Sunday, 29 November 2015

Icecolour drawings at Hollyburn

Watercolour drawings have to be done quickly in the mountains at this time of year.  Frozen fingers I can deal with, but when your paint freezes, then your brush, then your painting water - well, you're done.  You learn to be fast.  I had about 15 minutes at First Lake at Hollyburn, then less than 10 minutes on the weir at the outflow of West Lake.  First Lake had cheerful cross-country skiers and seemed a fairly benign place even though I was shaded from the low afternoon sun.  West Lake sits in a cold air pocket, and its outflow drops into a dark canyon that makes you think of Coleridge's Kubla Khan: "that deep romantic chasm which slanted down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!  A savage place!..."  So savage that I had to thaw my water cup in my slightly warmer hands to melt my brush free.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Keefer Street crawl

I went over to the Eastside Culture Crawl, but it was really too nice to crawl, so I mostly sketched: one drawing from the railway overpass on Keefer St. done patiently with waterproof pen and watercolour; the other a little further west, done more loosely with water-soluble ink.  On the street, about half the people who walked by were admiring the colours or the architecture of the houses - it was a nice change from North Vancouver, where the houses cover the spectrum from grey to beige, and people tend to talk square feet and market value.  I was painting on my bicycle-studio when a homeless man with an extravagant-in-all-dimensions beard shuffled by with his cart, and muttered as he passed "You're as crazy as I am."  Superficial appearances would suggest otherwise, but he was probably right in many ways.  I took it as a compliment.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Anonymous Art - Security

I put one picture in the North Vancouver Arts Council's Anonymous Art Show, which, happily, sold.  (Happily, too, for the Arts Council, since it's a fund-raiser for them, and I donated my half of the sale to their good cause.)  I used acrylic inks on a wood panel, based on sketches at the grain terminal in North Vancouver.  I would have done the whole thing in situ, but when I rode down there, I found the area is now surrounded by fences, and within 10 seconds, a security guard drove up in a large truck and told me, "All this land - this land is our land."  I didn't think he was quoting Woody Guthrie, and I don't think the local Squamish nation would agree, but in any case, he clarified his position: "Go away."  I must match a profile they teach in security-guard school, at least when I'm carrying my sketchbook.  When I drew there a couple years ago, in freer days, I noticed a homeless camp - consisting of a box and a blanket in the brambles by the tracks.  I hope that person, now evicted, has found a more secure home...

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Lonsdale: Carisbrooke, 16th

On a sunny Remembrance Day and Diwali, my random Lonsdale block generator sent me riding way up the hill to Carisbrooke St and Carisbrooke Park, then back down to central Lonsdale.  The park is an impressive stand of big conifers, with more open grassy knolls.  I was surprised to read that it was created in 1912 - one of the oldest things on Lonsdale (I wonder when they'll convert it into condominiums?)  I saw a 1914 photograph, when it was just a muddy clearcut with a few trees planted by some foresightful people.  Apparently it was an arboretum, so I will have to go back and check the species more carefully.
I then coasted down the hill to 16th, for a little section of the collection of small stores and restaurants that I like along the commercial part of Lonsdale.  A musician was playing fabulous guitar behind me, a couple teenage girls watched me for a while quietly and with no apparent teenaged eye-rolling, and I had a conversation with an onlooker that went: "Urban?" "Yes." "Carry on."  

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Concrete expressionism

Expanses of concrete or asphalt are a challenge - all that grey can kill a picture.  Fortunately, grey is just a subtler version of white, a mixture of all colours, so you can choose which ones to emphasize.  I picked purple and yellow for the tarmac at Vancouver airport on a late fall day, and blue and brown for a bird's-eye view of an alleyway descending into an early dusk in Edmonton.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

People, people, people, and dessert

Some small people drawings from the last few days.  (The drawings are small, not the people.  Some of the people were very large indeed.)  First, in transit to the airport - a lady with a developmental disorder, who flashed through emotions as rapidly as the rest of us, but was honest enough to display them; and people with hats, including hats on top of hats.

At the airport, a mechanic trying to fix our plane.  I'm sure he was very good at his job, but he didn't look it.  In the end, they had to find another plane.  Being a bit tired of airports, I was at a loss for anything to draw to fill the time, until a troop of Buddhist monks showed up.  The young monks were attending a venerable elder monk, and taking occasional there-is-no-selfies on their phones.  That's the thing with sketching in public - when you think there's nothing to draw, a troop of monks will always appear, metaphorically or otherwise.

Then people hanging out at the Starbucks at the Chapters in Edmonton.  Everyone there seemed just a little bit outside of the normal range of standard humanity.  I fit right in.  (I like the way the big circular feature in the roof looks like a cartoon "thought balloon" in the drawing.  But what exactly are they thinking...?)

The table next to me at dinner had two chatty church ladies, no doubt as devoted as the monks to their faith.
On the seabus home in dark rainy Vancouver.
And a postscript: My hotel in Edmonton has complimentary wine and cheese tastings, and, on Thursdays, miraculously, chocolates.  A little dessert can cure a lot of the indignities and disappointments of travel.