A Few Of My Favorite Things

I love trains and I was lucky to be a kid when trains were a very important part of our landscape.  I’m also lucky enough to have lived long enough that we’re now wishing we had those trains we discarded because our ‘modern’ mechanisms for moving people and goods are becoming economically and environmentally untenable.

I also love my daughter, but she rudely grew taller and taller until, one day, she ran away to college.  But it’s the holidays and she was coming home – on a train.  Trains, daughter and me, all in the same place.  What more could an old man want?

Palaisdugares

I arrived at the train station about 15 minutes before the train was to arrive and found that her train was going to be about 10 minutes late.  Figuring I’d have about 20 minutes before I had to move to the arrival gate, I sat down in the main hall to draw.

I love our train station.  It’s something of a shell of its original footprint, with only a few trains and far fewer passengers moving through it’s cavernous insides.  Fewer passengers means more room available and in recent years they’ve built a couple smallish restaurants along one wall of the main hall.

I drew one of them (resto can be seen in the interior photo above) in a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8) with De Atramentis Docu Black.   Not having a lot of time, the sketch is a bit on the wonky side but it was fun and I finished up in time to watch the train arrive.  Did I mention that I like trains?  Oh…and my daughter too.

Happy holidays everyone! — Larry

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x8), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black

I’m A Little Teapot, Short And Stout…

I’m a little teapot, short and stout,
here is my handle and here is my spout.

That’s what sketching is all about.  You find a subject and you put the pieces in their proper locations.  Then you’re done.  Easy peasy, so what’s the big deal?

I’m having a ball in Liz Steel’s Foundations class.  She’s showing us different ways of organizing drawings and the various ways of getting those parts in the right places.  This week was “climb out on a thin limb and draw without measuring anything, no set up, no nothing.”  This is where eraser users do a lot of scrubbing as “oops…it should be just a bit to the right” or “eek…that’s too long” start being uttered in less than muffled tones.

And so I was at the museum, wandering around looking for something to draw.  I’m sort of getting tired of drawing statues of Greek gods and so I found myself in the Quebec history exhibit.  It’s an exhibit where you’d think Quebecers lived in caves in the past was the exhibit exists in near darkness, making it hard to sketch anything.  Heck, some of the stuff is downright hard to see.  Not sure what’s going on there.

But as I was in Liz’s course (she being the patron saint of teacup sketching), and as I was staring at some tea cups, saucers and teapots, I figured I’d found my subject for the class.  The only problem was that these items were scattered around a case, not clustered together as in a still life.

But with a bit of mental sliding items around, and a few pen marks to indicate location, I created the arrangement depicted here and went to town with my Namiki Falcon.  Here is my handle, here is my spout.  I’m really enjoying the De Atramentis document inks and sure hope that Goulet Pens gets some of the other colors back in stock real soon.  This sketch took me about 20 minutes, maybe a couple more.  It was fun.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10x7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, watercolor pencils

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, watercolor pencils

Sketching A Door

One of the exercises for this week’s Liz Steel Foundations class was to draw a door.  This was supposed to be our “outdoor” exercise.

There is nothing I’d rather do than draw outdoors but I’m afraid that weather dictates that I won’t be able to do that until at least April and that’s being optimistic.  Not wanting to wait quite that long to do the assignment, I found an alternative.  As I was leaving the museum I noticed that if I sat down just inside the rear entrance, I could see the door across the street.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The door leads into the Hotel Saint Pierre but the door has a far richer history as it served as the main entrance of the “Quebec Assurance Building,” and the interesting thing is that this is carved, in English, in the upper reaches of the building – a remnant of times past as it’s fairly rare to find English written anywhere in Quebec City.

The exercise goal was to ‘set up by measurement’ and thus the principle goal was “..to be as accurate as possible.”  I can’t say that I was (sorry Liz) but I did it in my typical cartoony style and in spite of what it looks like, I did measure, with my thumb stuck up in the air and everything.  I really enjoyed sketching something that wasn’t a statue and I think I need to look around for some more doors to look out of.

Quebec Assurance Building door

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Black

Sketching On A Sunday Morning

I went to the museum this morning and decided to draw a short column piece featuring three woman.  I didn’t have my pencil case with me so I decided to do it in my sketchbook (10×7), using my Namiki Falcon.  This is one time when I wished for larger paper as it was hard to capture all the detail in what is roughly an 8″ high sketch.  But it was a bundle of fun to do.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10x7), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Docu Black ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, DeAtramentis Docu Black ink

Addendum:  I was playing around last night and added just a hint of color to this sketch.  I think it improved it somewhat, mostly by removing some of the starkness of the black on white.   I didn’t want to turn it into a color sketch but now I’m wondering what it would look like if I increased the tonal variation even more.  What do you think?

2014-12-14statue_c

Doing Stand Up, Sketcher Style

What does a street sketcher do when it’s snowing and there are 80 km/hr gusts blowing it around?  Cry in some beer?  Sketch lemons?  Sketch a recipe for lemonade?  I was at a loss.

Normal art people just head to their studio and draw or paint to their heart’s content, but I really have a hard time sketching without going somewhere first.  I know…I should take a pill to get over it, but I’m old and already taking too many of those.

So, I decided, why not do something that might help me when I do get to go onto the street to sketch.  One of my big problems is that while I’m very comfortable sitting on my tripod stool and can sketch up a storm there, I struggle when I try to sketch standing up.  I’m not sure why.  My belly is sufficiently large to hold a sketchbook, afterall.

Anyways, that’s what I decided to do – sketch while standing.  I went into my office, picked up sketchbook and pen, looked around and decided to draw the three principle books that stand on my desk.  I added a bit of the surroundings for context.  And yes, there is lots of stuff on those shelves but you think I’m going to let you see what a mess my office is?  Not a chance.

I still find sketching while standing up a struggle.  I lose not only some of my control over the pen but also some of my ability to concentrate.  The later is the bigger loss and I’m not sure why it occurs at all.  Maybe I need to stand around sketching more often.  Any tips for a stand-up-challenged sketcher?

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×12), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Docu Black ink