Art Classes in Montreal

My previous post should have been titled Art Classes in Montreal. The Essential Sketchbook course at the Visual Arts Centre is more about drawing than about watercolour, and that's as it should be. So far we've used mostly pencil, ink pen and water soluble pencil, along with some watercolour pencils and ordinary watercolours.

This is a much more productive experience than the Halifax one, and it mostly has to do with the instructor. As I had hoped, Ms. Mulligan is not only a good artist, she is a good teacher, and she gives a lot of homework, which is very important to me, because for some reason I perform much better on my own than in a classroom situation.

Except for the still life, these pictures were all done at home. (Pardon the quality, I only brought my cheap point-and-shoot camera on this trip.)

Click to enlarge.
 A Still Life Done in Class

The object of the exercise was to get us to use at least three values (in this case, a white, a mid-tone and a black).

We had to use a water-soluble pencil or watercolour pencil. I used the latter.

Yes, the white bottle was that much taller than the other objects!

Click to enlarge.
 Assignment from Wednesday's class

Lorna gave us some sheets with photocopied examples of tiny black and white photos that we were to reproduce strictly with ink markers -- no pencils or erasers allowed!

Don't ask me why, but if you want to torture me, give me a pencil and an eraser!  Oddly, I find myself much less inhibited when correcting is not an option. (I've done my best drawings with a computer mouse.)

I went and purchased three more ink pens, so this assignment turned into a marker experiment as well.

These are the pens I used:

Top left and centre: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
Centre left: Pilot Drawing Pen 01
Bottom left: Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5
Top and bottom right: Pigma Micron 05

These are the main differences that I found between them:

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner has water-based ink, so it's not waterproof, but sometimes I would want the ink to run, as in this test:

Click to enlarge.
I also applied water to the marks on the birches above, and also to their background.

The black has a purplish tone, which is kind of nice, and the line is not too fine and not too coarse. Comes in many different colours.

The price is only about $1.50* I think. Oh, and if you stain your clothes, the colour will come out in the wash.

Pigma Micron 05 is waterproof** and fade-proof (archival quality). For fineness, it's about the same as the Triplus Fineliner. I enjoyed using it. I paid $3.95* for it.

Staedtler Pigment Liner 0.5 is indelible, waterproof** on paper and lightfast. The line is a little thicker than the others. It cost $3.59*.

Drawn with Pilot Drawing Pen 01
Pilot Drawing Pen 01 is light resistant and waterproof** and I don't know if it comes in different thicknesses, but this one is extremely fine, which is great if that's what you want. I can think of a lot of times when I would want a very fine line. Cost: $2.65.

That big spiral pad was awkward to use, and I got bored with those tiny pictures, so I decided to go out and find my own subjects, and to use my expensive, compact (5" x 8") Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

I didn't have to go further than two blocks to find these gems.

Montreal is full of fascinating architectural details -- you just have to look up (though you then risk being knocked down by a crazy cyclist!)

(The house detail on the left was done with the Staedtler Pigment Liner 05 and the one on the right, with the Pilot Drawing Pen 01. The one below was drawn using a green Staedtler Fineliner water-soluble pen.) 

What I learned from this outing is that the ink pen is the ideal sketching medium. All I took was my pad, a couple of ink pens, and my small folding stool which I bought at the Army Surplus store. It has a convenient pocket and everything I carried fit into it, including my wallet and keys. For traveling, the stool fits in my suitcase.

For a complete travel kit, I would add a small watercolour field set (reviewed here), and/or a few watercolour pencils, plus a lead pencil, for notes -- all of which would also fit in the stool pocket.

 When I got home, even though I had been drawing out in the fresh air for four or five hours, I was still gung-ho, so I drew this plant in ink, and then I applied watercolours to it.

None of these is a masterpiece, just a pleasant record, and so much more fun than snapping photos. And when you draw something, you really see it.

And that's what sketching is all about.

Click to enlarge.
 Probably the most nerve-wracking class for everyone was the day we went to the park to do quick sketches of people.

We had to use an unsharp pencil, which I think is a good idea, because it prevents you from trying to make a detailed drawing.

And of course you had to work really quickly, because people were moving! That's why my best drawing in this one on the left, of one of my fellow students!

Click to enlarge.

My favourite sketch is the little bicycle on this page.

The bits of colour are from watercolour pencils and waterbrush.

Click on the link for the follow-up post to this one: Art Classes in Montreal: Conclusion. (And here is the link for my impressions of the Flower Painting course.)

* Montreal retail prices, August 2011.
** All those inks will bleed if you apply water right away.

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