On Sunday, the newly-formed Urban Sketchers of Montreal were outside on the first comfortably-warm day of the year, sketching along the Lachine Canal. It was also opening day for our community garden; our work bees are always on Sunday mornings. I would have liked to be in those two places too, but I was singing instead -- and happy to be doing that.
Still, it was such a nice day that I sat outside after lunch, in-between the services, and -- in the spirit of urban sketching -- did this sketch of the monument in Phillips Square, which is located kitty-corner and across Blvd St. Catherine from the cathedral. It was so warm and bright I was actually worried about getting sunburned! I only had 45 minutes so there wasn't time to add color; I just did the basic sketch and then added the watercolor later in my studio. The base of the monument had a lot of tricky angles and slants, and I struggled with the perspective, and against my normal tendency to rush. See how everything is slanting to the left? Another tendency of mine when drawing, which seems odd for a right-hander.
I'm always too critical. What makes me feel good is that I know I couldn't have done this well a year ago. Practice, practice really does pay off, as does being disciplined and gentle on yourself at the same time. Listen to me and get out your pencils, you would-be sketchers! (or piano-players, singers, writers and painters!)
I think we bloggers should have a NaDrawMo. Anyone want to join me? October is the Big Draw month in many countries, but I'd opt for a warmer time of the year. One drawing a day - it's not much, and the subject can be a paperclip or your coffee cup - doesn't need to be anything elaborate. The point is to build up a habit of sketching every day. The best I've ever done has been in April this year: not quite one a day, but a lot. It would be fun to try.
As for the Phillips Square statue itself, here's what the Wikipedia says:
The square features a bronze monument of Britain’s King Edward VII, who ruled from 1901 to 1910. He visited Montreal in 1860, when he was still the Prince of Wales, to open the Victoria Bridge. The statue was designed by Louis-Philippe Hébert and was erected in 1914. The four allegorical figures at the base of the monument represent Peace, the Four Founding Nations, Abundance, and Liberty.
Phillips Square is a meeting place for small-scale demonstrations, strikes, and protests, of which there are many in our fair city, and a convenient and visible downtown end-point for protest marches. Often when we are rehearsing for Evensong in the mid-afternoon, we hear megaphones and chanting coming from the Square over the sounds of our a capella Renaissance and Baroque motets. There was even a very loud student demonstration, against tuition hikes, in Phillips Square on Good Friday afternoon, right during the most solemn part of the religious observance. It felt disrespectful to me, but that's how far the tables have turned here. Fifty years ago all of Montreal's shops would have been closed up tight on Sundays -- by law -- and certainly on holy days like Good Friday, when practically everyone would have been in church. I don't think that it was good at all for the Church to have such a hammer-lock on Quebec society; nor was it good to have Christianity trump every other religion. However, after a lifetime, literally, of spending Sunday mornings singing in church choirs, it's odd to know that in Quebec anyway, we're an anomaly, a relic of a quickly-forgotten past. In a short few decades, the universal assumption has been turned upside down: now it's simply assumed that you're free on Sundays. No wonder it's becoming o difficult to keep the youth choir going, in spite of the great musical education the kids receive -- even the most gifted and enthusiastic of the kids are under tremendous peer pressure to do something more cool. Fortunately I have enough excellent company on Sundays that my own uncoolness feels like it becomes cool all over again!
There were no demonstrations or shouting in the square yesterday: just a lot of happy Montrealers enjoying the sun, like these tulips, ahead of themselves, in the stone-warmed cathedral plaza.