Monday, 12 May 2014

Sketches from Vancouver

 Hello and happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there!
I started writing this post last week but didn't get it finished for you.  Better late than never so here it is! 
I'm back from a quick trip (May 01st to 05th) to Vancouver with my Dad and sister Kris to visit my wonderful sister Rena and brother-in-law Kent.  It was a whirlwind trip with two days of travel and three days of sightseeing, laughter and not a whole lot of sleep.  In amongst touring Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Vancouver Aquarium and Granville Island, and between the talking, the jokes, the eating (awesome fish and chips at Pajo's in Stevenson), the music and the photos....I snuck in a few sketches. 
It's harder than I thought to take time to sketch when I travel.  I want to see EVERYTHING and try EVERYTHING and taste EVERYTHING.  Well, not quite everything but you get the picture.  There is so much to see and do that I find it hard to stop and take time to draw.  Plus, when you travel with others you must be considerate and not make them wait too long for you while you put on the last bit of details on a building (At this point I must say a big "thank you" to my patient family!).
Then of course, I had to get over that weird feeling of being some kind of artist imposter.  You know, the kind that people point and laugh at saying, "who does she think she is, pretending to be some kind of artist! Ha ha ha!"  Apparently according to Danny Gregory this is just a mad, mean monkey on my back and I have to shake him off and boot him over to the side.  Well, in Hawaii I started hauling the monkey down, and in Vancouver I think I gave him a good shake to the side.  I must say I totally enjoyed sketching on my trip, though I was a bit s-l-o-o-o-w-w.  Finishing up at home in the evening actually is a common practice.
So on this trip I bounced between a small 5 1/2" x 3 1/2" moleskin journal and my 6" x 9" Robert Bateman that I've used for most of my sketches.   The Bateman is not for watercolor but it manages quite well if I don't use too, too much water.  I didn't try watercolor in the moleskin though I think it could handle okay. 
Anyway, I have two pictures to show you from my trip, both from the Robert Bateman journal. 
This is the Vancouver skyline, Leah style, sitting on a huge chair near the site of the Olympic Torch (that's the best description I can give because I don't know any street names or dock names).  While the others went for a walk along the dock walk, I stayed behind with my Dad and gleefully pulled out my paint box (Windsor & Newton field kit which I'm really getting to know and like), my brushes, my pen, my iPod, my headphones and prepared to draw.  Then I choked -- there was so much to look at!  How could I choose?  So what did I do?  I decided to draw a whole big city skyline with tons and tons of details.  Did I tell you I had 15 - 20 minutes?  Yikes!
What I ended up doing is drawing, pretty accurately as I could, the shapes of the buildings.  Then I quickly added a sort of version of the windows on each building.  That was it. That was all I had time for.  Later at home I added my impression of what I had seen - a whole row of yellow trees along the sea wall.  I don't know what is exactly there but that is all my memory picked up on.  The color I added later also.  The sky is much more blue in real life but I like the cloudy effect it shows here.
This is a picture I made while waiting for my turn on the table at my sister's massage therapy office in Langley.  I had 1 1/4 hours to draw so I decided to try a Tommy Kane style picture, putting in as much detail as I possibly could. The actually drawing took more just over an hour and I managed to lay in only a couple of watercolor splashes before my time was up.  It's real easy to slide into a zone when drawing this way, but getting the perspective correct?  Nope.  Didn't happen.  I took a photo of the corner so when I was home I would be able to finish all the color.  I found out later during my online class how much time Tommy Kane puts towards a picture, and learnt more about his shadowing and coloring and crosshatching - none of which I put into the picture above. But I didn't know!  I can't wait to try again.  His pictures are phenomenal! And he doesn't always have correct perspective either!

Oh yeah - the assage I had was awesome!




  1. This was such a fun post Leah & I really enjoyed reading about your trip! I really like both of your sketches, they both have so much character. I like how you left the buildings black & white in the city skyline sketch, it really makes the yellow trees pop! I haven't attempted Tommy Kane's homework assignment yet, I'm nervous! I'll probably try it later this week, or maybe work on it throughout the week. (

    1. Hi Jamie! Thanks for your comments. It's fun to try different styles like Tommy was talking about. I admit I haven't started Tommy's homework assignment either. But don't be nervous. I find if I just keep going and keep going I usually end up liking the results. I'm learning to trust pushing through those icky feelings about a piece as I am working on it. It actually blows me away when something I am totally hating turns out to be pretty decent! Happy sketching and thanks for dropping by!

  2. When asked "are you some kind of an artist?" just say yes! Love both sketches, and who needs perspective? Some things benefit from a little distortion!

    1. Just say yes! That is so right Wendy. I find I like to draw with the distorted perspective. It's fun and takes the pressure off from trying to make that perfect picture. I think I'd like to steal your line "some things benefit from a little distortion" if that's okay with you. :) It's going in my art journal. There are many things in addition to art that could use a little "distortion" in our culture of perfection obsession (i.e.perfect home, perfect body, perfect hair, perfect children....). Hmmmm. You have me thinking! Thanks Wendy for your comments and for dropping by!