I’ve been spending a lot of time doing various doodles at home because we’re having a flurry of snowstorms (pun somewhat intended) and so it hasn’t been pleasant to get out to sketch. Here are a couple examples:
What would it be like if I were an ant? I started with the mushroom and just started adding stuff I could see around it, if I were an ant.
I see people sketching leaves a lot. I’ve done a few but never been able to get the ‘rusty’ spots that leaves get as they degrade. I spend some time with this idea, trying varying amounts of water, working wet-on-wet. I’m out of my depth when I try wet-on-wet I’m afraid. This was my best result, which only says that the others were even worse (grin).
I won’t bore you with any more, mostly because I’m too lazy to scan them. I will say that these sessions were productive and I learned a little. Besides, sloshing paint and ink around is always fun.
Winter has grabbed hold of us in Quebec and right now I’m looking out the window at a foot of new snow, but the snow is going sideways due to 60-70km/h winds. I can’t see across the street. I’m praying for the winds to die down this afternoon so I can run my snowblower. Something to look forward to I suppose.
So I’m writing to you about a short trip I took a few days ago with Yvan out to Miriam’s cottage on Ile d’Orleans. It was a bright sunny day but also, how do you say it… nippy. We picked up Miriam and headed to a town called St. Laurent on the island. We arrived at the boulangerie which is one of my favorite places to visit during summer, because they sell the best pesto pizza and it’s great to sit on the balcony of this huge house, overlooking the St. Lawrence, and sketch. I’ve drawn the church it faces a number of times.
Today, though, our target was a cute little building from which they sell crafty things to the tourists. It’s snuggled into the forest edge behind the main building and looks to me like a ginger-bread house. We parked at the end of the driveway (the place is closed during winter) and sketched the building from the car. It was a bit cramped with three of us in the car, with our sketching bags close at hand. We had to start the car several times to defrost the windows but we were out of the wind and plenty warm.
I tried to depict the ‘tucked away’ look of the place by including a bunch of the foreground but I struggled a bit with the snow since I was working on tan paper. I was happy with my “cute” approach on this sketch, though I’ve got to get better creating snow with gouache. It was either too white or not white enough 🙂
From there we ended up across the street in the parking lot behind the church. Miriam and Yvan wanted to draw the big ice blocks that had started to accumulate along the bank of the St. Lawrence. That didn’t really turn my crank and so I just started sketching random things I could see. I enjoy doing this because I can just concentrate on the object, foresaking any semblance of scene-building. Pickings were a bit slim in the parking lot but it was fun nevertheless.
Sketching from a car isn’t ideal, but there’s something cozy about doing it with a couple friends. Sort of like drive-in movies for sketchers.
Finally, maybe, kinda-sorta, the holiday season is behind us. Every year it’s the same. There’s the build-up to Christmas, with Christmas bringing the thought that the holidays are finally over.
But at our house it starts all over again because my daughter, my wife, and my wife’s mother all have birthdays during January. This year was extra-busy because it was my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday so Chantal’s been running around, buying out the stores in preparation for the party. That party was supposed to be going on RIGHT NOW, but lo and behold, the hospice facility where my mother-in-law is living right now just quarantined itself due to an outbreak of flu. The 100th anniversary party cancelled.
Otherwise things are returning to normal and I’m starting to do some sketching outside the house. I spent a couple sessions at the Grande Marche, quick-sketching people and its kiosks. Boy, do I need practice with quick-sketching. I’ve lost my knack for it almost completely. One has to do it regularly to be successful and my health problems got me out of sync with street sketching.
This scene was created by drawing people as they arrived at this kiosk, followed by drawing some of the kiosk clutter for background.
For this one the approach was a bit different because my goal was to draw the end of a long coffee shop so I started with the big shapes of the counters. A guy came along and stood while he poured milk and sugar into his coffee (from counter on the left) so I drew him and then went back to drawing all the “stuff” that was coffee shop.
I moved to a different location and found a condiment cart sitting next to a wall and decided to draw it. I always find it hard to “draw” all the little bits, trying to generate instead a series of textures to represent them. In the end I think the sketch was too small to worry about it. It was fun to get out with pen in hand. Did I mention that I need practice…lots of practice.
Last minute Christmas present, perhaps? I just picked up one of the new Platinum Prefounte fountain pens. Goulet Pens is selling it for $10USD and I paid only $15CDN locally. This pen is a bargain, and more.
If you’re familiar with the Platinum Preppy you know something about this pen as it’s pretty much a “super” Preppy, with significant improvements. First, it looks great and comes in orange, red, blue or green. You can get it with fine or medium nibs, just like the Preppy.
While the Preppy caps are prone to breakage, the Prefounte cap is a significant upgrade. Much stronger, and with a very positive click when you cap the pen. More important, however, is that this pen includes Platinum’s super-d-duper no evaporation double cap seal. The packaging claims you can leave ink in it for a year without much loss. Try that with your Lamy (grin).
As a street sketcher, one of the things I really like about Platinum pens is that they are the one company that sells a waterproof ink for their pens in cartridge form. This is also wonderful if you’re trying to get someone involved with sketching and/or fountain pens because they don’t have to deal with pen filling. You just throw in a cartridge, about $3 for four of them, and you’re all set. I’ve been using a Platinum Plaisir that way for quite a while. This new Prefounte is lighter, though and I know I’m going to love it. Kinda silly since I’ve got a bunch of high dollar pens sitting around but I don’t have to worry about losing these cheaper solutions.
I apologize for the horrible photos but I wanted to get this post up this morning and the overhead light in my studio isn’t the greatest for taking close up photos. Goulet Pens, though, has good photos 🙂
I should add that the pens don’t come with red nibs; Prefounte nibs are silver. I made the mistake of buying the medium nib, didn’t like it, and exchanged one of the Preppy nibs. Of course I did this strategically to show you that this was possible. Sure I did (grin).