Urban Sketcher

Documenting urban life in Vancouver and beyond.

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Vancouver Public Library

Posted on Dec 28, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Vancouver Public Library

On the 6th floor of the Vancouver Public Library.

On December 7, I set up an urban sketching session at the downtown Vancouver Public Library. It was a chilly day, but some sketchers sat in the cold, drafty atrium, braving the cold.

Myself, I don’t like to suffer so much. I like it warm, so I went inside the library and sketched on the 6th floor, looking down into that very atrium where the tougher sketchers were sitting. I took photos of them and admired their stamina, but without envy.

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On the Greyhound bus, Kelowna – Vancouver

Posted on Dec 27, 2013 in Kelowna | 0 comments

On the Greyhound bus Kelowna – Vancouver

From December 2 – 6, I visited my parents in Kelowna and took the very comfy Greyhound Express bus that serves this route. It’s got leather seats, onboard WiFi, and electric outlets. I bring my laptop, iPhone, iPad, external hard drive with my work files, and I am in business! I get so much work done, I feel like I should be taking this bus everyday.

I did take an hour off during the 5-hour trip to do this drawing though 😉

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Sketching at the Vancouver Maritime Museum

Posted on Dec 26, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

At the Vancouver Maritime Museum

At the Vancouver Maritime Museum

A deep sea diving suit.

Our Vancouver Urban Sketchers Meetup group met at the Vancouver Maritime Museum on November 30. We had a great sketching session in the comfort of a warm museum on a grey, chilly, rainy day.

There are lots of interesting artifacts to draw, I could spend a couple of full days here, but my typically heavy fall/winter workload was keeping me from that. So I had to make do with a couple of hours of sketching, then grudgingly return to work.

But these days it’s too much effort for me to cultivate a bad attitude, I’d rather save all that energy for sketching.

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Back to Las Vegas already

Posted on Dec 25, 2013 in Las Vegas | 0 comments

View from hotel room at the Bellagio, Las Vegas

Las Vegas Neon Museum

I managed to sketch my friends at the Neon Museum.

In late November, I went to Las Vegas for the second time this year. It was a trip with three other women to celebrate one of their birthdays.

We stayed in the Italianate, Tuscanate, whatever, Bellagio Hotel and had a view of their fountains with a show every half hour, and of the 1/3 life size Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino. Vegas is always surreal.

A highlight was our excursion to the Neon Museum, where classic neon signs are stored and displayed outdoors in the dry desert air. I had been there twice before and told my three travel companions about it. We took the required guided tour. Since during my previous visits I’d gotten the approximately 800 photos out of my system which this place begs you to take of it (when you’re both a typography and a photography fan, it’s a double burden), I was free to sketch. So I did several quick drawings on site, and added colour later.

It rained pretty much for the full three days we were there. I had never seen rain in Vegas before, and may have had a hard time acknowledging it in my drawings. But we had fun getting to know Vegas and each other better. We saw the show “O”. The other three got some shopping in. I found time to sketch and play Blackjack. And apparently, to open champagne bottles; there seems to be an inordinate number of photos of me doing that on this trip. The other three decided I was the expert at that.

Everything else, as they say oh-so-mysteriously, stays in Vegas. But specifically, they mean in the fancy shrubbery along the Bellagio Hotel driveway.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

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“Getting to Know You” Vancouver poetry book — broadsheet

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Getting to Know You — broadsheet 1

This is one of three 11″ x 16″ broadsheets I designed for the “Getting to Know You” Vancouver poetry and etchings book print run. The three broadsheets contain either a poem and etching about Clark Drive (shown here), the downtown Vancouver Public Library, or the Tsawwassen ferry. The idea is that these can be framed and hung, unlike the book. Click on the image to see it a bit larger.

Visit the book campaign’s home page to learn more.

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Vancouver poetry and copper etchings book — indiegogo campaign launched!

Posted on Dec 5, 2013 in Vancouver | 2 comments

New Leaf Editions has launched the fundraising campaign on indiegogo.com for the poetry book I am illustrating with copper etchings of urban sketches!

Below is the video from the campaign:

The book

This is a big collaborative project between the printmaker Peter Braune of New Leaf Editions, the poet Christopher Levenson and artist/urban sketcher Sigrid Albert (me) — a 40-page hand-printed, hand-bound book on archival paper containing 18 letterpress-printed poems and 9 copperplate etchings. The book will be hand-bound and the cover will be an embossed, hand-made paper by another local artist and printmaker, Reg Lissel of Heavenly Monkey. It will be a limited edition. The final quantity will depend on the amount of interest generated by the fundraising campaign.

I designed the book too, and helped record and edit the video you see above (you will quickly be able to tell that I am not a professional videographer.)

The poetry

The poems are beautiful, wise, and witty impressions of Vancouver. Christopher Levenson, a highly regarded Canadian poet, moved here 6 years ago with his wife Oonagh from Ottawa, and wrote these poems as he discovered the city. We became friends shortly after their arrival in Vancouver.

If you do nothing else, listen to Chris as he recites “In the Public Libary” from 2:44 to 3:48.

The etchings

Over the last 6 months, I’ve been visiting locations all over Vancouver to create urban sketches for the 9 poems I’ve chosen to illustrate, and then drawing and developing these scenes in great detail on copper plates in a challenging, narrow vertical format of 3.5″ x 11″. The initial sketches on location are very rough; the final drawings are done directly on the copper plate.

This is my very first foray into copper etching, and I have loved every minute of it (OK, with a few frustrations, but one can fix a lot of things in the process). I have learned so much about what goes into printmaking and copper etching. I have explored working on hard ground, soft ground, with aquatints, and drypoint, under Peter’s tutelage.

All etchings are being electro-plated in steel to protect the linework and to allow printing in bright colours, which might otherwise be affected by interacting with the copper.

I will introduce some glimpses into the book and the etching process in the next few posts.

Support traditional print-making and get a hand-printed piece of art

You can visit the campaign here: indiegogo.com/projects/getting-to-know-you.

• For $25 you get a hand-printed poem.
• For $75 you get a hand-printed broadsheet with a poem and an etching.
• For $150 you get a printmaking session with Peter Braune, to a finished print.
• For $200 you can order the whole book in advance. It’s $300 to buy it later.

Expected completion: March 2014.

I make no money on this, my deal is that I get a certain number of prints. But the printmaker, Peter Braune at New Leaf Editions, is testing out this new way of fundraising to finance the project partly in advance, because it is so much work. The printmaker will be working for days or even weeks, just printing this project.

It’s truly a labour of love.

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Lessons from Berlin, part 9 (final installment, phew)

Posted on Dec 4, 2013 in Vancouver | 0 comments

2013 10 24 One Sketch a Day

I can finally start that religion I’ve been meaning to

I hope that I can encourage others to break out and not to question or limit themselves. If you have an urge to do something, within reason obviously, that is not going to hurt anyone else or yourself, and that you feel strongly about doing, why not do it?

My 3-month escape to Berlin was good for me, it met some needs I had, it really was beyond wonderful.

I also learned about Berlin and its history, I met both former Ossies (East Berliners) and Wessies (West Berliners). I met someone who’d been imprisoned by the East German StaSi for 5 years. I met people who escaped East Germany in dramatic ways. I heard that the politicians in the former East German regime were able to almost seamlessly transition into the capitalist system and quickly become powerful there as well. Unlike after WWII during the Nuremberg Trials, after the fall of the Berlin Wall nobody in East Germany was prosecuted. That was a conscious choice to speed up reunification and not open up a gigantic can of worms. There are a lot of scars and secrets in people’s pasts. The Berlin Wall is still very much in people’s heads, so they don’t mark it on the streets of Berlin. Still, the reunification of West and East Germany was a personally meaningful event, has turned out to be extremely successful all things considered, and Berlin is an emotional symbol to me as a native German. At the same time, I am very suspicious of any kind of patriotism and nationalism.

Many of us have a Berlin Wall in our heads and need internal reunification. Here’s my best advice: Do not dismiss or question anything that you are interested in. By all means, examine it. But then dive in.

I know I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to do this trip. I am still inspired by it, and these days I don’t have the urge to skip out of the country any time soon. And in any case, it probably should be Jeff’s turn next to make a break for it. Seems only fair.

Right, Jeff?


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