Urban Sketcher

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Third Beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Posted on Jul 29, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Third Beach, Stanley Park, Vancouver

A meetup with the Vancouver Urban Sketchers at Third Beach in Stanley Park. About 20 sketchers came, a great turnout. The weather played along too. It’s been an amazing summer so far. I am starting to take the sunshine for granted and keep planning outdoor activities days ahead. There are so many options for things to do with this weather.

We also have a German teenage boy staying with us for a month right now who’s very athletic. I am his activity coordinator and entertainer right now. Also I am his personal chef and laundry-shrinker. My goal every day is to tire that kid out. But of course, fat chance against an almost-17-year-old. My work is happening in the cracks between activities. Luckily I don’t have too many client projects right now.

For the sketches, I tried to not use any lines this time, watercolour was my approach for the day. Some of the beached people on the far left look like they’ve been brutally slaughtered, thanks only to my painting. In truth, everyone had the relaxed Third Beach vibe that makes you feel far away from the city.

Conversation on the rocks at Third Beach in Stanley Park, Vancouver

This couple was comfortably sitting on some rocks and engrossed in conversation for about an hour, allowing several other sketchers and me to capture them.

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Spanish Banks volleyball rec league

Posted on Jul 26, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Beach volleyball rec league, Spanish Banks, Vancouver

I wanted to sketch the volleyball rec league. But the light of the setting sun mixed with the sand dust and the action was too mesmerizing not to photograph. I took about a thousand photos at 3 frames/sec, but am not showing 999 of them.

Luckily I had already sketched the beach volleyball scene at Spanish Banks three years ago:

Beach volleyball night at Spanish Banks

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April was cherry blossom time at Kits Beach

Posted on Jul 19, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Cherry blossoms at Kits Beach, Vancouver

I drew this card for my father’s birthday back in April, on a cool rainy day. I sat in the window of a coffee shop across from Kits beach to stay warm and dry while drawing, but at least it was cherry blossom time. While the cheerful colours that I finally added this week seem appropriate for a birthday card, now I wish I’d added the more accurate gloomy day colours while on location.

I gauge how cold the winter was by how late the first cherry blossoms appear. Some warm years they show up as early as late February in parts of Vancouver, after a cold winter it could be late April.

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An Urban Sketchers meetup at Hastings Racecourse

Posted on Jul 16, 2013 in Vancouver | 2 comments

Wiener Dog Racing Behaviour

I didn’t get too much drawn worth showing during a recent sketching meetup at the Hastings Racecourse, but there was plenty of entertainment, betting and socializing. Besides the regular horse races, they had the hugely popular wiener dog races that weekend. I am no biologist, but I was still able to acquire and document significant insights into this breed’s racing behaviour.

Some of my fellow sketchers focussed in on the animals and the racetrack more realistically here.

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The new public piano under Cambie Bridge

Posted on Jul 10, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Public piano under Cambie Bridge, Vancouver

Great job, Corbin!

I rode my bike home on this sunny afternoon along False Creek and saw one of the new public pianos that I had heard about. It had been placed under Cambie Bridge. And it was in use! This is an initiative called “Keys to the Streets” by a group called CityStudio, in collaboration with the City of Vancouver.

There are a total of three pianos set up in the city. After August 24, the idea is that they will be donated to community groups.

In the meantime, this piano was getting a great workout from passersby. Free concert! I decided I was not in that much of a hurry to get home, sat down for about 45 minutes, listening to music and sketching.

This young man’s name is Corbin, and he was there with his mother Emily, who sat on a bench nearby and listened. I approached them to thank him and show them the sketch when he was done playing.

I might seek out the other two pianos and draw them too. One of them is right in my neighbourhood, at Robson Park. I just have to bushwhack through all the hipsters at Kingsway and E. 15th Ave to get there, but I believe I can do it.

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Granville Bridge rules

Posted on Jul 9, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Granville Bridge rules

Granville Bridge, as seen from Granville Island in Vancouver, where our Vancouver Meetup group had an urban sketching session. I got to meet a highly accomplished, well-known, visiting sketcher from Argentina: Jorge Royan. He had some interesting tools, like a clear piece of acrylic or glass with a black window grid for flattening out a composition, a rose compass (at least that’s what urban sketcher Jennifer thought it was), the tiniest foldable camping stool by Coleman, some advice for us for future meetups, and a fantastic sketchbook. Jorge, please crash our meetups any time!

Granville Island is a great destination for locals and tourists. An urban rejuvenation project of a former industrial area under the Granville Bridge, it has a public market, galleries and artisan shops, cafés and restaurants, an art school, a cement factory (the only relict of its industrial past), and plenty of waterfront areas where you can see the downtown skyline, boats, little ferries, and False Creek, former mudflats that were dug up to create an inlet.

I think I have figured out what makes the perspectives in many of my panorama drawings a bit unusual: as I am drawing, I rotate my view about 90 degrees. You can see here that the view on the left side of the spread appears straight-on, and so does the view on the right side of the page, but in reality they’re about 90 degrees apart. The sketchbook’s panorama format which stretches over both pages, naturally makes me do that. I just try to keep track of the perspective as I am rotating my head. This is truly what I see, or what my brain thinks I see. I like this better than what is produced by a camera. A camera flattens everything, but eyes don’t.

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Design of public park furniture to facilitate urban sketching

Posted on Jul 8, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Design for urban sketching park furniture

I read something about a promenade design pattern on urban sketcher Dave’s blog and looked up the idea behind it. I didn’t completely understand it, and still want to find more examples, but it gave me a vague idea that urban sketchers could collaborate on a public art project. Then I thought, how about a public art project created FOR urban sketchers? Maybe some kind of public park furniture to enable both urban sketching as well as some social interaction? And of course, non-sketching people could also use these seats which are essentially bar stools with foot rests.

This is my concept design, blissfully unencumbered by laws of physics or principles of construction and engineering.

Function is overrated anyway. Sometimes, all you need is the beauty of something that exists solely in your head.

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Looking across the Rhine at St. Goarshausen from St. Goar, Germany

Posted on Jul 7, 2013 in St. Goar | 0 comments

View of the Rhine River from St. Goar, Germany

I only completed one big drawing during the bike trip. It was difficult to stop for drawings; we stopped for photos, food, sightseeing, but there was not much time to draw. Also, biking that many hours a day was tiring us two desk workers out.

The tiny town of St. Goar is one of many along the Rhine between Mainz (Mayence) and Köln (Cologne). We took a 5-day/6-night bike trip over an easy 200-km stretch, admiring over a dozen villages and castles or castle ruins along the way.

Cologne is where I was born and grew up, so this romantic stretch of the Rhine was my hinterland as a child.

From St. Goar, you look across the Rhine at St. Goarshausen, which is what you see here. This attempt at a panorama failed; I needed another page to fully show the 180-degree view. I had to leave out some hills and houses on the right side where I ran out of room and couldn’t make my two starting points from each end meet up. Still, the drawing gives a good impression of the landscape: villages lined up at the bottom of very steep hills, vineyards up the hills, and castles or fortresses perched above it all.

The Rhine was very swollen this June due to heavy rain fall, and more than once we had to ride through large puddles on the bike path. In some places the water almost came up to the bike path, but I think the areas we were riding through had been spared the flooding that created havoc further south.

I enjoyed all the activity on the Rhine, it’s a real working river with freighters, tugboats, little ferries across, bigger ferries along, cruise ships, private boats, fishing boats, and kayaks. Also bikers like us, cars and trains on all the parallel tracks.

And we saw Canada geese as well as what must be German geese. The geese don’t need passports.

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A 5-day bike trip along the Rhine from Mayence to Cologne

Posted on Jul 4, 2013 in Mainz | 1 comment

In the Gutenberg Museum 2, Mainz, Germany

Sketches I made while visiting the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany on the first day of our bike tour.

In the Gutenberg Museum 3, Mainz, Germany

The museum was excellent, it made us late for the start of our bike tour but since we were travelling by ourselves, it didn’t matter. We got to our first hotel by 7 pm.

After pretty much living the life of an alcoholic beach bum in Mykonos for 8 days and thoroughly enjoying that, it was time to become a culturally interested bike jock in central Germany. Which was also not unpleasant.

I had been a bit worried about the cool, rainy weather predicted for the duration of our bike trip, but we were seriously lucky and only experienced one downpour where we had to huddle under a tree with four other random people. It was a big tree, and being part of a random huddling group led to friendly conversations. During the first two days, we also had intermittent drizzle of the sort that a Vancouverite just ignores. After that it cleared up and got sunny and warm.

We had booked the bike trip with a company I found online, velociped.de. The tour itself is described on their website in detail here, so I won’t go into it. They describe it as a 7-day tour, but it’s really 5 days of riding, 6 nights, plus arrival and departure days. They book the hotels, supply the bikes, and transport your luggage to your next hotel every day, so you only have to pack a day bag which makes it easy to hop on and off the bike all day.

We were happy with everything, there were no glitches, and I hope we can cycle in France in the future — the Loire Valley or the Bordeaux region, as well as other countries. Pretty much wherever wine grows, works for me. OK, so the bike jock I turned into still retains the alcoholic tendencies of the beach bum.

It was good to be on a bike again after two weeks of not riding. I am from Cologne, so it was a ride through familiar countryside while experiencing it more intimately than racing through in a car or on a train.

My cousin and his wife who live just outside of Cologne, rode one full 60-km day with us. Spending that time with them was another highlight of this great trip.

In the Gutenberg Museum 1, Mainz, Germany

As a graphic designer, I was pretty much in heaven surrounded by both modern and historic typography and print technology exhibits. Background zebra pattern courtesy of one of the hotels we were staying at. There was some wild 80s decor going on.

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