere Lairet name can be found on maps as a long, open pond area in Cartier-Brebeuf Park, with the south end of the pond emptying into the St. Charles River.

But the water that fills this park area still has to get there through the pipe I mentioned.  They do everything in their power to hide the pipe’s opening into the park but I thought it would make for a fun sketch.  The weather further convinced me as while it was almost warm, it was also windy.  After climbing down the hill to this view, I was conveniently out of the wind with only a few ants to bother me.

I used a Uniball Signo UM-151 (.38mm) gel pen for this one.  The fine pens in the 101 series are mostly waterproof but anything thicker than .38mm and the gel ink starts to wash into the watercolors, at least on the Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6) paper that I use.  Hope you like it.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), Uniball Signo 101 (.38mm)

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Uniball Signo 101 (.38mm)

Mo Music, S’il Vous Plait!

We’re back in the deep freeze here in Quebec.  Will it never end?  But we’re also in the middle of recital season, a time when the students at Conservatoire de Musique give recitals and what a joy they are to attend.  Today it was pianists…amazing pianists.  Marie Robitaille, Sophie Doyon, Brigitte Legendre, Bruce Gaulin-Boilard, Manuella Gagnon, Corolane Tremblay, and Ariane Filion-Thériault each graced us with their musical prowess.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4x6); Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lexington Gray ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6); Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink

And while they did, Yvan and I sketched, though I have to admit that at times I just stopped, listened and watched magical hands on keys.  But here are a couple sketches I did during the nearly two hours of music.  Thanks to the Conservatoire, the students, and Suzanne Beaubien-Lowe (their teacher) for making a very cold day seem just a little bit warmer.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4x6); Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lexington Gray ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6); Pilot Prera, Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink