A House On Rue St. Jean

Tourists to Quebec City come for what’s contained within the walls of the “old City,” a city that has expanded into a large metropolitan area (7th largest city in Canada) with the central core becoming more of a tourist attraction than a “downtown” area.

As the city grew beyond those walls, the St. Jean and St. Louis “gates” were enlarged so that more traffic could flow in/out of that part of the city and people, living out of town, could get back and forth.

Rue St. Jean and Rue St. Louis were the main thoroughfares for that traffic and very quickly, “out of town” was no longer out of town.   In fact, just west of the old city became the ‘downtown’ area.  It’s where the provincial parliament building stands, where major hotels reside, and, at last count, one restaurant for every citizen.   But one can see that, “back in the day” the prime real estate along these routes was built up by wealthy businesses and people and while many of the stores and nightclubs along these routes are no longer banks and law offices, their architecture smacks of high times.

For a sketcher these older buildings are very inviting as subjects but it’s hard to find a place to sit or stand while drawing them because the sidewalks are narrow and there’s lots of traffic on them.  Still, I venture there sometimes and I managed to draw the upper portion of this stately house last week.

I did it in a 6×8 Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook with a TWSBI Mini and De Atramentis Document Black ink.  I added some darks with a Kuretake #13 brush pen and Platinum Carbon Black ink.  All of my watercolors these days are Daniel Smith.  Hope you like it.


New Sketching Hat

During much of the year I wear a leather hat that has big furry flaps.  It’s a reflection of Quebec temperatures.  But when late spring and summer roll around, I need some shade, particularly while I’m sketching.

For that I’ve used an old Tilley hat.  It’s one of the original designs and I bought it in the mid-90s.  It’s still fine but I like the looks of the newer style Tilley hats and so I plunked down my argent, as we call it here, and brought one home.  I love it as its lighter than my original and fits better on my semi-square head.

It seemed only fitting that I sketch my sketching hat so enlisted Winnie the Pooh to model it while I that.  He liked it too but had one criticism.  He thinks it needs a couple holes for ears because he wasn’t able to pull it down onto his head properly.


Sketching A Memory Of 1759

There’s a hospital a mere half hour walk from my house that has a small cemetery associated with it.  It’s somewhat special because there is a sculpture that honors French soldiers who died during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) as well as a series of plaques listing their names, by year.  It’s also the case that Montcalm, the Commander of French forces is interred there.   Montcalm was killed during a battle on the Plains of Abraham, the battle that was the turning point of the war in favor of the British, though the British commander, Wolfe was killed as well.

My Sketch with the sculpture in the background.  Stillman & Birn Beta, Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

My Sketch with the sculpture in the background. Stillman & Birn Beta, Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

I mention all this because I met with Claudette, Louise and Fernande to draw the sculpture on a day that was too cold and windy for reasonable people to be outside, but we’re tired of waiting for spring.  So, bundled up and huddled against the wind, we drew, we laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company.  I had the presence of mind (an odd thing for me) to take a photo of the group so you can finally meet some of my friends.  I also had the opportunity to take quick photos of their sketches so I can share those with you as well.  Hope you enjoy them.  They’re very talented sketchers.


LtoR: Louise, Claudette and Fernande

Claudette's sketch

Claudette’s sketch

Fernande's sketch

Fernande’s sketch

Louise's sketch

Louise’s sketch

Just Me, The Kids, And The Dinosaurs

When we returned from Toronto we wanted to spend a few more hours in Ottawa, preferably not walking a gazillion steps, before we piled in the car and pointed it towards Quebec City.  Somehow, and I’m still wondering how, it was decided that we should walk, just shy of a gazillion steps, to the Canadian Museum of Nature , where we would ALL sketch.  Yep, you heard that right.  My wife and daughter produced sketchbooks and we all headed to the museum.  Maybe I was dreaming.

I wanted to draw in the dinosaur rooms.  They wanted to draw mammals.  We split up and agreed to meet in a couple hours.  Group sketching is always fun, but amounts to people getting together so they can ignore each other for extended periods of time.  This is punctuated by greeting each other again and the intense kibbitzing that friends do when they haven’t talked in a while.  We sketchers are a crazy lot but we’re having more fun than most people.

And so it was as I headed off to draw more bones.  But I didn’t.  I went into a room where they had a room-sized diorama, with two Tyranosauruses (Tyranosaurusii??)  looking over a walkway, mouths open and looking hungry.  On the other side were two Tricerotops in defensive positions.  I’m no James Gurney but I had to try to draw one of these guys.  I also got to draw in one of the new 9×12 Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbooks.  I think I’m going to like this size, though it does present some scanning issues.

Stillman & Birn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black

As I drew I learned that this was a prime stop for school tours.  They bring the kids in and ask them questions like “What do you think these Tyranosauruses eat?” and “Do you think they are hungry?”  And as the kids stand between the participants in this confrontation between predator and prey their eyes get big and they become very quiet.  It’s fun to watch.

And the kids were lots of fun.  They’re always curious.  They can relate to people drawing better than adults can.  But they are reluctant to talk until you look up and say hi.  Then the fun begins.  One kid wanted to buy my sketch.  Another said, “Hey, that looks just like a dinosaur.”  But mostly we talked about how much fun it was to be at the museum.  It was a very good morning.

Best of all, when I met up with family, they’d had fun sketching lions, rabbits, pikas, bats, and owls.  They were smiling.  And we only had “just shy of a gazillion steps” to walk to get back to where the car was parked.