What Did We Do To Offend Little Miss Nina?

This spring and summer is rivaling COVID lockdowns for disrupting the flow of outdoor life.  Spring and summer for those of us living in a certain northern latitude continues to be a steady stream of rainy days.  We’re trying to get our garden planted, some house repairs done and, for the most part, we sit watching the rain.  The worst part is that weather has become completely unpredictable so it rains when sun is predicted and it’s sunny when it’s supposed to rain.  So, while we’re making some progress, it comes from saying “It looks like it’s not going to rain for the next few hours, I’m going to…”  Weird that.

Anyways, I sat on the deck, watching the rain (very pleasant) and decided to sketch one of an army of Impatiens that are destined to form a defense against grass invaders to a flock of hostas.

It’s been raining all day so I thought I’d write a blog post.  Hope you like the plant sketch.

Leaf-tailed Geckos In Quebec

In the nanotechnology exhibit of our museum rests a glass box and inside is a stick and a small plant – a terrarium of sorts.  It’s raison d’etre is to house two of the oddest creatures – leaf-tailed geckos.

They’re only six inches long.  They have none of the flair of the whiptail lizards I used to chase when I lived in Arizona and none of the venom of the gila monsters I avoided.  No, if you walked by these guys in a forest you wouldn’t even see them and quite often that’s the situation in our museum as well.  I’d been waiting for today.

You see, the reason they’re in our nanotechnology exhibit is that they have nano-hairs on their feet.  These are hairs so fine that they can cling to glass, those hairs ‘sticking’ to glass molecules using Vanderwaal forces, the forces that hold molecules together.  And finally, today, one of these lizards was sticking to the glass out where I could see and draw him.

The view I had was a top view and I wanted to capture both its shape and the fact that when they do this they are squashed down flat to the glass.  They remind me of how Wile E. Coyote looks after the Roadrunner dropped an anvil on him.  They are really flat.  In the end it doesn’t make much of a sketch but I walked away quite satisfied that I’d accomplished the task.

Sketching At Jardin botanique Roger-Van den Hende

When I want to draw some plants I head to Jardin botanique Roger-Van den Hende.  It’s a very large garden that is something of a large library of plants rather than a coordinated esthetic garden.  So many textures, so many shapes.

Stillman & Birn Delta (8x10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Our sketching group met there on Thursday and the weather couldn’t be better.  Lots of sun, little wind, and it was warm enough that even I was searching for some shade.  I was planning on drawing flowers but didn’t draw a single petal.  Funny how fickle the sketching eye is and I went down a different path.  We’ve scheduled a sketchcrawl in the garden for July so many I’ll get to the flowers then.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5x8), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5×8), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

Birds, Birds, Birds: Sketching While Waiting For Spring

The Croquistes de Québec held their April sketchcrawl yesterday.  There were seven of us in attendance.  We got to sketch in Les Collections at Laval University.  I love sketching there and because it’s not open to the public, it’s a special treat.  Big thanks to Yvan Breton who organized it and to Mme. Wagner who permitted us access.

This is a place that is piled to the gills with great stuff to draw, which is great.  If there’s a downside it’s that it’s piled to the gills with great stuff to draw.  Way too little space holds what used to be displayed at a full natural history museum and a huge collection of plaster casts that used to be used by the art department when they cared about artists learning to draw.   Les Collections is a storage facility, not a display museum.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776

I decided to draw some birds because 1) I’m really bad at it and 2) because I’m really bad at it.  To do this required that I sit in a very narrow space in front of a cabinet full of taxidermy specimens.  Lighting was rather poor so seeing feather tracts and other details was nearly impossible but it was fun to draw them nevertheless.  I’ll show you two of my sketches.  I started a third but didn’t get a chance to finish it.

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776

Stillman & Birn Beta, Platinum 3776

A Token Autumn Tree Sketch

As I follow Facebook groups and Instagram one thing is clear.  Sketchers sketch autumn colors, often as a single tree.  I’ve never done that but as I was out walking yesterday it occurred to me that I should.

Why?  Because there were steps I could sit on at the bank.  Across the street there was a red maple, showing off how it got its name.  I was only carrying my ‘short kit’ which amounted to small sketchbooks with inexpensive quick-sketching paper but I sat down and drew it.  The drawing took only a few minutes and I had to add the color at home, very carefully as the paper buckled quite a bit.  Regardless, here is my autumn tree.  The U-shaped things are supposed to protect the trees from errant snow plows.  Somewhat of an anachronism as it’s not going to snow any more – is it?

red maple