Thursday, 24 March 2016

Three Sisters

The Navajo Three Sisters - corn, beans and squash - are complementary proteins, and complementary plants: the corn stalk gives the beans a pole to grow on, the beans fix nitrogen, and the prickly squash leaves protect everyone and shade the soil.  And they are visual complements too.  I painted this monumental work, all 12 square inches of it, for a FANS (Fund for Arts on the North Shore) fund-raiser.  But then I liked it too much, so I bought it from myself and donated the money to FANS.  So I got to be a creator, a buyer and a supporter of the arts - another complementary trinity.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sea to sky to station to symphony

I covered a bit of ground in Vancouver recently.  The highlight was the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's reading of a piece by Glenn Sutherland - a biologist friend and erstwhile urban-sketcher, who composes VSO-level music in his spare time.  The piece "To See Again with Spirit Eyes", and music by five other composers, was amazing.  It is well beyond my ability to even think of composing music, let alone for 55 or so top-level professional musicians.  And watching the symphony perform a piece basically on sight, then go through it with the conductor pointing out improvements was incredible.  He would say things like "OK, let's start at bar 75" and off they would go, completely in synch (to my non-expert ear).  My drawing fell short in comparison - I didn't catch the main essence of a theatre, with is how the lighting makes the performers look more real than life, while the (highly ornate) Orpheum Theatre itself just provides an elegant but dark frame.  Maybe I'll get it right when I go listen to Glenn's full Symphony #1 next year.

Mudflats may not be exactly what most people would expect to follow the Orpheum Theatre.  I could make up something about the theatre of life playing out on the ecological stage, but really, it's just a place that I like and it's where I went next.

Following the Sea to Sky motto used excessively around here, my next drawing was done sitting in 2 meters of snow at Unknown Lake, up Hollyburn mountain.  It's in the cross-country ski area, where, despite perfect snow and spring weather, it was just me, a curious raven, a lusty sapsucker (my interpretation of his or her persistent drumming) and an irate squirrel.
And then, because in Vancouver you are supposed to ski and golf in the same day, and I don't golf, a quick trip over town to the Vancouver Urbansketchers 3rd anniversary meet-up at the train station, where it all started.  I just caught the tail end of the meet-up, so did my own quick sketch afterwards.  I sat at a bus stop with a talkative old man (language spoken not entirely certain) and two Canada geese.  I didn't find out why the geese were waiting at a bus stop.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Lonsdale contrasts

Three Lonsdale blocks over three weeks - a warm sunny day, two cold wet ones, but one of those under cover of a bus shelter.  There was as much contrast in the subjects - modest old and somewhat decrepit houses on the upper part of Lonsdale; humble but cheerful businesses in the laundromat - vacuum cleaners - shoe repair - clogs - naturopath - Luigi's barbershop block of central Lonsdale; and the new luxury condo buildings going up at 13th.  I also had a contrast in my company on each block - two men doing some kind of clandestine business deal that I tried not to notice in a truck right in front of me in upper Lonsdale; sullen teenagers studiously avoiding eye contact with anything non-electronic at the 17th street bus shelter; a friendly and interesting lady, and two old men speaking an incomprehensible Spanish dialect at 13th St.  And, of course, that variety is really the nub of urban-sketching.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Big trees

Two hemlocks from Hollyburn, and an arbutus from Mayne Island.  One mountain hemlock standing tall on the edge of our cabin clearing, as winter dusk falls quickly in the forest behind.  The other hemlock, on a warm drippy day as the snowpack recedes, revealing the world at the base of its truck.  And the giant arbutus on Mayne Island, strong enough that it can be whatever shape it wants to be, thank you very much.