Sometimes Sketching Isn’t About The Sketching

My daughter is home from school for a week and I got a late start as I headed to the museum to do some sketching.  By the time I got there it was nearly 11AM and I found that three of my friends had been there since opening time.  Two of them I hadn’t seen in quite a while so we spent some time ‘catching up.’  Ultimately we decided to meet in the cafeteria for some of their divine cremed turnip soup.  And so it was when I headed off to find something to draw.

Then I realized that soup time was only 25 minutes away.  Hmmm…  Rather than starting a long pencil drawing of one of the statues I decided to whip out the Namiki Falcon and use it to do a simple sketch of one of the glass cabinets and their contents.  These things are two huge sheets of glass set parallel to one another with a table inside.  The area above the table is encased in a big glass box.  Easy peasy, says I.  By the end my eyes had crossed trying to follow transparent sheets of glass inside of sheets of glass.  It was fun though.  The soup and company were better.  Sometimes sketching isn’t about the sketching.

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (10x7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, Pentel brush  pen with Platinum Carbon ink

Stillman & BIrn Alpha (10×7), Namiki Falcon, De Atramentis Document Black, Pentel brush pen with Platinum Carbon ink

Canada Cold Is Different!

Today it was miserable cold in Quebec City and the last few days have made getting my walking exercise done without turning to ice very difficult.  My Arizona cowboy blood doesn’t help the matter.

Today I walked to the library to sketch people with Claudette.  With the wind chill, the temperature was -40F and by the time I got there I was on the verge of turning to ice and what I found was Claudette, standing outside the library which was closed due to holiday schedule.

We went to a nearby cafe to sketch instead but, truthfully, I was too cold to sketch.  I never did remove my coat and my fingers never did warm up sufficiently that my pen-driving turned to normal.

Lots of people say “it’s cold” and because the word is a relative term, everyone believes they understand what’s being said.  In my experience, though, people who believe that ‘freezing’ (32F) is cold don’t understand Canada cold and what it means.

When I came home from my experience with ‘cold’ today, an email I received was timely.  It came from Alan Norsworthy, a resident of Ontario and someone experienced with Canadian cold.  Here’s his story about sketching in Canadian cold:

I had read about how you stopped sketching outdoors as the winter approached and on New Years morning a friend and I were standing in the freezing cold waiting for a sunrise that never came. It is part of my ‘First light’ challenge for photographers (but that’s another story) 
As we waited and slowly froze I decided to sketch the scene I was about to photograph. I opened my bag pulled out my sketchbook and fumbled for a pencil. 
As my fingers numbed I grabbed my TWSBI fountain pen and began sketching in the lines….  Six lines later my pen stopped, the ink frozen ! 
My friend laughed as I put it all away and my thoughts turned to you (editor’s note: he’s talking about me here) … “no wonder he heads to an indoor spot” I thought … And smiled
Later in the warmth of a local cafe we laughed about it and I opened my bag to let my pens thaw out.  Then I finished the sketch witb a new toy, a Pentel Pen Brush that i had received from the same friend, he said I need to expand my vision.

There are some who sketch in the cold, but when ‘cold’ means your ink and watercolor water freezes, you don’t.  So we go indoors but I cancelled a sketching session tomorrow simply because it’s so cold right now that I don’t even want to walk to that indoor venue.  It’s supposed to ‘warm up’ on Saturday, with the highs predicted to be -20F so maybe….

Here’s Alan’s sketch, deftly drawn with his Pentel Brush Pen.  I’m still trying to figure out how to control this great sketching tool.  Thanks to Alan for sending me his story.