Sunday, 29 June 2014

Montreal - building details

 I spent the better part of a few days sketching in Montreal last week.  The old stone and brick buildings of Old Montreal and the McGill area were a big appeal to someone from a city of (mostly) wood, glass, concrete and grey stucco.  The first drawing is an old limestone-faced building right outside our hotel on Rue Saint-Francis Xavier in old Montreal, catching the early morning light on the summer solstice.  Next is a grand brick house dating from the late Victorian era, now part of the faculty of medicine at McGill.  I sketched it quickly with water soluble ink and watercolour, so that I wouldn't be lost forever drawing all its details.  The third is one of the many row-house type buildings in old Montreal with stores down below and apartments or offices above.  There seem to be three main types: brick, beige stone and dark grey stone.  They're interspersed, and make nice contrasts and a sort of rhythm as you go down the street: brick, brick, brick, beige, grey, beige, brick...  I was attracted to this one by the lines of black and light-coloured bricks - an architectural coral snake.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Whyte avenue Edmonton, again

I just got back from a week of much drawing in Montreal, but before that I had a few days working in Edmonton - but my "working" always allows for a bit of drawing.  So before pictures from la belle province, a few from l'huile province.

I met with well-known artist and urban-sketcher Yong Fei Guan to draw on Whyte Avenue, which I think is the only lively street in Edmonton.  Drawing in public attracts some strange people (birds of a feather...), and fortunately this time it was Fei who got the attention from the wandering proselytizing spiritualist-anarchist-vegetarian.  He came well prepared, with printed tracts, poems, cartoons and an endless monologue.  Fei handled him well and cheerfully, and even got a few drawings done.  And they held their poses for me to draw a lot longer than most people do.

I forgot to bring my watercolours with me to Edmonton, and I missed them so much that I went to Chapters and bought a replacement set - from Crayola, complete with a lovely yellow plastic palette, mixing tray and brush.  They were suitable for ages 4 and older, so I was qualified to use them.  They made reasonable colours, and I figured I could even eat them in a pinch.  All for $5.  So take that, you people who fly off to Sennelier in Paris for your paints!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

People people people

I seem to be drawing a lot of people these days with the UrbanSketchers meetup or at my Wednesday night life drawing group.  The first event was the West End farmers' market, in a beautiful setting in Vancouver's west end.  There was a big crowd of people (including many sketchers).  I'm learning that to draw crowds, I only need to do a few nearby people with a bit of detail, then just keep moving my hand in the same way smaller and smaller into the distance - a circle for the head, a bigger oval for the body, a few lines angling out here and there for limbs, then some dabs of colour for clothes.  The closeup shows that there isn't much there, but in the right context your eye can't help but see people (and maybe even the guitar-player?).  Same goes for the plants in the exuberant garden plots in the area.  I also drew passers-by, using the technique of staring for a couple seconds then closing my eyes and trying to "photograph" the person on my eyelids before I draw.   

The other meetup event was Dr Sketchy's, the monthly burlesque drawing, beer-drinking, really-odd-music-listening evening at the Wallflower Cafe in Vancouver.  The model had an orange theme going (Orange is the New Black - a pop culture reference that is a few decades too recent for me).  I normally paint my quick figure drawings in an orangey colour - actually burned ochre with some cadmium yellow and red - but I thought I'd try a pink to set off the orange hair and clothing.  But that was too naked-looking somehow, so I went with full-blown orange for the 10 minute poses.  

 And then the more traditional life drawing - no beer-drinking, but still some really odd music, provided by me.  I've been working with water-soluble ink followed by watercolour.  It gives nice soft lines and shadows where the paint touches the ink, especially if I do a second pass over the wet ink.  And it comes with the exciting risk of wrecking the whole thing in one black-eye ink-blotch-covering-half-the-face moment, a good reminder that it's just a piece of paper that can always be recycled.