Gaspesie sketches

Doing a tour of the Gaspé peninsula has been on my wish list for a long time, and this summer, with travel restrictions being eased in Quebec, there was a window of opportunity for a weeklong road trip, and we seized it. We covered 2200 km in 8 days, but the spectacular scenery was worth the time spent in the car. Of course my sketchbook came along for the ride.

My first sketch was in the early morning in Métis-sur-Mer. I was also hoping to sketch at the famous Jardins de Métis, but it was too crowded on the paths of the historic gardens. I will have to go back when it’s not a free Sunday!

Our second stop was in St. Maxime du Mont-Louis in the Haut Gaspésie, where the landscapes are quite dramatic. At the end of the day, I found a picnic table near the water and sketched the hills in both directions.

When I faced west (above) the hill was backlit but the clouds were luminous. Then I turned to face east (below) and the village was lit by the evening sun.

We spent a day hiking in Forillon National Park at the northeast tip of the peninsula. Of course we had to make our way to Cap Gaspé so we could stand on the overlook at Land’s End where the International Appalachian Trail ends. I did a vertical sketch (below) of the dramatic cliffs and beach from the lookout platform. It was really gusty up there, and crowded too, so I finished some of the pen lines in the shelter of the hotel room, later in the day.

In Forillon Park, we also spent some time on the rocky beach of Cap Bon-Ami, watching the diving seabirds. Not visible in my sketch and off to the left is some sort of unidentifiable decaying sea creature. That probably explains why most people were on the right side of the beach.

I’ve already posted a sketch of the iconic Roche Percé. In tourist brochures it’s always shown on its own, but another striking view is to see it in relation to the surrounding landscape. I chose to sketch it a second time, facing Villa Frederick-James, the old white mansion with the red roof perched atop Cap-Canon.

At the risk of sounding like a tourist brochure for the region, one thing you must do if you go there is to visit Bonaventure Island. It’s only a short boat ride to get to this amazing bird sanctuary, but the captain takes the long way around so you can see the fat grey seals sunning themselves on the rocks, and the thousands of birds on the far side of the island. The site is famous for being the summer breeding grounds of over 110,000 Northern Gannets who live on the high cliffs. You can get a good view from the boat, but an even better view if you hike there from the quai, because you can see them up close. I really wanted to sketch a wide vista these birds, but once you get there you realize that’s quite challenging to do for all the reasons you can imagine. I just managed to do a quick sketch of a few of the adult birds and one fledgling.

Waiting for the boat to get back to the town of Percé from the island, I had a chance to do one more quick sketch of, you guessed it, Percé Rock in the distance.

I also had to draw the giant plaster lobster in front of our hotel, and a quick sketch of a guy on the pier having a long conversation with his friend in a truck.

Carleton-sur-Mer on the Baie des Chaleurs was where we ended our tour before heading home. The resort town is known for its beaches but for me the boats were the highlight. We were lucky to have great weather during our whole week, but that last day was especially nice and I spent a long time at the far end of town where the marina is.

I even found my favourite kind of boat — an old rusty one — and sketched it while the sun set.

My little farewell sketch was done at dawn from the back stairs of our motel, facing a little white farmhouse in back of us.

The week was a great introduction to a place that I will certainly visit again. If you’re wondering what sketchbook I used, it was my Etchr Perfect Sketchbook, A5 size. Smaller than the A4 I usually carry, but just the right size to fit in my knapsack for hiking.

If you’re interested in boat sketching, I just posted a new demo on YouTube of the sketch I did at the Musée Maritime de Charlevoix.

46 Comments on “Gaspesie sketches”

  1. Jane Hannah says:

    Love this Shari — and your description of your trip with the accompanying sketches -)))


  2. jankto says:

    These are wonderful sketches and your commentary enhances them. I’m so glad that you had great weather and were able to get away from your normal routines. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us!


  3. sandidureice says:

    Beautiful. I like the use of the pen and watercolour here. And the final watercolour is a darling. I could live with that on my wall. The pencil is part of the scene.


  4. Bernadette says:

    So much to love but I think maybe my favorite of the pages is the vertical image of the cliff! Stunning!


  5. Northern Traveller says:

    Hi Shari – this is an absolutely beautiful travel journal :). The paintings are so evocative. My favourites are the rust bucket boat & Land’s End – and of course the gannets. Wow – you covered so much distance – what a blast!
    I’ve always wanted to road trip the Gaspe, so this is added inspiration. I’m also drawn to the Metis Gardens, and to a lighthouse where you can stay – on the Ile Verte. No cars, hike to your lodging with your provisions – my idea of bliss :).


  6. susie langley says:

    Thanks for the great video of painting the boat in Charlevoix! Helpful!


  7. Donna says:

    These are wonderful paintings! Especially Land’s End and the rusty boat. We travelled there years ago in October. Seemed like we were closing all the restaurants as we traveled. First time I had cod cheeks!!! Looking forward to the boat sketch video. Thank you for sharing


  8. Paul says:

    Wonderful sketches Shari. Also, I appreciate the guided tour as this region is the next one on our to-visit list!


  9. larkintn says:

    Oh, these are wonderful! I’d love to visit that area!


  10. Uma Maheswar Nakka says:

    Good Morning dear friend Shari,

    All are very beautiful, beating each other.
    But I feel the last but one, The Boat an old rusty one, is more complicated one to draw.

    All the best and good luck.
    Regards and blessings,


  11. Lee Kline says:

    Lovely sketches. A wonderful travelog.

    Lee Kline

    On Wed, Aug 11, 2021 at 5:17 PM Shari Blaukopf’s Sketchbook wrote:

    > Shari Blaukopf posted: ” Doing a tour of the Gaspé peninsula has been on > my wish list for a long time, and this summer, with travel restrictions > being eased in Quebec, there was a window of opportunity for a weeklong > road trip, and we seized it. We covered 2200 km in 8 days, but” >


  12. Iona says:

    Shari, with all those great sketches, you can be a virtual tourist guide anytime. I am Canadian originally from Ontario but never made it to that area – so great to see these images, much better than a glossy brochure. I love the rusty old boat at sunset – absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing your vacation!


  13. Julie Roberge says:

    Wow, ce sont de magnifiques croquis qui m’ont fait voyager à nouveau. Le bateau de Carleton-sur-Mer a été un croquis que j’aurais aimé faire mais nous n’avions plus le temps.

    Merci Shari pour ce voyage


  14. Is the sketchbook hot press or cold press?


  15. John says:

    As a native of the Gaspé, it is a pleasure to see those wonderful sketches


  16. deedster56 says:

    What a wonderful gift from you on my 65th birthday! This is a trip I have longed to make and, mon Dieu, Shari! You have truly captured the essence and beauty of this magical region. Bravo.


  17. Cindy Wahlstrom says:

    It must have been so great to get out and explore. Beautiful sketches. Road trips are a favorite of mine too.


  18. Beautiful paintings, Gaspe looks like an amazing area to visit.


  19. What a wonderful collection of sketches from your week. It looks like a great place for a vacation.


  20. Soni says:

    wonderful !!! thanks for sharing your trip so totally

    question: YouTube shows you pulled that video, any chance we’ll get to see it at all ?


    • Hi Soni. Glad you liked the sketches! What do you mean by “pulled”? I did have a previous upload but swapped it out for a better quality one. Is that what you mean? It’s a new link.


  21. Gorgeous sketches, Shari.. and a nice travelog too. Question: Was the Gaspe full of tourists? Really I’m asking whether you had to carefully plan every stop, making advance reservations or were you able to find rooms on the fly?


    • Thanks so much Larry. Gaspe was full of tourists in the southern sections like Carleton-sur-Mer and eastern sections like Gaspe and Perce.
      I am a planner, so yes, we planned every spot. You don’t want to drive that far and have nowhere to stay. And I reserved in advance for the same reasons. Gaspesie has a great tourism website which I used to plan and reserve motels too.
      You can kind of tell from the journal where we were each night:
      Metis sur Mer, Mont Louis, Gaspe (2 nights), Perce (2 nights) Carleton Sur Mer.
      We were going to stay in St. Flavie on the last night but ended up driving home instead.


  22. Armand Labbé says:


    I have seen your beautiful sketches! I live in L’Ancienne-Lorette but I am from Percé. Thanks for remembering me some landscapes of my Gaspésie. I have received the email from Jean Séguin, one of my best students in secondary 3th around 1975.
    Keep painting!
    Maybe my English is not so good…

    Armand Labbé


  23. Sajith says:

    I was in Gaspé last year in October, right before the hotels closed for the season “for the freeze”. Not many tourists at that time of the year, possibly because of the shutdowns too. As I looked at the pretty houses and landscape, I kept wondering how Shari would draw it. Now I have an answer. 🙂

    Also Bayfield! I visited Bayfield and Madeline Island a few years ago, what now seems to be that magical time before covid-19. I wanted to see Bayfield also in watercolor. That wish too came true. Thank you. 🙂


  24. Anne Anderson says:

    Thank you so much for recommending the paper.  I am anxious for it to arrive so I can try it.You are my idol and only wish we could get you to Santa Fe,New Mexico. 


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