I spent the past weekend at a friend’s cabin. It rained all day Saturday, resulting in our being stucked inside with 4 kids under 10 and 6 adults. Understandably, I was thankful to be able to sit outside by myself Sunday morning and paint this. I eventually had a visitor, but it still was a nice quiet time.
Today was day 1 of Watercolor Sketching in Historic Montreal with Marc Taro Holmes and Shari Blaukopf. I was lucky enough to attend and I got to hang out with Marc and Laurel Holmes and a group of amazingly smiling and enthusiastic urban sketchers. I posted a few watercolour paintings from life recently. These were mostly done in preparation for this event, because I have a bit of pride and I didn’t want to show up without any practice.
We started out on Place d’Armes, which is a big paved square surrounded by a cathedral, an ancient bank head office, a seminary and other historical buildings. It features a large monument sporting 5 statues of historical figures and 4 fountains. I got over ambitious and worked on a building with way too many windows so I was not able to finish my painting (that and my brushes were too small for the size of the painting.) I’m planning on finishing it next week since it’s just minutes away from Atelier de Bresoles.
The weather forecast rain and possible thunderstorms, but we were fortunate and got sunshine all day (and easel collapsing wind once at the second location.) Marc’s demo consisted of a part where he talks about drawing accurately, placement of the subject on the page and concentrating on the focal point and then he dove into painting and showed us his Tea, Milk and Honey process. Of course, all workshops are a balancing act between demos and hands-on practice and we hurried to draw and paint as much as we could.
Then, after a short lunch break, we moved on to the second location, Square Dorchester where we could draw Basilique Marie-Reine-du-Monde. We again got a drawing and a painting demo. The subject I tackled this time was much more complex than my painting of the morning, yet I’m much happier with it. Here is a picture of the Basilique and the drawing and painting stages.
It took about 50 minutes to draw and another 50 minutes to paint. I ran out of clean water, hence the stormy looking sky. It was done in my Strathmore Visual Journal Mixed Media Vellum Finish (that’s a mouthful) with the watercolour set I wrote about in my Arundel post. I also used the ghetto easel I made yesterday for about 5$. I’ll post about it soon since it was a cheap but efficient tool. And now I have to go to bed, because it starts again tomorrow morning!
Yep this is it! 300th post. If I was better at planning I would have gotten a special post and everything. But as it is, I just have a few new watercolour sketches done from life.
No one has ever taught me how to draw. I did have a few drawing classes in college but it was fashion school so it was all about how humans are 10 heads tall NOT 8, and heaven forbid, NEVER 7.5 We had 10 hours of life drawing total, in 3 years of college.
I learned in books, I went to life drawing, I practiced, I checked videos. I learned a lot about color and composition and edge control on forums and in workshops, in portfolio reviews and in tutorials. But I never really learned about drawing. The very basic foundation stuff. I know I am not too bad, but I know I could become better. So as recommended by my friend Marc, I decided to enroll at Atelier De Bresoles.
I made an appointment to go meet Eric and show him my portfolio. He looked at my stuff and we talked about what I was expecting of the school. All students have to start with 4 weeks of cast drawing so I signed up for that. It’s 1 day a week and 6 hours days.
The teaching follows the academic tradition but it doesn’t go overboard with overly long cast drawings for months on end. After all, you don’t want to scare away the students. Eric and Allana have a variety of students of different calibers in at the atelier everyday, some full-time, and some one day a week, like me. Everyone is toiling away at their easel, and if you are lucky, you get to draw your casts while Allana lectures about anatomy or while Eric pulls out authentic master drawings and talks about academic methods.
The first week, we got an extended demo about drawing an envelope or contour and measuring everything until it’s very accurate. At 3 hours per drawing, it might seem long, especially since we were not rendering anything, it was just outlines. But I can assure you that I used all of these minutes. I learned a lot.
On the second week, we did a rub-off drawing with charcoal on bond paper. Basically, you put down a large swath of charcoal and you use a shammy cloth to remove some of it from the paper. Refine, add compressed charcoal, use erasers, rinse and repeat. It was more fun than I expected. Then again, I had to buy charcoal in college, but no one had taught me how to use them. It’s very forgiving and I managed a reasonable range of values.
On the third week, we started to work on grey paper. In the morning we only used white chalk and white pencil, and therefore, only rendered the bright side of our casts. In the afternoon we graduated to white pencil and graphite, by drawing an egg.That’s the 3 hours egg. It looks easier than it really is. To start, eggs really have no features to measure against, and then, the rendering was very involved. And if you think that’s a lot of time, well Eric had to tell us to hurry up so we’d finish in time.
And just now, I had my last class of the series, with chalk and graphite, but we did something a little more complex than an egg. We each had a David cast to draw. I got the mouth. So we got to measure and do an exact contour drawing and then render it with graphite pencils and white pencils. It took around 6 hours, 3 hours for the contour and the first pass of flat shadows, and 3 hours for the rendering itself. Believe it or not, it’s possible to spend even more time on them, but I don’t think I want to do that.
And I decided to take on another 4 weeks, this time with more of a focus on anatomy. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.
My classmate Eduardo is going to the Atelier full time. He posted some of his work on his own blog. It’s very impressive.
One of my take aways from the IMC is that I need to study anatomy more. So I’m going to life drawing way more often. I hadn’t done large-sized conté on newsprint in a LONG time (since college in fact!!) so here are a few 10 minutes poses from last week.
List of life drawing places in Montreal that I published in 2011.
J’ai passé la fin de semaine au chalet de mon oncle, et j’en ai profité pour faire un peu de peinture. J’ai étreiné la boite chevalet que j’ai eu pour Noël (il était temps) et j’ai essayé les acryliques Golden Open que mon amie Angela m’avait recommendées. Elles sèchent quand même vite, mais elles se mélangent bien mieux que de l’acrylique ordinaire.
Red oxide et unbleached titanium sur massonite non préparé (pas de gesso ou d’aprêt) 9″x12″ , d’après une photo que j’ai prise dans un cimetierre à ville de LaBaie l’été passé.
Quelle excellente installation, avec la palette sur ma glacière.
Pas encore fini
Maintenant c’est fini, mais les couleurs ressembles un peu plus à celle sur la photo précédente, on dirait que mon nouveau scanner n’aime pas le massonite. Je vais devoir prendre une meilleurs photo quand il fera clair!