Saturday, 1 July 2017

Happy Canada Day!

Here are some recent drawings from this part of the - very diverse - country:

The annual dragon-boat races, with BC Place looking like a crown in the background.

Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island, during a brief stop on the Southern Gulf Islands ferry.

The lobby of the Marine Building, one of the few (only?) art deco buildings in Vancouver, open to the public just one day a year - and a challenge to draw!

Lynn Creek, which I am always amazed to remember is close enough that I can ride and walk there and back on my lunch hour (ok, an extended lunch hour, but I work for myself so who's going to complain?)

Our local cafe, in a restored 1912 building - about as old as they get around here.

And three drawings from the Vancouver UrbanSketchers' meetup at the Vancouver Jazz Festival - the big stage, some food trucks, and the line-up for one of the small stages.  There was lots of red in the crowd on Canada Day, but I was also glad to see people dressed in purple, yellow, orange, green, blue, even black - it's great to live in a country where you can wave the flag if you want to, but it's just fine if you do your own thing too.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Simply Drawing show and sale, June 30 2017

Big show and sale of life drawings and paintings - Sandrine Pelissier's studio, 125 Garden Avenue, North Vancouver.  Friday June 30, 2017, 5-8 pm.  There will be lots of great art on the walls, and many drawings - cheap!  A preview:

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Trump voters were right

I was drawing with the UrbanSketchers today, sitting on the stairs of the Vancouver Convention Centre under the broad overhang - because it was the only shady place - drawing the Marine Building.  A group of Americans came by, stopped, and one of them stood right in front of me.  His extraordinarily wide bum blocked my entire view.  I waited patiently, waited some more, and then finally his wife said "Dear, I think you're in this man's way".  And 'Dear' said "I'll stand wherever I want.  It's a free country.  Oh, wait, it's Canada, it's not a free country. Hi-yuck, hi-yuck, hi-yuck."  The only thing I had to defend my country was a paint brush.  I was thinking "Cadmium red, straight to the heart."  Of course, I'm Canadian, so I didn't do anything, and eventually they left.  As one co-sketcher commiserated: "Trump-voters."

But then it gets embarrassing (not for me).  Five minutes later, a security guard comes up to me and orders me to leave.  He says "It won't look good to our visitors having you sit there."  Was he talking about my looks?  I was wearing my best shirt, my standard-issue Mountain Equipment Co-op pants, even a hat to make my hair respectable.  And I couldn't have been too scary-looking, because I'd already talked to 5 other groups of tourists, been photographed with my drawing, let them flip through my sketchbooks, given directions to a couple, even explained to one what the "ugly sculpture" was (the Olympic torch).  But the bigger point is, I'm not in anyone's way, it's public space, and - not to be all Trump-voter'ish about it or anything - it was paid for with my tax money (well, partly).  In the last couple years, I've drawn in a gritty South American capital surrounded by police complimenting me, painted military monuments and barracks in Cuba chatting to friendly soldiers, and sketched the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Station - places where they take security pretty seriously.  In Vancouver, I've had security guards kick me out of public spaces because I was drawing a train station, a concrete storage yard, a grain elevator, a movie theatre, a laundromat and now a heritage building.  Come on, people, get some perspective, and stop making those Trumpers look smart!

Otherwise, great day for sketching.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Dr. Sketchy's cat

Rhianna Conda modeled at Dr. Sketchy's on Sunday.  Ms. Conda was a lovely version of Catwoman.  And if you have ever wondered what Catwoman wears under her cat suit - Hello Kitty pasties.  (I was sitting a long way back, so I was unable to document that with a close-up.)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Last of the snow?

It was a fairly epic snow year on the local mountains (as I'm sure the ski areas said many times).  Nothing like when the old-timers were kids, of course, but nothing is.  The summer sun is finally starting to win, and the snow line was just below our Hollyburn cabin last weekend.  But the peak is still covered in deep snow, and the skiing is awesome (to again quote the ski areas).  It was colder drawing the last patches of snow in the Marr Creek valley than it was on the peak - cold air was pouring down the gully, even as the sun warmed the top of the slope.  The peak was bright, sunny and warm, with views in all directions including the ocean to the west.  Hoverflies were staking out their minute territories on the peak, waiting for that hopeful day when the last four or five meters of snow melt.

Down below, the world is full flower.  At Maplewood, the purple lupines are competing with the yellow buttercups to see who can be more complementary.  And at home, the hawthorn is briefly hiding its deadly thorns with a huge mass of little white flowers.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Long weekend of drawing

I fit a lot of drawing into the first long weekend of the summer.  I started with a ride up the Seymour River, an annual trip to see some birds for my yearly "NMT" (non-motorized transport) bird list.  When I was there last year - the first person in the morning up the bikes-only road - I was coming down a long hill and slowed for a speed gate (put in to avoid head-on collisions among cyclists).  Just ahead, I saw a big black bear feeding on the side of the road.  This year, I was passing through the gate thinking how grateful I was that it had prevented me from zooming down the hill right into the bear, when I looked up and saw (the same?) very large bear about 40m away.  He stared at me for a few seconds until I gave him a loud "Good morning, bear!", then he turned and ran down the road into the forest.  There's a lot of power rippling through those creatures when they run!  I drew the surrounding valleyside from a bear-free picnic area, serenaded by a MacGillivray's warblers, one of the birds I was looking for.

Back home, the garden is blooming on a compressed schedule after a cold wet spring, juxtaposing flowers that normally bloom at different times.  I carefully composed the white poppies in this drawing, then, annoyingly, forgot and painted one azalea-purple.  There's no going back with watercolour...

The next morning I went down to Maplewood Flats, where a passing boater had discovered why they are called "Flats".  The tide was still going down, and it looked hit-or-miss as to whether the boat was going to be lying sideways on the mud-bar when the tide came back in.

Then I rode over to West Vancouver and an UrbanSketchers' meetup at the Ambleside Artisan Farmers' Market.  It's a happy mix of busy market - more artisan than farmer at this time of year - the beach with many weekend loungers-about, and a few food trucks, including new-for-me Burmese food - tasty!

And finally today, the buy-two-get-one-free day of the weekend, I skied up Hollyburn Peak, where there was still a good 4m of snow, even though the temperature was getting up towards 20C.  I've drawn quickly in the past because I was cold, or hot, or about to get soaked or eaten by bugs, but today's motivating force was a UV index that must have been off scale up a mountain with clear skies in late May and a bright white snowpack.  I also made a stop at First Lake by Hollyburn Lodge, where the inky-black water is starting to melt pathways through the still-deep snow.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Bright life

Apparently I've been into the bright colours at life drawing recently.  And so, fortunately, was one of the models, the props on the stage, and the world at large.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Maplewood Flats

I spend a lot of time at Maplewood Flats this time of year, watching the passing waves of migrating birds.  It's funny how different habitats have different psychological feelings.  The Swamp is flooded in spring, the willows and alders twisted and covered in moss.  It seems forbidding; the word "dismal" comes to mind when you look at it; there's something primeval, or at least medieval, about it.  The West Pond, on the other hand, is a happy little habitat.  Turtles bask, dragonflies flit, ducks do ducky things.  It always seems to be cloudy, rain threatening, when I walk by the swamp.  Two minutes away, the pond glints in warm sunlight.  These feelings make no sense, except that we are also creatures of habitat - something bad must have happened to some distant ancestor in a swamp somewhere.
On a different theme - "Draw your food" - here is a Maplewood delicacy, the fertile fronds of the giant horsetail.  Essentially nothing has eaten horsetails for the last 300 million years, and for good reason - they are full of silica, so it would be like eating a sheet of sandpaper.  An exception is the young spore-producing stalks of the giant horsetail.  When the dark brown bracts are removed, the stem is crunchy, juicy and vaguely celery-like.  Which is actually not very exciting, and you probably wouldn't want to eat too much of something tough enough to survive 200 times longer than our species, but it is worth a nibble at least to celebrate the spring season.


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Life styles

Life drawing is a good place to practice new drawing styles - lots of quick drawings, familiar subject matter, and it doesn't feel like you have to produce an epic masterpiece every time.  Good opportunities for mistakes, and, eventually, new ways of expressing yourself.

This is my standard two-minute gesture in charcoal pastel.  They're all about getting hands and eyes working together quickly.
A couple of my more traditional 15-minute poses - not quite "classical", but straightforward depiction is the general goal.

Two more challenging poses, with a bit more emphasis on a visually interesting composition.

Then moving into colour with short poses, thinking about the gesture, form and warm/cool shading.
Moving right along, a somewhat longer pose, done in water-soluble ink and watercolour, for a bit more "painterly" effect.
Then some experiments with soluble Kuretake markers, some water and a lot of chaos - really an excuse to play with bright shiny colours.

And finally, working towards more expressive options, some mixed media on Yupo paper (aka as "messes").  These are the only ones here done from images rather than live models.  There are pens, charcoal, pastels, inks and watercolour involved here, and sandpaper too - a bit much kit for a live-model studio!