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I believe in blasphemy

Posted on Jan 13, 2015 in Vancouver | 1 comment

Rent an oil fountain for your next Last Supper!

I drew my vision of the Last Supper after the big 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I think it really shows what’s wrong with the world, and all of us.

The killings of cartoonists and staff at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris by religious extremists last week, and the other related shootings, affected me more than most news do. It’s probably because I identify with other artists, especially with people who draw. And I’ve been to Paris just last May for the first time in 22 years, and will return there this spring, so the place is often in my mind.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the shootings, and what they mean. About how someone could get killed over a drawing. Obviously, it was a barbaric act by people who may or may not care as much about religion as they say, by people who may be violent, unstable, disenfranchised, misguided, unfulfilled in their aspirations, looking for belonging, or just ignorant tools in a greater plot for dominance. I don’t know, and I can’t relate to, or even understand their motives.

But most of all, I want to make a case for blasphemy. I am all for it. I think it is important as a tool to criticize organized religion. Religion should not be above criticism. I have no problem per se with the big prophets: Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha — they were all searching and finding a lot of wisdom to share. It’s what people have made of their wisdom, how they’ve been interpreted, that is the problem. So even if you cover yourself with the mantle of religion and belief, it should by no means give you a free pass to be above criticism, and yes, satire and parody. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. What you must not do, is physically injure, enslave or bully others.

While I personally would not take on Islam to criticize and parody, since it is not my religion, nor my background, and I don’t know that much about it, I feel completely entitled to make fun of Christianity, which is part of the culture I grew up in. I participated in the Christian religion for a while. But I don’t go to church any more because I realized it was dysfunctional, and moreover, I disagree with the whole patriarchal system that shockingly, most evangelical churches still follow to this day! So as I have been getting older, I have returned to existentialism as my preferred life philosophy. But I admit that I don’t have the final answers, and I firmly believe that you don’t either.

Here’s some blasphemy (or as close as I can get) that I’ve been sketching over the last few years. Yay for blasphemy, and uncensored art and writing!

A dream


Years of life drawing finally coming in handy

God has a plan for you too

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A road trip through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 in Burns, Crane, Portland, Somewhere in Idaho, Somewhere in Oregon, West Yellowstone | 0 comments

Road trip through the NW U.S.
From mid-June to early July, we went on a camping road trip through Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming with our VW camper van. Our prime destination was Yellowstone National Park, my first visit there. I was doing credit card size mini sketches from the passenger seat whenever Jeff was driving. The sketches took from about 1 to 10 minutes each. Some I did when we’d stopped, but most I drew quickly while passing by, having to rely on my visual memory — not a bad exercise for someone who’s not very observant by nature.

Road trip through the NW U.S.
From doing these sketches and having to really look around me, I had a much better appreciation of the changing landscape. And also that beetle-cleaned skulls are the best — if you’re a taxidermist.

Road trip through the NW U.S.
At 8 sketches per letter-size page in my sketchbook, and filling up about 30 pages, I ended up with around 240 sketches. Here are just 64 of them, probably not in exact chronological order.

Crystal Crane Hot Springs campground, near Burns, Oregon

Click on the “play” button to see the slide show below; you can also enlarge it to take up the full screen, but keep in mind the original sketches are tiny.

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Watercolour workshop with Shari Blaukopf

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 in Vancouver | 0 comments

In early June, one of my Meetup group members had arranged for the the Montreal urban sketcher and watercolour artist Shari Blaukopf to host a watercolour workshop in Vancouver. This took place on June 5 and 6; there were 12 of us, we only had a little bit of drizzle, and Shari did a great job.

The rule for me is, I don’t get much done in a workshop. I am slow, especially if I have to absorb new information. So my hope is always that something has sunk in anyway.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop I
Here’s Shari doing her demo and leaving us in awe.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop II
I enjoyed practicing grey-scale value sketching in pencil.

Shari Blaukopf watercolour workshop I||
Practicing watercolour sketches with a palette restricted to only three colours.

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Working hard on Maui

Posted on Nov 12, 2014 in Maui | 4 comments

A vacation in Maui with my parents

I did this as an assignment for Sketchbook Skool, Danny Gregory’s “klass”. It was fun to try something different. And I had time here on Maui to do my “homework”.

To see and read all the detail, click on the image and it will take you to Flickr where you can see it much bigger.

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Mega Maui

Posted on Nov 8, 2014 in Maui | 0 comments

It’s been great to have had a full week here on Maui without any work. I have almost another week left, but yesterday a scheduled project punctually arrived in my inbox. I’ll have to suffer and squeeze in some work in the evenings here — my specialty.

Between windsurfing, swimming, snorkeling, yoga, walks at the beach, cooking and making happy hour drinks for my parents, I’ve squeezed in a bit of drawing and painting. The intense sunlight and tropical fauna here are inspiring me to go a bit abstract off and on, and to pour on the colour. I can’t help it, it’s just too hard to find gloomily-lit subjects here.

Palm trees on Maui

Scenes from Maui

Lemon Butterflyfish

Maui abstract 3

Maui abstract 1

Maui abstract 4

Maui abstract doodle 1

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Body boarders at Kamaole III Beach in Maui

Posted on Nov 7, 2014 in Maui | 0 comments

Body boarders at Kamaole III Beach in Maui

You should have seen my 84-year old mother trying to use a body board at the beach today, here in Maui. She caught a wave alright — or rather, it caught her. I took a video of her, and it was clear that she never saw that wave coming. I called out to her, but the wave knocked her over. All I could see of her for split second was one foot sticking up out of the surf. She was disoriented for a few seconds when she emerged, but she’s quite tough. I am assuming she’s breaking age records for body boarding here.

To be fair, she caught a good wave earlier. I really should have drawn her, but I was too busy worrying and filming at the same time.

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Delayed gratification sushi

Posted on Nov 6, 2014 in Vancouver | 0 comments

Delayed gratification sushi

Back in September, a fellow Vancouver urban sketcher, and old family friend, Bob, and I went out for a morning coffee to sketch, and then had sushi for lunch, to sketch. Seriously, we drew our lovely sushi plates for about 15 minutes, and only then did we eat. Looking at food and not eating it is pretty unheard of for me. But we did it, it was fun, I didn’t starve, and best of all, sushi doesn’t get cold if you wait, just iffy.

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A full day sketch crawl on Granville Island

Posted on Oct 31, 2014 in Vancouver | 0 comments

View from Fisherman's Wharf near Granville Island

It’s been so long that I’ve posted to my blog, that I had to review how to do it.

I have no excuse not to post at the moment — I have a total lull in my workload. And I am currently visiting my parents in Maui; they are here for a month. I won’t be here that long, but happy to arrive here just as the rainy season hits Vancouver and while I seem to have a week off before a large scheduled project comes in.

This sketch is from October 19 (I’ve misdated it on the sketch). For the first time ever, I had set up a full-day sketch crawl for my Vancouver Urban Sketchers meetup group. I asked the sketchers to check in with me and each other any or all of three times: at 10 a.m., at 1 p.m., and at 5 p.m. This meant that in between I had lots of time to draw. For example, here I sat at a counter outside my favourite fish shack, “Go Fish”, just off Granville Island, and started this drawing while waiting for my food, and finished it afterwards. It took about 2 1/2 hrs to draw this complex scene.

Having forced myself to spend a full day drawing and socializing with other sketchers was wonderful. I knew my year-end business bookkeeping was waiting for me in the office, but it waited patiently while I drew.

Never delay drawing (or having fun). The work and chores will wait. And those things are seriously overrated anyway.

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The limited edition book with my etchings is done!

Posted on Aug 10, 2014 in Vancouver | 1 comment

From May to December 2013, about one day a week, I worked with New Leaf Editions on a limited edition, handprinted poetry book. I made 9 copper etchings and also designed the book which contains 18 poems about Vancouver by the poet Christopher Levenson. The abstract cover etching was done by Andrea, assistant printmaker.

19 of the 30 books pre-sold for $200 each, in large part via a successful crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo.com. The remaining 11 are being sold at $300 each. We are having a book launch open to the public at the Vancouver Public Library in the Alice MacKay Room on Sunday, September 21 at 3 pm.

This post from December 5, 2013 describes the project in detail and also features a video with Chris reading one of his poems.
The etchings can be seen in this post from January 11, 2014.
I showed the book layout on January 10, 2014.
And I described the etching process in this January 9, 2014 post.

The printmaking team at New Leaf Editions
Shown above is the amazing printmaking team at New Leaf Editions on Granville Island. From left to right: Peter Braune, Master Printmaker, with his assistant printmakers Diana and Andrea, who are also artists. I had no idea how much knowledge and work goes into a project like this. I learned a few things, I hope. And it was wonderful to spend one day a week working in the exciting environment of a traditional, high-quality printmaking studio. I got to meet a few well-known Canadian artists who pop by to also work with Peter, and whom I had admired for years. I inhaled it deeply.

The handprinted book of poetry with my etchings is completed!
And here I finally get to hold a copy of the book!

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“By all means create” — video

Posted on Aug 8, 2014 in Vancouver | 2 comments

Earlier this year, I was asked to participate in a video by Opus Art Supplies here in Vancouver. A number of artists were asked to illustrate a word each to make up a quote by Vincent Van Gogh — watch the video to learn what the quote is. I was thrilled to be assigned the word “draw”!

Thanks Opus, and a nice job was done on the video by Ryan Mund. He filmed me back in March, when it was chilly and rainy. I did an outdoor drawing near the Vancouver Convention Centre, squeezing in the filming before I headed off to Northern England. You can see me drawing away from 0:34-0:36.

Drawings from my spring visit to Northern England and Scotland to come soon.

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