Nouvelle France 2015 – Day Two

Sunday was the last day of the Nouvelle France festival in Quebec and the Croquites de Quebec held a sketchcrawl which was pretty much a repeat of the sketchcrawl of the day before.

I showed up at 9:30 to find several people waiting for the organizers (Yvan and myself).  We all did howdy-dos just as Yvan arrived.  Things were pretty calm in Place Royale at that time in the morning so architecture seemed the thing to draw.

2015-08-09NouvelleFrance4It struck me as funny to see old stone structures, fake old kiosks and then a modern stage scaffold with some signs attached so I decided to draw this anachronistic scene.

2015-08-09NouvelleFrance5Things got rolling along around 10AM but before that I drew this kiosk and the woman who was setting before the crowds showed up.  I added a couple people to the page just to fill up it.   You’ll notice a ghost head, with partiallly drawn 3-corner hat, rising through the roof of the building.  Many ghosts were created as subjects walked away, often when I had  just started to draw them.

2015-08-09NouvelleFrance6This is just a page of random sketches, done of people within Place Royale.  This kind of sketching is like shooting skeet.  You’re happy when you get one and not too disappointed when you miss because there’ll be another to shoot at sketch real soon.

2015-08-09NouvelleFrance7Here’s a couple of “our mothers”, or so they are called here in Quebec.  Long ago, Quebec was settled mostly by adventurous men, sent by France to claim parts of the New World.  But as settlements were established, and the notion of permanence set in, it was clear to the king (and probably those adventurous men) that having some women around might be a good idea.

So, Louis XIV paid women to immigrate from France to Nouvelle France.  Some 700 women took part in the program.  Called Les Filles du Roi it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why these women are called by Quebecers “our mothers.”  They have their own society.

A portion of the festival is the arrival of the filles du roi, by sailing ship, and they are greeted at the old port and ushered into the city.  The society has a kiosk and the women wear traditional garb.  They are absolutely beautiful.  I spent a fair amount of time sketching them.  I’ll end with a final sketch of a fille du roi that had a beautiful cape to go with her dress.



Nouvelle France 2015 In Quebec City

Every August a very cool thing happens.  The entire old port area of Quebec City is converted into a 1700s movie set, though the thousands of tourists wandering around is something of an anachronism.

Quebecers pay them no mind as they are dressed in costumes reflecting the era, from trappers to Louis XIV and everyone in between.  They make traditional food and music.  They dance.  They sing.  But mostly they just walk around, enjoying each other’s costumes.  It’s a great big adult costume party with a huge dose of small-town fair added for good measure.

I love hanging out during the festival as the people are having so much fun in the midst of simplicity – a rare thing these days.  As a sketcher, it’s an opportunity as the festival presents a target-rich environment.  The only problem is that those targets are moving.  You’ve got to choose wisely and have a little luck to find a subject that doesn’t walk out of sight during the very few minutes you have to sketch them.

2015-08-08Nouvelle France0.5This year the Collectif had a sketchcrawl and we all showed up in Place Royale, stuck our butts on the steps of the cathedral and began frantically drawing anything that moved, or rather, anything that stopped moving.

I haven’t taken the time to scan all the sketches I did in my little notebook but I scanned this one to show you my ‘warm up’ that morning.  Nothing to speak of but it got my eyes focused on the crowd.

During this event I also did some sketches in the sketchbook I created by cutting a larger, cheap sketchbook in half.

2015-08-08NouvelleFrance1I drew the banner and a bit of one of the buildings just to document some of the ambiance.  It was a half-hearted attempt because my eyes wer on all the people.  When my eye saw this hat, I had to draw the woman under it.

2015-08-08NouvelleFrance2Occasionally some of the costumed people would stand still, even pose.  The guy on the right was standing on the steps of the church talking about history and I took advantage of that.  The guy on the left actually posed for the group but where I was sitting was too close to sketch all of him so I concentrated on his head.

2015-08-08NouvelleFrance3This one is a reflection of the serendipity of street sketching.  I was sitting in a really tiny park area and I had started drawing the woman on the right.  I got as far as you see the sketch when she decided to run off with one of her friends.  So, I started sketching the guy sitting at the edge of the park (behind the big flower pot), who was playing piano.  As he was mostly not visible I added some of the facing restaurant as background.

This kind of sketchcrawl is intense.  Unlike sketchcrawls in parks, museums or gardens where we lounge around, leisurely sketching, people sketching in a crowd is more like herding cats in terms of its frantic nature.  But it sure is fun.  And the best part of this day was that I was going to do it all over again “tomorrow.”  I’ll talk about that – tomorrow.

Sketchcrawl At Fete De La Nouvelle France

2014-08-09NouvelleFrance1Our fearless leader has scheduled our second sketchcrawl to coincide with the Nouvelle France festival, on Sunday, August 9th.  The festival is always pretty special for sketchers as it’s a week of people wandering the old port area wearing period costumes, doing demonstrations of 18th Century crafts, and plenty of opportunity to eat traditional Quebec food.

We’re all going to rendevous in the square at Place Royale (prime subject-hunting territory) at 9:30 and after lunch we’ll move to Parc de l’Unesco which is just down the street.  You can get more details about the festival and the sketchcrawl from the Croquistes de Quebec webpage.  I hope you can make it.  Bring yourself, your sketching gear, and be prepared for lots of fun.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at or Yvan Breton from his web page.



Sketching In A Target-Rich Environment

Every year Quebec City holds the Festivale de Nouvelle France.  It is a celebration of the French landing here and setting up shop.  It’s a celebration of French culture.  It’s a celebration of traditional foods.  And it’s a heck of a good excuse for adults to dress up in costumes and roam the streets of old Quebec.

It’s also a great opportunity for sketchers who want to sketch people dressed as peasants, royalty, pirates, military, indians, and vendors.  I was a peasant myself – a peasant with a pen and a sketchbook.

I’m not very good at this kind of sketching.  Generally your subject is in a crowd of people and you have only a very short time to capture their geometry.  Once done, you’ve got a variable, though always short period of time, to fill in the details from a subject that’s moving constantly, often away from, blending back into the crowd.  Here are a few of my attempts; it sure was fun.

2013-08-10QS2 2013-08-10QS3 2013-08-11QS1 2013-08-11QS3 2013-08-11QS4 2013-08-11QS6 2013-08-11QS7

This Is The Back Of The Building?

I was downtown Sunday, waiting for the Festivale de Nouvelle France events to spool up.  I was sitting in the courtyard in front of the Trinity Anglican Church and from there I could see this view of the back of large government building.  I think it’s the finance building.  I decided to sketch it.

I took a somewhat different approach, experimenting a bit.  I spent more time with a pencil, adding more than just layout lines.  I used my typical 3H pencil, but from these light lines, I laid in light color washes before I added any ink to the sketch.  This allowed me, or so I think, to use a lighter hand with the ink lines, which I followed up with more watercolor.  I think, if I knew anything about watercolors, this would be a good approach.  I know it works well for many other sketchers and I’ll continue to pursue it.

I did it in my Stillman & Birn Zeta (5×8) sketchbook, with a Pilot Prera and Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink.