Sketching At Parc Chauveau

Denis Couture, our fearless leader

Denis Couture, our fearless leader

I don’t know what it is about French but the names of French organizations are impossible.  This includes the Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec, the name of an artist group in Quebec City.  They were established to facilitate winter life drawing sessions and that is still their principle activity but they are starting to organize outdoor summer activities as well.  This past weekend was the second year that we assembled at Parc Chauveau, a park on the north side of Quebec City.  It’s a beautiful place. The St. Charles River runs through it, providing considerable sketching fodder.

Organized by Denis Couture, a really nice guy who teaches drawing and photography at a local college, it was truly a shame that on this day, there were only three of us in attendance.  The up side is that the day was a bit more laid back as we could do pretty much what we chose to do.

Our first stop was the river, in a place where a large tower of rock, remnants from long-term erosion, juts up from the river.  It seemed fitting that we should draw it.  I decided it might be fun to put it in the background and to make Fernande, one of my sketching buddies, the central focus for the scene.  This was also the first time I got to use my new Namiki (Pilot?) Falcon.  I think I’m in love.  More on that later.

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

Stillman & Birn Delta (6×8), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

Denis knows the area quite well and he suggested that we climb back up to the road and cross the bridge to the other side of the river where there are rest rooms, picnic tables, and a trailhead for the Parc lineaire trail that runs for 32 km along the St. Charles River.  In fact, if I would have followed it for about 16 of those kilometers I would have arrived home.

As we ate lunch Denis suggested that we walk the trail some and that the views from high above the river were wonderful.  He was right about that but for my next sketch I plunked my tripod stool down in the middle of the forest, off the trail, and started drawing some unknown plant.  For a building guy, I was surprised how much fun this was and how much I wanted to do it.  I used a different approach from my usual pen first, watercolor as an afterthought approach.  I think I’ll talk about this separately as this post is becoming a bit long.

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

Stillman & Birn Delta (6×8), Pilot Falcon, Platinum Carbon Black

In spite of the poor turnout for the event, we had a really great time.  The rest of the folks just missed out.

Catching Up On My Walking

Having lost a couple days to rain, I was running a walking deficit for the week.  I walk a lot and do so as my old man way of keeping my body from taking on the shape of an eggplant.  That translates to walking a couple hours every day.  With two days lost and the worldwide sketchcrawl coming up on Saturday, I’ve been living on the streets, hoofing everywhere and anywhere, trying to put in the miles.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), Pilot Prera, Lex Gray

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Pilot Prera, Lex Gray

This has gotten in the way of my sketching time.  I just didn’t feel I could stop to sketch if I was going to get caught up.  But I did stop to do this quick sketch.  It’s one of the many gables on our train station.

I can skip a day or two without sketching, but when I do I start to feel like something is missing.  My solution this time was to sit in the backyard and draw some flowers.

I rarely draw flowers but every time I do I think that I should do it more often.  The shapes are endless.

I started this sketch with a rudimentary pencil sketch but most of the shapes were formed directly with watercolors, something I’ve only done once before and, back then, things didn’t go so well.   Once done, I added some ink using a refillable Sharpie pen.  I did this in a Stillman & Birn Delta series sketchbook.  This is my first “ivory” sketchbook.  It was fun and provided me with some much needed sketching/meditation time.

Stillman & Birn Delta (6x8)

Stillman & Birn Delta (6×8)


Transient Subjects

As a street sketcher I’m often faced with “subject leaves” syndrome.  It could be a car that drives away when I’m drawing it.  I can be a truck parking in front of a store front I’m drawing.  But the most common example comes from people, those exasperating objects that just won’t sit still.

This is the result of subject leaves syndrome.  I was sitting in a food court, waiting for my lunch partner.  I decided to draw this guy on his cell phone and his buddy, sitting bored on the other side of the table.  I began by capturing the cell phone arm as that was the most important part.  I’d mostly captured the outline of the guy when the phone descended from his ear, the other guy became animated, and they both got up and walked away.  I sort of faked a chair under the guy and that was all I could do – my subject was gone.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6), Pilot Prera, Noodler's Lex Gray

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6), Sharpie refillable pen


Sketching With Yvan

Every Monday morning I meet Yvan at “Les Collections” at the Unversité Laval.  This is a magical place that houses the university entomological collection, stores all of the animal specimens that used to be part of the natural history museum, and a large collection of plaster casts that used to be of interest to the fine arts department but they were somewhat shoved out of the way when it was determined that you didn’t need to draw to get a fine arts degree.

Their loss – our gain.  It’s not outdoor sketching but drawing single-lit plaster casts is certainly a way to improve your drawing ability and goodness knows mine needs improvement.  Truthfully, I’m not sure it improves your drawing ability or your seeing ability the most as it’s wonderful training for the eye.  In any case, it helps and it’s lots of fun.

I drew this on Monday.  Drew it on smooth Bristol board as I enjoy my new experiences with a pencil.  Beyond knowing which end makes the lines, these devices remain a mystery to me.  The drawing isn’t quite as fuzzy as this scan suggests – thank goodness 🙂


Snow Walking Along The Riviere St. Charles

I’m lucky because it’s only a 10-minute walk to the St. Charles River, a beautiful river that runs through Quebec City.  It provides me with a little bit of urban nature and the ability to walk for several kilometers without having to deal with automobiles.

Yesterday was my first attempt to walk it and while I had to crunch along on top of icy snow, there were some places where the path was clear.  The day was nice in any case and I stopped to sketch this cluster of trees on the other side of the river.  It’s sooooooo… nice to be sketching outdoors.