Sketching Is A Windy Business

It’s very windy here at this time of year, but the temperatures and sun (heck, it was all the way up to 16C this day) has caused my emergence from hibernation and I’m dancing in the streets.

I headed towards the port area.  At this time of year the boat yard operators are like squirrels, looking for nuts.  There’s a constant scramble to set up the marina docking system (removed for winter so it’s not destroyed by ice) and to get the boats back in the water.

But this day it was very windy.  I tried to find a place to sit out of the wind that also gave me something interesting to sketch and I failed.  In the end, I was sitting at a picnic table that sits in front of the farmer’s market.  My thought was that if I was going to sit in a 30 km/h wind, it might be nice to have a platform for my sketchbook.  The platform was nice – the 30 km/h not so much.

I drew the Telus (cell phones) building, hiding a lot of it behind trees, which are much more interesting than the building.  It was done in a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8) with my Pilot Falcon and Platinum Carbon Black.


Parliament Statues Are Great Subjects…Sometimes

Quebec’s Parliament building and grounds are over-grown with statues.  Some are very nice, some not so much.  One thing is certain, Quebec owns a lot of bronze.

I agreed to meet my buddies to sketch a Native American fisherman, one of the really nice statues.  It resides in a fountained grotto right below the main entrance to Parliament.  As it turned out, we met at a bad time and on a bad day to sketch it.

There were workmen dissecting the fountain and doing repairs so we sat next to a hulking truck and had to locate so we wouldn’t be in the way of the work crew. Worse, however, was the sun, which was positioned so that the statue was in dark shade, making it very hard to see.  I’ll probably go back and sketch it again, but very early in the morning when the sun would be shining into the grotto where the statue resides.

Still, we had fun, as we always do.  Here’s my result, such that it is.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (9x12), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & BIrn Beta (9×12), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Flowers Are A Sketcher’s Best Friend

The sun has finally come to Quebec and I’ve been out sketching every day.  What this means is that I’m way behind in my blogging. Sorry about that but here’s a sketch I did a week ago when it was raining.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x8), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8), Namiki Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

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.

My Stillman & Birn Quest

One of the expenses of living in Quebec City is shipping.  I have to order most of my art supplies online as there simply isn’t a place to buy what I need here.  So, when I get the opportunity to visit places like Ottawa and Toronto I’m like the proverbial farmer who comes to the big city.  I’m looking for stuff… lots of stuff.

At the top of my to-buy list this trip was “Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.”  Anyone who has followed my blog knows that I use them almost exclusively as I appreciate their quality.  In short, they make me look better than I am and I need all the help I can get.  One of my first stops in Ottawa was a big disappointment as the stored looked like they were going out of business.  If empty shelves can make a retail store money, they are doing great.

But Toronto is a different place.  It’s the location of two of the largest online art stores in Canada.  Both stock S&B sketchbooks and both have physical stores in Toronto.  I had a plan.  Curry Art Supplies is located only a 15 minute walk from our hotel so that was my first stop.  While they did have some S&B, they didn’t have the sizes and paper types I wanted.  Very disappointing.

Above Ground Art Supplies

But after a romp through the Silver Snail, a comic book store just down the street, we headed for Above Ground Art Supplies, another 15 minutes of walking.  Above Ground has got to be one of the coolest art stores on the planet.  It’s a large, beautiful, three-story house and each room of the first two floors is filled, floor to ceiling, with stuff. Cool stuff.  Great stuff.

S&B_BetaI was so excited that I nearly ran up the stairs to the second floor where the sketchbooks were located.  You have to see the sketchbook room to believe it.  They’ve got hundreds of sketchbooks.  They’ve got so many that their inventory spills out into a hallway and dribbles into a room containing modeling materials.  I’m sure I spent half an hour just looking at all the sketchbooks.  Most important, though was that they had the Stillman & Birn Beta series books that I was looking for.  I needed some to get me through the summer.   I wanted to buy them all but in a rare fit of rational thought, I limited myself to buying three of them.  I added some incidentals to my pile and checked out.  The credit card was only mildly warm as I left this great art store.