More Museum Sketching

I’m settling into a winter sketching regime which means I’m becoming a regular at Quebec’s Musee de la Civilisation  again.   I made over 50 museum visits last year and it’s likely I’ll do the same this year.  This day, I was with my new buddy, Fernande and we had a good time sketching in the Paris exhibition.  We followed up with a celebratory tea in Cafe 47, the museum cafeteria.

I nearly went cross-eyed trying to do a ‘proper’ drawing of this Delizy Brassart bicycle, which dates to 1889.  I was particularly interested in getting the frame organization ‘right’ as it’s very unique, with the crank being bolted on below the actual bicycle frame instead of being an integral part of it.  The solid rubber tires and carbide light are also very interesting.  Bicycling was a big deal at the turn of the century, with many innovations, the first Tour de France, and women wore bloomers so they could ride, showing off their ankles.  Ooo la la!

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9), TWSBI Mini with Platinum Carbon Black ink

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9) sketchbook, TWSBI Mini with Platinum Carbon Black ink

I thought I should draw something a bit easier after that so I chose this vase with stopper.  Pretty little thing and, I fear, I didn’t do it justice.  I used a Uniball UM-151 brown-black pen to do the brown markings on the vase, which worked better than I thought it would.

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9) sketchbook, TWSBI Mini w/Platinum Carbon Black ink

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9) sketchbook, TWSBI Mini w/Platinum Carbon Black ink

One thing about museum visits is that they challenge me to draw things I might not otherwise draw.  It really helps and there’s nothing better than a museum atmosphere to stimulate the creative neurons.

 

My First “Painting”

If you follow my posts you know that I’m a pen driver.  I draw a bunch of lines, hope they look like something and then, if I want to add color, I generally just ‘fill in’ the various pieces, using watercolors like crayons.

But I thought it was time to do a “painting.”  I’m not really sure when a sketch becomes a painting or whether you have to approach things very differently to create a painting.  Seems to me like it’s more the later than former so that’s what I did….that different thing.

We’d just gotten some snow and I was out walking, saw a “winter scene” to my liking and took a quick snapshot of it.  When I got home I took a 5×7 sheet of Fabriano Artistico “Extra White” cold press paper, and I made a few marks to indicate a horizon and the verticals for my fire hydrant.  Ya gotta have fire hydrants in paintings don’t you?  I do.

2013-11-27Hydrant_72Then, with considerable intrepidation, I started applying paint roughing out the tree and hydrant in light color.  Once I knew their ultimate shape I increased the color until it was mostly as you see it here.  Then I added a bit of ink just to emphasize things a bit.  I don’t know if this is an example of my demonstrating a willingness to learn new tricks or that I have no shame in posting my first painting.  Either way, here it is.

 

Street Sketching in Paris – Sort Of

This is a hard time of year for me.  Not only do I not like winter, as a street sketcher my daily routine is snatched from my by the cold.  My Arizona fingers just won’t hold onto a pen when it’s cold.  I know, I’m a sissy, but I’ll point out that the birds leave because they can.

But all is not lost.  Last year I lived in the museums, sketching Samurai helmets, Nigerian masks, statues, and paintings.  This year I have decided that I will spend more time in coffee shops, drawing people, tables, and countertops AND heading to the museums.  One of the big exhibits at our Musee de la Civilisation, this year, is Paris on Stage, that reflects Paris as it was at the beginning of the 19th Century, with emphasis on the world expositions that took place there in 1889 and 1900.

And this is where I was, with a couple of friends, for a pleasant Saturday morning of sketching.  We’ve done it for two weeks, now and I think it will become a regular thing for us as we’re having lots of fun, sketching, followed up by a pleasant cup of tea and the ever-present discussions of art materials.

Three women from LHermitte painting

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), Pilot Prera, watercolor pencils

There’s a huge mural called Les Halles by Léon Lhermitte.  It hangs at the entrance of the multi-room exhibit.  It’s an amazing work that captures the outdoor marketplace in Paris at that time.  One could sketch portions of it forever and not become bored.

My skills, thought, are too limited to do it justice but here is my attempt at three of the women in the painting.  Lots of fun to do and, for me, very difficult.  I’ll be sketching more of this mural as I hibernate in the museum this winter as it was lots of fun.

I find watercolor pencils and a waterbrush to be a great way of coloring sketches while in the museum.  I use Albrect-Durer pencils as I love the way the lines completely dissolve, unlike other pencils I’ve tried.  I do use watercolors in the museum sometimes, though.  This museum is very accommodating to sketcher-persons (grin).

Le Lapin Agile in Paris

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), Platinum Carbon pen, watercolors

This week I had decided I would fill two pages with ‘cabaret’ sketches.  There is a significant portion of the exhibit devoted to the ‘hot’ cabaret scene in 19th Century Paris, with posters, paintings, signs and photographs of the places (eg – Moulin Rouge, Chat Noir) as well as early videos of dancers, patrons, and even the prostitutes who were part of that scene.  I began with this sketch of a painting featuring Le Lapin Agile, a cabaret owned by a prostitute who rose in the ranks of the community.  I  loved the winter scene particularly the many trees, devoid of leaves as they hunkered down, much like I’m doing right now, against the cold.  This sketch is about 6×6.

Cabaret page, sketched at Musee de la Civilisation

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), TWSBI mini, watercolors

My eye caught a large brass sign hanging high above me.  It was the original sign that hung to announce Le Chat Noir, possibly second only to the Moulin Rouge for notoriety in Paris.  I quickly sketched it and then followed it up with a loose rendition of a portion of a Moulin Rouge poster that was, itself a pencil sketch of the place.   Then it was time for tea so we packed up and headed to Cafe 47, the museum coffee shop.  It was a great day.

 

 

First Museum Sketching Session Of 2013

Winter is descending upon us quickly.  It actually snowed yesterday, though it’s still not cold enough to stick around.  That will happen soon enough.  There’s still the occasional day when I can brave the temperatures and sketch outdoors, as long as I don’t do it for very long.

So I’m in the middle of summer-to-winter sketching transition.  I’m warming up my watercolor pencils for visits to museums but, for the moment, the watercolors are close at hand for when its possible to use them.  I’m getting out my heavy coats, hats and gloves, for the walks to those museums and I’ve buffed up my winter boots.

It’s all sort of depressing when I think about it.  I try hard not to but the short day lengths are a constant reminder of what the next five months will bring.  We’re down to ten-hours of daylight and by the time we get to mid-December, we’ll be in the dark for all but eight hours of every day.  I guess it could be worse; I could live in Finland.  Those guys have really short days.

And that reminds me, I had to get new batteries for my museum light.  A light is a requirement for sketching in our museums as while the subjects are lit, the rooms have subdued lighting.  I use a Mighty Bright book light that clips to my sketchbook and it works great.

2013-10-26GillesCharron_72The light and the rest of my materials showed up at the Musee de la Civilisation last Saturday.  I was with them.  I was there to meet three other sketchers and to sketch in the warmth and comfort of a great museum.

When I arrived they were checking in.  Gilles wasn’t yet a member of the museum (a real bargain for a sketcher in a cold place – I went there over 50 times last winter) and he was filling out the form to become one.  I sat down and quickly sketched him.  We all chuckled over the result and headed to the exhibits.

The new big exhibit is Paris, 1889-1914.  At that time, Paris was a hotbed of technical achievement in addition to its famous art and cabaret communities.  Paris hosted the worlds fair in 1889 and in 1900, a time when things like telegraph and electricity generation and uses were still novelties.  This exhibit reflects this, with a mixture of art (eg – Rodin sculptures and a lot of paintings of Paris), lots of material from stage, screen and cinema, early bicycles, steam-powered cars, and a lot of different electrical gizmos and gadgets.  In short, there’s lots of stuff to sketch.

I’d met two of the sketchers at our recent sketchcrawl and as this was the first time to be sketching in a smaller group with them, we (well, I mean I) spent a lot more time talking than I did sketching.  We had a lot of fun talking about materials, what winter sketching in Quebec is like, and just a bunch of general chit-chat.

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6x9), Pilot Prera F, Platinum Carbon Black ink

Stillman & Birn Zeta (6×9), Pilot Prera F, Platinum Carbon Black ink

My plan was to sketch three things on two pages and knit them together into a ‘journal’ page as this is an area I want to experiment with more.  Sadly, I only managed to get two sketches finished so the page isn’t quite what I had planned, but here it is in any case.  Hope you like it.  I hope the four of us can get back to the museum real soon.

Taking A Coffee Break, Sketcher Style

It was sort of cold when I headed out to sketch a couple days ago.  I’d nearly froze to death the day before while sketching a small restaurant.  So, I decided that I should find some place indoors to sketch and I headed downtown.  When I got there I wandered around a bit and then went into the Second Cup, a chain of Starbucks look-alikes.

It was not very busy so I decided this was the place for me.  I got a cup of coffee and sat at a high table near the periphery of the shop.  I got out my pad of Patrick-paper (a sketchbook sent to me by Patrick, hence the name) and started sketching.  I started with the one person in the scene, drew a few lines to identify some major horizontals and then just started adding stuff.  And then I added more stuff.

2013-10-23SecondCup_72When I finished the ink work I paused to drink some of my coffee.  It was still warm.  I added the color, took a breath, and drank some more coffee.  It wasn’t very warm.  I guess I’m going to have to acquire a taste for cold coffee as I’ve certainly acquired a taste for sketching in coffee shops.