[by Shari Blaukopf in Montreal, Canada] I’ve been waiting to sketch Anne for a long time. She’s heavier and more rigid than most of the models I sketch, but her bright yellow colour more than makes up for it.
Anne is the name of the launching gantry for the light rail commuter system that’s being constructed in Montreal. She’s used to hold the precast segments that will form the rail line, and she’s been coming my way for a long time. Because the rail line runs parallel to Highway 40, I couldn’t find a good place to sketch Anne (not many parking spots along the highway!), until a friend had a brilliant idea. He suggested I sketch from a nearby grocery store that has a second floor with picture windows facing the section of the line where Anne is now. And a nice seating area. Bingo!
You might want to know why she has that name. She’s named after the station where this part of the line will end: Ste. Anne de Bellevue.
It’s been fascinating to watch Anne move along the highway, as the elevated rain line getting longer and longer. The REM website explains the construction better than I can: More than 4,000 segments (prefabricated parts manufactured in Québec) are transported by truck and then assembled using the launching beams. The beam is placed between two pillars and lifts the segments in the air to assemble them one after the other, thus forming part of the deck on which the REM will travel. When a segment is completed, the beam is moved between the next two pillars to continue its work, and so on.
My favourite part of watching the construction was to see the workers moving along the line, all attached to Anne by safety cables. It’s a surprisingly fast process, as each segment gets put into place. I think construction of the line will stop soon and resume in spring, which means I may even get to sketch Anne in the snow.
I also drew Anne from inside my car in the Canadian Tire parking lot to get a really close up view. Things move like lightning at the site. Every time I glanced up from my drawing, several things had shifted and I either had to wait for them to move back to where they were, or change my drawing. Making changes is a little harder when I’m painting, but it’s also what makes this so exciting as a subject. It’s always in flux.
It did occur to me that if I waited until lunch time, there would be a break in the action. But that would also mean that all the construction workers would disappear and then the scene wouldn’t be half as lively. And I would really miss adding all the details, including the orange vests and hardhats.