When I thought about writing about my 2017 as a sketcher, all I could think of was how bad the last four months have been as health problems have kept me from doing much sketching at all. This resulted in me filling only a paltry seven sketchbooks this year, though I did do more sketching on single sheets than every before.
But then I thought about the rest of the year and not only was it eventful, it was pretty darn special. I got to meet a LOT of people and this is something I don’t normally have in my sketching world.
I have my ‘best buddy’ and mentor, Yvan Breton, who keeps me on track and patiently tries to teach me how to draw, and I am fortunate enough to have a small group of people that I get to sketch with regularly, but I’m not a traveler, so I don’t attend the growing number of sketcher events around the world.
But this year some of that world came to me and serendipity allowed me to become more involved with the Montreal sketchers. In February I spent the day at the Red Path Museum in Montreal with Marc Taro Holmes. I love sketching with Marc because not only is he one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, you always learn stuff when you hang out with Marc. I got to spend the day with him later in the year where he talked me into trying to paint statues directly rather than drawing them first. If I can get my failing hands to cooperate, this is going to open a lot of possibilities for me.
Koosje Koene, of Sketchbook Skool fame, came to Montreal for a visit and couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet her as I love her “Draw Tip Tuesday” series. I confess that I rarely do the things she shows but she has a way of making me smile with her imagination and presentation of these short videos. Sadly the day she was in Montreal, it was raining so sketching was limited. Instead, we went to a restaurant and spent the time talking about art, sketching, and I got to know her a bit better as well as some of the Montreal sketchers. It was a good day in spite of the rain, maybe because of it.
It’s been hard for me to participate in Montreal urban sketchers events because it’s a long five hour round trip between Quebec City and there. It’s possible to get up really early, drive to Montreal, sketch for a few hours, and then drive back but it doesn’t make for a comfortable day. So, I was thrilled when my daughter finished up her degree at the University of Ottawa and decided that she was going to go to law school at McGill University, in Montreal. I would have a floor to sleep on when I decided to attend Montreal sketching events. She moved there in August, the same weekend that Liz Steel and Anne-Laure Jacquart came to visit so I got to spend several days sketching in Montreal that weekend.
I spent the first day with Marc, the highlight being the statue drawing I mentioned above. The next day I spent the day with Marc, Liz, and Anne-Laure in a whirlwind sketchcrawl through the city. It was the best sketching day of my life in spite of the fact that I was always woefully out-classed, frantic to keep up, and my results less than stellar. What an experience. I’m a slow sketcher by nature so juxtaposed next to these three, I was really slow. Their ability to sketch complex street scenes in almost no time has to be seen to be believed. I was in awe. Lucky for me, they are also very nice people, who didn’t laugh at me.
The next day a bunch of the urban sketchers came out to sketch with Liz and Anne-Laure. The day started with rain but eventually we got some sketching time. To be honest, I was pretty worn out by then as the moving of my daughter and previous day’s sketching had taken a lot out of me. It was also the first day that my leg started limiting my movements. Definitely a day to remember. 2017 was a good year for me because of the people.
I also got to attend a couple USK Montreal events in 2017. I was hoping for more but by September I was having a hard enough time getting around my house so going out sketching was out of the question. I’m hopeful that too many doctors and I are getting some of this under control, at least enough that I’ll be able to hobble my way to a sketching location and, on good days, my hand will cooperate enough to let me draw. Getting old is awful, but it still beats the alternative. Onward to 2018.