Sunday, 27 January 2013

Fire, wood

It's quite often been too cold and damp for drawing outside recently, so I've tried a couple of watercolour sketches from photographs.  I was trying to get the general shapes, patterns and colours, rather than copying the actual images of a pile of firewood and the edge of a burned forest.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Grinnell dry pipe valve E2

I went down to the Lonsdale pier to draw this afternoon, which wasn't very clever as there was pea-soup fog.  But this dry pipe valve stood out.  Fans of dry pipe valves will immediately recognize it as a 1953 Grinnell model E2.  With its prominently labeled 150WSP Canada, 6 AC37 and 209-344 ALT, it is widely acknowledged as one of the most sophisticated and stylish of the dry pipe valves.

"Um", you say, "what is a dry pipe valve?"  I'm sure Google knows, but I asked knowledgeable passers-by instead.  Apparently dry pipe valves are used for unloading oil from ships, loading wheat, cleaning barnacles, fighting fires ("On a concrete wharf in the middle of the ocean?"), making fog, mixing cocktails, and are there purely for their aesthetic value (but brass fittings would look better).  So, a multi-purpose apparatus.

Monday, 14 January 2013

St Andrew's church

The church down the street is 101 this year.  I think the cedar-shingled wooden structure is starting to show its age, but I love that its walls are full of woodpecker nest holes.  Pretty much all the dead trees have been cut down in the neighbourhood, so that's about the only place they have left to nest.  The front of the roof peak is also apparently prime real estate, as two pigeons were fighting for the spot the whole time I was drawing.  The church is actually stained a much more somber brown colour, but I like my natural-wood version better.  Maybe next time I paint it, I'll make it purple.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Two minute gestures

Two minute "gesture" drawings are a standard warm-up for life drawing, but they're often the ones I like best - no expectation that I'll actually produce a "good" drawing, and no time to fiddle.  There's a pop-culture saying that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.  So that's 300,000 two-minute gesture drawings.  At 5 per 17x22-inch sheet, that would cover 3.8 acres.  I'll have to go into the wallpaper business.

Monday, 7 January 2013


 Two portraits in charcoal - a bit exaggerated in both cases, but I seem to have a tendency that way.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Toronto to Vancouver

A quick sketch of Ontario, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Art gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto is a beautiful building, with new architectural additions interwoven with the old building.  A main feature is the Italian Gallery, a structure of paralam wood and glass that runs the whole length of one side of the building.  The main ribs twist and curve and are shaped like a boat hull - a real challenge for perspective (which I failed at, even in this simplest view!)  The glass walls look out on old Toronto row-houses. with the new towers behind.  Curving wooden stairways that curl in and out of the old building are even more challenging to draw.
     The main show was Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, with lots of their paintings and many photos and films about their lives and relationship through time.  I drew them from a more-than-life-size reproduction of an old photo at the start of the exhibit (Diego was more-than-life-size in life, too).  It was funny listening to comments of people entering the show as I stood drawing there - many seemed shocked that a "celebrity couple" didn't look like Hollywood celebrities!