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Ahoy! Pirates and Ships at the Pointe

January 20, 2015


Who doesn’t love those rascally swashbuckling pirates?

They’re the embodiment of the 99%. Romanticized history. Escaped slaves giving what-for to the Empire that shanghaied them. It’s the Robin Hood thing.  With more robbing, and less giving to the poor. Unless you use the classic rationalization: ” Well, I’m poor, so I’m keeping this booty”.

I wanted to escape the winter with an afternoon of museum sketching – so poked my head into the relatively new Pirates or Privateers exhibit at the Pointe a Calliere Museum of Archaeology.  I was actually there for an entirely different show, but I got distracted.

I’m about 25% through the book The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, by Colin Woodard.  Speaking as an author of my own book bearing a long subtitle – I wonder if he regretted that choice. But then again, it was my publisher’s idea not mine, so the dislike of typing that might go double for Woodard.

But I digress.


This is really an exhibit for kids. There’s not a lot to see. And a great deal of imagination is required to enjoy it. If you’ve seen it, and compare your memory with these drawings, you’ll already know what I mean.

There’s a pair of wooden ship models (I can never resist drawing a model ship), a few historical costumes on manikins, (also a go-to sketching thing for me) and otherwise it’s a few flintlocks and sextants in glass cases, and a lot of cut-out graphics and interpretive signage of the dreaded ‘interactive’ variety – where the kids can push a button to hear some recorded voice acting.

The only real attraction is that the room is filled to bursting with a full size pirate ship!

As if the building was somehow built around the thing.  It’s perfectly planned for kids to run around, playing pretend pirates, while parents in turn pretend their kids might be getting an education.  But I can’t criticize. If you have a 5 year old, they’ll probably dig this place. It can be their reward after you drag them through the grown up exhibits.


No major art-tips to say today, other than these are in a shiny new Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Sketchbook (8.5 x11″).  A smooth, lightweight paper – really a joy for a detailed pen drawing. I’ve avoided watersoluble ink this time – that darn rigging would just melt to nothing.

I’m also pleased to say we can now get Stillman & Birn books in Montreal. Pierre, the owner at our local shop Avenue des Arts has gone out of his way to organize Canadian distribution. He mentioned you can also get them in Edmonton at the Paint Spot (I worked there with some good friends back in art school!). Thanks to their teamwork on the import effort.

So, that’s good news. S&B have put out a few new sizes as well – I’m looking forward to trying out a nice Alpha Series 9 x 6″ landscape format they’ve introduced.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2015 8:39 PM

    Your sketches are wonderful. My kids and I always sketch when we are in museums and art galleries. It’s a fun way to engage with the exhibits and it encourages the kids to really focus on the detail.

  2. Hansi permalink
    January 21, 2015 11:15 AM

    Love you sketches. You can get Stillman & Birn sketchbooks from Curry’s Art Supplies. I love them.

  3. January 22, 2015 1:23 AM

    Love these sketches! The sketch books you mentioned sound interesting, is it possible to get them in the states do you know?

    • January 22, 2015 5:08 PM

      Yes, Stillman & Birn is out of New York. They should be in most US stores. Or on Amazon. (Links in the post).

  4. January 27, 2015 1:01 PM

    These are awesome! Good recommend on the sketchbooks too. I’ve been working kind of chaotically, using papers that don’t always make a ton of sense but are just available. Trying to use up old art supplies before investing in new ones.


  1. Pirates at the Old Port | Citizen Sketcher

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