Urban Sketcher

Documenting urban life in Vancouver and beyond.

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Chinatown Night Market with the urban sketchers

Posted on Sep 3, 2013 in Vancouver | 5 comments

Chinatown Night Market 1

For my first sketch, I used a piece of wood veneer with a black pen for the shadows and a white pen for the highlights. I had bought a pizza box full of wood veneer pieces at Lee Valley a few years ago for other art projects; I just hadn’t thought of using them to draw on until now. It was fun experimenting.

Chinatown Night Market 2

Here I used a dark blue paper with the white Pitt pen, drawing an alley scene right next to the market. The downtown Vancouver alleys are unique. I used a black pen to rough in a few lines before colouring in the highlights in white. The high contrast between the still-light evening sky and the darkening alley really helped.

Chinatown Night Market 3

I just had to bring along some China-red paper to try my white pen on. This is a Dim Sum food stand. The sketch was hard to do, and is not very successful, but I am glad to put it out here as an example of my attempt at something difficult. After the sketch, I bought some pork dumplings here, which I didn’t struggle with nearly as much.

We had a Vancouver Urban Sketchers meetup at the Chinatown Night Market today. About 10 people came, a nice group, eager to draw the city. I showed them my wood veneers and some coloured papers that I had cut into my favourite narrow shape, as well as my new white Pitt pen, mainly because it’s an unusual set of materials for sketching. Then we did the usual routine where we spread out to draw separately, some together, then met up again at 8:30 to show each other our drawings. Some people, including myself, stayed on afterwards to complete more drawings.

It was dark, and about 9:30 pm when I walked to my car which I’d parked just south of the Georgia Viaduct, on the east side of Main Street. The light of the street lamps on the grassy, treed landscaped feature beside the viaduct produced exciting shadows with almost no grey tones. It looked like a perfect scene to draw with the white pen on a dark piece of paper.

It’s not the greatest neighbourhood to be sketching on a curb in the dark, on a deserted side road, for half an hour, so I sat in my parked car with the doors locked to draw this. A couple of Greyhound buses coming and going from the nearby bus depot almost took my tiny Yaris out as they rounded the corner where I was slightly illegally parked. And a street person looked like he was going to rest on my hood but changed his mind instantly when he spotted me sitting in the car. He shouted some insult into the air, which one should never take personally in this neighbourhood, and took off. I probably startled him far more than he frightened me.

Downtown Eastside

South of the Georgia Street Viaduct and east of Main. Focussing on drawing only the highlights was great fun, and a good exercise for my brain which is trained to see shadows. I entered “the zone” as I was drawing this, it was a sketcher’s high!

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Labour Day long weekend off to a good start

Posted on Sep 2, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

At the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver

At the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver. Top left to right: The famous wooden roller coaster from 1958, a carousel ride, cheerleaders at “Sportacular!”, the wooden roller coaster again (the best rickety ride ever, I just can’t believe they still allow it to run!), views of the fair, the other rollercoaster, a bit of unscripted horse drama from the RCMP musical ride pre-show, a ferris wheel.

Jeff went out of town for the long weekend to spend some one-on-one time with a good old friend. It’s not a bad thing to have a few days off from one’s partner and get a chance to miss them. So I made lots of plans to see friends and do some drawing.

On Friday night, I had my friend Eman over for dinner and he gave me a show-and-tell of his latest photographic experiments. He brought some amazing hand-made laser-copied and stapled photobooks and ‘zines along. It’s been great to see my friend’s artistic development really take off over the last few years.

On Saturday, I spent the whole day at the PNE, an almost 100-year old summer fair in Vancouver, held annually during the last two weeks of August. It also borders on Playland, an amusement park with roller coasters and other rides. I went there with another friend, Brian, and three of his many nephews, all grown men of age 19 and up. The five of us played like kids, except we had money and no meltdowns. Well, it’s possible that it was mostly Uncle Brian’s money, since I suspect he paid most of the nephews’ way. A couple of times he tried to pay for me too, so now I call him Uncle. A fun day. I did my best to capture a bit of it in sketches during our time in lineups at rides and sitting in the stands at performances.

On Sunday, I went grocery and art supply shopping, and did some house cleaning as a surprise for Jeff (I don’t get around to doing that quite as often as he does, I just don’t feel the same urgency, which means he is inordinately grateful when I do clean up). I did some baking, drew a few cards for friends, planned a few other drawings, and attended an Urban Sketchers meetup in the evening. I will post sketches from that soon.

On the holiday Monday, there’s about an hour or two of work I need to do on a time-sensitive annual report for a client, then a hike on the agenda, then to the airport to pick up Jeff later in the day.

If I ever wonder why this weekend went so fast, I can look it up here.

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Condolence cards

Posted on Sep 1, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Condolence card

A close friend of mine and a close friend of my sister’s, whom I’ve also known for years, each lost a brother this summer, in both cases unexpectedly and at far too young an age. I have never met either of their brothers; they lived much further east in Canada, so these deaths feel strangely abstract except for their very present impact on my friends.

It is hard to know what to say in the face of such loss, but not many words are needed since it is better to listen to someone who’s grieving rather than blab at them. I am sending them each a hand-drawn card on wood veneer.

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