Making Room For Carriage Wheels

Our weather is marginal for sketching outdoors but the long winter has me pressing the limits of my cold tolerance.  I’m also motivated by the knowledge that at this time of year, there are areas in the old city that are more conducive to sketching (ie – you can see what you want to sketch) than they are later in the year when the tourists are here.

So, I put on a couple layers and headed downtown, to an area near the port area called Place Royale.  The most important feature there is a gorgeous church but I was after smaller game.

I was going to draw the corner of a wall – a special corner of a wall.  Streets in Quebec City during the 18th Century were narrow.  Carriage wheels, on the other hand, were very large and protruded out from the carriage, making it difficult to negotiate a carriage around the corners.

The solution was to inset the corners of the buildings for the first eight feet of so, creating an odd-shaped corner with no explanation if you wander the streets in the 21st Century.  But now, when you come to Quebec, you’ll know why some of the corners look like this:


Stillman & BIrn Beta (6×8), Sailor Profit calligraphy pen, DeAtramentis Document Black, Daniel Smith watercolors


A Caffeine Dose At Dose

I’ve started going to a tiny coffee shop that’s in the high-rise district of Quebec City.  The shop is called Dose, for reasons known only to them. The view is horrible for sketching but they have the best Café americano in the city.

Being an opportunistic sketcher, I thought I’d pull a Liz Steel and draw my cup.  “Spring is slowly coming to Quebec City and I hope to be on the streets sketching in a week or so, ” he said optimistically.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x8), Pilot Falcon SEF, De Atramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8), Pilot Falcon SEF, De Atramentis Document Black

Sitting Tall While Drawing Baby Buddah

I love my Walking Stool.  I’ve been using it for two years and it still looks like new, in spite of use nearly every day.  They’re more expensive than most tripod stools but so much more comfortable and I need my butt to be comfortable when I draw.  Mine is the 18″ tall seat and I had the opportunity to try out the 22″ seat and wanted to see if I preferred it.

The first problem I had to over come was what to sketch and where.  It’s still too cold to sketch outside so I set up a statue on my kitchen table and, sitting in the middle of the room, started sketching.  The first thing I noticed was that my drawing support was gone.  The taller stool unbent my legs to a point where I no longer had a lap upon which to rest my sketchbook.  Bummer…I like my lap.  I need that support.  Or do I?

A problem I have as a sketcher is bending over too much to sketch.  This causes two problems.  The first is that it hurts my back to be bent over for extended period.  I’m old and back pain makes me grumpy.  The other thing is that I have to move my head a lot more from a bent over drawing position to an upright viewing position, in an extreme form of the typical bobbing-head sketcher behavior.

The taller stool forced me to figure out how to hold my sketchbook against my body.  Lots of people do it.  I struggle with this but I really should learn how.  I’ve been drawing for three years and should have figured it out by now.

In the end, this taller stool weighs a bit more than my shorter one, is a bit harder to carry, and the only thing I “gain” is being forced to learn to sketch like a big person.  I guess I’ll stick with my 18″ version (I’m 6-feet tall by the way).

Here’s the sketch I did during this experiment.  I used my Pilot Falcon and De Atramentis Document Black ink.  Watercolors are Daniel Smith.  Sketchbook is a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×8).  Hope you like it.


Still Looking At Snow…Lots Of Snow

There are hints that we may be starting to slide towards warmer temperatures but unless 34F is warm to you, they’re not here yet.  And I’m getting desperate.  I sit at home, trying to get a mental picture of what I might see if I were looking out windows from various places I can access around town.

And so it was as I hopped a bus and headed to rue Cartier, a classic shopping/restaurant street.   At the end of a small indoor shopping complex is one of the best burger restaurants in town.  They make real burgers with lots of imaginative toppings.  And they have tables, next to windows, that look out on what is a large garden area associated with a historic house.  I knew I could see something to draw from one of those windows, though the garden itself would be completely covered in snow.

Here’s what I came up with.  Lots of snow, which is the common state of all scenes in Quebec City right now, but I was in a warm building, sitting in the sun, and I was sketching.  What more could a guy want.

2015-03-27houseThis was done in a Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9) sketchbook using a Namiki Falcon (alias Pilot Falcon, which some are now calling a Pilot Elabo), and De Atramentis Document Black ink.   With any luck at all, spring may arrive before the summer solstice.

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?


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