On the Road – 1875 McClure House

Please note that the date is wrong on the video.  This second visit occurred on August 4th, not August 8th as stated in the video.

Summer is my busy season with lots of projects on the go.  Often, I head out on the road and do special projects for different groups of supporters.  One such project is the 1875 McClure House, located West of Toronto.  This is my second visit to this site; I posted photos of my first visit via twitter.  This painting-sketch will need another two or three visits before being completed.  The painting will form the foundation for a colour print.  I hopefully have this completed by the early fall.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Hamilton Artist Update 25 – Dundurn Castle

Hamilton Artist Update 25 – Dundurn Castle

“When we dream about the past, we dream about being the rich people.”

My name is Chris Erskine, and I am an artist who specializes on contemporary and historic architecture expressed through paints, inks and films. Each week, I post an update on my art related activities and interests. With any luck, my updates are posted each Tuesday between 8-9 am.

This week:

1.) The Dundurn Castle Wood-block Print Project

2.) The Backdrop Canvas Painting Project

3.) Why Dundurn Castle Inspires Me

 

(1) Wood-block Print

The summer is the time that I go into the field and do open-air sketch and paintings. Since, I wanted to get as many sketches done as possible; I often do not complete the works to the winter.

In the case of Dundurn Castle, I sketched it last summer and now I am starting on the wood-block print. This project will be large and require the use of plywood panels covered with hard-wood. To work quickly, I use power tools, but this means working outside because my studio does not have a separate ventilation system.

In addition to being large, this wood-block will also use several colours (one panel per colour). I prefer black printing inks, but there is a demand for colour prints, and this project will try and address that interest.

One reason I like the printing process versus painting is my natural tendency towards photo-realism. Carving wood with hand or power tools makes fine details very challenging to achieve and thus helps me avoid this trap.

Another challenge I have with art is that I get bored with projects if they take too long to complete. I lose the freshness to the project, and I often abandon projects if they go past a month or two.

 

(2) Canvas backdrop

For times when I am working with a boring location, I decided to create a canvas backdrop. It will feature the Gore building landscape from the 1870s. I have created time-lapse films of the process of creating this backdrop, but have not had the time to post it. I will hopefully have the first part upload this week.

 

(3) The Inspiration of Dundurn Castle

I have done several weekly updates from Dundurn Castle. It is a wonderful location, and I find MacNab, a very charming character. The building was largely created to impress and inspire confidence in his business ventures. In a time when access to banks in a frontier town was not available, individuals like Durand needed to maintain the confidence of investors. This house was critical to this purpose.

The house is located above the railway tracks, workshops, and piers that represented most of his wealth. In essence, his house was over the shop, just like how most business people lived at the time.

The house was built around 1832-1834 but was updated in the 1840s for the wedding of his daughter. He wanted to put his best foot forward for the future in-laws coming from England.

We often dream about the past, we dream about being the rich people. In reality, if my family lived in Hamilton in the 1830s, we would be trades people and would have lived on the edge of town. The only way we would be welcome on MacNab’s property if we came through the back door to do some work. Nevertheless, I find it a wonderful place and MacNab, a charming character.

 
Chris Erskine
chriserskineartist@gmail.com
@erskinec

#HamOnt – Westdale House Sketch Update

Here is a short video update on my Westdale House Painting Sketch.  This is the second of six house sketches from Hamilton, Ontario.  I prefer on site sketching but because it is winter, these sketches are done from photos that I took over the past 3 years.

MacNab Street Church

Hamilton Sketches

First Day of Sketching MacNab Church
First Day of Sketching MacNab Church

Very difficult subject because there is no good location to view the church from.

The front door of the church is blocked by the street immediately outside its front doors, the railway tracks, and the Hunter Street.

Restricted view of MacNab Church
Restricted view of MacNab Church

The only good sketching location is on Hunter Street that has a very narrow side-walk with lots of cars and people passing by.  Got lots of positive comments from the people from the neighbourhood.

Back Against the Wall
Back Against the Wall

With all the challenges, I didn’t get much done on the first day.

Below is the results of my efforts.

Sketch after first day
Sketch after first day

Dundurn Castle Sketch

Hamilton Sketches – 1835 Dundurn Castle Sketch

Sketching Dundurn Castle
Sketching Dundurn Castle

Despite the hazy skies, finished the pencil sketch.  Got lots of attention from people who wanted to see the sketch. Always nice to get some positive feedback.

Completed Dundurn Castle Sketch
Completed Dundurn Castle Sketch

Everyone liked my project of sketching historical important buildings in Hamilton.

Comparison of drawing to building
Comparison of drawing to building

After three sessions of drawing, the sketch is ready for inking.

Dundurn Castle

Hamilton Sketches

Sketching Dundurn Castle
Sketching Dundurn Castle

I had my doubts about whether the sun would peak out.

Dundurn Castle Sketch
Dundurn Castle Sketch

This is my second session with Dundurn Castle.  I started last Friday afternoon.

Day 2 of Dundurn Castle Sketch
Day 2 of Dundurn Castle Sketch

Sometimes you misjudge the size of the sketch and hence the size of paper.  As a result,  I have placed the 8×14 paper onto a 14×17 and will glue the two pieces of paper together once the drawing and inking is completed.