Frustrated By Bad Paper Choices

I’m still working myself back into a sketching rhythm and that has meant a lot of spur of the moment decisions and results.  And so it went during the saga I am about to tell.

I’ve been doing a lot of my sketching on cheap paper, mostly card stock and copy paper as I try to get my eye back into shape.  Lots of sheets of ellipses, circles, cubes and spheres as well as sketches of anything in front of me.  That’s working great, lots of fun, and these sketcher calistenics me to get back in shape.  I feel like a baseball player, trying to get his “timing” back.  I know how, but something just isn’t quite right yet.

Anyhow, here’s a couple sketches that didn’t find their way into the garbage can.  The first came while I wandered around Pinterest.  I’m a long-standing train nut and I often ask myself why I don’t draw more of them.

Here’s one, which started as a quick sketch of the nose of a diesel engine I remember from my youth.  I did it on card stock and when I decided to turn it into a color sketch I got the msgs that watercolor provides when it hits paper without sizing.  Everything here is dull, somehow muddy, and I couldn’t add a lot of fine detail.  It’s about 4×6 and done with pencil.

On another day I drew this young girl.  Seems these days I’ve got a thing for little girls looking around corners.  This one was done on photocopy paper and I decided not to bother trying to do watercolor.  This, too, was done with a pencil.

 

 

I’ve just cut up some Fabriano Artistico sheets to provide me with some loose sketching paper.  That should solve this problem (grin).

 

Life Drawing And Sketching With Friends

I’m getting behind in my blogging to I’ve combined a couple things here.  We’re still in pre-spring here, with lots of rain and we have only rarely gotten to a temp of 10C.  Still, sketching season is upon us and it’s been wonderful so far.

It’s also been a bit weird.  I find myself distracted from sketching by a need to reconnect, to catch up, with friends.  And so it was when I went out to Miriam Blair’s house on the Ile D’Orleans with Yvan to sketch.  It was so good to be there, with fellow sketchers, that I had a hard time taking the actual sketching very seriously.  We sat around a table sketching because it was cold and rainy outdoors and much of the activity was done with mouths and ears, not with our pens and pencils.

I drew these pears, first as a pencil drawing but later with some color added.  Then I spied a Ball jar in the window that had something growing from it.  It was too far away to tell what it was (later found to be geranium starts) but I started sketching it anyway.  I find it both hard and easy to draw things I can’t really see.  Hard because it’s difficult to make out the objects being drawn but easy because it’s easy not to be distracted by details when you can’t see them (grin).

This week I had my first opportunity to do actual “life drawing.”  Most of my drawing is done from observation but being able to draw someone while they posed is, somehow special.  But the danse school put on such an event and I attended.  Dancers would do short poses and I would frantically try to scribble down their form.  In spite of a bad headache, I had a lot of fun.  Wish they’d do it every week.

Anyway, here’s three of the pages I did.  Note that I have no “technique.”  I drew on photocopy paper and drew on top of previous poses.  That’s something I will do differently if I ever get another chance as it sometimes became confusing. I worked with a colored pencil and then a plain old 0.7mm mechanical pencil.  Very basic.

Art And Life’s Little Cycles

The last big sketching adventure I took was back in 2017.  It was when Liz Steel came to Monatreal and I got lucky and spent an entire day trying to keep up with her and Marc Taro Holmes, a couple of the fastest sketchers on the planet.  I failed miserably but had the time of my life.

The next day Liz met with everyone to sketch in downtown Montreal, and we did.  But in the afternoon I had to leave early because my leg started hurting badly.  I wasn’t sure why.

And that was the beginning of a slide downward, to the point that I had a hard time walking around my house, let alone around the city.  The pandemic resulted in difficulty seeing doctors as the hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID patients.  My knee replacement surgery got cancelled twice but finally happened last year.

I’m older, not much wiser, but when Marc called me and said that she an Laurel Holmes would be driving back from Baie St. Paul and wondered if they could visit I was thrilled.  We all went sketching, though Laurel did it with a camera.  Her results were better too (grin).

Truth is, we spent far more time over coffee, talking about writing, doing art, and the world in general than we did sketching.  It was so cold that being outside for long wasn’t appealing.   The tale that follows was the most sketcher-battery charging event that I’ve had in several years.

Montreal meets Quebec City

I was to meet Marc and Laurel at the Marriot hotel Saturday morning.  I was there, where were they?  I texted Marc, he said they’d be right down, so I sat down and quickly sketched this large vase in the Marriot lobby.

Then Marc phoned with “Where are you?” and it turns out, there are TWO Marriots in Quebec City.  I was at the wrong one.  A bit of a windy walk/jog solved that problem and soon enough we were sitting in a cafe talking a mile a minute in an attempt to “catch up.”

Eventually, though we decided to go to the Plains of Abraham museum which celebrates a famous battle between the British and French, much of which took place on what is now a huge park outside the walled city that is Old Quebec.

Did I mention that Marc sketches fast?  I try to keep up but I’m just not worthy.  Nevertheless, it’s fun to try.  While I did this sketch, he did three of them (grin).  We worked mostly in pencil all day.

We continued sketching and, it seemed, my sketches got smaller and smaller.  Here’s one I did of a hand-carved head that was only two inches tall.

It became lunch time and we went to a restaurant and continued gabbing but ultimately decided we should go sketch.  It was bitter cold and windy so we walked across the street and quickly sketched a statue of Confucius.  I started it too small and ended the same way but my hands were frozen so I didn’t care.  Eventually we decided to regroup in the morning, hoping for better weather.

I met them at their hotel and we headed directly for the McDonalds for breakfast.  Again we couldn’t seem to get enough of art talk, but we decided to go to the Hotel Frontenac to sketch.  I was determined to do a larger (we were both working on 5×7 sheets of paper) sketch but I gave up on it because I’d gotten the organization of the building all wrong.  By then we were both very cold so I did this small sketch of a statue of Cartier that stands next to the hotel.

After lunch I suggested we go to a small park that overlooks the St. Lawrence and that has classic buildings around it.  I thought it might be out of the wind.

Marc has his annual 30×30 event coming up where you create one painting/sketch direct-to-watercolor every day for 30 days.  Thus, we talked a lot about that.  I tried it and learned a few things.  First, is that you’ve got to keep your work relatively dry or you’ll lose all your edges.  Second, never get impatient and try to add darks on top before the sketch is dry.  I did neither of these things, of course.  That’s how I learned them.  Oh, a third thing I learned is that I can’t talk while doing it like I can when I draw.  Better luck next time, Larry.

It’s funny how such a motley pile of sketches can bring so much joy.  I had a great time and I’m grateful that Marc and Laurel thought of me and stopped by.

Oh…before I go.  As if I haven’t embarrassed myself enough with these sketches, here’s an example of where artistic accidents aren’t so happy.  I decided to add some color to my uniformed manikin and while doing so dropped a brush full of pyrrol red onto the left side of the uniform.  I scrambled to fix/fake it but gave up after a while.

 

Online Victoria And Albert Museum – Great For Artists

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“Canada spends all spring waiting for spring to arrive.”

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I don’t know who wrote this. It was a blurb associated with a Weather Channel video.  It may be the best descriptor of how a sketcher feels in Canada when he/she looks outside.  I was supposed to go to a coffee shop to sketch this morning because it was supposed to rain.  Well, it did rain, kinda sorta.  It is currently raining ice pellets and accompanied by high winds.  As crazy as I am, I’m not crazy enough to go out in that mess.  And so I’ll write about art instead [sigh].

Indoor art it is.  I’m probably the only guy on Earth to discover the Victoria and Albert Museum’s online resource, but I got excited when I found it.  I haven’t seen an online resource that provides such high-resolution graphics of museum holdings, allowing the user to zoom and scroll over the work.

Here’s an example and one I’ve started to work from, a sculpture by Aime-Jules Dalou of a woman nursing her child.  If you click on the website image you’ll find several images of the statue and the ability to scroll around them, zoom into them.  I decided not to do the entire statue but rather to zoom in, rotate a bit and capture a more typical portrait graphic.  This was the result.

I’ve only started on the drawing and stopped with a very light massing in of tone.  I stopped because I’m not sure if I want to complete it with pencil, the original idea, or to do watercolor washes to capture the sepia look of the statue.   This is done on Stonhenge paper, though, so I’ll probably proceed with pencil, taking me down yet another road where I have little experience.  I did increase the contrast of this scan somewhat because many of the lines are very light.  Hopefully working on this will mitigate my frustration of those ice pellets hitting my window.

Significant Event <-> Trivial Result

I’ve mentioned before that this blog is as much me documenting my sketching events as presenting great art work.  This is fortunate as I have very little great art work to present.  But here in Quebec we’ve lived through some of the most strict anti-COVID policies for two years.  We’re still partially limited in what we can/can’t do and still use vaccination passports and wear masks everywhere.  And, right or wrong, we’ve all become trained NOT to go anywhere.

But the last few days has brought relief from our bitter cold and so I’ve gone out walking, mostly in the snow and rain but as the temps have been right around freezing, I’ve enjoyed it.  Anyways, I walked through the farmer’s market that’s right down the street from where I live the other day.  The place is dead right now due to people not going out but also because there are no farmers there selling stuff so aside from a few permanent stores, there’s not much to be had there.

There is a place that sells coffee, though.  It’s located along a big hallway and there are some places to sit on the opposite side of the hallway.  There were two women sitting there when I showed up.  I decided to get a coffee and draw them.  I sat down, got my little 4×6 scribble book out, marked the top/bottom of her head and…they both got up to leave.  I quickly sketched a face from “memory” and that’s what you see in the middle of this sketch.

Then I was alone, nobody to sketch.  I was thinking of drawing one of the tables when a woman walked down the hallway.. so in the few seconds she was visible, I drew the back of her head.  Then another person walked by… another few seconds of scribbling.  Each of the people gave me 5-10 seconds to draw them so the results aren’t great.  But this was my first foray into a coffee place in two years and so this was downright exciting.  I had to post this miserable sketchbook page for posterity.

While I’m posting, here are some other quick sketches I’ve done.  There’s no rhyme or reason associated with them.  Done on the fly and on a whim.

Here I found an Indigo Prismacolor pencil, decided to sharpen it for some reason and this led me to draw a bit with it.

I’m quite excited about the prospects of getting out sketching again.  Hopefully spring is coming early this year.  I’ll be posting a massive oil paint project I’ve been doing soon.  Just need to turn everything into digital images and I’ll post them.