Tuesday, 30 April 2013
I'm leaving this afternoon for Spain. I'm going there to walk the Camino de Santiago - The Way of St. James. This is an ancient route, used by traders and armies long before it was declared a pilgrimage in the 800's. I'll start in St Jean de Pied de Port, 8 kilometers from the Spanish border in France, pass over the Pyrenees and spend my first night as a pilgrim in a refugio in a monastery in Roncesvalles. With some luck, I'll cover the 800 kilometers to Santiago de Compostella in the following 30 days.
I've decided not to blog along the way. I'll focus my time on sketching and hope to have a good batch of images to share when I get home.
Monday, 29 April 2013
I asked some friends and family if they would like to send some stones with me and have a small bag to deliver at the "Cruz de Ferro". The stones themselves are interesting as many have been brought home from travels. It seems it is not an unusual thing to bring back interesting rocks as memories of different places. Two of the stones were passed from hand to hand at my Church on Sunday, making me feel like an emissary carrying all those private thoughts.
I have labeled each one and anticipate that it will be a very emotional experience placing them on the huge mound of Pilgrim's stones after carrying them some 400 miles across Spain, some three weeks from now.
I'll be away 5 weeks and will be pretty much unplugged. There will lots of places with WiFi, but I have decided not to try to blog, so tonight I'm "turning out the lights". I should have lots to post when I return.
I have two small Laloran sketchbooks (approx. 5 1/2" x 8', 1 landscape, 1 portrait) which are the heavy things. I have a brush protector with 3 brushes - No 12, 4 and a 3/4" flat. A few pencils , 2 trusty Lamy pens and some Noodler's Bulletproof Black Ink in a plastic bottle, double sealed in zip-lock plastic bags. A collapsible cup for water and a nice little watercolour field box with 2 yellows, 2 reds, 2 browns , 3 blues , 2 greens and ochre. I am also taking a few tubes to provide some different primaries - cadmium red and cerulean blue and a what I think of as "Shari Blaukopf's Barcelona Primaries" - Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Blue and Rose Madder. Shari is one of my Urban Sketching mentors and that palette is what she intends to use in her workshop this summer at the Symposium in Barcelona. I intend to to use Shari's primaries as much as possible to give my sketches continuity. I'm debating throwing another sketchbook in my pack as, the ultimate disappointment would be to run out of paper on this trip of a lifetime.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
I took some watercolour pencils with me today to experiment. I mooshed the colour around a bit with a waterbrush on the lower sketch, but regretted it as I refer the toothiness of the pencil marks. Spring colours are just starting to emerge at the arboretum here in Ottawa. The yellow twigs of the willows, which are first out and last to fall, are taking on a hint of green as their leaves emerge.
The huge Bebb's Oak in the upper sketch will be some time before it leafs out. I would hazard to guess that this is the most photographed tree in the city. It is also probably the most climbed judging by the smooth surface of the lower, near horizontal branches.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
I'm not sure that I should have added paint to this as the paper buckled severely, but here it is.
Monday, 22 April 2013
Crack willows don't have those distinctive yellow twigs, they are more of an ochre or light brown colour. Well suited to a black and white drawing as the distinctive thing about them is their deeply ridged bark. This magnificent specimen lives in a perfect willowy place - on low ground beside a small stream and is at least 20m tall with a crown nearly the same dimension.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
The penthouse walls step in from the first three floors and will sit on steel beams to carry that load. All the joists are web trusses, which not only results in higher ceilings, as they are just 10" deep are spaced on 1 foot centres to provide the stiffness required for the heated concrete floors. The other benefit is that it will be very easy and fast to run the electrical wires as as well the high volume air conditioning ducts and flexible plumbing hose. It looks like they are a week away from topping off the building and once the framing is inspected, we'll be seeing some other trades on the job.
Oh, and no, the carpenter poking up through the joists on the right isn't really standing on some one's shoulders - he was on a properly secured ladder.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
I pulled out the classic text "Architectural Graphics" by Frank Ching and brushed up on the main concepts. I had taught myself how to do measured perspectives as a student and did many large hard-line presentation drawings of proposed buildings, bridges and their landscapes in the early years of my career. Now of course, with computer drafting programs, the detailed mechanics are unnecessary.
What I realized in preparing for the visit, is that even to draw a real urban scene, an understanding of the laws of perspective is extremely helpful. I call them laws, as they are as clear and relentless as gravity. Fairly simple once explained, but very frustrating to figure out on one's own. After all, it took artists and architects several hundred years to fully understand how to construct the perception of three dimensions on a flat plane.
It also served as a good reminder to lay in those imaginary rays to the vanishing points to structure my own drawings. One of my "Groundhog Day" pitfalls.
I find evaluating my own work is tough. Often I am overly critical of my sketches, or am too focused with it not looking like some other artist's work that I am trying to emulate. Or sometimes, I'm just a little tired and not up to being objective. The one thing I have learned is that time acts as a bit of a distancing mechanism, so I rarely throw things out. In this case the sketch was in a bound book, which is part of the charm of these books as pieces of work and value as record of progress.