Friday, 28 November 2014


The Vancouver Urbansketchers accomplished a remarkable feat - they got me out of the house on a dark rainy Wednesday night in November.  The event was flamenco at the Kino Cafe on Cambie.  As always, I was thankful I went.  The rain pouring down in the street outside just made the cafe all the more warm and energetic.  Drawing a flamenco dancer in action was a challenge - one-minute gestures just don't quite prepare you for "poses" that last one beat of 12/8 time.  I used my "eyelid photography" technique of closing my eyes quickly, like a camera shutter, to freeze a pose.  I try to get down the few main elements of the gesture before the image fades away, then add whatever bits are needed to make it look like a human.  It's also fun just to scribble to the rhythm with a dip pen, then make it look like a person with a quick brush of paint.  Although I do think that some of the results say "disco" more than "flamenco"...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Eastside Culture Crawl

It was a warm sunny day at the Eastside Culture Crawl.  I finally thawed the last of the bones that I froze at last year's event.  Surprisingly, the building at 1000 Parker Street is still standing, so I drew it again, this time from the sunny south side, with its awesome graffiti. I grabbed lunch from one of the food trucks - traditional Canadian fare of kim-chee tacos (though the Szechuan perogies were also tempting).  I ended up giving an impromptu demonstration and lecture on lunch-drawing to about 15 culture-crawlers, expounding on my thesis that you appreciate food three times as much if you draw it first - in the drawing, in the extended anticipation, and finally in the eating.  You also learn to draw faster if you're hungry.  Then I went inside, and did an architecturally exact drawing of the busy interior.  As I heard one couple say: "How many floors are there?" "Nobody knows."  

Monday, 17 November 2014

Skating on First Lake

It was a first for me this morning - skating on a frozen lake in Vancouver.  It's certainly cold enough up the mountains most of the winter, but usually the lakes are filled or covered with snow.  But this year we've had over a week of cold clear weather before any snow has fallen, so there was at least the minimum 4 inches of clear ice on First Lake at Hollyburn.  I went this morning before the low sun got above the trees - fortunately, because an inversion had set up over night and it was 10 degrees C up there, even though it was below freezing at home.  So, an even rarer event - skating on a frozen lake in a t-shirt.  The ice was still solid and fast, and I had the whole place to myself.  As the sun finally hit it at about 10 o'clock, the ice started to make spectacular booming cracking sounds, so I retired to a warm sunny spot on shore to paint the lake and my melting skate tracks.  Maybe I'll go back for a swim tomorrow.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Looking Back

No, not a retrospective navel-gazey post. "Looking Back" is the title of the one drawing I managed to get done in time for the Basic Inquiry members' show "Being Human" (running through Nov 28 at 901 Main Street, Vancouver, if you happen to be in that neighbourhood).  I don't usually need titles for my pictures, so it was a struggle, but I'm quite proud of the one I came up with.  As the eminent critic wrote:

"'Looking Back' is, at first glance, a gratuitously simple behavioural descriptive.  We are, it appears needless to declare, Looking (at a) Back. But as we look, we perceive ourselves to be looked upon, as the back itself is Looking Back - the prominent pelvic concavities become ocular, the sacral terminus and inter-gluteal cleft become nasal-buccal, and, dare we say?, ursine.  Unnerved by the threat of imminent predation, we are drawn upward by the subtle dorsal rotation to a threat of even greater peril, the transgression of our privileged post as anonymous observer: is the model Looking Back at us?   The unresolved nihilistic potential disorients us, and we are forced to face the most profoundly ontological Looking Back - the simple segmented spinal column, the gill-like costal ridges, the primitive sinistral appendage, what could these be but echoes, resonating in the rippled aqua pedestal and primordial darkness, ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny, of our distant piscine ancestry, revealing that Being Human is, ultimately, Being a Fish."

Couldn't have put it better myself.