Plein-air pen and wash on paper

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We walk every day from Quebec to Ontario, but return again to Gatineau before nightfall. This is a nice town in its own right with neighbourhoods that have a mixture of old and contrasting modern architecture and that are within walking distance from the National History Museum. The variety of the early nineteenth century styled houses are amazing and the contemporary additions are generally well matched. Many buildings and houses are constructed with brick masonry on all elevations and often have  a mansard type roof.

I found a comfortable and shady spot at the corner of Rue Papineau and Rue de Notre-Dame-de-l’ile with a perfect view of this brick house. The fancy street names also helped somewhat in choosing this spot.

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East Block


We are staying in Gatineau, Quebec  on Rue Laurier next door to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
From here we could walk across the Alexandra Bridge to downtown Ottawa. I made a quick sketch of part of the East Block of the Parliament Hill building complex.

Sitting across the street I had to wait every time for tour busses, pedestrians and cars to go by to get a glimpse  of the building, but got this much done before the rain started. It is a busy town with lots of interesting scenery to sketch weather permitting.


Heritage Day

Today was dedicated to commemorate Nanaimo’s heritage with a parade downtown and with family fun activities on Diana Krall plaza and in Maffeo-Sutton park. Events were well attended as the weather cooperated.

I took this opportunity to try out my new OPUS sketchbook for making another impression of the Bastion. This product is an 11″×14″, 140 lb cold pressed paper supposedly with a 100% cotton rag content. Turns out that it meets the expectations; the pen glides nicely across the surface and it appears to be well suited for applying watercolours.


When it got close to noon I had the drawing finished. At that time a Scottish piper came out as well as a lot of spectators to watch the cannon firing. This is when I escaped to take a lunch break. When I returned all was quiet again allowing me to get my brushes out and have some fun. The lighting had changed significantly, so I used a photograph that I took at the start showing the stark shadows of the early morning sun, which attracted me to this scene in the first place.

To break up the long horizontal line or top of wall along the bottom of the picture, the massive white railings were somewhat redesigned and simplified to connect the foreground with the middle part. I hope that the architect who designed these furnishings originally is not offended by this; it was not meant to be a comment on his work. The tree on the left is a Gary Oak and is indigenous to the BC Coastal region. The tree on the right is a weeping birch; an ornamental tree. Both trees still have leaves with spring  coloured greens.

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Terminal Avenue

Terminal Avenue is part of the old Island Highway that cuts downtown Nanaimo into two sections. When the new highway was completed, some years ago now, the traffic downtown was notably less than before. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case anymore as a steady stream of vehicle traffic rumbles past incessantly along this road.

This is the view of Terminal Avenue from the Bastion Street bridge looking south. Most of the buildings shown are the backside of the old Commercial Street businesses.


Bastion City

Today I rode my bike along the waterfront and stopped at one of the many marinas that are lined up along the Newcastle Channel.
Similar to many boats that rarely move, this boat is moored and carries the name “BASTION CITY”. It comes alive during the last weekend in July when the bath-tub racing festivities take place. This is an annual fun event for everyone with a program for this year that can be found here

This peculiarly shaped vessel can be seen cruising around the harbour accommodating a significant number of revellers during bath-tub racing weekend. Another large boat shaped like a bath tub and hosting boisterous passengers, is also a common sight during this marine festival in the waterways that are flanking the city.

I spent most of my time drawing rather than painting, as there is so much that needs measuring and to look out for. This sketch was produced in a Stillman & Birn watermedia sketchbook, 9″×12″, that I usually only use when “out of town” as it is an expensive thing. I will probably put it to good use in the coming weeks, now that we are planning to visit some cities in Quebec.


View from City Hall

Finally had time and occasion to complete a panoramic view from the City Hall overlooking part of downtown Nanaimo.

This was started with a pen drawing on a Fabriano traditional white, 140lb cold pressed surface, my favorite watercolour paper. I used a photograph and sketches to apply colours on this 9″×22″ size sheet.