Thursday, 22 September 2016

Sea to sky .. to cenotaph

The last days of summer.  Outside sketching becomes more dicey as the fall rains threaten, so I took advantage of the warm and dry to sit on a dock, a mountain and a park. (I do work sometimes.  Or at least, I send people invoices and they pay them.)

The sea is at Lonsdale Quay.  It's definitely a working part of the ocean these days.  For some unaccountable reason, they have an excavator on a barge sorting rocks by size from a huge pile.  It's a long process, going on for a couple weeks now, and loud.  But then a few days ago, they pulled in several barges carrying huge upright piles.  Oddly, they moved the barges around for a while with a tug boat, re-arranging them, then took them away.  I can't see that they are actually accomplishing anything, so I concluded that the whole thing must be an extended modern dance performance.  Very avant-garde.

The mountains called, on a dog day of late summer.  Specifically, the rocky alpine of Mount Seymour.  I went straight to the Third Pump, though not quite to the top, because there was a group of loud seniors with plummy West Vancouver accents at the peak, talking about everywhere else in the world they had been - everywhere but where they actually were at that moment.  But they went away soon enough, leaving the view to me and a couple more contemplative hikers.  I also did a mostly-paint-only sketch between Third and Second Pumps, trying to capture the deeply incised gullies that lure unfortunate hikers to their doom (but not, unfortunately, the West Vancouverites).  And an unintentionally abstract sketch of the colourful rock and its hardy inhabitants.

And, between sea and sky, the cenotaph at Victoria Park, catching a sunbeam through the still shady, but yellowing, beeches.  A reminder that none of this lasts for long, and that Remembrance Day - inevitably cold, grey and wet - is not too far away...

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Flora, fauna and funga(?)

A miscellaneous menagerie from the last couple months:
Flowers from a botanical point-of-view.  I like the mountain-heathers - if you're seeing them, you're in a nice place.
I'm less fond of subalpine shrubs, having thrashed through them for many years of fieldwork, but copperbush is an interesting coastal one.  It's flowers often have ants on them - some kind of co-operative evolution, I'm sure.
An unidentified groundsel living on rocks just above the intertidal zone.
And flowers from a more expressive point-of-view.  End of summer echinaceas,
and early autumn Indian blanket flowers.
Then the fauna. A camel cricket - known as Pristoceuthophilus celatus to its friends - that sat tauntingly right in front of me as I chopped wood - and then leapt away when I finally got my sketchbook and started to draw it.
A harbour seal, showing why they are not terrestrial mammals.
And finally, the fungi.  This is one of the 1000 or so species of Cortinarius mushrooms.  Could be edible (but not incredible), could be poisonous (but probably not deadly) - who would ever know?
And this is a grisette, a delectable edible mushroom.  Of course, I could be wrong.  In which case it is a different Amanita mushroom likely to cause immediate severe but survivable nausea for a day or two, followed by an apparent recovery for a few days, then an inevitable long slow agonizing death as its toxins shut down RNA synthesis and ultimately destroy every organ in your body.  Mushroom soup, anyone?

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Back to Dr Sketchy's

Dr Sketchy's is back after a summer break, featuring Rosie Thornbush last week at the Cottage Bistro.  I met my artistic goal of the evening, which was not to spill my entire jar of ink all over the restaurant this time.  Fittingly for an event billed as "We're baaaack" and celebrating the end of summer, Ms. Thornbush's poses featured many backs and ends, as well as a few fronts and tops.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Gambier Island

It's a somewhat annual tradition to spend Labour Day weekend at the inlaws' cabin on Gambier Island, in Howe Sound just north of Bowen Island.  I've been going there for 30 years now, and our part of the island has seen a lot of change.  The United Church owned a big chunk of old-growth dry coastal forest - one of the rarest ecosystems in BC - which they sold off.  It was subsequently clearcut (well, high-graded really), roaded, subdivided, and the lots cleared to the point that some look like open pit mines.  Cars, ATV's and a proliferation of generators came with that.  I would find it distressing if I had a cabin there, but the area around my inlaws' cabin is still nice, the family events are fun, and no one has managed to spoil the ocean views.  So I kept my drawing views seaward, and occasionally down to the beach where "the kids" of two generations were playing.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Caffe Cittadella

An urban sketchers' meet-up last week, and yet another place that is right off one of my frequently-ridden bike paths that I've never noticed.  Caffe Cittadella is in one of the few remaining Victorian houses in Vancouver.  I don't know all the history, but I saw from a historical sign that it was a run-down wreck in a fairly run-down neighbourhood near the Cambia Bridge, before being restored and converted into the cafe.  The rest of the 'hood meanwhile went more upscale, but in that fairly sterile glass-and-concrete way.  So the cafe in the old house and its surrounding trees are a strong contrast and a welcome break.

Besides the usual pleasantly odd lot of urban sketchers, I had a fun encounter with an older Chinese man.  I was sitting on the front step of his building to draw one of the views when he came out, looking suspicious.  I said hello, showed him what I was doing, and he became quite excited, eventually standing behind me as I painted, offering encouragement and suggestions about things I may not have noticed - "orange on that building too", "more blue there, more blue", "nice dark, very nice".  Now I know what they mean by a colour commentator...