Art Deco Period Houses in Quebec City

One of the things I love about Quebec City is that there is an obvious location of the founding period of the city.  Our “old city” is a UNESCO Heritage site, as it is the oldest walled city in North America, officially founded in 1608.  The history is rich and evident.

And as Quebec City grew, people moved beyond the walls and the city spread outward as lava flows from a volcano.  This outward movement was limited by the St. Lawrence River to western and northwestern expansion.  The result of this slow expansion is a “map” of how architectural trends changed over the years from 1600 to the present and, as a sketcher, it can be examined much as an archeologist examines layers of rock.

I’ve spent most of my time sketching inside the old city, as the architecture there is both early and a combination of French and British influences.  But, if one wanders away from the walls of old Quebec by just a few kilometers, one hits the motherlode of Art Deco architecture.  Bay windows and corner towers give way to rounded walls, flat roofs, and frosted glass decorations – a completely different world from the French architecture of our Chateau Frontenac, the architectural symbol of Quebec City.

Here’s my first art deco house sketch but it won’t be my last.  I love the cobblestone-like rounded wall and the door.  I’m looking forward to mining the art deco layer of our architectural history.  Sketching in Quebec City is exciting and fun.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9x6 landscape) sketchbook, Pilot Prera, Platinum Carbon Black ink

Stillman & Birn Alpha (9×6 landscape) sketchbook, Pilot Prera, Platinum Carbon Black ink

While Walking Through The Park One Day….

Yvan and I planned a sketching session on St. Denis street and we were to meet there.  This street has many majestic residences and a large grassy area in front of them so it’s an ideal place to sketch.

As I arrived I realized that I’d forgotten my WalkStool.  This is a big problem as my knees and me don’t much like sitting on the ground, for fear that we’ll never be able to get back up.

And so the search began for a sitting place with something in front of me to sketch.  It’s not really rocket science but I wandered around for a while before finding such a combination.  I ended up in the Parc des Governeurs, a small park between the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City’s tourist landmark and the American consulate.


Both of these buildings are great sketching subjects but I chose this more humble structure that sits in the park.  Yvan suggested that it was once a toilet but these days it looks to be used by maintenance people.  In any case, it had a bench, in the shade, and so I sketched it in my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) with a Pilot Prera and Platinum Carbon Black ink.  I used Lexington Gray for the stairs in the background.  I’m enjoying the contrast between these two inks.  As always, I used Winsor & Newton watercolors like crayons to add some color.

Downtown Sketching Event

There is a series of outdoor sketching events, in Quebec City, this year.  Time will tell how organized, or not, they are but Yvan and I attended on a week ago.

We were to meet downtown in a small park near the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City’s challenge to Hogwarts.  It’s a grand hotel and there’s a huge fountain in the park next to it.

2013-06-14MesquiteWhile waiting to meet up with Yvan to walk downtown, I did this little sketch of a branch that caught my eye.  It doesn’t take much to get my pen moving.

When we arrived there were four other sketchers there and we all scattered about and got busy sketching.  Yvan and I took advantage of the fact that they’d been working on the fountain and it was dry.  We climbed into the fountain, sat on its perimeter and started sketching some of the fountain details.

2013-06-15Fountain copy

We broke for a quick lunch and then it was back to sketching.  I love this large steeple and so it became my target.  About half an hour into the sketch it started to rain so we hot-footed it to the Subway a block away.  We got lucky and got a seat by the window and we drank coffee and sketched through the window.  There was a bike race going on and the rain didn’t stop it so we had plenty to sketch.  I’ll spare you my quick sketches from that session as they’re particularly bad.

Once the rain stopped, though, we returned to finish our sketches.  Here’s the steeple.  Done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) using a TWSBI Mini and Platinum Carbon Black.


It was a great day, though I remember being particularly tired at the end of it.