Sketching At The Canadian Aviation And Space Museum

20141201_AirMuseum_smWhen I was in science I used to visit the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum regularly.  It wasn’t because I was in science but rather because I’m an airplane fanatic airplanes and I worked at a research lab that was only a 90-minute drive to the museum.

I mention this because I’ve been sketching for three years and until Dec 01, 2014, I had never drawn a single airplane, in spite of my passion for them.  Why?  Cuz I can’t get excited about drawing from photos and there isn’t much airplane activity in Quebec City.

But now that my daughter is living in Ottawa, I have an excuse to go there so I finally got to sketch at this museum.  It’s a museum of significant size… airplanes are big and they have dozens of them under their roofs.  The main building (photo) is quite large and there’s an equal-sized building just to the right of the photo.  Both are packed to the gills with airplanes.  It’s a wonderful place, at least I think so.  Besides, if you’re old like me you can get in for $10 and they let you sketch to your hearts content.

I showed up shortly after opening time – at 10:30 and I quickly found a spot and started sketching.  I was in ‘detail’ mode that day, which meant I was concentrating hard on proper shape and proportion as, well, you know – airplanes are just supposed to be drawn “right”, don’tcha think?  You would if you were an airplane fanatic like I am.  Anyways, I used a pencil to draw the large shapes and then moved to my Pilot Falcon filled with DeAtramentis Black.  I was working in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook – my favorite working surface.

Curtiss Seagull

Curtiss Seagull (in Stillman & Birn Alpha 10×7 sketchbook, Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Black ink)

I spent about one and a half hours getting the ink done and then took a break to have some coffee and relax.  While I was in the restaurant I added the color (Daniel Smith) to the sketch.  I was pretty pleased with the results but also a bit fatigued so I kicked back, enjoyed the coffee, which was no longer hot, and then spent a few minutes wandering around the museum.

It was almost 12:30 by the time I decided to draw this T-33.  It’s always been a favorite and I could sit in an out of the way place and draw.  I needed to get on the road back to Quebec City by 1:30 so I quickly laid out some shapes and guidelines and went to work with my pen.  By 1:30 I had created this sketch and decided I’d better add color when I got home so I snapped a couple photos for reference.

T33 sketch with inspiration

T33 sketch with inspiration

I’m really bad about adding color to sketches and have a lot of them that ‘I’ll color it later’ never happened.  This was, almost, one of those sketches as I forgot all about it until I started to do this blog post.  Here’s the sketch with some color added.  I can’t wait to return to that museum.  Did I mention that I like airplanes (grin)?

T-33 (Stillman & Birn Alpha 10x7, Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Black ink)

T-33 (Stillman & Birn Alpha 10×7, Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Black ink)

How Did Apollo Carry His Water?

The “Olympus” exhibition at Quebec’s Museé de la civilisation includes a series of art-laden pots and pitchers that make ideal drawing subjects, as long as you’re not easily frustrated by a bunch of design details.  This particular jug is about a foot in diameter and a bit taller.  My view of it, from sitting on my stool, only exposes the bottoms of some of the characters and trees that wrap around the top of it but the placard explains that these folks are Apollo and his buddies and that the jug was used to carry water.  I mostly take a ‘who cares’ attitude towards such things as the important thing to me is that it’s a stunning piece and something fun to draw.

I started with a pencil to organize basic shapes and to lay out the detailed banding – banding that drove me nuts as I tried to draw it.  I used Strathmore Series 300 (vellum) bristol for this drawing.  Once I was happy with the proportions I switched to a Pilot Prera (F) filled with De Atramentis Brown ink, one of the new permanent fountain pen inks made available by the company.

I can’t recommend these inks enough.  They’re a dream come true.  If you haven’t seen them, go to Jane Blundell’s blog where she’s mixed up a series of colors using them.  Then you’ll want to head to Goulet Pens to buy some (grin).  To me these are the ink equvalent of Stillman & Birn’s great sketchbooks entered my life.  Both provide ideal solutions to my sketching material needs.

Apollo water jug

Apollo water jug

I’m a ‘line’ kind of guy.  I’m not a watercolor guy who happens to do his drawing with a pen.  And so when the drawing is done, I feel that I’m done.  If I add color it’s mostly done as an afterthought.  In this case, however, I decided to try adding some color.  Rather than using the original, I scanned it and printed to Canson Montval Watercolor paper.  This is my first time using this paper and it may be my last.  I much prefer the paper in my Stillman & Birn sketchbooks when it comes to using watercolors.  Anyways, this is what it looked like when I was done abusing the paper, or it me.