Monday, 27 June 2016

Last of Lonsdale

It took a year, but I got through all 37 blocks of Lonsdale.  The last five were a mix: 2 older mixed-business blocks, one dull grey new building on a dull grey day, the view up the street from the very lower end (a year ago I would have drawn the view of the ocean and Vancouver, but that has been replaced by the steel frame of a new gallery building), and even a bear (a bronze one, but life size and claiming the entire territory of the block where 8th and 11th Streets unaccountably converge at Lonsdale).

I had a lot of sunny days during the project (by choice), quite a few dull grey ones with rain threatening, a few days where I had to shelter in cafes or, once, my car, and one day standing in a bit of snow.  When you put your mind to it, you can create a lot of opportunities for one or two hour drawing sessions if it doesn't take a lot of travel time.  I really enjoyed the blocks where a mix of buildings and businesses have developed naturally over time, I got tired of the residential blocks that are mostly one big hedge, and really struggled with the new characterless condominium blocks (There must be a cut-and-paste feature on the Autocad program architects use).  I also liked the "oddball" places - the arboreteum, the public space outside the art gallery, Victoria park on a summer afternoon, the bear.  I drew about 10% of the cars that were in my view, and never did get the hang of them.  I learned to carry noise-canceling headphones for the endless huge pickup trucks roaring up the hill (Is there a reason that big pick-ups can't have good mufflers?)  But I came to appreciate the bus stops - convenient places to sit, most of them sheltered but still open to the view - and also the (few) other public benches, mostly on lower Lonsdale.  There are remarkably few people walking on most blocks and many people studiously avoid any kind of eye contact (perhaps my paint brush looks threatening?), but I did meet several nice people and a fair numbers of eccentrics.  A lot of people who talked to me were recent immigrants, perhaps because they come from places where there really are threatening people and they've learned to differentiate.  And I figured out why some people actively glared at me - twice people came up to me aggressively as I drew in my little black Moleskine book, standing by the curb in my blue cycling jacket and baseball cap, and said words to the effect of "Why are you writing me a parking ticket, I didn't do anything wrong."  I'll have to switch to an artsy striped shirt and beret, or perhaps wear a sign saying "I am not a bylaw enforcement officer"...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lonsdale seven

I started drawing the 37 blocks of Lonsdale almost a year ago.  When I realized that a week ago, I decided to finish before the year was up.  The problem was that I had 12 blocks to go and only 2 weeks.  So I brought out that one trick urban-sketchers always come back to - draw faster!  For me, that means using a cartridge pen with water-soluble ink, so I can't be so fiddly with the lines and the paint.  I either have to be quick and loose, or make a big black blob.  I picked 7 of the remaining blocks randomly, but then cheated a bit and did them in order from top to bottom, so I didn't have to ride up and down the hill too often!  I tried to do all 7 in one afternoon as 15 minute sketches, but the weather and my tendency to put too much into each drawing meant that I got 4 done, and had to come back for the rest.

I'm finished with what I think of as "hedge blocks" - residential areas at the top of Lonsdale that barricade themselves from the roaring pick-up trucks with a lot of coniferness.  I can't say those were my favourite places, but there was sometimes a nice view of the city.  I may also be done with the blocks that feature vintage condo buildings from Vancouver's historical Leaky Condo era of a decade or two ago.  Not too sad to see those done, either.  But I did get to do a couple retail blocks that still have the mix of independent restaurants and family businesses.  They have been formed by evolution over the years, and are a lot more appealing - and populated - than the Lower Lonsdale block I drew with its carefully designed and controlled development of condos with street-level store fronts - actually, real estate offices and "beauty spas" with no customers.

Now, 5 blocks to do in 6 days.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Simply Drawing show and sale

The second annual Simply Drawing life drawing exhibition and sale is coming - Friday June 24, 6-9pm at Sandrine Pelissier's studio, 125 Garden St, North Vancouver (where W.1st St. turns up to Welch Street along the industrial waterfront West of Pemberton St).  Start saving your pennies!  Or whatever it is that we save now.  Besides framed work, there will also be tables of drawings and painting sketches for sale, cheap cheap cheap, and good!  A few of mine from the $20 or less bin are below.  I also have one framed one on the wall, but I forgot to take a picture of it, so you will have to come see it in person.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Seawall postcards

Lea and Davie, social gurus of the Urbansketchers, organized a ride-and-draw around the Vancouver seawall, from Lost Lagoon to Vanier Park in Kitsilano. It was a good reminder of how wonderful the seawall is, and I was like a tourist in my own city.  I could have done hundreds of drawings along the way, but, being a tourist, I did 8 quick postcard views instead.  I'll have to go back for all the funky little things that I skipped, and to complete the trip, since I only did half the seawall before I had to go.