Preparing For 2020

At the end of each year I look at the sketchbooks I have in progress.  If I include my two practice sketchbooks there were six of them.  Two were almost filled, though, and I make an effort to fill those before we turned over the calendar to 2020 for I can get a fresh start on the year.  Besides, both of those books were portrait format and I find that I prefer working in landscape mode.

To replace one I grabbed a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) from my sketchbook stash.  I love this format and Stillman & Birn books are still my favorites.

For the second replacement, however, I decided to try something new.  Out of curiosity I’d picked up a pad of Strathmore 184lb Mixed Media paper.  I cut a bunch of 9×12 sheets in half and created a 26-sheet sketchbook.  I made covers from thick cardboard and took it to Bureau en Gros (Staples to those outside of Quebec) where they neatly spiral bound it for me.

The plan was to wait until 2020 to start using them but I couldn’t wait to try the Strathmore paper so I sketched the small support table that sits to the left of my drawing table.  I really like drawing on the paper and, at least for these light washes, the paper does fine.  I think I’m going to like it even if it isn’t S&B.

So I’m all set for 2020.  I want to thank everyone who followed my blog in 2019 and all who have taught me so much by posting their own work on their blogs, YouTube, Instagram, and the rest.  Happy New Year.

Odd Little Guy From Greek Theatre

When I think of “Greek theatre” what comes to mind are large, outdoor stages with row after row of seats carved from rock, creating an amphitheatre of sorts.  I don’t know if this is because of something I was told in high school or something I’ve seen at some point in my life.  Truth is, I know nothing of Greek theatre.

Votive, head about 6" tall

Votive, head about 6″ tall

The big exhibit at our civilisation museum is all about Greek gods and statues, but there’s one section dedicated to Greek theatre.  What I find odd about it is that most of the “masks” are referred to as ‘votives’ and they’re all far too small for anyone to wear.  They have eye holes and the mouths are a gaping hole in the face, just as a mask might be.  I assume they may have actually held a candle and that’s why they’re labelled as votives.

Interspersed amount the theatre objects are a bunch of small statues that I can’t even imagine a use for in live theatre and no explanation is provided.  They’re all just a few inches tall and their mouths are, like the votives, hollowed out.  Maybe they were popcorn butter dispensers.

Each is mounted on a brass rod for display, but whether this is the way they were originally displayed is unclear.

In any case, I drew this one.  I used Strathmore “toned gray” paper and drew it with a Pilot Falcon filled with De Atramentis Document Black ink.  As the statue was made from a tan clay, I used watercolor pencil to generate some brown tones.  That was probably a mistake as this paper didn’t take kindly to my use of a waterbrush to spread the watercolor.

Little theatre guy (Strathmore toned gray paper, De Atramentis Document Black ink)

Little theatre guy (Strathmore toned gray paper, De Atramentis Document Black ink)

Sketching To Music

CALVQIn Québec City there is a sketching group called Collectif des ateliers en arts visual de Québec.  Yes, the name is far too long and it forms an acronym that’s completely unpronouncable (CALAVQ).  Naming things is not the strong suit of Quebecers, but it is a great organization that organizes life drawing and portrait workshops among other art-related events.

Lucien Provost is the president of this group and he arranged for ten of us to spend the day sketching at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec, courtesy of its director, Louis Dallaire, and several of his very accomplished and accomodating students who played for us while we sketched them.  They were:

Julie C. Villeneuve, oboe and English horn
Étienne Chenard, violin
Alejandro Calzadilla, alto saxophone
Guillaume Turcotte, cello
and a trio:
Jean-Michel Dubé, piano
Romain Rocher, violon
Paola Curcio-Rizzato, cello
Julie Villeneuve - Hero 9018 bent-nib pen, J.Herbin 1670 ink.

Julie Villeneuve –
Hero 9018 bent-nib pen, J.Herbin 1670 ink.

Thanks to all of you who gave of your time and facilities to make a bunch of sketchers very happy.

The music was amazing.  The students were fun.  Julie’s dress was simply spectacular.  And the sketching was non-stop.  We started at few minutes after 10AM and finished at 3PM, with 15 minutes for lunch.  To say it was intense is to understate the situation.  I ended up with 17 pages of sketches, some better than others I should add.

I’ll share just a few of them with you.  I spent the day trying different pens and have indicated which were used in each case.  The sketchbook was a Strathmore “Toned Gray” 6×9 book.  Clicking on the images will enlarge them.

Detail of Julie's sleeve shrouds - Hero 9018, J.Herbin 1670

Detail of Julie’s sleeve shrouds – Hero 9018, J.Herbin 1670

One of the sketchers - Hero 9018/J.Herbin 1670 and Hero 578/Platinum Carbon Black

One of the sketchers – Hero 9018/J.Herbin 1670 and Hero 578/Platinum Carbon Black










Some details & Guillaume's face - Platinum Prera, Lexington Gray

Some details & Guillaume’s face – Platinum Prera, Lexington Gray


cello - Pilot Prera, Lex Gray, Hero 578, Platinum Carbon Black

cello – Pilot Prera, Lex Gray, Hero 578, Platinum Carbon Black










Romain Rocher, Pilot Prera, Lex Gray

Romain Rocher, Pilot Prera, Lex Gray


Paola Curcio-Rizzato, ballpoint pen

Paola Curcio-Rizzato, ballpoint pen