In what seems a recurrent theme, I’m way behind in blogging. Maybe it’s the season, or maybe I’m just slowing down. It was a week ago that we held our monthly sketchcrawl, this time at Pavilion Laurentienne, which is a building on the Université Laval campus. They have a series of statues and they were our targets. I missed them entirely, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule and since it wasn’t bitter cold (probably 38F) I decided to try to do a quick sketch of the building entrance. While probably not the right format, I decided to do it in my new, 3×5 softcover Stillman & Birn sketchbook. I sketched it quickly but even so, I was pretty cold by the time I finished so I didn’t add any color until I got warmed up inside.
Once inside there was the normal meet and greet that starts most of our sketchcrawls. We ended up with eight people and the day was really fun. Everybody but me was sketching statues but I was into ‘testing’ my new sketchbook so I continued with the tiny format. Instead of statue sketching, I began to draw fellow sketchers.
Andre Gagnon was my first subject. He’s not only a really fun guy, he’s a wonderful artist. This day he was doing some fantastic work with a white pencil on black paper.
As I did this sketch I thought about testing something I thought of after I did the review of the Stillman & Birn softcovers. Since the Alpha paper buckles slightly if you use a lot of water, I wondered how not having a hardcover would affect how the book would close. With the hardcovers the buckling isn’t a problem as it happens as the sketch dries and once the cover is closed, the paper tends to flatten out. So, as I added color to Andre, I really dumped a lot of water onto the paper. In fact, it was too much for me to manage as I’m mostly ignorant of wet-n-wet techniques.
I continued these little sketches, avoiding the statues for the day. Here’s one I did of Yvan Breton, artist extraordinaire, who I consider both mentor and friend. Note the “easel” he’s using. It’s hung around his neck, very portable, and it can be used whether standing or sitting. We’ve sort of jointly been improving the design and I’ll do a blog post about it “real soon” (which means I have no idea when I’ll get to it). Again, I went heavy on the water as I wanted several pages that had been abused badly.
There’s one thing I noticed from my sketches that day. I made everyone much fatter than they really are. I wonder if they’re going to speak to me after I post these. We’ll see.
After lunch Yvan started drawing a fig tree that was in the atrium. He said it was hard to capture without adding all the details and I quipped (it’s easy to advise if you don’t have to take the advise), “Just draw it in two minutes and you’ll figure out how to do it.”
Unfortunately, my brain was listening and it decided that I was going to draw the tree quickly. I exceeded “two minutes” by an order of magnitude but I did draw it fairly quickly, leaving out much of the detail. I used watercolor pencils to color this one.
At this point we wrapped up the sketchcrawl and some of us headed for the bus stop. Yvan and I ended up on the same bus and he started drawing a woman he could see in front of him. She had a bright red hat that was an eye-catcher but I couldn’t really see her face because of a “thingie” that blocked my view. I drew her anyway, or at least her hat. This was done in a Field Notes book and thus the gridded paper.
Oh yeah…my watercolor/softcover experiment. The paper holds up better than it should for a 100lb paper, but those of us who use S&B Alpha paper have come to expect that. And I think I’m correct to be a bit more concerned about these softcovers staying closed after soaking pages with watercolor. It’s not a big deal but as there’s no weight to the cover, it simply won’t squish the paper flat. But, I now carry it with a rubber band wrapped around it and all is well. I may even install a more typical closure band if I can ever get caught up on the blogging (grin).
I tend to sketch people thinner than they are. . . My friends love me. 😉 Good tests of the softcover Alpha — I hadn’t even thought of the cover weight affecting the buckling.
I guess I have to think thin when sketching people 🙂 As for the softcover Alpha tests, I really think that if I keep the water treatment scaled back to my normal approach, it won’t be a problem, though I do think a band will be necessary given the way I beat small sketchbooks around. — Larry
I haven’t done anything yet in my new little Alpha, but I already decided it’s going to need a rubber band!
True, I think this is particularly the case for the tiny sketchbooks, regardless of brand. I think I’m going to create one from elastic so I can glue it to the backcover. I’m not smart enough to keeping a loose rubber band from walking away while I’m sketching. — Larry