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up the street from the very lower end (a year ago I would have drawn the view of the ocean and Vancouver, but that has been replaced by the steel frame of a new gallery building), and even a bear (a bronze one, but life size and claiming the entire territory of the block where 8th and 11th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"...

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