Opportunistic Sketching In Ottawa

I was in Ottawa to pick up my daughter, who was coming home for the summer.  My wife and I decided it would be a good idea to spend a few days there and, I decided it would be a good idea to also drive to Toronto to see a Blue Jays game, though in my defense, it was my daughter’s idea.

And so it was that I found myself as a tourist, with my family, as we wandered the city, mostly just eating, drinking and relaxing.  Many have discussed the difficulties of sketching while on excursions with non-believers, err… non-sketchers and I’m no exception to this struggle.  Still, if one takes advantage of opportunities and is happy with quick-sketching, sketching can become part of the experience.  Here are a few of the small sketches I did while in Ottawa.

2015-05-01Ottawa1We were walking along the Rideau Canal, enjoying the sunshinek and using phrases like “it’s hot today” for the first time in months. We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  My wife and I decided to give our daughter a rest (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it) so we sat down on a bench.  I got out my sketchbook (3×5) and did this quick sketch of a couple girls talking on the other side of the canal.

2015-05-01Ottawa2Once my daughter was well-rested we moved on.  We walked and walked and walked.  If you lined up all of our steps in a straight line it would be a very long straight line.  But it was fun even for an old man like myself.

We sat on the grass in front of Parliament, along with a bunch of other like-minded (tired from walking no doubt) folks and, as a group, worked on our sunburns.  After that was accomplished we went across the street to the information center.  I’ve found I can get a lot of sketching done while women are in the bathroom and so I started quick-sketching people walking across the street.  Parliament should be in the background somewhere but there’s only so much bathroom time available and I was pushing it.  Color was added later that evening.


At one point we were in a park not far from the US embassy and the art museum.  I don’t know its name and you probably don’t care anyway.  We were drinking bubble tea.  Lots of other folks were enjoying the day and I decided to quickly sketch a few of them.  Here’s one of those sketches, again done in the 3×5 sketchbook.

We went walking again when we returned from Toronto.  There are numerous places where you can look over the Ottawa River and I decided that I needed to do a small cityscape.  I typically fail at this because I try to put too much detail in too small a space, so I was determined to keep this one spartan, quick, and clean.  I hope I succeeded.  I did this one in a Moleskine watercolor book; the brown came from a waterbrush filled with dilute Noodler’s #41 brown ink.


Last and probably least I’ll share with you a sketch I did of my new favorite hyper-sweet drink.  It’s called bubble tea and is composed of tea, a bit of milk and sugar, a choice of flavoring, and a bunch of huge tapioca balls, called “babba” that are soaked in something that makes them black.  They give you a big diameter straw so you can suck these things up along with the drink.  Great opportunity to play with your food.



2 thoughts on “Opportunistic Sketching In Ottawa

  1. Great quick sketches, and great to hear you got to sketch outdoors! As for that bubble tea. . . I have a hard time eating those balls at the same time that I’m swallowing a beverage. :-0

    • I’m not much of a sweet drink lover so I see bubble tea more as a dessert than a drink. You’re right, you can’t chew and drink at the same time 🙂

      Cheers — Larry

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