Urban Sketchers

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I'm an urban sketcher

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sketching at the Forks

Charleswood Art Group members met at the Forks today. Rain was predicted for sometime during the day but the morning was absolutely perfect. There was sun, just a hint of breeze and no bugs to speak of. The Forks is such a popular meeting place in Winnipeg for both locals and tourists. It has a lot to offer ... shopping, dining, access to the river, people, etc.; a great place to sketch!

A few of us started down by the water where there were several families of Canada Geese happily feeding on what was being offered by tourists. It was fascinating to watch these birds for awhile. Something I hadn't observed before was the gosling's behaviour when there was a problem ie one of the adults chasing another adult away. As soon as the commotion started, the goslings all ducked under just like synchronized swimmers for seconds and then all bobbed up together again. It must be a defense mechanism to protect themselves when there's trouble. It is really difficult to paint geese. Of interest to me is the lovely flexible bend they put in their necks and of course that's what's always moving. It seemed to work best when I quickly put down the top line running from their tail, up over their body following up their neck to the end of their beak. If I could get that down as in "contour drawing", it was relatively easy to put the underside of their body in. We started to notice commonalities in their bodies that you could use when they moved and you had to rely on what you knew about them. We noticed that the goslings seemed to have the bony, lanky shoulders like teenage boys so this shape was distinctive and therefore memorable.

Ruth's sketches

Ink and white pencil on Strathmore toned paper

Following our geese sketching, we went inside for a bite to eat and then took a stroll through the Punch Gallery for some inspiration.  Following our gallery tour, the remaining people headed home which left Susan and I to continue painting and sketching. We sketched outside until it started to rain and then sketched people indoors in the food court area. It was a good day of sketching.
Peter chose to sketch the downtown view

An abstracted, loose interpretation of the Forks canopy

The water taxi docked - LAMY pen and ink on toned paper

Fill up the page with Food Court sketches

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sketching at Assiniboine Park

Members of the Charleswood Art Group met at the footbridge in Assiniboine Park. I chose to arrive an hour earlier to get maximum time with the best light. Today, I had my sketchbook, watercolors and my setup for pastel.

The first place I set up was right at the start of the foot bridge looking down the flooded area along the bank. This includes the riparian forested area which the Park has devoted a lot of effort to bring back to a natural state. The light was beautiful ... there was a stream of light down the meandering path of the water. The trees were backlit with lots of nice darks to set them off. I used the angled top of the footbridge to rest my sketchbook and water container on. It was the perfect height! I found that because I was looking in that direction painting, others on the bridge stopped and took a look also and appreciated what I saw on the scene. Now ... isn't that partly what artists do but to showcase what others might otherwise miss.

After an hour at this scene, I moved to the other side of the river and spotted the row of nicely sculpted lilac shrubs. It was a small part of the whole large scene but easy to see when you use a viewfinder and take your time to decide what to paint. This time I set up my tripod and travel adaptor to do a small pastel painting; only 5 x 7.  I thought I might have trouble working on such a small support but was pleasantly surprised at the amount of detail I got in the finished painting.

The day was very successful ... probably had something to do with my very relaxed state.

Charleswood Art Group Members out to paint

Lilacs done with pastel on 5x7 Pastel Board

Looking down the bank from the footbridge
A watercolor sketch/notes of the scene on the left

Monday, 26 May 2014

First Sketchout with Charleswood Art Group

It was a glorious day today. This was Charleswood Art Group's first scheduled sketchout for the season. We chose to go to Assiniboine Park and specifically to meet in the Leo Mol garden. Due to the very harsh and protracted winter, the tulips were not near blooming. Turnout was small with Ruth, Roberta, Sylvia, Susan, Diana, Diane and Shirley coming out.  Most left by noon and Diane and I spent the remainder of the day there sketching almost continuously.

What caught my eye initially was a group of small shrubs which appeared to be forsythia. There were still some bright yellow flower near the outer finer branches but also a carpet of bright yellow petals on the ground. It was like a beacon  in the English Garden ... it just shone out! This I felt was my best painting of the day and I hope to do a studio painting from my sketch and photos. I still need some spring paintings for my upcoming show in the fall.

Also in the English Garden, I tackled a really interesting vignette of wheelbarrows. I loved the shapes which included their shadows underneath. I took several photos of them and one of the gardeners moved them to the formation in my sketch. Fortunately, I have photos of the other arrangement.

Diane and I also tackled painting trees. We chose a group of trees that had everything; everygreens, cedars, shrubs and a background of trees with leaves just emerging. We had very little time to do this as our stomachs were suggesting it was lunchtime and we were starting to feel the heat of the sun.

Lunch was muffins, cheese and an apple (both of us brought the identical lunch) outside the Duck Pond shelter. Canada Geese were very interested in our lunch ... probably because Diane was throwing out bits of her apple for them.

After lunch, we tackled doing quick pencil gestural drawings of people as they stopped to admire the birds in the pond. This was really fun to do. It's amazing how quickly you can get something down and it will be recognizable. Just before doing the sketches, a few guys came around and asked if we wanted a dilly bar. They must have had some left over from selling at the Teddy Bear's picnic ... who could refuse! It was a nice and unexpected treat.

We wound up our day by having a coffee in the Qualico Family Center. While I was drinking coffee, I did two pencil sketches of two different couples at the very next table. I remained incognito by keeping my sunglasses on and tipping my sketchbook upwards. They had no idea that I completed these quick sketches of them.

On the Shirley bliss factor scale, this day was definitely a 100!

This yellow was like a beacon in the garden

Wheelbarrow vignette

Trees are hard to do - the shape, the color

Gesture drawing is so much fun!

A couple captured lunching at the Qualico Family Centre

Yet another couple captured at the same table later

The beautiful forsythia? that I painted

Sylvia looking very fashionable for sketching

Diane, the "Goose Whisperer"

Diane's work on trees

Some of the essentials: camera, shades, big hat ....

Monday, 13 January 2014

Skipping out to Transcona - City of Parks

Weather: Bright, sunny day approximately -15 degrees c.

Today, I was supposed to be at Art Group where I would be watching a DVD of portrait drawing.  When faced with the decision of whether I should sketch out somewhere or sit inside watching a DVD, it was an easy choice to make. I chose to go to Transcona for a few reasons. One is that I've been attracted to a few scenes there; one of a Barley processing plant on Dugald Rd and the CN shops entrance plus my middle Artist daughter Jackie had the day off and lives in Transcona. She had suggested that I might like the cemetery on Dugald just past Ravenshurst.

Jackie had wanted to sleep in so I chose to go to the cemetery first. I missed it going down Dugald so I went down the perimeter highway to an access road and found that taking this road took me in the back way to the cemetery. I spent 10 minutes sketching a cut path of snow which had some nice bare mature trees, dark tombstones in the middleground and the perimeter high way with a nice line of grass in the background. I had my down filled gloves on but your fingers get pretty cold after a very short time. Once my fingers started to get cold, I sat in the passenger seat of my car and sketched the old door on a small brick building on the grounds.

The next stop was to Jackie's to have a washroom and coffee break. Jackie was game to come with me so we sketched together in old Transcona. We stood outside to sketch the Transcona Historical Museum and then sketched the CN Transcona Shops entrance from inside the car. This was my favorite. It is so interesting with the old railway style entrance building and the massive yellow steel structure that cuts sharply and diagonally through the shop yard. The sign for the yard contrasts sharply with the pale blue sky behind.

Today I chose to work with a Faber Castell Pitt pen and graphite pencils. I liked the combination. Using only pen would have made the drawings too busy plus using pen and pencil automatically created value contrasts. I also found that although it was too cold to spend more than 10 minutes outside at one time, it was quite warm in the car. The heat gain from the sun shining in through the windows was enough to keep you comfortable and warm. I will definitely do this again. Next time I would like to create some pastel sketches.

Transcona Cemetary

Dressed for the weather

Transcona Historical Museum

Transcona Shops Entrance

Transcona Shops Entrance

Transcona Historical Museum

Transcona Cemetary

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sketching fellow artists

It's been too long since I sketched and posted here. We have had a particularly long stretch of unrelenting cold weather in Winnipeg which is much more conducive to hibernating indoors than heading out to sketch. Also, the Christmas holiday season with it's accompanying mayhem works against any creative interests. But ... it's now 2014 and it's time to shake out of the seasonal blues associated with weather and the holiday season.

The first Charleswood Art Group was yesterday and the planned activity for the handful of people that came out was to watch instructional art DVDs. I could have sat like a lump with my Starbucks latte but decided to pull put my sketchbook and sketch what was right in front of me.  My fellow artgroup members sitting relatively still glued to the computer monitor made great subject matter. I started with sketching Rosanna, then I added Donna, then Jim and finally Monica. I continue to be amazed how easy things are if you can only just get started. I continued to add more line, tried to connect the figures in some way and finished with a bit of color. It was so much fun!

I have considered the idea of starting to sketch from the TV. If I'm going to spend so much time indoors and in front of the TV in the evening then why not have the remote ready to pause on a TV scene that grabs my interest. All that's needed is to have my "sketch bag" sitting right where I sit to watch TV and get started.

Charleswood Art Group Members

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Geometry at IKEA

Despite the fact that there was a snowfall this morning with heavy, wet snowflakes, five of us met at the cafeteria in IKEA today. We gathered around one of the round tables almost in the corner of the IKEA cafeteria. There's a great amount of natural lighting in their cafeteria due to the large windows. One of the interesting things about IKEA is that you get light only at the front door and in the cafeteria; everywhere else you feel like you're in the midst of a rabbit warren with no way out!

If you get to IKEA between 9:30am and 10:00am, coffee is free which was a great way to start our sketching. I thought perhaps we might decide to disperse throughout the store but we all stayed around the table and sketched what was right in front of us which included whoever was sitting directly across. Everyone today was just using either pencil or pen to draw.

I noticed one major difference today which was that there was a lot more conversation. This of course was due to the fact that we were gathered around a table where normally we are spread out around whatever location we're working at. This was a nice change as there was lots of fun and stimulating discussion about art and art making.

I forgot to bring my camera today but if anyone else has images they want to share from today, please email them to me and I will update to include. The first image below is of two young men having breakfast at the next table. I liked the rather vacant look on the man facing me; he was thinking while listening to his friend talking. The second image was interesting as I started with a sign and then slowly added one line or more accurately, one further geometric shape to the image and built it that way. Even though it consists entirely of lines and shapes, the process to achieve it was quite organic.

Almost forgot to mention who came out ... Ginette, Jo, Angela, Trevor and Shirley. Welcome to Trevor who came out for the first time to sketch with us.

Two guys having breakfast

The lines and shapes of IKEA

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Union Station

Diane and Shirley met downtown at Union Station at 9:30am. We thought this would be an interesting place to draw architectural elements and people. My initial reaction upon walking into the Union Station was disappointment. I hadn't been inside for a number of years and had a romantic notion of what a probably once grand railway station should look like. There was partitions up here and there as there is some major renovations underway. But ... once you take a seat and start to draw you soon realize that there is something always to sketch and/or paint and you quickly forget about your initial impressions of the space.

I started with an upper corner of the space which is a real test of perspective. Before getting there, I had expectations that somehow I could capture the whole space which is of course not possible to do so you need to focus in on one small bit of space that grabs your attention; either something that is complete in itself or is an interesting portion of a bigger space or object.

The next subject tackled were the benches. Diane and I both sketched the benches. I liked that they were made of wood and how the upper wooden back extended about a foot above the cushions. I chose to do a view where a series of benches overlapped and intersected with each other.
The last drawing for the day was of a young father waiting for his wife who appeared to be in the large hall through the doors. I had peek through the doors earlier and found that it was an Immigration hall of some sorts. It had the look of a large courtroom. He was only in his pose for half a minute or so I got a very sketchy outline of him.

There's always learning lessons. Diane spent some good time drawing one of the benches. These were very challenging to do; particularly the arms. I am always surprise how quickly you can become engaged in what you are doing. It's kind of like how people grow on you and how you find them much more attractive once you know them. That's how I felt about the benches. They were just old benches until I started to sketch them and then I began to appreciate how they just didn't seem like ordinary benches anymore.

When we left today, I suggested to Diane that we could sit on one of the benches outside as it gave us a great view of the Fort Garry Hotel roofline. I wouldn't mind sitting in the hotel and doing some sketching also. Maybe next time if the weather cooperates.

photo makes this space look quite grand

Interesting benches to draw

a sketch of one of the upper corner balconies

like this intersecting view of the rows of benches

a man waiting for his wife