Karen Casper – Part 3

Part 1 here.    Part 2 here.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3x5), Esterbrook J9550

Stillman & Birn Alpha (3×5), Esterbrook J9550

The third day of Karen’s visit started with me getting to the rendevous point a few minutes early so I sat down, grabbed my Pilot Metropolitan and started doing a quick sketch of one of the decorative facades that sit between the more major towers of the Parliament building.  I wanted to see if I could capture such a complex thing quickly, sort of “Liz Steel” style.

I was pretty happy with the results until I tried to put some watercolor on it and realized that I’d forgotten that I’d filled the Metro with J. Herbin Cacao de Bresil, a washable ink.  A bit of smearing ensued but I switched to a waterbrush and finished up with clean water.  I was still pretty happy with it given that I’d spent less than 10 minutes on it.

When Karen showed up we headed towards the ferry landing, though we took a route so she could see some other parts of the old city as we went.  The ferry ride was a joy, as always.  I love being on the water, even for only the brief minutes for this trip.

We decided to sit in the new park area associated with the south shore landing.  This is a wonderful place for sketchers as they’ve got large, comfy chairs pointed at the north shore.  We took two of them and got to work.  I gotta tell you a story first, though.  We’d been discussing a difficulty that Karen and I have about ‘zooming’ into our subjects.  Karen lamented that no matter what she did she always over-did this and ended up with things going off the page.  I have this problem to a lesser degree but more along the lines of the size of my scene being limited by the zooming.

I mention this because I was determined to “push things back” and I did so by including some foreground in the scene.  Unfortunately, this “pushed” the north side of the river so far back that I had a hard problem getting fine enough lines to depict all the building shapes.  I’m presenting my sketch without any color so you can see what I mean.  I improved this at home by thickening the foreground lines and using very pale color on the main subject but even so, I’ve got to go back and try it again.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (6x9)

Stillman & Birn Alpha (6×9)

True to the discussion, Karen had the problem she mentioned but by selectively moving stuff around, she ended up with a sketch that I thought was pretty good.  It may not be geographically correct but it presents Quebec City and all its parts in a whimsical way that I liked.  Karen didn’t like it so much, though, and decided that she wanted to try again.  We both decided that it was time for lunch, which became at least an hour of talking color.


Karen’s second attempt at the skyline was done just as outlines of the levels in the scene.  The results were awesome in my opinion.  I stood and watched as Karen chose colors for the various parts of this sketch and it just seemed magical to my ‘reflect reality’ brain and she’s convinced me that I need to play with color more.  I’m mostly a line guy who sees color as an afterthought.  My bad.

I stood and watched as Karen chose colors for the various parts of this sketch and it just seemed magical to my 'reflect reality' brain. The result was spectacular.

While Karen was doing her second sketch, I decided to draw a house that’s high on the hill overlooking the park we were in.  I’ve drawn the house before but this new park provided a much better viewing angle.

Stillman & Birn Beta (6x9)

Stillman & Birn Beta (6×9)

When we finished up we were both worn out.  We grabbed the ferry back to Quebec.  We were walking in the old city when we came across a guy who was sketching.  We stopped to talk with him and invited him to meet us the next morning for Karen’s last sketching session in Quebec City.  He said he might come and we continued on towards her hotel.  At Parliament we split up and I headed home.  Day four… coming up.