Shari Blaukopf recently spent several days in the Baie St. Paul area painting up a storm. As I read her blog posts I thought of times when Chantal and I had visited the area and how much fun it was. While we couldn’t go for several days, we decided to do a day trip there and back. That meant a two hour drive in each direction so we wouldn’t have much time there but heck, it would satisfy our wanderlust.
The drive was enjoyable. Just getting out and driving through forest and field was a treat. When we got there we hunted down the place Shari mentioned that made 100% cotton paper. It was nice, but I found the papers too thin (seemed mostly for writing) and too expensive. So, we walked across the street to the Maritime Museum of Charlevoix, another of Shari’s stops. It’s an interesting place, a place where cargo ships were stored during winters. Since the display ships are all out of the water and sitting at an odd angle, I didn’t draw any of them (excepting a small, quick sketch of the tugboat that showed up in a previous blog post).
Instead I was thrilled to find tractors and stationary steam engines on display. These provided power to move the ships around. And so I drew one of the steam engines. The sketch isn’t my best. I found the subject more complex than I thought it would be and didn’t devote enough time to blocking in its proportions and relationships. Oh well. We had a great time anyway.
I’m both fascinated and frustrated by the effects the COVID scourge has had on my feelings and decision-making. One of the really fun things to do in Baie St. Paul is walk down Main St. (don’t think it’s called that), visiting the high-end boutiques and art galleries. Of course we had to do that – or did we really. As we were wandering I felt that I shouldn’t be there. The very notion of being in a store “just to look” has left me and all I wanted to do was get out of there. Chantal felt the same way.
Ultimately we had our first meal in a restaurant since February and I had to chuckle over the fact that our choice of restaurant had little or nothing to do with what they were serving and everything to do with how few people were in the restaurant. Such is life these days. Hope COVID is treating you well.
I know there are many parts of the US that are in dire straits from COVID and the lack of governmental concern over it. But that’s not true of many places. In Quebec City, where a mask-wearing mandate, social distancing, and good government response allow us to go and do pretty much as we please (unless you’re a party animal I guess). And yet Chantal and I are still reluctant to range far and wide.
We’re living a hermit existence, but like everyone else we’re going nuts looking at the same walls day after day. We decided to succumb to the urge to go somewhere, anywhere, and headed to Ile d’Orleans, a large island just east of Quebec City in the Ste Lawrence River. There’s 42 miles of road that runs around the perimeter of the island and we figured we couldn’t get in too much trouble as long as we stayed in the car.
And for the most part we did stay in the car. We wandered around a park that’s sort of a mini-botanical garden on the north side of the island and we stopped at a couple of the small marinas where we walked out to look at the St. Lawrence. Most of the fruit and vegetable stands were closed and the couple places that were open we too crowded to tempt us. Because of this, I took a couple photos but sketching wasn’t practical.
At one of the marinas there was a beach with only a couple people on it so we walked around a bit, taking in the fresh air. A girl was sitting at the edge of the water, creating a wonderful scene. Here’s my sketch of her enjoying her own form of solitude.
Apologies to Otis Redding for the title of this post. But it describes pretty well a morning I had at the latest Artistes dans les parcs event. It was all my fault. Sometimes I forsake rational thinking while choosing a sketching subject.
This event took place at a spiritual retreat site that looks like it has its roots as a home for the upper crust. The grounds are huge and high on a hill that overlooks the St. Lawrence River. Almost all of the participants set up easels in a shady area so they could paint the coastline. Those were the smart ones because we were in the middle of a heat wave with pressing heat and humidity.
Me, I took a different approach. I decided to sketch a bunch of stairs. My thinking was simply that I needed practice sketching stairs. I didn’t think about the fact that to do so required that I sit out in the open, in bright sun, and that I would sweat myself to become ill from the process. I cooked, and cooked, and cooked, more concerned about lilies and concrete than how I was feeling.
When I came out of my sketching fog I realized I wasn’t feeling that great. Only then did I realize that I was light-headed and dripping with sweat. I headed for some shade. Then I realized that I had forgotten to bring a waterbottle. All I had to drink was my back up water for painting, all 30ml of the stuff. I drank that and then waited for the little bit of breeze to cool me down. In the end I was fine, with only a hint of stupid to chew on. I did go home early, however. It was just too hot to be out without water.
We’ve been having a lot of heat lately. I guess it’s mother nature’s way of telling me that I complained too much when spring didn’t come soon enough. Anyway, the result has been a lot of growth in our new vegetable gardens.
One result is that our butternut squash is attempting to escape. It jumped the wall of the garden and is now running along its edge, using the garden wall to hide its actions. I had to sketch quickly because it is growing fast, but here’s my capture of the action.
It’s said that you can’t step in the same river twice, alluding to its transient nature. I wonder though. Can you see the same river twice? You can if you sketch it first.
I’ve always chosen my sketching locations first by the prime directive, can I sit in the shade, and only secondarily make decisions about the subject. These days, the “COVID days”, a third criterion has injected itself between these two parameters. Can I be isolated from anyone walking nearby. Normally I like people talking to me but not right now. I want to be alone when I sketch so I can drop my mask and draw.
And so it was on this day. If I exited the path through Parc Cartier-Brebeuf I could hide myself behind a tree and draw this little scene, with the Riviere St. Charles meandering slowly by. I made the mistake of trying to draw the end of the big rock to depict the fact that it had been slabbed off at some point, making it look weird. Guess what? It looks weird in the sketch too 🙂