Urban Sketchers

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Monday, 29 April 2013

Assiniboine Park Conservatory - Spring flowers everywhere!

Weather: Forecast is for rain, temperature 8 degrees

Given the forecast for rain today, we decided to go indoors. The Assiniboine Park Conservatory is always a great place to go. Right now, it is filled with tulips, primulas, daffodils and other spring flowers. They also had a nice wooden wheelbarrow overflowing with potted plants in the entrance.

We both sketched and painted with watercolor today. We started at 9:00am when the Conservatory opens and painted until noon. This is the longest we've been out yet and it was nice to have more time to paint. The staff were fantastic. They were very conscious of what we were painting and tried to stay away from those areas even though they were busy trying to pull plants out.

At the start of our painting session, it was extremely quiet with no one about except one young woman preparing for a "workshop" that morning. It got quite busy mid-morning with several groups wandering and admiring the flowers. We also had one person taking photographs, including some of us ... darn, too bad my hair was such a mess! Oh well ... as my husband always says, you're an artist and musician meaning it doesn't matter what you look like.

Below are a few photographs of our subject matter and some of our sketches. It was a very productive morning. Our next outing will be LaBarriere Park Thursday morning.

A profusion of flowers and color

Paperwhites surrounded by Pansies

Tulips and Columbines

Wheelbarrow overflowing with flowers


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Urban Bloggers Manifesto

For anyone who has not visited UrbanSketchers.org, I am going to "publish" their manifesto as it is written on their website. I realized that this is quite important to anyone participating or even just looking at this blog to know what guides those of us who get a thrill out of drawing outdoors. Here it is .....

USK Manifesto

1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation. 2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel. 3. Our drawings are a record of time and place. 4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness. 5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles. 6. We support each other and draw together. 7. We share our drawings online. 8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
I have requested that they add this blog, Urban Sketchers Winnipeg to their list of members. They warn you that it will take four to six weeks to add new members so I will just keep checking back to see when we appear in the list. There are several other Canadian Urban Sketcher sites but of course this is the first from Winnipeg.

Beaver Dam Creek - The Creek Adventure Continues

Weather: Sunny skies with some cloud; temperature at 8:00am approximately -2 degrees

It was Angela's pick today for our "creek sketchout". She chose to take us to Beaver Dam Creek and park which is located off of Roblin Blvd at Berkeley. She had scouted it out a few days earlier and had the good fortune to have a deer walk right in front of her as she was sketching.

We both went out with our rubber boots on today but we still had cold feet when we were standing on snow areas. Along the creek, there is still quite a bit of snow. This may be the last time we get to see snow as the temperatures are expected to hit well above zero all weekend.

We walked along the creek in both directions as has become our norm, we found two locations to sketch. We liked this creek as it is very narrow and had quite high banks as it approached the Assiniboine River. The tree shadows coming down the very steep snow covered banks created slate blue patterns. After finishing our sketch here, we stopped in the clearing where we started and took time to look at the interesting pattern of the snow on the emerging grassy area. Also, the snow had a very crystal like pattern to it. I chose to do a quick watercolor painting of this grassy area while Angela walked further down the creek to do her second sketch. While I was looking at the grass, I spotted a little purple figure in the grass. This little guy was just the right scale for the sketches I'm creating. I will have to give him a name and bring him along on the next trip out.

Our next planned outing in this coming Monday in Assiniboine Forest only this time we will enter from the eastern end off of Shaftesbury Blvd.

Intersting shadow patterns
Lumps of snow scattered across the grass
Closeup of the crystallized snow
My new purple friend in the landscape
Ink and Watercolor
View looking south towards Roblin Blvd

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sturgeon Creek - Return Visit

Weather: -1 degrees with sunny skies and a chilly wind

We made a return visit to Sturgeon Creek; this time parking on the north side of Portage Avenue. Everyone is griping about the slow departure of winter but secretly I'm happy to get an extended time to record the creek areas with some snow still laying around. We walked under the bridge and along the creek looking for a location to sketch. A pair of Canada Geese were on the edge and not too happy with us hanging about where they had staked an area out for themselves. If we got too close, they would raise their wings in a flap and hiss at us.

We finally settled on an interesting spot where the snow was hanging in an interesting shape from the bank and pointed to a small clump of grasses nestled among rocks on a low part of the creek. After doing a very small sketch using my LAMY pen and PITT pencils, I wandered back to where the geese were and did a quick sketch of the two of them. What interests me most about sketching geese is the contortions they can put those long, sleek and very black necks in to. Of course, this is the part of their body they move the most, so it's a real challenge to capture the different positions of their necks.

The second sketch we did was on the north side of Portage near Grant's Mill. We both sketched/painted the view of the bridge. What was of interest was the view of the creek that the bridge framed. The partially snow covered banks and trees reflected beautifully in the water.

We seem to be settling into a nice routine now of going out twice a week to sketch and typically we do two sketches of approximately 20-30 minutes each. Each time seems to feel slightly warmer and we seem to encounter some type of wildlife which is particularly gratifying. Our next sketchout will be this thursday morning with our destination not yet picked. I can hardly wait!

First Sketching Location

Sketch of First Location

Second Location looking under the bridge

Abstract sketch of creek reflections under bridge

Canada Geese

Friday, 19 April 2013

Fort Whyte Sketching

Weather: 0 degrees, sunny with some clouds; winds about 15 kph

This afternoon we went to Fort Whyte to see what we could find to sketch and paint. As we drove in, we spotted all the Bison near the fence. Usually in the summer they are further out grazing but they are being supplemented right now so they were right in the corner near the road. They were all lying down so we decided to go out to the lakes and marsh area.

When we were in paying our admission, the person at the desk told us that the first baby bison of the season was born today. She told us that all the adult Bison circle around the baby to protect and keep it warm. After paying our admission, we headed out to the lakes with the boardwalks and both decided to sketch a view across the marsh which was interesting due to the many levels or strata of vegetation horizontally crossing the scene.  To get a closer look, I headed down the slope through still deep snow and promptly slipped and landed in a muddy patch. This experience reminded me of the additional "hazards" of outdoor sketching and painting. It didn't bother me as I was not dressed in anything that couldn't be cleaned easily.

Angela and I took a different vantage point to do our sketch. I chose to sit on a bench on the boardwalk as I was interested in including the nesting boxes poking through the ice and the boardwalk as another horizontal element in the painting. It was nice to sit on a bench as I did a small pencil/ink and watercolor sketch and it was much easier to do this without trying to juggle the palette and water.

We ended our outing by having a coffee in the cafe which was really nice after spending some time outdoors. We were both warm except for our hands. Hands are the biggest problem to keep warm as I find it necessary to wear gloves to handle a pencil, pen or brush. On our way out of the parking lot, we were rewarded with a far away view of the new addition to the Bison herd. You could see either the bull or mother chasing other Bison away from the baby. Yes ... the rewards of plein-air sketching and painting! We are getting into the rhythm of things and I think it will soon warm up enough to allow us to bring out our pochade boxes and oil paints.

Marsh with nesting boxes and boardwalk

My sketch of the above scene

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Is this really in Winnipeg?

Today our sketching destination was Sturgeon Creek.  It was overcast when we headed out just before 10:30, but just after we started sketching/painting our scene, the sun came out and there was a small patch of blue sky.  We parked on the south side of Portage in the church lot so that's where we went down the bank to the creek.  What a beautiful view! ... and you could hear the water bubbling over the rocks across the creek. The second location we chose was standing on the bridge looking the other direction. Bridges are a great place to paint from as they give you a view where you're looking down and something to lean your sketch pad against as you work.
Working on the bridge was particularly satisfying ... while we were working, a pair of Canada Geese gently dropped down right in front of us on the water.  Not too many minutes later, my painting partner noticed a little creature making its way down a little path on the other side of the bank.  We weren't sure what it was but it must have been a member of the mink or marten family as it had a long sleek body.

What a great outing this was ... it's hard to believe you're in the city when you are down beside one of these creeks.  It also occurred to me that spring can be one of the best times to see wildlife as they are out and about due to it being mating season and before the heat takes them to shelter.

The photos below are of the two views we sketched and painted followed by one of my sketches. As you can see from the photo of my sketch, I didn't push color or darks nearly enough. I'll use the still fairly cold weather and my "photo gray" lenses in my glasses as an excuse for my weak sketch.  I will do better next time.  I could have touched it up at home but wanted to preserve what I had recorded "en plein-air".

Our next planned outing is this Friday at Fort Whyte with the expected temperature being two degrees above zero. I feel some urgency to capture the spring snow before it disappears.

View from the bridge
Notice the rocks across the creek

My too pallid sketch!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Early Spring Snowfall creates beautiful patterns

Interesting snow patterns on trunks
This morning was supposed to be a sketchout at Sturgeon Creek but the strong winds and all that freshly fallen snow cancelled our plans. I went to Art Group instead but when I was driving home at lunchtime, I was taken with the pattern of the fresh snow on the trees in Assiniboine Forest along Grant Ave. I continued home, had my lunch and headed back out to take photos and do a quick sketch of these interesting trees. I don't know what type of trees these are but they have a very warm golden green hue with dark markings and eruptions on the trunks. The snow had wrapped itself around these trees in an interesting pattern almost like large snow "bandages".  Maybe tomorrow will bring better weather; a little sunshine would be nice and no wind!
Assiniboine Forest along Grant Ave
Quick sketch of trees

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sketching at Omand Creek

A theme is emerging with our sketching .... we are interested in sketching and painting the creeks inside the city of Winnipeg. This morning at 8:30, we headed to Omand Creek. There was a bit of wind but once we were down by the creek, we were completely sheltered. The temperature was hovering just above zero so we were able to spend at least 20 - 30 minutes sketching in each location we chose. The first view of the creek had some open water which made it interesting along with the grasses poking through the snow. The second view of the creek,  which we sketched from a little footbridge,  was interesting because of the meandering shape the creek took.
We don't find it quite warm enough to break out our paints, but I did use water today to move my LAMY ink around on my sketch. It was very serene and peaceful and it felt like this was the perfect place to be on this early morning. Below are some photos of the two views we sketched and a photo of the ink sketch that I did.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Assiniboine Forest Sketch Outing

 BRRRR ..... Despite the very cold weather, two of us headed out to Assiniboine Forest Monday afternoon to scout it as a location for sketching and painting. The wind was bitterly cold so we weren't able to spend too much time in the forest. The area that caught our eye was the marsh area. What was interesting was the pattern that the dried cattails made on the snow. Due to the biting wind, we did a fairly quick sketch and I took a few photos. Once at home, I played around with the photo images to come up with a design. Of most interest to me was the texture of the dried cattails and the beautiful patterns that they made on the snow. In order to hilight this, I took the orignal photo and used the cropping tool to eliminate what wasn't of interest and to bring the focus in close to the cattails and their shadow pattern. The bottom photo is of my finished painting. The photos show the process from idea to completed pattern ....

Outfitted in winter gear in Assiniboine Forest

Cattails make interesting shadows on the snow
Pencil sketch of cattails

Completed pastel painting from sketch

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sketching at Sturgeon Creek

I am just itching to get outside and begin sketching and painting. Winter has dragged on particularly long this year and temperatures remain quite cool. My Sunday plans changed and suddenly I found I had a completely free afternoon. Despite the fact it was overcast and snow was beginning to fall, my husband and I set out to scout the Sturgeon Creek area near the Grace Hospital as a potential sketching, painting location. I took my "sketch kit" with me and my camera.

I was not disappointed in what I found at the creek. I am very attracted to interesting patterns of light and dark shapes and came across a beaver dam on the creek. It was very difficult to do a sketch as my paper was continually covered with large flakes of snow that made it almost impossible to work. I did however take several photos and learned something about just what I needed to wear for my next outing. I had my normal winter outerwear on except for my boots. I chose to wear my high rubber boots which just weren't warm enough for this time of year. I also discovered that standing just under the bridge gives you a lot of shelter and a good view down the creek so next time I go back, I will choose to set myself up there. It's a great time of year to be out as there is not the normal traffic of cyclers, runners, walkers, etc. coming down the path so you are free of distractions.

Below, I have included a photos of both my sketch and the scene. I was so excited by this scene, I will probably do a pastel painting of it. It was very interesting to see the difference in the colors that I actually observed as compared to the photo. The photo just didn't capture some of the warm colors that were in the scene. I'm already convinced that you need to work from life but this just confirmed the inherent problems with using photographic reference alone.

Urban Sketching in Winnipeg

Welcome to Urban Sketchers, Winnipeg. This blog has been created as a place for those passionate about sketching to share their work and as a way of connecting to others in the city who share this passion. As a member of the Charleswood Art Group, I have enjoyed summer sketching in Winnipeg but would like to expand the time and the group that I sketch with. I also like the idea of sharing the work that we do with anyone who's interested.
My vision for this group is that we are a group that meets all year round for both indoor and outdoor sketching. Ideally, it would be nice to have a combination of organized sketching events, informal sketching outings and also a place where any individual member can post a sketch they have done.
In order to be part of this group and have the ability to post, you must be set up as an author to this blog. If you're interested, please send an email to ShirleyRayner@shaw.ca and I will set you up.