On February 2, we had another meetup prior to Dr. Sketchy: the last day of the Charles Edenshaw exhibit at the VAG. I used the simple “Paper” app on the iPad for these drawings.Read More
We spent one week in Mexico with friends in late January in a resort south of Cancun. I think I mostly caught up on sleep, which was great.
The drawing above is of a dive bar in Playa Del Carmen. I am not sure it was really a dive bar, maybe it was just a bar made to look dive-y, but it was half a block away from the 5th Avenue shopping strip. What I liked were the cheap white plastic tables and chairs, and the two swings hanging from the ceiling in front of the bar. Jeff and G. played cards, while L. modelled for me on the swing.
This pool-side drawing remained unfinished because it started raining while I was drawing this on our first day and didn’t stop much for three days. That was fine, but I never returned to this drawing. Now I like it; the edge of the pool trailing off into infinity. You just have to imagine the whole right-hand page there.
Again, no colour due to time constraints, although it’s a pity to not use colour while in Mexico.
I also painted 10 very colourful watercolour postcards which I mailed out. The paintings are mostly variations of palm trees. I was told at the resort that they will take up to three months to arrive at their destinations. Makes me think they’re personally walking them over to Canada.Read More
On January 18, about 20 of us urban sketchers met at the Granville Island Public Market and spread out to draw on Granville Island. About 7 or 8 of us walked over to the Net Loft and took over yet another unsuspecting coffee shop.
I can’t seem to get around to adding colour these days, either I am too slow or chatting too much.
Afterwards, we had fun showing each other our drawings outside behind the market.Read More
The challenge in setting up sketching sessions in the winter months for my meetup group is to find sheltered, heated public locations with bathrooms, accessible by public transit, and something interesting to draw. Museums are great, but they’re not free. So I try to vary it.
Still, this time my plan looked like a wash; the Convention Centre West, where I wanted to draw on January 11, was closed for a private function. But we walked over to Canada Place, which now houses the Convention Centre East, and drew there. It’s best to stay flexible when you’re a sketcher. If you can’t draw the thing you planned on, you can always draw something else.
After going through all the seasons in one full year with the Vancouver Urban Sketchers, we now have a good library of sketching locations at our fingertips.Read More
I need to go back in time a bit: On January 5, we had the biggest ever meetup of the Vancouver Urban Sketchers. Over 50 people signed up, and I think 45 of them actually came! Luckily, I had picked the downtown main branch of the Public Library, a cavernous building which can easily absorb that amount of sketchers without sustaining structural damage.
We spread out and drew up a storm, then invaded a coffee shop to show each other our drawings. I think the large crowd was due to a bit of a New Year’s resolution factor, as in “this is the year I will finally get back into drawing and spend less time exercising.”
Although when I told this to a friend of mine, she said “I would never make that resolution. In fact, I’ve decided not to draw this year at all.” And it’s true, she never draws.Read More
… the Wicked Queen had had an iPhone?Read More
I was out of town for a week’s vacation, but was interviewed by the Vancouver Courier just before I left, and interviewed right after my return, today, by a local radio station, Co-op Radio.
The Vancouver courier interview, conducted by Cheryl Rossi, resulted in this article, Sketch and the city. I am content with it, in spite of its title (I am so not a Sex and the City fan), and am pleased that there seem to be no factual errors.
The interview on Co-op Radio of Christopher Levenson, Peter Braune and Sigrid Albert (that’s me), conducted by R.C. Weslowski and Pamela Bentley, can be found as a segment of their regular show Wax Poetic. But it’s not edited down from the 62-minute hour block to the 27-minute interview. So you can also just listen to the edited 27-minute segment right here.Read More
The etchings all started as urban sketches at each location referenced by the corresponding poem. I had a fun time inviting my urban sketchers meetup group to draw the places with me that I had chosen to illustrate.
Once I started etching, I realized that I didn’t need to, nor want to create the draft sketches in great detail. I prefer to work out the details straight on the copper plate, rather than copy everything over from an “original”. Copying would remove the possibility of letting things happen as I respond to the medium. However, I did want the images to be recognizable as Vancouver scenery. So I used my ability to draw realistically, but threw in some visual reminders that these are drawings, and are not trying to imitate photography.
I used my location sketches as the main reference to create the perspective and narrow compositions; I prefer the wonky perspective that results from the communication between my eyes, brain and drawing hand, to the seemingly “perfect” perspective resulting from a photo, which often looks too flat, and is not even close to what my eye sees. While I used photos as reference material as well, they mainly helped me fill in details and shading. Here are some of these quick sketches:
Below are all nine etchings I made for Getting to Know You by the poet Christopher Levenson. These images are from state proofs, a couple of the copper plates will have slight touchups that were not yet done here. Click on each image to see an even larger resolution version. The project is explained in detail in this earlier post. And you can still pre-order a book here.
2013 has been one of the best years of my life. This copper etching project did it; that, and the Vancouver urban sketchers! I can only hope that 2014 will be as wonderful.Read More
Here are the spreads showing 4 out of nine illustrated poems from the Vancouver poetry book by Christopher Levenson, Getting to Know You. Click on each spread to view it larger. There are another nine poems in the book which are not illustrated, for a total of 18 poems. New Leaf Editions is pre-selling the hand-printed, limited edition (30 copies) poetry books, as well as a broadsheet consisting of one poem and one illustration, and etching lessons, on indiegogo.com/projects/getting-to-know-you.
In the next post I will show all 9 etchings in detail.
The collaborative poetry book project between the poet Christopher Levenson, the master printer Peter Braune, and me is nearing completion. At least my part, the creation of 9 copper etchings, is pretty much done. The printer still has a lot of work to do, printing this 40-page book as an edition of 30 copies. That’s 1,200 pages of hand-printing! Well, not quite, as a few pages remain blank — but not many.
New Leaf Editions is pre-selling the hand-printed, limited edition (30 copies) poetry books, as well as a broadsheet consisting of one poem and one illustration, and etching lessons, on indiegogo.com/projects/getting-to-know-you.
I want to introduce some of the process of copper etching and show examples of the steps involved:
1. This is the very first etching I’ve ever done, on a 3.5″ x 11″ copper plate, of the Vancouver Public Library, using hard ground and aquatint. The burnishing tool on the right is used to smooth out the aquatint surface, creating brighter highlights the more the copper is burnished.
2. Below is the beginning of my second etching, again in the 3.5″ x 11″ format I have chosen for all the etchings in this book, of the BC Ferries Terminal in Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver), using hard ground and aquatint. The drawing needle on the left is used to draw lines into the hard ground surface which is brushed onto the copper plate first, then allowed to dry. Drawing on hard ground requires only a light touch, and is different from scratching directly into the bare copper plate; that is called drypoint.
3. This image below shows another copper plate etching in progress, with an image of the off-leash Dog Beach in Kitsilano, Vancouver, using hard ground and aquatint. You can see where I’ve gone back into the plate with more hard ground to paint over the woman’s leg that I had placed too far back, and then re-drew it with a needle. Drawing on hard ground with a light touch allows you to cover up mistakes and redraw them. You are not scratching into the plate, you are just removing hard ground. The etch comes later, and then the lines get etched into the plate and are not easily removable, except by vigorous burnishing.
4. The master printer, Peter Braune of New Leaf Editions, is pulling “state proofs” of three copper plates for me. These proofs allow me to review how the image looks at a certain state in the drawing process, and as a consequence adjust my technique, correct the image, or continue developing the plate. All my etchings for this project are done on 3.5″ x 11″ copper plates, using a mix of drawing techniques involving hard ground, soft ground, drypoint, and aquatint.
5. A look at “state proofs” of two of my etchings. These are usually done on newsprint which allows me to review fine detail on the plates and make corrections or continue drawing. All plates are worked on in reverse, of course, and it’s also often hard to predict how things will look when they are printed. This is why state proofs are an important stage in the copper plate drawing process.
6. When I have approved the last state proof and am happy with the copper plate, Peter etches the drawing into the plate using acid.
7. I can still work into the plate more after that point, additional etchings can be added such as more aquatints etc., I can burnish or do drypoint by scraping right into the plate, and review more state proofs.
8. At some point, there is a final state proof we’re all happy with, and we declare the plate done.
9. Then Peter electroplates the copper plates in steel to a) allow more copies to be printed from them due to steel being a harder metal, and b) to prevent the copper from reacting with the pigment in the ink and affecting the colour of the print.
10. Hand-printing on Arches Wove etching paper on a Takach Etching Press can begin. The book covers will be printed on custom designed paper made by local paper maker, Reg Lissel. The poems will be printed separately on a Vandercook Universal I, from polymer plates created at Blackstone Press.
11. The book will then be hand-assembled and the spine hand-sewn. Read More