This would have been worth a drawing too, but not at the expense of my social life. Most dishes are best eaten while warm and at the same time as one’s friends.Read More
I set up an urban sketching meetup at the Public Library downtown on May 11.
It turned out to be warm enough to draw outside, and a group of us actually stayed close together and talked as we sketched. The rest of the group came to join us at the end and I felt a really good vibe of people enjoying themselves, which made me very happy.Read More
Actually, “spring” is a lie. Look at the date on the sketch. I started drawing this in August 2011, and I finally went back there on May 4, 2013 to finish this drawing. It was a summer-like weekend, this past May 4/5. I rode my bike to Kits Beach, on a mission to finish this one thing.
These people in the foreground were there 2 years ago, but they must have left in the meantime to work or live or something, because they were no longer there. But what is time anyway? Does it really matter whether a sketch is completed in 20 minutes or in 2 years?Read More
Another successful outing with the Vancouver Urban Sketchers Meetup group that I run. About 7 or 8 of us sketched around the SeaBus terminal/Waterfront Station on a gorgeous, summer-like May 5.
I even waited around until the SeaBus arrived at its dock (far left) to add it to the drawing. The long bridge and passage way shows people walking from downtown across the rail tracks to the SeaBus.
I have worked in the downtown core of Vancouver for about 7 years of my life, in 4 different offices, and have looked at this view many times before, but never saw it as I did now. Funny, how once you really start looking at something, almost everything turns out to be interesting.Read More
My fellow sketchers Matthew and Dave joined me in presenting a workshop on urban sketching at the Annual General Meeting of the BC Society of Landscape Architects on April 27. We highlighted the global organization we belong to, urbansketchers.org.
We were also asked to present a PechaKucha on urban sketching at the conference the day before. I took it on, and had fun preparing a presentation of 20 slides x 20 seconds of talking = 6:40 minutes. Not too stressful, although I was nervous as I was sitting there waiting for my turn. But I was encouraged by the fact that all the other presenters seemed nervous too, and then it wasn’t all that bad. And how hard can it be to talk about something you enjoy doing so much?
Reconnecting with Julien Thomas, social artist
The first presenter up was Julien F. Thomas. As soon as he started, I recognized him as the nice young guy that I had coffee with about a year ago on a traffic island that he had occupied on the E. 10th Avenue bike route. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in late May. I had been teaching in the VCC design program for 4 months last spring, and was cycling home from mounting the design student graduation show at a downtown gallery. It was the very last thing on my list of full-time teaching duties I had taken on in addition to working in my business in 2012. I had been working 60–80 hour weeks for almost the last three months. I was exhausted. But I was done. I had a euphoric sense of sudden freedom from a huge burden, a feeling of time and space generously opening up in front of me, so I was up for almost anything. A nice-looking young man sitting in the middle of a traffic island called out to me “want a coffee?” as I rode my bike around him. I hit the brakes.
We had a good conversation over coffee, brewed with water from an electric kettle on an extension cord on the sidewalk, with organic cream that Julien produced from somewhere in the bushes.
But back to the conference. As he got going on his PechaKucha, I realized why he was chosen to go first. He did an amazing, passionate job presenting on his various social art projects.
Oh, and I think PechaKucha should be a verb. As in, “has anyone pechakucha’d that yet?” or “I’ll have to pechakucha you on why you should chop garlic by hand rather than in a food processor”. It probably already is. If only I had a globalized, easily accessible search function at my fingertips, I could find out.Read More
I organized a Meetup sketch outing here. I am glad I sat down and started drawing almost immediately, because people kept trundling in for about 30 minutes. So I was able to welcome them while drawing, and didn’t wait around doing nothing. Although there is nothing wrong with doing nothing. I should do nothing more often.
There were 9 of us in the end. All very nice sketchers. One of them even fetched me a coffee — thanks Cindy!
I am realizing how many people are new in town, or come here temporarily to work, study, or improve their English. There is definitely a social aspect to this urban sketching Meetup. I am hoping to find the right balance between chatting and drawing. Luckily, one can do both at the same time, even though it takes getting used to.
I really enjoyed the Skytrain ride there and back, especially back. It was sunny and sitting on the Skytrain, I seemed to float above all the greening, blossoming trees towards the mountains, having sort of a bird’s eye view, admittedly the view of a low-flying kind of bird, but it was a neat feeling to imagine being a bird.
Clearly I don’t ride the Skytrain very often, and not in rush hour. I know the poetic bird feelings wouldn’t come up so much if it was my regular commute.Read More
A meetup with other Vancouver urban sketchers in Chinatown turned out cold and rainy, so we went inside the International Village mall. We found a large table at the Starbucks, so I did one sketch there, and then went upstairs to draw the vertigo-inducing view from a higher floor down.
This mall lost a lot of tenants in the last few years. But there are signs of recovery.
I tried to speed up my sketching time, so these are not as detailed as I normally draw.Read More
My sketching visits to coffee shops continue. Off and on it’s still a bit too cold to draw outside.
I am using a different sketchbook sometimes now, still a Moleskine but not always the expensive watercolour sketchbook. I want to jot scenes down more quickly and I don’t always take the time to colour them in, so this plain paper sketchbook works well. The colour of the paper is quite yellow. But it’s cheaper — good for my post-Berlin budget.
I came here on the weekend because I heard that they have home-made croissants only then. But I must be a croissant snob: it just wasn’t very good. A bit flavourless, and not buttery and flaky enough. If I’m going to spend $2.75 on a pastry, it better be worth it. And croissants cost the same all over the city, so may as well go where they have the good ones. Good coffee though, and really a nice place to hang out, both inside and out. And I had a scone here the other day that was very good.
All this talk about croissants is really just procrastination. I have a load of work to do and need to get back to it.Read More
The weather improved and I went back to Main Street to do another sketch. I had wanted to draw Heritage Hall (the building with the tower and flag in the sketch) at our last outing, but it had rained and I sat inside a warm coffee shop instead. Built in 1915 and designed by A. Campbell Hope with the chief architect David Ewart, Heritage Hall was originally a post office. Now it’s a community and cultural resource centre, with the beautifully renovated main hall available as a rental for events. I have been there to at least a couple of events myself: once to attend a large birthday party, and another time for the annual general meeting of one of my clients. The upper floors house offices.
There also used to be a street car going up and down Main Street in the early 1900s.
Back when I was a graphic design student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, there was a banner design competition for the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood. My design won, along with the design of another student, my friend Carmen. I had incorporated an image of the old street car and a man running for it while hanging on to his hat. Carmen’s banners showed the Heritage Hall tower and a child looking up at it. All banners were screen-printed on metal and hung all over Main Street and the intersecting part of Kingsway, where they remained for at least 7 or 8 years. I started to wonder if they would ever come down.
My banners even ended up in a major piece of art called “In the Street (The Cologne Series)” by one of my college instructors, Ian Wallace. I was able to visit this piece last year at the Vancouver Art Gallery when a major retrospective of Ian Wallace’s pioneering photographic art was on display. I don’t know why its subtitle is “The Cologne Series” but since I was born and grew up in Cologne, Germany, it seems right to me that it has my banner in it.
But I am sure Ian Wallace had no idea that one of his students designed the banners, not to mention my Cologne connection. My banners just happen to be in the photo he took, in the city where he lived. Part of his concept was to portray the banality of an urban street and the spontaneity of a snap shot even though his photos are completely staged. Just like the traffic light or the mass-produced Dodge dealership sign, my banners were part of this urban scene.
Please note that his artwork is about 3m x 2m which is about 10 ft by 7 ft. Standing in front of the original art, its large scale makes you feel as if you are part of the scene. This produces an impact which contrasts the banality of what is depicted.Read More