The cooler weather in Montreal today is making me think about drawing more indoors, and for some reason I am more attracted to using a pencil rather than the Micron pen. I guess some drawings are more about the contour — in which case the pen is great — but other days the volume of things seems more interesting and then the pencil seems to fit the bill.
This morning the rain was coming down so hard I didn’t think I would be able to sketch outdoors at all. I pulled into a parking lot to see if the rain would pass. It didn’t but I decided to sketch the parking lot itself and in the process I discovered this: sometimes new materials help you see things in different ways. I’ve tried drawing modern buildings before but there is just too much detail in them. Working with the water-soluble graphite pencil helped me treat them as a large background shape without getting caught up in the details of windows and balconies.
There is the slightest tinge of yellow in the trees this week, as well as a stillness in the air. One look around and you know it’s not midsummer. It’s also the time of year when one day can be 30° and the next 15° but if that means I can still be outside I’m a happy painter.
Daily drawing is so important to me — it’s a bit like practicing scales — and I have often spent too much time trying to figure out what to draw. But what I draw is not really important, I’ve come to realize. It’s more important that I just get it done, no matter if I have a short time or lots of time to invest. That means that occasionally I end up drawing what I am about to eat or cook, or whatever else is on my kitchen counter.
I haven’t been able to post any sketches in a couple of days because the Lakeshore Association of Artists outdoor show took up all my time this past weekend. But don’t think I wasn’t thinking about sketching!
The outdoor venue of the show, on the grounds of Stewart Hall in Pointe Claire, overlooking Lac St. Louis, is about as beautiful a location you can find in Montreal, especially on a sunny day. But while I was meeting and greeting a constant stream of people going by, one eye was always on the scenery — the constantly shifting panorama of clouds, the sailboats, the stone building behind me. My sketching kit was in my bag but there was just never a moment to take it out. Saturday’s challenge was the wind. With a constant gale blowing in off the lake (and eventually bringing in some menacing clouds), many of us spent a lot of time simply holding on to our canopy poles and hoping nothing would blow away in the wind. And on Sunday the sun came out, along with all the people, so there was just never a moment even to see my fellow exhibitors or take out my sketchbook. But don’t think that is a complaint. I met so many interesting people and even sold a few paintings, which made battling the wind seem quite insignificant in the end. But Stewart Hall still had to be sketched so I made a pit stop on my way home from work today and dashed it off.
Last time I sketched the roof of St. Joachim presbytery it was a really windy day but this morning was calm, cold and cloudless. A little too cold to sit outside (in fact I heard the dreaded “frost” word on the radio) so I sketched in my car, trying out a new sketchbook from Arches. It’s a beautiful, spiral bound format, filled with cold pressed 140 lb paper. A little rougher than I’m used to but also a little more sturdy.
Tonight I did some set-up for the outdoor LAA show that takes place this weekend. My canopy is tied securely in place and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the winds that were blowing in off the lake this evening don’t send it flying into the water. Tomorrow morning I’ll hang the work (about 30 paintings in all) and hope that the rain that’s in the forecast will decide to head in another direction. More news tomorrow…
Marc Holmes draws people really well and this sketch is based on something I learned from him this summer. It was during a practice lesson for the “Drawing people in action” workshop that he gave in Barcelona and it came in really handy today. The exercise we did together was to draw the head and the hands first because they usually express the gesture of the person, and after that add in the connectors, like arms, torsos, etc. This seated boy wasn’t exactly a “person in motion” in that he was mostly seated and looking at his phone, but neither was he posing for me. His gesture was quite ordinary until he placed his hand on his shoulder and I was able to quickly add it in.