Urban Sketcher

Documenting urban life in Vancouver and beyond.

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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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Thanksgiving in Kelowna

Posted on Oct 15, 2013 in Kelowna | 0 comments

2013 10 12 One Sketch a Day

My sister drawing

We visited my parents in Kelowna over Thanksgiving weekend. Sunshine, warmth and beautiful fall colours made it easy to go for a walk in nearby Mission Creek Park and sketch. The mosquitos were giving it their last-ditch, all-out effort of the year, and the pine needles poked us. But we did our best to ignore the stings from below and above.

My sister joined me for drawing this time, she was working on a stained glass design for her house number. She wants to make a box, one side of which will be the stained glass, and put a solar-powered light inside the box, for the entrance to her rural driveway. And of course, she got drawn while she drew. My father later pointed out that she had sketched the wrong number. She was glad to have an attentive proof reader long before the design was committed to glass, but she probably would have spotted the error herself at some point. Can’t be sure though; she is pretty distracted by the bees, bats, and bears living on her and her husband’s property that they try to keep track of. Compared to those ongoing concerns, house numbers are clearly an urban nuisance that is easily ignored.

The square format book is a notebook I received as a promotional item from a stock photo agency. It has a small photo on almost every page and I am (more or less) doing a drawing a day until the notebook is filled, allowing myself to be inspired by each photo or the blank page. I like the different effect of the water colour on this very smooth, almost coated paper, compared to the moleskine.

If you want to see the other drawings so far, click on the square sketch and that will take you to Flickr, where I’m posting my daily drawings.

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Salmon ladder, Mission Creek, Kelowna

Posted on Sep 5, 2013 in Kelowna | 0 comments

Salmon ladders in Mission Creek, Kelowna

It’s time for a visit with my parental units. The Greyhound express route Vancouver–Kelowna now features fancy new buses with adjustable back rests, cup holders, free onboard WiFi, and electrical outlets. The only thing missing from those spiffy black leather seats is a massage button.

It’s a far cry from the adventure I had about two years ago when the old Greyhound bus I was on broke down in Chilliwack and it took Greyhound several hours to send a new one from Vancouver, leaving us passengers stranded at the depot there (or free to explore the delights of nearby suburban strip malls). Most Greyhound bus depots are hurtin’ places where you soon feel like the scum of the earth, which is probably the main message received by the single moms, the unemployed, and the elderly people who all have to use buses as their main long-distance transportation.

On this week’s cushy ride, however, I was fully wired and got almost 5 hours of work done on the bus, probably close to my weekly average during the slacker summer I’ve just enjoyed. But it’s September now, so my clients are eager to get started on projects.

When I visit my parents, I usually bring work along, I do IT support for my father, we play card games, and lately, I’ve added health advocacy to my duties. But since this is the Okanagan wine region, I always make sure there’s a visit to a winery on the agenda.

There is a creek near my parents’ place with 17 km of walking/biking trails, and salmon ladders. There are a series of steps in the river to enable Kokanee Salmon to make their way upstream every fall, where they spawn. One of the steps can be seen in the distance, it looks a bit like a small dam made of rocks. But I don’t know what exactly this particular turquoise-green contraption in the foreground does.

Not saying this is exactly like my father and me, but there are certain elements.

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I am not a cellarer

Posted on May 31, 2013 in Kelowna | 0 comments

Kelowna, BC — view near Okanagan Mountain Park

My father is on the far right, playing with his camera. His head didn’t fit into the drawing. I couldn’t convince him to draw with me, even though he does sometimes.

I visited my parents in Kelowna for an extended weekend.

I went sketching and my father accompanied me. We drove to the end of Lakeshore Road in Okanagan Mountain Park, past Bertram Creek Provincial Park, one of our favourite spots, to the end of the road. I sketched an old wooden fence and the lake view there. Weather was coming from the left. So many complexities in the trees and shrubs; buildings are more straightforward. It’s not obvious from the drawing, but I tried to channel one of my BC artist heroes, Gordon Smith. He paints shrubs, grasses and undergrowth beautifully.

This area south of Kelowna saw huge forest fires in 2003; more than 200 homes were destroyed. There are still the remains of many burnt trees which makes it an interesting landscape.

On the way out there we stopped at Cedar Creek Estate Winery, where I wanted to stock up on some wines I’d tried there last summer. I knew what I wanted already, but of course we still did a wine tasting first. It’s part of the fun of going to buy wine at a winery. I was able to say hi to “Richard Riesling”, a nice man with a silly name tag who poured a wine tasting for my German cousin and me last summer. I just remembered she and I had an inordinately good time at that tasting and that somehow Richard Riesling was the one to thank for it.

I don’t usually buy wines over $25, but thought I’d compare a $25 Pinot Noir to a $40 Pinot Noir, curious whether I could even tell the pricier wine but already suspecting that I couldn’t. (For my European and American blog visitors; yes, a decent bottle of wine in Canada starts at around $15. It is just sad how much we pay.)

Sure enough, the $40 bottle did not taste any better to me, in fact I preferred the $25 bottle. The woman conducting this tasting told me that the more expensive bottle should really be “cellared” for 5 to 6 years to develop its full flavor. I considered this for a second but seriously did not get why I should wait 5 years for a more expensive bottle to mature when I can enjoy a cheaper bottle right now.

So I told her my big realization of the day: “I guess I’m not a cellarer.”

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