Inspiration Comes To Town

It’s been fairly obvious from my lack of posting and my comments that I’ve been lacking inspiration. That it’s still too cold to sketch outdoors hasn’t helped but the problem has been more basic than that.

So how can it be that I woke up this morning chomping at the bit to do material prep and to draw? It came from this past weekend when Laurel and Marc Holmes stopped to visit. Two of the best people I know, we had a great time, mostly while sitting and talking.

The idea was to sketch together and we did that, but not much. We bumped into two problems. The first was cold and windy weather that made sketching outdoors almost painful. From the looks of things, outdoor sketching is a couple weeks away for me.

The other problem was the Museum of Civilization here in Quebec City. Pre-pandemic this was my go to place to sketch when weather was bad because it was always full of stuff to sketch. I hadn’t been there since 2019 but it seemed like a good solution to our dilemma. I spent a bunch of money to renew my membership and Marc and Laurel spent a lot of money on tickets. We all wasted it.

You know those movies where someone returns to a place of fond memories only to find it devastated or inhabited by zombies? That was how I felt. The bedrock of this museum has always been two large permanent exhibits and four large exposition halls where expositions came and went, always providing good stuff to draw. What we faced were three of those halls permanently empty and one of the permanent exhibits gutted and closed off. What remained was horrible. The “big” exhibit was a historical presentation of a famous Quebec politician but it was just a bunch of large photos of him and a few trinkets from his life. There was very little to draw. And so I got to enjoy Laurel and Marc while sitting in restaurants or the drawing room of their B&B. And while I’m sure they were disappointed, I thoroughly enjoyed their presence and our discussions.

Marc showed me a bunch of 5×5 direct watercolors he’d done during the excursion they were returning from and they really excited me. I couldn’t think of much else. I’ve got to learn this approach to “sketching” (when Marc does it the results need to be framed and hung on a wall) and I’ve commited to doing his annual 30 paintings in 30 days event that starts in June. Hopefully I can figure out how to do it before then.

Here are a couple sketches that I did in our empty museum.

Mysterious Sketch Of 2022

After a long stretch of disinterest, I’m getting back into sketching. The time away caused my sketch bags to flounder, pens got moved or removed, and so I’m going through everything to get things back in order.

I was flipping through my daily bag sketchbook and found this ???sketch??? Waxing eloquently I said “Huh?” I stared at it a while, noted the date, which was last July and tried to scrape my old man brain for recollection. I also scrolled through photos from that same time period and solved the puzzle. It was this guy.

I remembered coming across him and thinking that I’d never drawn one of these fat-tire electric bikes and that it might be an opportunity to do so. Memory is a bit fuzzy but I obviously grabbed a pencil, marking out some dimension points so I had a drawing reference. I’ve darkened the lines of that hen-scratching so you can see them but they were much lighter in the sketchbook. I thought it might interest someone to see them as a precursor to doing a drawing. Those few lines provide the location of the guy and the bike and took no more than a few seconds to draw.

Unfortunately, just as I started, the guy finished his phone call and rode away. Lucky for me I did what I often do, I’d snapped a photo before beginning. And so, eight months later, using those marks and my phone photo, I drew this sketch. I didn’t feel it worth adding all the background so I just drew some thin lines to represent trees and such. I wonder what that guy is doing right now.

Spring In Canada

I saw a YouTube video about how Canada has Spring, Summer, Winter and a period of time where yuo can’t predict from one hour to the next what will happen. And so it goes in Quebec times two.`

We should be starting our rainy period that most people would call spring but it’s snowing right now and my brain is deciding whether that means another tour with the snowblower or will rain melt everything. Given our temps right now, it could go either way.

I haven’t been chomping at the bit to go sketching, maybe because of the weather but maybe because I’ve just found other things worth doing. I blame COVID for this, or credit it. But I am getting things ready for sketching… and painting. I’m putting together a separate backpack to support gouache and oil painting en plein air this year. Weather has to improve, even in Quebec.

In the meantime, I followed the old advice of “all you need is a pencil to sketch.” I was meeting a guy for coffee and making some notes as I waited for him to arrive. A girl walked up to order coffee and she was wearing really baggy pants that caught my eye. I flipped the page of my notebook and drew her. I dug in my pockets for some other pointy device and came up with a highlighter pen and added a background to provide some spice. It won’t bump Mona Lisa off her throne but it felt good to draw something.

Is This What Dante Was Talking About?

Sigh… the couple of you who have checked will know that I haven’t been active here lately. That’s mostly because my pen hasn’t been active because I haven’t been much in the mood to sketch anything.

Nothing seems worth sketching and certainly not worth presenting to an audience that, in my opinion, have lost their way. It’s like there are 300 million people, living south of my border who are sitting around fiddling as their country falls apart, but every one of them thinks they’re right. This isn’t a political blog and never will be but the daily news of US events has certainly had an impact on my view of the world.

And so I’ve turned to other things. I mentioned a while ago that I’d gotten back to reading a lot, and I have. I’ve gone through many f the classic “big books” and have been enjoying the journey. When I read War and Peace I fell in love. It’s an amazing book that 1) isn’t big when compared to Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, 2) isn’t a “war book,” though a war is taking place as the backdrop to half a dozen characters deal with love, philosophy, and free will vs fate. Mostly it’s a book with characters that are so real and complete that you just want to keep reading about them, even though you’ve finished the book.

And I have. I now own 4 translations of Tolstoy’s masterpiece and I’ve been enjoying casual analysis of how the different translators portray the work. Kinda crazy, I know, to get that wrapped up in one book but if you’ve read it you may understand it a bit better. It could also be the case that the Russian/French war of 1812 is just easier to handle than the evening news (grin).

I’ve also been doing some cooking because I bought a new toy, a Ninja Foodi airfryer/pressure_cooker.

I love this thing. It’s essentially a small convection oven with a pressure cooking lid and you can fry, bake, broil, sear, steam and more. Slowly I’m learning to use it and most of what I’ve done with it comes out better and faster than using an oven and with less mess, oil, there’s no heating up the kitchen as you do it. Lots of fun.

Now that our snow is beginning to melt, I’ll probably be getting out sketching. In the meantime, here’s are a couple doodles I did in the name of Marc Holmes’ 100 people event. While I didn’t participate, these three dripped off my pen/pencil.

Testing, Testing, Testing….Anyone Out There?

This post is mostly just a test of my website to see if it’s working again. January 2023, for me, has been the month of broken. Seems that everything has, in one way or the other. My body is being arthritically challenged, a recurrent problem. My winter boots died, requiring and expensive, and unsatisfying purchase along with sore feet as I break them in. Then my glasses broke, with a fuzzy couple of weeks waiting for the new ones to come. Amazon’s delivery seemed to fall apart, generating books delivered to the wrong place and another set damaged. Oh, and my snowblower broke requiring parts shopping and a very cold fix-it session.

The worst of the problems, however, was that I lost access to my website. It seemed that people could view it (sometimes?) but I lost admin access completely. What a mess that was. Just before the holidays I’d backed away from blogging as I was immersed in reading some of the larger classic lit works and so losing access probably happened at a good time, but it took a lot of time and several hours of phone calls to the US server to get it fixed. It’s now Feb 1st and I hope that with new books, new glasses, fixed snowbllower, and operational website, things can get back on track. I’ll have to live with my aging body and mind but I’m getting used to that.

I’ve included this snapshot of scribbles I’ve done in the past few days while watching TED talks and other YouTube offerings just so there’s at least one graphic here.