Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Springtime at the Diddle Inn

The cabins on Hollyburn Ridge have some great names - the WeeSki Inn, the Alasker Inn, the Taj Mahollyburn, many others.  The Diddle Inn is the cabin of Jackie Swanson, who just retired as president of the Hollyburn Ridge Association.  This is no picnic-in-the-park position.  It involves negotiating with the West Vancouver council to keep the historic community alive and thriving, figuring out permit and lease agreements, getting heritage status for the area, dealing with all sorts of practical and political issues, and keeping the diversely eccentric association members happy.  Jackie did a truly amazing job.  I was asked to paint a picture as a thank you from the board and the association.  I did a fairly big (for me) pen-and-watercolour picture of her cabin nestled into the forest.  (Those trees are supposed to look nestling, not like they are leaning over and about to fall on the cabin...)  The good thing about drawing the Hollyburn cabins is that if your drawing goes a bit wonky, it just looks that much more realistic.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Four more Lonsdale

Four more Lonsdale blocks, two hurried, two more relaxed.  The block of Lonsdale above Queens is busy but pleasant, with a bustling independent grocery store.  No time to linger, though, as black clouds piled up ominously into a spring storm.  The first drops fell just as I finished, and I was soaked by the time I rode home down the hill.  But no harm done, because I obeyed the only real rule of outdoor sketching: always carry your sketchbook in a ziplock bag.  Everything else is optional.
The next block was also done in a hurry, this time because of basic survival.  Lonsdale just above the Upper Levels Highway is a horrible, loud, grey, stinky efflux of vehicles trying to get onto or off of the highway that leads to the perpetual traffic jam at the Second Narrows Bridge.  I gave the drawing 30 minutes - pretty much all I could stand physically.  The few people walking by had their fists and jaws clenched as if they were going into battle, but, remarkably for this area, a couple people did stop to talk to me.  Both of them complained about the traffic.
Not far below the highway, the block above 21st is far more peaceful, with a quiet park outside the very under-appreciated Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art.  Eight large red cast statues of crouching monk-like Chinese businessmen once graced a G8 meeting, with an intriguingly ambiguous message.  Now the one that I assume represents Russia has been sent off to a corner by itself.  However, the current geopolitical situation wasn't too important to the two little girls who were climbing the statues.
And down at the bottom of the street, Lonsdale above 2nd St. is a quiet place, with the star attraction being the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.  I had a nice seat for drawing and was just underway, when a City truck parked right in front of me.  This is one of the banes of urban-sketching.  But the driver saw me, said sorry, and moved his truck up the street out of my way.  That's a first for any vehicle, and makes me feel much happier about paying my property taxes.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

In tropical Edmonton

I had a few days in Edmonton, where it was 50 degrees (C) warmer than the last time I was there.  It was almost tropical feeling, with all the flowering trees flowering at once, including fragrant mock orange, hawthorn and many crabapples.  Everyone was out in their minimalest clothing, patios were full, and the often aggressive vibe of Whyte Avenue was much more relaxed.  I even had some time between meetings to draw on the University of Alberta campus, which never happens.  As the week went on, this as-pleasant-as-it-gets scene became an ever-stranger contrast to the devastating fire and evacuation in Fort McMurray, the next city up the road (although 400km away in the dense, dry boreal forest).  But the only direct evidence of that disaster was the extra long line-ups at the Edmonton airport, where many evacuees were heading home to other parts of Canada or to second houses in the south, and the long lines of dog cages being loaded on to their planes.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Two from the trail

Two quick sketches from a hike I did out of our Hollyburn cabin, looping via Blue Gentian Lake, Lost Lake (which I found, if anyone's looking for it), and Brother's Creek trail. The highest points of the loop still had snow, while lower down, everything was leafing out and blooming.  It was pretty much a perfect day for hiking - dry, sunny, warm not hot, gentle breeze.  But I did get my first mosquito bite of the season - Et in Arcadia ego...