Thursday, December 5, 2019

Sketching As A Mediation

Tomorrow, December 6, is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women here in Canada. It is commemorated on the anniversary of the 1989 The École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, Quebec

On December 6th all of the flags on Federal buildings are lowered to half mast and women in cities from coast to coast to coast organize vigils like the ones that I have attended in Minto Park since I moved to Ottawa in 2002.

The vigil at Minto Park takes place at a monument known as "The Enclave" and that monument (and two other Ottawa monuments) is the subject of this post.

The Enclave

The Enclave, Minto Park, Ottawa
"The Enclave" monument was created by two feminist artists c.j. fleury and Mary Faught (her twitter) and I have sat in the park on the nearby benches and thought about the monument, and sketched it a lot over the years.

I think about how the monument is located midway between the police station and the courthouse on Elgin Street - "the two institutions that were failing to protect women" and I think about the National Tribute to Human Rights monument further down the street that cost $350,000.00 and this monument cost $10,000.

I think about how the artists wanted rocks "with hips" and I think about how the Women's Urgent Action committee stopped adding new stones with the names of local women who were murdered after the year 2000 when they had to remove the stone with Sandra Campbell's name (at defense lawyer Michael Neville's request).

Sketching As A Meditation

I walk around Ottawa every single day with my Yellow Labrador Retriever Lexington ("Lexie" for short) and
  • as an artist, I am always looking for interesting subject matter; 
  • as a genealogist, I am always curious about history; 
  • as a naturalist, I am always paying attention to the flora and fauna; and 
  • as someone who worked my whole life for social justice, I'm interested in the human stories behind the public art, monuments and memorials and the artists who created them 
Sometimes I sketch and then go home and research. Sometimes I research and go back to sketch. Either way, the sketching connects me to my subject in a much deeper way.

"Lost Child" by David Ruben Piqtoukun
When I sketched "Lost Child" last June, I wrote "Lost Boy" on the sketch which was perhaps a Freudian slip of sorts because every time I walk by it, I picture artist David Ruben Piqtoukun as a small boy wandering amid the tall city buildings of Ottawa.

This assemblage of stones recalls the artist’s childhood experience and feelings of alienation when arriving in an urban environment.

The artist intended this space to be a "gathering site that provides a place of respite and contemplation" which it often is for Lexie and me on our daily walks.

The National Tribute to Human Rights

The National Tribute to Human Rights is another monument that Lexie and I love to visit, walk through and meditate about and I have attended many, many vigils at this site over the years.

Melvin Charney (1935-2012) was selected to design this monument and people either love it or hate it. I personally love it especially when the leaves are off the trees and I can walk through it with Lexie and see the National War Memorial which was Melvin's intention: that we imagine the War Memorial and the Human Rights Monument having a conversation about peace.

I also imagine the Dalai Lama standing there at its' unveiling and Nelson Mandela standing where I'm standing unveiling the plaque on September 24, 1998, marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 Monuments and Memorials In Ottawa

These three monuments that I have sketched and the artists who created them inspire me through every season. The Enclave was covered in leaves just a few weeks ago. For the vigil tomorrow it will be covered in snow ....


No matter when I visit "The Encalve", I think about all the women and girls who were/are victims of violence, the artists who created this space to honour them and I hope and pray for a world where violence against women and girls does not exist.

Special Thanks To Tonya Davidson

N.B. I am eternally grateful for the work of Tonya Davidson especially "Narratives of National Belonging at Ottawa Monuments: The Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and Enclave: The Women’s Monument " and her thesis "Stone Bodies In The City: Unmapping Monuments, Memory and Belonging in Ottawa" (Tonya's 2012 thesis; 311 pp) for making my walks around the City of Ottawa with Lexie so much more interesting and for inspiring me to make many sketches and meditate on the art and monuments around me.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2019

It was so great to be back at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair again this year. I attended on Thursday November 7, 2019 and was fortunate to return again on the last day November 10.

There are always LOTS of sketchers at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
The scenes that I was attracted to were the scenes where humans were interacting with their animals, grooming them, feeding them, getting them ready for the competitions ....


It takes a LOT of work to get the Belgians and Clydesdales ready for their show classes. It is so fun to watch

I wanted to capture the love I saw expressed between the animals and their handlers
The equestrian Amber Wavryk in the sketch below (with  “Chocy”, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who won the $20,000 RAWF Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge) and Amber loved my sketch so much that she contacted me to request a print.

Horses on deck
Screen shot from Amber Wavryk's Instagram story @wavrykam
And Amber found me because she saw another sketch of mine that was posted on the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Instagram Story feed. I am very grateful for that!

Screenshot from @theroyalfair Instagram

There is something I find so joyful about locating myself in close proximity to these animals and sitting quietly to sketch them.

Mutual curiosity and attention










They have already announce the dates for next year and I plan to spend as many days as I can sketching at "the Royal" in 2020. Please join me if you can!

Link: https://www.royalfair.org/

Thursday, August 15, 2019

August Art Update

Toni Morrison by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

I have been incredibly busy this summer since my last blog post and, with lots more travel in my immediate future, I thought I would post a quick August art update.

Captain Tom Workshop

Since my last blog post, a highlight for me has been the workshop that I attended on July 20th with Tomas Pajdlhauser (aka Captain Tom) called: “Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching” http://captaintom.studio/about

Photo  by Tomas Pajdlhauser at his workshop July 20.

I have already posted pictures and details about the workshop on the Ottawa Urban Sketchers Blog https://ottawaurbansketchers.blogspot.com/2019/07/ottawa-workshop-with-captain-tom.html and what I wanted to add here is: I went to the workshop as a fan really hoping to simply witness Tom's process more than anything else. What I walked away with at the end of the day was so much more.

For starters, even before the workshop started, I added neutral tint and turquoise to my palette because they were listed in Tom's emails. It had been a long time since I purchased any "new colours" for my palette and I absolutely love them!
  • Neutral tint was developed in the 18th century by English watercolorists and is essentially a light red (red iron oxide) + indigo (or iron blue) with a touch of yellow (gamboge or yellow ochre). It was preferred over sepia ink as a neutralizing (de-saturating) mixer because it did not dull either warm or cool paint. It is apparently very effective for stormy sky and Tom said he loves using it for his winter skies.
  • Turquoise is a beautiful earth colour on the cool side and it is the preferred colour for Tom when mixing greens (Tom mixes with yellow ochre.) I bought a Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise (PB28 PB30) from all the turquoise variations available for sale.
More details on what I learned from Captain Tom can be found here: https://moynahanstudio.blogspot.com/2019/08/effective-and-expressive-urban.html, One of the outcomes was to a project to DRAW 50 CARS!


#50Cars

Realizing at Tom's workshop that I edit out cars from almost ALL of my city sketches, I created a new project for myself to draw 50 cars. I'm not even half way through the project and the exercise has already been helpful in building confidence so that, in the future, I will stop avoiding these essential city objects! I've been tweeting some of my car sketches: https://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20tps://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20

This is NO.5 of 50 cars that I have challenged myself to draw.

Ottawa Plein Air Adventures

I have been available to attend only two of this summer's Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers outings. The first one at Mer Bleue Bog was dreadfully hot and once the horseflies and mosquitoes found me I called it a day. I managed to get some quick field studies done for a future acrylic painting for the ArtEast Art Show (scheduled for 2020).

Mer Bleue Bog quick field studies
The second outing that I attended was at Petrie Island with there was yet another weather warning in effect but I managed to find some shady spots to do some quick watercolour sketches

My shady spot at Petrie Island

Quick Petrie Island watercolour study

 #DrawingAugust

Drawing August is a fun activity where artists are challenged to sketch every day and share their sketches on social media (twitter, Instagram) and I really enjoy these challenges because I use them to experiment with materials, subjects and styles and get feedback from other artists online. https://www.painters-online.co.uk/techniques-and-tips/view,improve-your-drawing-skills-as-you-join-haideejo-summers-for-drawingaugust_18503.htm


#DrawingAugust No.11 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman
#DrawingAugust No.7 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

#DrawingAugust Day. 4 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

Ottawa Urban Sketchers

I was invited to speak about Urban Sketchers at the Ottawa Art Gallery to the Ottawa School of Art class taught by Maya Hum. I was surprised and delighted to receive a gift from Maya - a small handmade sketchbook that I filled with sketches of "Humans of Ottawa" and I finished this sketchbook with a sketch of myself!

Lovely handmade sketchbook gift from Maya Hum
Humans of Ottawa sketch
Self-portrait sketch added to Humans of Ottawa sketchbook

My sketchbook travels with me everywhere I go and I love the times that I can stop and do quick sketches here and there. I plan to sketch every day for the rest of August and hope you will join me in "Drawing August" https://www.painters-online.co.uk/techniques-and-tips/view,improve-your-drawing-skills-as-you-join-haideejo-summers-for-drawingaugust_18503.htm

Happy sketching everyone!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching Workshop

On July 21, I attended a workshop with Tomas Pajdlhauser (aka Captain Tom) called: “Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching” and this blog post is about what I learned.

This was the ad for the first workshop offered by Captain Tom - demand was so great, he added another on July 20, 2019!
Our July 21 workshop group
 A Captain Tom Fan

I first met Tom in 2015 when I was part of a group organized by Ottawa artist Colin White doing "Alley Sketching" around Ottawa and I've been a huge fan of Tom's ever since!

Not only do I love Tom's unique sketching style, I also follow his many world travels & sketching adventures and his work with youth (teaching animation and storytelling) on social media.

He is also co-owner of Birling, a store located in Centretown (across the street from the Art House Cafe) where he combines his passion for skateboarding and art offering great merchandise (I picked up my Birling water bottle there) and ALL of these activities happen concurrently while Tom works at his day job as Creative Director doing backgrounds for animated TV shows and movies!

The Ottawa Urban Sketchers have wanted Captain Tom to do a workshop in Ottawa for quite some time (I might have begged but it was Kristina Corre who succeeded). When Tom offered to do a workshop in Ottawa in July, and posted it to his Birling website, I signed up as fast as I could!

Captain Tom (Tomas Pajdlhauser) demonstrating his approach to inking
Captain Tom demonstrating in the afternoon portion of the workshop

I have already posted pictures and details about the workshop on the Ottawa Urban Sketchers Blog https://ottawaurbansketchers.blogspot.com/2019/07/ottawa-workshop-with-captain-tom.html and what I wanted to add here is: I went to the workshop as a fan really hoping to simply witness Tom's process more than anything else. What I walked away with at the end of the day was so much more.

For starters, even before the workshop started, I added neutral tint and turquoise to my palette because they were listed in Tom's emails. It had been a long time since I purchased any "new colours" for my palette and I absolutely love them!
  • Neutral tint was developed in the 18th century by English watercolorists and is essentially a light red (red iron oxide) + indigo (or iron blue) with a touch of yellow (gamboge or yellow ochre). It was preferred over sepia ink as a neutralizing (de-saturating) mixer because it did not dull either warm or cool paint. It is apparently very effective for stormy sky and Tom said he loves using it for his winter skies.
  • Turquoise is a beautiful earth colour on the cool side and it is the preferred colour for Tom when mixing greens (Tom mixes with yellow ochre.) I bought a Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise (PB28 PB30) from all the turquoise variations available for sale.
"Effective Urban Sketching"

Anyone wanting to do "Expressive Urban Sketching" Tom believes, should first learn "Effective Urban Sketching" and that was the focus of our morning session.


Tom believes that if you "mess up perspective ... proportions ... it tells your audience that you really don't understand what you are drawing"

Tom demonstrated how to locate the horizon line and how to use sighting for proportions and angles.
Tom's perspective sketch from the morning demo
Not so easy! My perspective sketch from the morning session

 My Takeaways From the Morning Session

Tom said that within the first five to ten minutes before he even begins to sketch a scene, he ascertains (in his head and not on paper like at the demo) a number of practical basics such as:
  1. Scale on the page
  2. Identify the horizon line
  3. Identify perspective
  4. Blocks out proportions
  5. Details
I do none of this. At the very most, after determining my "Why" and my "What", I make a thumbnail sketch to map out my composition and try to establish my values. When I start to sketch, I use my pencil for "sighting" (measuring and for angles), but a horizon line is not even part of my thinking process and I suspect it's not part of many other sketcher's processes either!

Here's what I will takeaway with me from this workshop's morning session:
  • I understand the principles of perspective but I never practice perspective and I am going to start! Using pencil only, I plan to do daily sketches where I draw the horizon line, perspective and shape proportions of everything around me.
  • I understand what the horizon line (eye line) is but I never practice establishing the horizon line either in my head or on paper prior to starting my sketch. I plan to do this from now on. 
  • I still need thumbnails. Tom does not create thumbnails and instead takes mental "snapshots" of details (people, shadows etc) he plans to use later. This will not work for me. I often forget what I went downstairs for (LOL) so I know that I personally need these visual notes (thumbnails)
  • I will use "Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling for reference with my daily sketch practice.
  • I will stop excluding cars from my sketches. Tom wanted us to include people and cars in our sketches and I realized how much I have been avoiding cars. Tom says "they're just boxes with wheels - apply perspective and proportion" I may spend more time just sketching cars in Centretown.
Tom highly recommends "Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling and said its the only book you'll ever need. (It is available in pdf online at http://www.storytellerartist.com/documents/Perspective_Made_Easy.pdf )

"Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling
Tom demonstrates how to add details to your sketch that are in proper perspective and proportion.
The Afternoon Session

In the afternoon, Tom demonstrated his approach to creating his signature expressive urban sketches.

Tom demonstrating his process for inking in the scene
Tom uses only  a number 10 watercolour brush and a simple watercolour palette of only nine colours (Ultramarine Blue, Turquoise, Neutral tint , Cadmium Red, Alizarin Red ( used rarely ), Cadmium Yellow, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Yellow Ochre) and believes that anyone (with practice) "can make magic with just that".

Tom began to ink in the scene.

 My Takeaways From the Afternoon Session

Tom's trademark sketching process goes something like this:
  • Penciling in a minimal amount of detail ("just a reminder")
  • Inking using a fountain pen working left to right. "It's terrifying. Every line is the final line." said Tom, but it is his trademark process and requires that you be fearless, embrace mistakes, and adapt along the way.
    • The more you draw, the less you have to paint. You can't ruin a great ink drawing with paint.
    • While inking constantly be looking at your subject making editorial decisions always keeping in mind that you want your viewer to see what YOU think is important. Lead them to it.
  • Painting: Tom is actually thinking about the colours he will use while the ink is drying on his sketch
    • Your first colour dictates all the other colours
    • Leave white paper - don't cover everywhere with watercolour -
    • Be aware of watercolour consistency ("tea", "coffee", "pure pigment" which reminded me of Marc Taro Holmes "tea, milk, honey") for your foreground, mid-ground and background
    • Tom seldom looked up when he was at the painting stage "the painting part has less to do with what I see (in the scene) and more of what I am seeing on the paper", he said
Here's what I will takeaway with me from this workshop's afternoon session:
  • I will experiment my newest palette colours (neutral tint and turquoise) regularly
  • I won't rush to use my watercolours. I will spend less time with my pencil and more time with my fountain pen inking a solid sketch before wetting my brush. 
  • I wont rely as much on the scene for the painting part. I will concentrate on the design on the page.
    Tom's easel: A camera tripod fitted with hardware on a board and a tray
    Captain Tom Links