Friday, 30 August 2013

Loutet Farm and Strathcona Garden events

There's more than planting, weeding and harvesting in the gardens around here.  Last night was the volunteers' dinner for the Edible Garden Project at Loutet Farm, our highly successful just-down-the-street urban farm.  A hundred people or so had an amazing potluck dinner out in the fields, followed by a kazoo-playing poetry reading and a square dance (in the parking lot - no lettuces were hurt during this event).  It turned out to be the one typhoon day of the summer, but the canopies did their job and the weather fury held off until it was time to pack up, when it did get a little bit damp.

Before that, we went to an evening of little plays put on by the Environmental Youth Corps in Strathcona Garden, a huge community garden in Vancouver.  The audience walked from garden plot to garden plot, trying, rather unsuccessfully, to connect the theatrical plots, performed by the youth corps people in masks accompanied at times by talking apples.  There was also a large piano in the middle of the garden, which they were quite proud of because they had grown it from seed themselves.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A couple from this week

I have a little mini-sketchbook where I do a drawing a day.  I drew the new mosque while waiting for a switch to be replaced in my car.  I think there's a bylaw in North Vancouver that every house has to have a fence made of pre-fab cedar fence panels from Rona, and that goes for mosques too - but they added cedar 1x2's to make elegant geometric patterns that match the ones on the building.

Today's drawing was from Hollyburn Mountain, where we were picking the astonishing crop of blueberries and huckleberries that have recently appeared, despite a complete lack of rain this summer.

Friday, 23 August 2013


 The urban sketchers meet-up group met in a dumpster today.  It's not that we're trying to capture the real essence of urban-living, or that the day-jobs aren't paying enough - it's quite a nice place to be, actually.  This dumpster anyway.  It has been transformed into a mobile park, a park-a-park that moves from neighbourhood to neighbourhood (  It was designed by Julien Thomas, an artist working at promoting social interactions.  It's a remarkably cozy environment, even parked where it was in an expanse of new concrete and condo towers, a bit like a lifeboat (minus the seasickness) (and Bengal tiger).  It's rumoured to be going to Granville Island next, where it will make a great spot to sit and draw the scene.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Just another day outside the Art Gallery

The space outside the Vancouver Art Gallery is a good place to find a cross-section of the city.  Today there was the usual crowd of locals wearing various tattoos and serpents, fashionable hipsters, tourists mostly Japanese and Korean (but I also heard Portuguese, Spanish, German, American, Hindi, French and Mr. Bean), drug dealers, someone looking for a public washroom, a man on a soapbox ranting incoherently to a fascinated crowd of one, a rapper perhaps with Tourette's, a bunch of really weird people sketching and painting, a man with a large inflatable penguin, Santa Claus, two demonstrations and several thousand zombies.

One of the demonstrations was against the military in Egypt, an appropriately passionate and serious event.  The other was a Free Hugs demonstration.  As some of you know, my nickname is Hugs, so it was touching to receive the same kind of support given to Nelson Mandela, Tibet, etc.  Although, actually, I hadn't realized I was in any kind of captivity.  But they do say that you are most strongly bound by the chains you can't see. Anyway, it's good to know people are working for my liberty.  And it seemed to be a popular cause - all kinds of people were going up and embracing my supporters.

Then there were the zombies.  There were biker zombies, skinhead zombies, cute zombies, doctor zombies, house-wife zombies, professor zombies, several bride and groom zombies, Japanese tourists lining up for the zombification booth, terrorist zombies, bodacious zombies, policeman zombies (and 3 stoic live policemen), hazmat zombies, American Gothic zombies, cowboy zombies, child zombies, zombies in strollers, and a poodle zombie. They had a catchy rallying cry that went "What do we want?" "Brains!" "When do we want them?" "Brains!"  Then they filled the street from storefront to storefront in a parade three blocks long and went zombieing off, completely stopping traffic throughout the downtown.

So, just another day in Vancouver.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Twelve of us sketched in Chinatown yesterday, and they threw a street party in our honour.  Maybe the party was going to happen anyway, but it certainly made it a lively place, with thousands of people on two blocks, food stalls, dancers and some amazing music with amplified traditional Chinese instruments - I recognized Funkytown, La Bamba and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The Sun Yat-Sen gardens were quieter when I drew the fellow communing with his Tim Horton's coffee.  A little girl visiting the gardens with her parents was fascinated by my painting.  She watched from in front of me for a while, then climbed up the bench behind me, then leaned on my back to look over my shoulder. Fortunately she eventually saw a turtle in the lily pond, which was even more fascinating than me and my bright colours.

Monday, 5 August 2013

A tale of two waterfronts

 North Vancouver's waterfront is dominated by heavy industry, with huge facilities for shipping coal, wheat, wood chips, sulphur.  West Vancouver's - not so much.  In fact, I think industry is banned there altogether.  North Vancouver has enormous coal-moving machines dwarfing the trains that are always coming and going and crashing together, rows of ocean-going freighters, loud roaring noises, sirens blaring, twenty-storey tall sprinklers going off every few minutes (to stop the coal from spontaneously combusting, or maybe just to try to keep the dust down), big excavators bashing down trees to widen the access roads, and tanker trucks blasting their horns at cyclists who dare slow them down.  West Vancouver's waterfront has an arts festival, free music and people drinking wine under umbrellas.  Both are fun to draw (using the old environmentalist trick of picturing the industrial sites in undersaturated greys and the 'natural' areas in bright oversaturated colours).