Friday, 31 July 2015

Lonsdale and 1st, 26th

Continuing my quest to draw each block on Lonsdale Avenue (in random order), I did the blocks above 26th and above 1st.  This was in the relative cool of the morning, fortunately for riding up, then down, then back up the one big hill that is Lonsdale.  The first drawing at 26th was really only notable for its loudness.  A lot of North Vancouverites drive big pickups, which have never seen a load bigger than golf clubs, and they roar up the hill in them.  I have to add earplugs to my sketching kit.

The block above 1st St used to be funky little shops and old diners.  Now it is another big construction site.  Let me guess ... condominiums?  With a "hair salon" and realtor offices beneath?  Some of the last remaining artists studios are in the building behind - but not for long, I'm sure.  The same thing happened to the next block up the hill, and it's now a soulless, personless block, at least on the condo side of the street.  What will all the new inhabitants do when they want to, for example, eat?  I guess they'll get in their big pickups and roar up the hill to the supermarket.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Caribbean Days parade

Caribbean Days are a big event in North Vancouver, a place that doesn't have many big events.  There aren't many people of Caribbean origin here, but they come from all over the Lower Mainland for the parade and general festivities after, along with many other people.  The parade alternated Caribbean and other groups: Caribbean, Falun Gong, Caribbean, Salvadorean, Caribbean, Turkish(?), Caribbean, ancient Egyptian, and so on.  Drawing the traffic police before the parade was fairly easy.  They don't move much.  But drawing a parade of elaborately costumed people dancing by - not so easy.  They say sketchers need to simplify complex subjects, so I decided to focus on drawing the girls.  It's important to work within a strict set of aesthetic constraints like that.  In the end, I became part of the parade, walking backwards for three blocks while sketching the elaborately costumed soca dancer below (I added the paint later).  I probably would have stood out in the middle of the carefully organized Falun Gong band, but I was just part of the general pandemonium of the soca troop.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Lonsdale: Braemar, 11th

Continuing my series of Lonsdale blocks in random order, I drew block 36, well above 29th Street where the numbers run out.  I left early for the ride up the parabolic hill, beating the heat and most of the huge roaring pick-up trucks that seem to rule that part of the road.  There was already a smell of smoke in the air, from the clouds of it that were about to engulf the city for several days.  The block itself is essentially one big hedge on both sides of the road, but it has a distant view of the ocean and the city.  There were a surprising number of passers-by on the steep hill.  Most looked at me sitting on the sidewalk painting, and decided I was probably harmless but best not to make eye contact.  However, one person watched me for a while, then offered to buy the drawing, which is in an almost-complete sketchbook.  I declined.

Back down at the more civilized - or, at least, less hedgy - end of Lonsdale, I did the 11th block this morning. Confusingly, this is also the eighth and/or tenth block, due to a historical accident in laying out the city's gridded streets - eight and tenth streets intersect nearby. I can just imagine the two survey crews when they met up...  There is a view of the harbour and downtown again here, straight down the hill where the road bends twenty degrees due to the aforementioned historical accident.  People were chattier here, and every one of them said how much they were loving the cool, damp, almost drizzly weather, after two months of hot dry and recently smoky days.  Someone walked by whistling "Walking in a Winter Wonderland", which is taking it a bit too far.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

End-of-Days, Vancouver

Thick orange, purplish or strangely flesh-toned smoke is hanging over Vancouver, ash is falling from the sky, a hot wind is blowing, and not a single person is mowing their lawn.  It's a day when the word "Armageddon" lurks in the back of your mind.  (Or, if you have a weird cognitive difficulty with polysyllable A-words like I do, you have "Armadillo", "Archipelago" and "Asparagus" lurking, but it's eerie all the same.)  That's the other word of the day - "eerie".  People passing on the sidewalk just shake their heads slowly and say "Eerie".  So, a quick sketch, and now I have to make sure my membership dues are paid up to whatever organization promises to get me the most years off my time in Purgatory.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Lonsdale: Saturday in the Park

Nobody who was alive in the 1970's can draw on Saturday in the park without having the Chicago song stuck in their head.  For at least 6 days, apparently.  There was no man selling ice cream, but can you dig it?  Yes I can.  So could several other people, playing, reading, texting in the shade of the big beech trees on one of our endless hot sunny summer days.

As I was doing that drawing in Victoria Park at Lonsdale and Keith Road, I hatched a new project: to draw each of the 38 blocks of Lonsdale Avenue, the "main street" of the city of North Vancouver.  My local neighbourhood is so familiar that it has become hard to go out sketching nearby.  Epic monuments or exotic scenes are singularly lacking here - and maybe everyone feels that way about their own home range.  But one of the points of urban sketching is to appreciate what is right around you, everyday scenes, little details, men selling ice cream, and I'm hoping the project will help me with that.  I decided not to worry about using a consistent style or viewpoint for each block, and to do them in random order, since I suspect that seasons will go by before I'm done.

Fortunately, for the second sketch in the series, my random-number generator (one of her many roles), picked 22, and I could draw the Lonsdale and 22nd Street block while sitting under a shady chestnut tree on another hot and sunny day.  I go often to the Harry Jerome rec centre on this block, to swim, play hockey and lift weights.  I think of it as a big, busy, energetic place.  So I was surprised to notice how well it blends in and almost disappears behind the trees and shrubs of little Crickmay Park on the Lonsdale side.  I apparently blended in to my chestnut tree quite well too, because two older ladies stopped just on the other side of the tree and discussed fairly intimate details of their childrens' personal lives for almost the whole time I was drawing.  The things you learn when you get out in your own neighbourhood,..