Thursday, July 30, 2009

Weather Vane

During my dinner hour on Tuesday, I managed to squeeze in twenty minutes for sketching. I sat on a bench in front of the butcher shop and drew the City Hall weather vane, which I had promised to show you a while ago.

The butcher was slicing meat in the shop window behind me, and we exchanged a hello through the glass. Then a friend sat down beside me to show off her funky new shoes from Thailand. After she left, I eavesdropped on a conversation about a dog that was taken to the vet to have its toenails clipped--to the tune of six hundred dollars!

As you can see, I just managed to fit the weather vane onto the page. I had to leave before it was completely inked. If you could zoom close enough to the City Hall clock in this photo, you'd see that it was 4:50 pm -- time to hurry back to work!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bellevue House

I didn't have time to sketch this weekend, but here's one from last Saturday, when I wandered over to Bellevue House. It used to be the home of Sir John A Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister. Now it's a national historic site. This is not the usual view of it. There are turrets and Victorian thingummies and interesting angles and bits of woodwork, all ripe for drawing. But I ended up with this view because I only had a few minutes to spare, and there was a conveniently-placed bench in the shade! I'll go back and try the trickier stuff sometime, when I have time and a sun-hat and my sketching stool.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Other Cat

The other day I posted a picture of Charlie taking a nap on my leg. Yesterday it was Meesha's turn. You can't see it from this angle, but her front paws are tucked into my shoe. She likes to put them there for safe-keeping.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Slightly-Secret Garden

A friend told me about this place near the water which isn't exactly a secret "but no one ever goes there." So on Sunday morning I packed a thermos of coffee, a muffin and a sketchbook and went looking for it. Sure enough, I'd walked past the place about a million times without noticing. It's only a block from the busy downtown, but far away from the touristy buzz. I'll definitely go back there. Already I'm asking myself how I got along without my semi-secret garden.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I had a million things to do, but Charlie decided to use my ankle as a pillow. Luckily, my sketchbook was within reach, so we both enjoyed that lazy half-hour.

Movie in the Square

On Thursday nights, they show movies in Market Square. At 5:00 p.m. the farmer's market packs up as usual. By 8:00 p.m. the movie screen has been inflated with a giant hose. The popcorn cart rolls in, Mr. Squeezy arrives with his lemon-shaped lemonade stand, and people start gathering.

The movies are free of charge. It's BYOLC (bring your own lawn chair) BYOK (kids) BYOD (dogs) BYOB (bikes.) I like to BMOS (sketchbook.) Everybody has a nice gossip while waiting for the movie to start. I snapped this photo during the preview for next week's show. Can you name that film?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sing Sing Sing

This week I went to two concerts in the same day--one at noon and one in the evening. One was performed by a soloist; the other by a group. One was by a trained professional; the other a crowd of enthusiastic amateurs. One took place inside a church; the other outside. Both featured friends of mine, and both were wonderful!

Click here to see more photos and sketches of the evening concert.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers

In this town, you never know what you're going to stumble across on your way to the grocery store. One time I came across a bunch of elephants eating hay in a parking lot. (The circus was in town.) Another time, I had to wait while hundreds of mounted police streamed by in an enormous procession. This week, I was surprised to see a big wooden sailing ship moored in front of the Holiday Inn.

I parked my grocery cart and dug out my sketchbook, but I was completely intimidated by the size and complexity of the ship. As we all know, I have mast-and-bowsprit issues, even when drawing small boats. So I decided to focus on the most manageable element I could think of--I drew the anchor.

Meanwhile, a couple of crew members started scraping the hull, dangling right in front of me, twisting themselves into some unbelievable postures. I grabbed the chance to study that anatomy, and not just for the reason you're thinking. (That was just an added bonus.)

The ship was called The Niagara and she took part in the War of 1812. According to the sign boards, she won a battle against the British, which"greatly raised American morale."

How can you not love a country like that? They invade you, then return 200 years later to say how good they felt about having defeated you. It almost makes you feel bad about having won the war, eh? Or--as we like to call it up here--"having driven the American dogs back home with their tails between their legs." Sorry, did I say that out loud?

Self-esteem would no longer appear to be a problem.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bye-Bye, Buskers!

This morning a couple of city workers were clearing out the vacant building that had been used as a rest area for the buskers. All that was left were some tables and chairs, a box of plastic water bottles, and a sack of empty coin wrappers. That just about sums it all up, doesn't it?

I resisted the urge to do the happy dance in the middle of King Street, but I may have hummed a few bars of "Zippidee-doo-dah." Bye-bye, Buskers!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting Away from It

I fled the busking. All I had to do was to walk a few blocks, jump on the ferry, and ride away. Half an hour later, I was strolling through a country village. I sat on the library porch and sketched the church across the road. Nearby, actual cows were moo-ing. There wasn't a busker in sight.

Every time I visit the island, I wonder why I don't do it more often. There's a general store over there, and a diner called "Ernie's" and a bakery with a squeaky screen door. The ferry ride is half the fun, and everything seems so incredibly sketchable! I want to do it again. Would tomorrow be too soon?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


You'd think it would be a sketchers' paradise, wouldn't you? But it moves too fast. It's too loud. The crowds are huge and in constant motion. It's hard to find a good view or--if you find one--to keep it. Three or four acts take place at the same time in the same block, each louder than the next. In the end, I just toured the mayhem with my camera, took a bunch of reference photos, and retreated to the back bedroom with my sketchbook, as far from the street noise as possible!

One lovely exception to the hoo-hah was this mime, who was performing on Princess Street. When a little girl dropped some money in the jar, he began to play "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." The little girl and her friends squealed happily. It was amazing to see how unafraid they were. Even after the song was over and the parents were steering them on down the sidewalk, the little girls kept turning around to wave and giggle. Of course, the mime was solemn and controlled on the outside--but I'm pretty sure he was laughing on the inside!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

They're Baa-aack

Every July I endure four days of too-much-ness called The Buskers' Rendezvous. It's one of the biggest gatherings of street performers in North America, and it happens right under my window. As I type this, an amplified voice is hollering "one-two-THREE" and the crowd is screaming WWOOOOOO! Everyone is having an hysterically great time. It's like having someone scream YEEEHAAAWWW! in your ear every few seconds, for hours and hours.

I keep reminding myself that it'll make great sketching material. Here's my first attempt, drawn a couple of hours ago from my window. These guys do a water-balloon-throwing act.

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Revisiting the Poppies

I saw an article about using my favourite markers on vellum, so I experimented on a new sketch of the poppies and irises from my June 13th post.

I didn't like the process. The vellum is so smooth and non-porous that the ink sort of beads up. If you touch it while it's wet, you'll end up wearing it. (Don't ask how I discovered this.) The first layer or two dried pale, chalky and boring. I almost threw it out. Then I thought "well, what the heck, nothing to lose," so I added some stronger colours, scribbled with a coloured pencil, and touched up my wimpy ink lines with a thicker pen. From beginning to end, everything seemed to be fighting me. But somehow I ended up liking the result.

So now I'm wondering, "Is it worth going through an annoying process to get a decent sketch?" The jury's still out on that question.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lovely Sunday

Sketching can kick a lovely, lazy Sunday to a whole new level. I started with breakfast on this patio near the lake.

Then I went for a walk along the shore. I even went wild and tried colouring a sketch on the spot. (The results are pretty mediocre, but was an experiment.) And I discovered that a toothbrush holder from the dollar store can hold four watercolour pencils and a waterbrush.

Then I picked up a few groceries. Around the corner from the grocery store, I sat outside the city's new concert venue/entertainment centre, overlooking Fort Frontenac.

Without moving from the steps I counted nine historic plaques. The one in the foreground says "Count Frontenac erected a fort here in 1673." I wonder what he would think about the rock concerts and monster truck exhibitions that shake these old stones in 2009?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Going With the Flow

This afternoon I was walking past the Coast Guard station at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. I sat down to draw this lovely boat:

Fifteen minutes later, I was looking at this:

Can you believe that? Okay, you're right. It was inevitable. It zoomed past a dozen empty parking spots and screeched to a halt dead-centre in front of me, like something out of a Monty Python movie. I couldn't help laughing. A family jumped out and started exploring the pier and running back and forth to the bathrooms. Luckily, they didn't stay long. Soon I was able to finish my sketch.

My goal was to keep the mast and bow from running off the edge of the page, and I did it. But don't look at the stern. One of these days, I'm actually going to fit a whole boat on one sheet of paper, and there will be rejoicing throughout the land.