Mother Nature’s Playing Jokes On Us

As in many places, high temps and humidities have been the norm.  Until yesterday.  I bopped out the door, heading for my walk and stopped.  It was COLD!!!  I had to change into long pants and put on a windbreaker to walk.  Mr Weather, a close friend of Mr. Google, told me that it was 58F.  During that day it barely cracked the 60s.  Today it’s very windy and rainy so I’m indoors.


Stillman & BIrn Alpha, Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black, Daniel Smith watercolors

I’ve decided to post a sketch I did last week.  I wasn’t going to share it because there are many things wrong with it, some due to my shortcomings and others due to the fact that it was so hot I had a hard time getting into it.

The sketch suffers a bit but the real problem is with the watercolor, which is too flat, with not enough contrast.  By the time the brush came out my shady perch had become open sun and I was burning up, so this was more slop and dash watercolor and it shows.

Good Year For Flowers In Quebec City

I don’t know if high humidity and almost daily rain is a new normal for Quebec City but this summer has been a frustration because of it.  That said, the plant world is having a great time.  Everything is more lush, a lot greener, and flowers are everywhere.

I’m trying to fit my powerwalks (old man power walks mean distance, not speed) into our renovation work and I found myself in Parc de l’Amerique Latin, which is a park that features a bunch of statues of famous people from Latin America.

It was hot and I needed a break so I sat down to practice drawing flower blossoms.  I love drawing plants where I try to draw an individual plant or flower, leaf by leaf or petal by petal.  This is great practice in size/orientation relationships of organic subjects.  Here’s what I came up with on that day.

Fabriano Bristol+ Paper

This spring/summer has been a real spoiler for my daily sketching habit.  Yes, I still “take a few minutes” and do daily doodles but since I’m retired, my “daily sketching habit” used to involve me spending a couple hours a day either sketching or going to/from sketching locations.  Not this year.

Instead, heat waves, almost daily rain and trying to renovate and organize our place have kept me from daily forays out sketching.  We’re also making up for several years where I couldn’t walk much and/or suffered too much “ennui” to do anything but watch reruns of old TV shows.  I don’t know where the blame lies here but I do know that I don’t have as much time to be sketching on location right now.  We do have a fully renovated front porch and are working on the back deck right now.  I have stairs to replace and a WHOLE lot of stuff that’s just piled up.

One such pile is an entire closet of art supplies and other junk.  This is not heavy work and some of it is fun but it’s eating a lot of time right now.  In that closet I found a pad of Fabriano Bristol+ paper.   This stuff is 145lb (250gsm) bristol board that is VERY smooth.  I love bristol but normally I use Strathmore series 300 bristol in its “vellum” form because it’s cheap and provides a smooth surface but with some tooth.  Ideal for pencil drawings if you want something cheaper than Stonehenge’s drawing papers.

I don’t know when I bought this but it doesn’t appear that I’ve ever used it.  Maybe I decided it was too smooth.  Art happens when an idea, time and materials come together.  I’ve been following some of France, aka @wagonized, Belleville-Van Stone‘s crosshatching workshops and thinking about papers for use with ballpoint pens.  So, an idea came to me.  I could continue sorting through old computer equipment, wiring, bottles, and art stuff, or I could give Fabriano Bristol+ a try.  The answer was obvious.

Like France, I used one of the 1.6mm Bic pens.  I used an orange one and quickly drew a pear.  It worked out ok but the Bristol+ is too slick and the ballpoint wasn’t as responsive as it should be.  Just not enough tooth in the paper to keep the ball rolling and this also limited the number of layers I could use to create tones.  I sort of made up for this a bit by being more heavy-handed but this detracts from the cross-hatching.  Anyways, this is the result and I got to do some sketching.  Now, back to work.

Sakura Somewhat Light Cool Gray Pens

I guess this isn’t a real review, but in some ways it is.  When I heard that Sakura was releasing its famous Micron pens in “Light Cool Gray” and “Cool Gray” versions I thought that was a neat idea.  Though I don’t use Microns very much I thought this might be a great way for sketchers to draw background lines in typical black sketches. No better way to get background mountains to recede than to draw them in a lighter color.

So, when I found sets of both versions in my local art craft store. I bought a set of the Light Cool Gray.  I could draw a bunch of lines, showing you that the colors were light cool gray and that they have the same permanent inks as their other pens but that stuff is a given with Sakura pens.  So, I’ll just get to the part that surprised me and (spoiler alert) made me very unhappy.

You see, in a set of 3, light cool gray pens, comes an 01, 05, and 10 pen.  That makes sense and provides a decent range of tip sizes.  What’s upsetting is that while the 01 and 10 pens are light cool gray the 05 pen is a much darker (I assume this is cool gray) ink.  This is more than my interpretation of the lines produced.  As you can see, the color markings on the end of the pen reflect this change of tone.  Note also that this fact is covered by the packaging so you only find this out after buying a set.  That’s just goofy to me.

I’ll have to wonder forever whether the “Cool Gray” set has a light cool gray version of the 05 pen as I’ll not be buying them.  I contacted Sakura, asking them about this but they have chosen not to reply to my query.  I’m glad I use fountain pens.

Find A Piece Of Shade And Draw

It’s hot.  It’s humid.  Too hot for an old man to be out walking, that’s for sure.  So, I put my stool in a shady spot in the yard and drew a small “scene” designed by Chantal.  I thought these little guys were going to be hosta-guarding soldiers (wrote about that), but Chantal had other ideas.  As usual, hers was a better one.