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Inside Smith and Barber Sculpture Atelier

February 25, 2015

Smith and Barber (10)

The other day my friend John Wright called up from Ottawa. His drawing group had lined up a fascinating opportunity. They were going to the Smith and Barber Sculpture Atelier. A local studio specializing in the ancient art of ornamental carving in stone.

Two hours drive to sketch in the workshop of these master craftsmen? Count me in! That, after all, is the whole point of location sketching. To get out and experience new things. To see the world through the lens of drawing.


Sure, I only managed a quick sketch. But at the same time, it was a chance to draw with the folks in Ottawa and meet Phillipe Smith, one of the two lead sculptors. He was more than generous with his time, hanging out as we pillaged his shop, regaling us with stories about his unusual art form. Everything from the dangers of silicosis to the origins of some of the irreplaceable blocks of stone they carve.

Smith and Barber (3)

I was excited to hear Smith and Barber are also founders of the Canadian Stone Carving Festival – coming up July 10, 11, 12th  2015 in Gatineau QC at the Museum of History. I hope to make it out for that, and get a chance to sketch craftsmen from around the world in action.

I’ve enjoyed sketching ornamental stone sculpture from so many different time periods and places – to now have the chance to step into one of those workshops, well, that’s something worth dropping everything and making happen.

Smith and Barber (8)

If you’ve had any great sketchbook adventures of your own, leave us a note in the comments. Let’s give people a tour of all the hidden places our pencils have taken us.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2015 9:19 AM

    Even your quick sketches amaze me.

  2. February 25, 2015 10:50 AM

    Wow – great opportunity.. I imagine that sketching is a big part of the daily work of a sculptor as well?

    • February 25, 2015 10:57 AM

      They did have some very nice drawings of designs around, but Philippe did mention they also “transcribe” from object to object with a pantograph. In think at his level though he can just “wing it”‘and it looks incredible :)

  3. February 25, 2015 11:00 AM

    What a wonderful opportunity. I recently had an opening of my new watercolor and drawing exhibit, “The Art of the Sketchbook,” at the First Bank of Greenwich, Connecticut. Over 250 people attended the evening reception where I had 50 framed watercolors hanging and also had 60 sketchbooks for people to peruse. The sketchbooks showed people the process of drawing and watercolor…where many mistakes are made while experimenting. I had several offers to sell a sketchbook but declined. Those are not for sale. I love this blog.

    • February 25, 2015 12:13 PM

      I’d have loved to see 60 sketchbooks all in one show! Tremendous :)

  4. February 25, 2015 11:21 AM

    When I studied sculpture at the City and Guilds of London School of Art, the first two weeks of the course consisted of life drawing all day every day…a real shock to the system…but our studios never looked as immaculate as these.

  5. February 25, 2015 5:11 PM

    Your blog makes my mouth water! You go to such interesting places to draw, and I am trying to get to the Orientalism exhibit which I would never have known about except for you! AND your writing is wonderful — there was one blog in particular that grabbed me, was sooo poetic [and of course now I can’t find it…], but all are articulate and engaging, just great! I always loved sketching on-site but forsook it for painting — am now getting back into it. Terriifc! Your efforts, energy and creativity are much appreciated!

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