The last big sketching adventure I took was back in 2017. It was when Liz Steel came to Monatreal and I got lucky and spent an entire day trying to keep up with her and Marc Taro Holmes, a couple of the fastest sketchers on the planet. I failed miserably but had the time of my life.
The next day Liz met with everyone to sketch in downtown Montreal, and we did. But in the afternoon I had to leave early because my leg started hurting badly. I wasn’t sure why.
And that was the beginning of a slide downward, to the point that I had a hard time walking around my house, let alone around the city. The pandemic resulted in difficulty seeing doctors as the hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID patients. My knee replacement surgery got cancelled twice but finally happened last year.
I’m older, not much wiser, but when Marc called me and said that she an Laurel Holmes would be driving back from Baie St. Paul and wondered if they could visit I was thrilled. We all went sketching, though Laurel did it with a camera. Her results were better too (grin).
Truth is, we spent far more time over coffee, talking about writing, doing art, and the world in general than we did sketching. It was so cold that being outside for long wasn’t appealing. The tale that follows was the most sketcher-battery charging event that I’ve had in several years.
Montreal meets Quebec City
I was to meet Marc and Laurel at the Marriot hotel Saturday morning. I was there, where were they? I texted Marc, he said they’d be right down, so I sat down and quickly sketched this large vase in the Marriot lobby.
Then Marc phoned with “Where are you?” and it turns out, there are TWO Marriots in Quebec City. I was at the wrong one. A bit of a windy walk/jog solved that problem and soon enough we were sitting in a cafe talking a mile a minute in an attempt to “catch up.”
Eventually, though we decided to go to the Plains of Abraham museum which celebrates a famous battle between the British and French, much of which took place on what is now a huge park outside the walled city that is Old Quebec.
Did I mention that Marc sketches fast? I try to keep up but I’m just not worthy. Nevertheless, it’s fun to try. While I did this sketch, he did three of them (grin). We worked mostly in pencil all day.
We continued sketching and, it seemed, my sketches got smaller and smaller. Here’s one I did of a hand-carved head that was only two inches tall.
It became lunch time and we went to a restaurant and continued gabbing but ultimately decided we should go sketch. It was bitter cold and windy so we walked across the street and quickly sketched a statue of Confucius. I started it too small and ended the same way but my hands were frozen so I didn’t care. Eventually we decided to regroup in the morning, hoping for better weather.
I met them at their hotel and we headed directly for the McDonalds for breakfast. Again we couldn’t seem to get enough of art talk, but we decided to go to the Hotel Frontenac to sketch. I was determined to do a larger (we were both working on 5×7 sheets of paper) sketch but I gave up on it because I’d gotten the organization of the building all wrong. By then we were both very cold so I did this small sketch of a statue of Cartier that stands next to the hotel.
After lunch I suggested we go to a small park that overlooks the St. Lawrence and that has classic buildings around it. I thought it might be out of the wind.
Marc has his annual 30×30 event coming up where you create one painting/sketch direct-to-watercolor every day for 30 days. Thus, we talked a lot about that. I tried it and learned a few things. First, is that you’ve got to keep your work relatively dry or you’ll lose all your edges. Second, never get impatient and try to add darks on top before the sketch is dry. I did neither of these things, of course. That’s how I learned them. Oh, a third thing I learned is that I can’t talk while doing it like I can when I draw. Better luck next time, Larry.
It’s funny how such a motley pile of sketches can bring so much joy. I had a great time and I’m grateful that Marc and Laurel thought of me and stopped by.
Oh…before I go. As if I haven’t embarrassed myself enough with these sketches, here’s an example of where artistic accidents aren’t so happy. I decided to add some color to my uniformed manikin and while doing so dropped a brush full of pyrrol red onto the left side of the uniform. I scrambled to fix/fake it but gave up after a while.