Last Saturday I and a group of more talented sketchers took to the streets of Quebec City as part of a worldwide “sketchcrawl”, to spend the day sketching our fair city. I could tell you all about it. I could show you pictures. But that’s already been done better than I could at the Drawn to Quebec blog so click thee to the photos and discussion.
In conjunction with the Worldwide Sketchcrawl effort on July 14th, We’re having a sketchcrawl here in Quebec City. I hope you’ll join us for some sketching fun.
Date: July 14th, 2012
Time: Start at 10:00 AM
Location: Meet at the Plains of Abraham’s Jardin de Jeanne D’Arc (corner of Rue de Bernieres and Avenue Tache)
Cost: Free; but you will have to provide your own materials. Bring your favorite pointy devices and sketchbook. Also, we will picnic at lunch time so bring food and drink. There are water fountains on both ends of the garden and restrooms are available.
If you’d like more information, please contact:Bethann at email@example.com or Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org (418-525-4985)
We’d love to know in advance if you plan to participate but drop-ins are also welcome.
Here’s something you won’t see in many urban sketcher’s sketchbooks, an Inukshuk. The Inuit have used these for years to provide directions, mark locations, and even to aid in caribou hunts. Because of this, you can find these human-like rock piles scattered across the northern parts of Canada… or in souvenir shops, as miniature versions are quite popular.
This one, however, is in downtown Quebec City, on the Parliament grounds. I’d guess its height at ten feet. Yesterday wasn’t the optimal time to sketch it as there are barriers up around the grounds due to construction so I couldn’t get as close as I’d like, nor could I view it from its front, the optimal way to sketch an inukshuk (“in-ooo-shuck”). But, I was there; it was there; and I sketched it as, these days, I’m interested in rocks and how to depict them.
This sketch was done in a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8) sketchbook, using a Pilot Prera pen filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink. Winsor & Newton artist watercolors provided the color. I REALLY like the Beta sketchbook paper. So thick, so friendly to both pen and watercolor. I’ve become quite spoiled by my Alpha series sketchbooks but the Beta series is yet one step better for the kinds of sketching I do.
Any inukshuks in your town (grin)?
One of the things I’ve noticed since since I became a sketcher is that most man-made objects have short lifespans, and getting shorter in our disposable economy. We really need to do something about that.
But architecture is the big exception, largely because buildings built before the 50s and 60s were built to last a loooooong time. Construction was brick, with thick walls and roofs covered with metal. And oh do they last…and last. There are hundreds of buildings in Quebec City that were built in the late 19th Century and hundreds more built during the first quarter of the 20th. Many remain have not been torn down to make room for the square box buildings we build today for one simple reason. These old buildings were built to be as attractive as they were functional. As I compare the beauty of these old buildings and compare them to the more modern parts of our city, it’s not hard to conclude that we’re sacrificing a lot in the name of build it cheap.
The Fire House Example
As in every city, in Quebec City things occasionally catch on fire. And like other cities, we have a fire department and their facilities scattered around the city. And if you look at the fire engines that arrived at fires in the early part of the 20th Century they looked like this. Very cool and people now visit museums to see them.
But today modern fire equipment are marvels of engineering, far more capable at quenching the flames. Far more expensive too but we spend the money because they do a better job. As a fire hydrant sketcher, I know there are some fire engine sketches in my future but it’s the fire houses that have caught my eye. I’ve seen several here that can only be described with a single word – KEWL!
And so this past weekend I sat on the sidewalk across the street from this majestic building and sketched it. It was done in a Stillman & Birn 10×7 Alpha sketchbook, using a Pilot Prera (fine) pen filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray. Aren’t I right? Isn’t it KEWL! Why don’t we build buildings like this anymore?
Into each life some rain must fall – Henry Longfellow
I wonder if Longfellow was thinking of plein air sketching when he wrote that famous line. Probably not. But as spring came to Quebec City it came in couplets, a a day of sunshine followed by a cold, rainy day. And I was poised with sketchbook, wanting to hit the streets to do some sketching.
And so it was when I woke to a ‘to do’ list that said, ‘go sketching’, but the day greeted me with cloudy skies and cool temps. I’d made that appointment with myself and I wasn’t going to let a few clouds prevent it, no matter how ominous they looked. And so I headed out, hopping a bus for the downtown area.
Though it was a bit cool, I was having a great sketching session as I sat on my Walk Stool, capturing one of the many interesting buildings within my habitat. As the Urban Sketchers say…show the world one sketch at a time. I’d gotten the sketch to the point of adding details when it started to rain. In atypical fashion, I’d actually anticipated the need for an umbrella and I got it out, opened it, and decided that I should take the proverbial ‘location shot’ before I left for the day.
Aside from the fact that the umbrella was one of those small things that are too small to truly protect humans my size, I bumped against another problem; I didn’t have enough hands. If evolution was so smart, we’d have three. I only have two.
I needed to hold the sketchbook up so the photo would include both the sketch and the actual building and, of course, I needed to hold the camera. I could put the umbrella down but then the sketch would get wet. And so it was that I was trying to hold umbrella AND camera in one hand, the sketchbook in the other.
I had looked relaxed and confident while I was sketching. Now I looked like some sort of contortionist. Trying to hold camera and umbrella while looking through the viewfinder, while holding the sketchbook out in front of me was, well, trying. And then there was the problem of having a free finger to push the button. I gave up on trying to look through the camera. I shot several quick photos, hoping that one of them actually included sketch and building.
Somewhere along the line my oldsheimers caused me to forget this sketch and a couple weeks has gone by. I ‘discovered’ it as I was flipping through my sketchbook and I decided it was overdue for completion. This is the result. Hope you like it. Have you ever been caught in the rain while sketching?
Like all of my sketches, this one was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbook. I used a Lamy Al-Star and Platinum Carbon Black ink to finish it. I may have used the same pen when I started the sketch too but oldsheimers strikes again. Color is Winsor & Newton Artist Watercolor.