Monday, 31 March 2014

Spring in Vancouver

How do you know it's spring in Toronto?  The Leafs are out.  Unfortunately, the same applies in Vancouver this year, but here we have another sign - the rain falls on daffodils, not just on mud.  But even raindrops make good sketching subjects if you study them carefully enough.  And the good thing about rain is that it makes it easier to work on Sunday, so that...
...when it's beautifully sunny on Monday, you can go skiing!  (Being self-employed helps there too.)  It was just me, my tele skis and the hopeful but ultimately disappointed ravens on Hollyburn today.  The ravens there fly right up to visitors, yelling "GORP GORP GORP!" - thus the popular name for trail-mix.  I've done so many sketches on Hollyburn now that I could probably put together a 360-degree panorama, or maybe a time-lapse video - watching the snow come and go, the trees grow, die, rot and be replaced, the ravens evolve, the mountains uplift and erode away.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Cherry blossoms

I usually seem to miss cherry-blossom season in Vancouver, because it is also fiscal year-end for those of us dependent on contracts.  But today after pruning trees - a month late or so - I got out to draw a flowering cherry.  I was just thinking that we appreciate cherry blossoms more because they are so important to Japanese people, when a young Japanese man who was probably here "learning English" (a euphemism for "goofing off for a year"), came by, looked at the tree I was drawing for several minutes, took one photo from a very particular location and angle, then headed off.  Shortly after that, another man came up, looked at my drawing and said "Did you just draw that?"  "Yes." Then, pointing to my pen and brush, "With those?"  "Um, yes..."  I think some people are truly surprised to find that people actually make pictures, rather than just clicking a camera or downloading them.  But watching the Japanese student look for several minutes before taking a single photo was also a lesson in picture-making for me.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Edmonton trip vignettes

Another trip to Edmonton, another unexpected view from the octagonal hotel I stay at.  This one shows two amazing features of Edmonton.  One is the vacant lot, which has been that way for at least 5 years.  That would never happen on the busiest commercial street in Vancouver - it would immediately become condominiums, a guerrilla garden or a grow-op.  The other Edmonton phenomenon is the ground-floor store in the building across the road, a cupcake emporium.  People think that oil is the mainstay of the Alberta economy, but actually it is cupcakes.

I had a new little sketchbook.  They always look intimidatingly blank, so I did a lot of little drawings: people on the seabus, skytrain and plane and at the restaurant; Easter "stuff", lounge lizards and even some books at the Chapters on Whyte Avenue; exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Alberta, including some amazing biomorphic very-mixed-media installations by Edmonton artist Lyndal Osborne; an upscale pub; and the trip home.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

West Vancouver 2 islets, 2 apartments

I rode around West Vancouver on a sunny Sunday, and drew two very different views.  The first is of the Grebe Islets, two little rocky islands off Klootchman Park.  They are normally good bird-watching spots, but an eagle was sitting on one of them, scaring off everything except a few amorous geese, annoyed crows and nervous surf scoters.  There were basking seals and a cruising sealion.  There are also some amazing houses along the rocky shoreline.  They make you wonder how people get there, physically and also financially.

Then I stopped by an area of apartments near Ambleside.  One is widely known as the Pink Palace.  The other - the Turquoise Terraces?  They are mid-1960's vintage on prime oceanfront real estate, and I'm sure they were the height of chic when they were built.  Then, I'm equally sure, they were the depths of tackiness for a while.  But now they are retro, so they are undoubtedly fashionable again.  For me, I'm just glad to see anything that isn't a cold concrete-and-glass condo block.  

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Life drawing

 Life drawing at Basic Inquiry today - 2-minute gestures in charcoal and pastel, and 30 minutes with ink and watercolour.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Hollyburn Mountain drawathlon

I made a quick run up Hollyburn today.  I was all alone on the mountain, except for the three- or four-hundred other people.  I drew one large group trudging up the hill, looking like gold-rushers heading for the Yukon, except for all the Gore-tex.  A raven flew overhead, waiting for trail-mix hand-outs, or the eyeballs of any who succumbed.  The Lions were still there when I got to the top.  In fact they hadn't moved much since I last drew them, but they looked somber today as snow clouds built above them.  It started snowing on the way down, as I paused to draw another multi-coloured multitude massing for the view of Vancouver.