They say that this is the first day of spring. It must be true but from where I stand, it doesn’t seem like it. It’s currently -15C outside. It looks like mother nature is going to tease us with a warm up this week, though, and we may actually get above freezing so there is hope.
During our Thursday sketchers gathering at the museum last week, I got in the mood to challenge my abilities to draw stuff and I chose subjects that weren’t all that photogenic but that I thought might be difficult for my brain to get my hand to move in the right direction.
Stillman & BIrn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black
I started with this headrest. I saw it as a challenge because it was both handmade from wood and also centuries old. Thus, in addition to having odd, curved surfaces, it was also somewhat asymmetric and the top was a bit askew. It was a fun subject.
There’s a new exhibit all about nanotechnology and they’re got a series of microscopes, showing their development history. I chose this early, somewhat simple microscope as an ellipse/alignment challenge. It worked out ok but I really should have drawn it larger and taken more time with it. Baby steps.
Stillman & Birn Delta (8×10), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black
Here’s a couple small vessels (shot glasses?), each different depictions of Bes, the dwarf god. They’re part of the Egypt exhibition at our Museé de la Civilisation. Maybe these were intended to ward off evil spirits from their spirits. I don’t think the top squares on the green one were intended to look like a hat but they sure do, making it quite funny.
These were drawn in an 8×10 Stillman & Birn softcover Alphas series book. I’m just starting to use this size book but I think I’m really going to like it. Bigger than the typical 6×9 but much easier to scan than a 9×12. The softcovers are also so much lighter than hardcovers that it actually weighs the same as a 6×9 hardcover.
Winter persists. Attempting to maintain a stiff upper lip, this urban sketcher watches TV, reads art books and longs for warmer days. Yesterday, I was watching a spring training baseball game, an indication that I won’t have to wait much longer. I grabbed my small S&B softcover Alpha sketchbook (4×6) and looked around for something to draw.
I decided to draw my pet fish, Oscar. He’s not a real fish; he’s made of plaster. That means less to feed but he doesn’t wag his tail as much as live fish do. Nevertheless, he’s great at posing for a sketcher. Handsome little guy, don’tcha think?
(4×6) Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, Abrecht-Durer watercolor pencils
This little guy was munching on a hamburger and fries. Stillman & Birn soft-
Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink
Yvan and I were going to sketch at a musical event in downtown Quebec City on Saturday morning but a blizzard was in progress and it was hard to get around town. Schools and offices were closed and even the buses were having a hard time.
As I trudged through snow on rue St. Jean I couldn’t help but think about how silly it was for someone, someone I resembled, to be expending this much effort to get somewhere to sketch. It was ‘free coffee’ week at McDonalds and I met Yvan there. We got coffee and looked out the window at the storm as we drank it.
Rather than be completely defeated, we both got out our small sketchbooks and did some quick sketches.
This plow was sitting down the street from McDonalds. The view from our second-story window was a bit odd but it made for a fun quick sketch. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink
Yvan’s last name is Breton and this sign was hanging about half a block up the street. Stillman & Birn soft- Alpha (4×6), Platinum 3776, Platinum Carbon ink
In many ways the storm and cancelled event could have soured the day. But we had some great conversations about art, did a bit of sketching and, like most sketching days, it was a good day. I’ll stop here as otherwise I’d have to start talking about the hours I spent the rest of the day clearing snow.
Yvan and I agreed to go to the museum Tuesday morning. Both of us knew that it was spring break for the kids of Quebec but neither of us knew that this particular Tuesday was also “free” day. When I arrived there were hundreds of people in the lobby. So many, in fact, that I didn’t even wait to check my coat because the line was too long. I just headed upstairs to the Egypt exhibit.
Realizing that the place would be crowded, I found a place where I had the side of a glass case at my back and a clear view of a statue and set up to sketch. I spent the next hour or so in that one place, sketching one statue.
But the sketching was the least important activity; I talked to kids. I love kids when I’m sketching. It’s hard to concentrate on drawing and my sketches sometimes suffer, but I still love them. They’re so inquisitive and I never have to listen to them tell me that they wish they had the talent to draw or that they’d love to draw but they just don’t have the time. Kids are the opposite of adults. For them, drawing is KOOL. They do it too. They’ll tell you what they like to draw. They’ll tell you that they like your drawing. They ask about my pen. A couple asked how long I’d been working on the sketch. But mostly they just stood around watching, at least until their parents came land hauled them away. Many of them dragged their parents over to see my drawing.
And on this day there were kids everywhere. I’ve never seen so many people at the museum. There were at least half a dozen kids around me at all times and I spent more time chatting than drawing. It was a lot of fun. As I packed up to leave I got to see what was really going on behind me. The exhibit room looked like a rock concert. People everywhere and as Yvan and I left we found there were lines of people waiting to enter the exhibit. It was extraordinary, but I had to wonder if I could have found a place to sit if I’d wanted to draw something else. I’ll never know as we left with smiles on our faces. Here’s the sketch I did during “free” day.
Stillman & Birn Beta (9×12), Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum 3776, watercolor pencils