Urban Sketcher

Documenting urban life in Vancouver and beyond.

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Satisfying the Call of the Doodle

Posted on Mar 27, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

At the Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, BC

I organized a Meetup sketch outing to the Granville Island Public Market last weekend. It’s a colourful place, and three of us sat with our coffees and sketchbooks right next to a young busker. She was playing guitar, people milled about, a mother came by with her little girl and gave the girl a coin to toss into the busker’s guitar case. Then the girl stood nearby and danced a bit to the music. There was a lot going on, it was hard to take it all in, never mind drawing it all.

Arlene Dickinson from CBC's Dragons' Den      Kevin from CBC's Dragons' Den

Practicing sketching on the iPad from one of the TV shows I watch regularly. These people depicted are well known to most Canadians. Painted with Procreate.

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Missing the freedom of Berlin

Posted on Mar 20, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Free as a bird in Berlin

Memories of the Berlin feeling.

It’s strange how fast, after three months of exploring Berlin and my German roots, I have re-entered my normal life here in Vancouver. Berlin seems like a dream already. Was it even real?

I am happy to be back home with Jeff, to breathe in the soft northern rainforest air of Vancouver, to be bowled over by the occasional glorious sunrise or sunset over the mountains, to sleep in my own bed again, to be in my spacious home office which also has a painting table, to have a desktop computer with a giant monitor, to sit on a comfortable chair, to work during daylight hours (mostly).

But I often think back to the thrill of living in Berlin, the great freedom I had to roam the streets in any direction, the freedom to follow any whim, any interest. It wasn’t uncommon for me to do a 180-degree turn when I spotted something interesting. Without questioning myself I would just follow my instinct and spontaneously go in that direction. It felt like being a bird might feel, riding on air currents.

I want to replicate this sense of freedom here at home, even though Vancouver seems as familiar to me as the back of my hand, and my life here is again full of responsibilities and domestic chores. Also, I have lived in this beautiful city for 29 years, with a few interruptions. It is good for me to remember, though, that Vancouver is full of spots that I don’t know at all. Maybe I just need to venture out of my neighbourhood a bit more often?

Ironically, I immediately loved it here when my family immigrated to Canada. I was never homesick for Germany, especially because I felt more of a sense of freedom here. Growing up in Germany, it seemed stuffy and old there to me, full of unwritten rules and societal conventions that might sneak up on me and trip me up at any moment. But Germany has changed, and Berlin, especially, is much more open to ideas, dynamic, creative, diverse, and entrepreneurial than the Germany of my childhood.

To indulge in Berlin memories, here is a great tumblr of ALL of the Berlin subway stations’ signage. Yes, a photographer, Kate Seabrook, travelled all 9 or 10 Berlin subway lines, and must have gotten off at every one of the 173 stops to photograph their glorious typographic diversity. I wonder how long that took her?

And this was my own post on Berlin subway signage from January 16, although I did not document nearly as many as she did.

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A visit to a new coffeeshop: SweetSalt Bakery Café

Posted on Mar 19, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

SweetSalt Bakery Café, 3497 Fraser Street, Vancouver

This is a new cafe, SweetSalt, in my neighborhood that bills itself as a “German bakery” and “family-friendly” — there is a play area for kids and a mostly white interior with white-painted wooden chairs. Definitely appealing to women with or without babies, and to men whose love of pastries is greater than their fear of estrogen.

I am definitely in the correct hormonal target market. It was my first visit. I had a very good Americano here this morning and a pumpkin seed bun with butter and jam. The bun wasn’t at all like a German “Brötchen” though, which are fluffy-doughy, almost like a baguette. My German heart leapt when I first saw it, but then it turned out to be the dense consistency of a mini-loaf of bread. But it tasted good nonetheless.

The great thing and I suppose the bad thing about my neighborhood is that it’s rapidly gentrifying. Yoga studios, hair dressers, restaurants, and coffee shops are popping up all over the place, and sometimes they close again quickly. I know it’s a tough market, so I really hope this new cafe survives for as long as the owners are up for running it.

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Weekend sketcher

Posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Wicked Cafe, Vancouver

It’s a good weekend for me when I do two sketches. On Saturday morning, I had a massage and then a coffee and croissant at the Wicked Cafe where I did a quick (for me) 30-minute sketch.

Gastown, Vancouver, BC, Canada

On Sunday, I had set up a sketch outing for my new Meetup group in Gastown. It was also St. Patrick’s Day and we have a parade here in Vancouver which passed by near our meeting place. We also got to hear bagpipe music and a live band in a nearby pub. 11 people, including myself, came out to sketch and afterwards nine of us went into a restaurant/bar where several of us celebrated the occasion with a pint of Guinness. I wore a green tuque, and in honour of the day I adjusted the colour of the sky in my sketch ;).

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A rainy day on Maui

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 in Maui | 1 comment

Hibiscus flowers on Maui, Hawaii

I went to yoga at the beach at 8 a.m. It was stormy and rainy, but yoga felt good. Right after yoga, the sun even came out for a bit, that’s when I took the photo below of Kamaole I. Then breakfast, then a walk. Took a nap. Did a drawing of hibiscus. Grilled steak. Started watching Downton Abbey for the first time — my mother brought her Season I and II DVDs along. We are now hooked.

Kamaole I Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Kamaole I Beach, Maui, Hawaii

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Searching for the wild side of Maui

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 in Maui | 0 comments

Makena Landing, Maui, Hawaii

Not much to tell. It’s very mellow here. It’s hard to make any kind of tormented art on Maui. If I stayed here too long, I’d only be painting rainbows, beaches and sunsets. Maybe even orphans and unicorns, God forbid. But don’t get me wrong, I feel great here. I am loving the warmth, the sun, the relaxation time.

The tree I drew at Makena Landing in black and white, at least, is not as much like a pretty tourist postcard. Maui does have a wild side, it is born of volcanoes after all. And the ocean storms can pound its coastline. It has a large variety of climate zones, its tiny size encompasses elevations from 0 to 3000 metres, thanks to the Haleakala volcano.

The watercolour sketch below contrasts nicely with my orange nail polish. I love orange.

And I am feeling very, very sleepy now… I think I’ve drunk the Maui Kool-Aid.

Hawaii postcard 3: Makena Landing, Maui

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Yet another beach day on Maui

Posted on Mar 10, 2013 in Maui | 0 comments

Abstract watercolor

Maui is really boring to write about, because I am not doing much, except resting: sleeping, eating, snorkeling, and sketching at the beach. It is wonderful.

I almost forget that I am squeezing in some work too. Yes, I brought my laptop along and am actually meeting a few deadlines this week.

Hawaiian postcard 1: At Kamaole III Beach, Kihei, Maui

Hawaiian postcard 2: At Kamaole III Beach, Kihei, Maui

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It’s beach time. And turtle time.

Posted on Mar 8, 2013 in Maui | 0 comments

Makena Landing Beach Park, Maui

Yoga at the ocean in the morning. Then to Makena Landing for a long snorkel-swim where saw three sea turtles while snorkeling and one turtle resting on the beach. Then we relaxed in Makena Landing Beach Park overlooking the water. My sister had to fly home in the evening, and now it’s our turn to stay for a week here in Kihei.

Giant sea turtle on Maui

This giant sea turtle was resting today near Makena Landing, Maui. They are endangered and one should not walk or swim up to them but admire them from a distance. We saw three more giant sea turtles in the water when we were snorkeling near here.

Maui sunset

I decided to add another Maui sunset to the vast number of Maui sunsets already on the interwebs. Just this one.

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Aloha from Maui

Posted on Mar 7, 2013 in Maui | 1 comment

Aloha from Maui

It’s time to unwind with tropical breezes. On the half-empty flight to Maui, I was able to get 3 seats in the centre section and almost stretch out fully. I was so exhausted from the last couple of weeks of work overload that I lay down almost the full 5.5 hour flight. I sat up for about an hour and drew a dreamlike figure, envisioning beautiful Maui as a woman with volcano-lava hair surrounded by breaching humpback whales.

Drawing on napkins is a fabled tradition in Canada

Rumor goes that the logo for the Canadian National Railway Company was designed by famous graphic designer Allan Fle­ming on a cock­tail napkin while travelling on a plane in 1959.

I, too, had fun drawing on napkins on my flight to Maui. Unlike in Fleming’s scenario, the Air Canada napkins provided me with a ready-to-use logo; I just had to add stuff around it. I had various thoughts about Stephen Harper, our Canadian prime minister, which inspired the two drawings on the left.

Napping on the flight to Maui

A nap well-deserved.

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