Thursday, 29 December 2011


I stopped into the Park Visitor's Centre and took a look at the display of animals which can be found in the Gatineau hills.  I was thinking of woodpeckers and bluejays, but they didn't have any.  Instead I sketched this Kingfisher.  I haven't seen many kingfishers, but when I have there is no mistaking their distinctive profile.

True confession: this one was stuffed - that's how I got so close.

Keogan Cabin

The largest cabin in the Park is Keogan.  Its the destination of choice to night ski in for dinner as you're sure to get a table. I arrived just before noon today and started to sketch.  Within minutes there were about twenty people in for lunch.

Everyone on the trail today had a big powered skiers.

Shilly Shally Cabin

Today was a real Ottawa winter day...minus 20 C, deep blue sky and sunny.  The snow was squeeky and I needed mittens over my gloves.  I wasn't the first past Shilly Shally cabin, but I did get to light the fire.

This is easily the smallest cabin in the park, but the best for birds.  I saw a downey woodpecker on the way in and there were two flickers at the feeder. The trail in tunnels through a hemlock grove which is one of my favourite places on the planet.

A sketch of the inerior and the story of this cabin's name :

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Huron Cabin

We finally got enough snow to ski, so I headed up to Gatineau Park for a short ski.  There are miles of nordic trails and several cabins which serve as destinations and allow skiers to take a break and dry off.  I was first into Huron this morning and lit the fire in the wood stove.   
There were the usual black capped chickadees and a flicker at the bird feeder, but then a flock of 6 or 8 bluejays arrived and pushed the smaller birds out of the way.  Its unusual to see more than a pair bluejays together - they are such bickersome birds that its hard to imagine them getting along.  To top things off, I came across a white-tailed deer on the  way out.

Clan Crest Poles

These are  Family Crest poles which represent the clans of the owners.  The one on the left is a White Squirrel, and on the right is a Kwaxsuu Pole form around 1870 which signifies a Chief of Wolf Clan lineage.

Nuu-chah-nulth Pole

This totem pole is one my favourites as it is more colourful that the older ones in the Museum and departs somewhat from the iconography of the other poles in the Great Hall.

The pole was a gift from the Hesquaiht people and the Royal British Columbia Museum in 1989 for the opening of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.   It was carved Tim Paul with assistance from Kevin Cranmer.

"The four main figures on this pole are from the history of the Hesquiaht people.  The figure at the top is an ancestral chief, wearing an elaborate headdress and posed in a dancing position.  Beneath him is Thunderbird and between his wings is a mythic hunter known for his ability to catch whales, sea otters and seals.  The final figure represents the whale canoe that carried the hunter's rival out to sea." 

Monday, 26 December 2011

Great Hall - Canadian Museum of Civilization

Winter in Canada is not conducive to drawing outdoors, so I headed to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  There is so much there to draw that I didn't even get past the Great Hall, which is a display of mid 19th century native longhouses and totem poles.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Pageant

Children preforming a Christmas pageant never gets old for me.  This morning we had the privilege of having some of the youngest members of our congregation personify Hope, Peace Love and Joy, sneakers under robes and tinfoil halos included.  Wonderful.

May you be open to all the blessings of the season.

Different Kind of Totems

I'm a big fan of the City of Ottawa's public art collections and program.  One of my favourite pieces is by Jim Thomson. These three columns stand in the main corridor of City Hall. and I enjoy them every time I pass by.  They are made of ceramic and stand about 2.4 m tall.

If you have looked at this blog you will see I am very interested in symbolism.  The  mythology and iconography of Haida carving resonates with me even though I live 3000 miles form the left coast. I think of Thomson's work as totems and it has inspired some ideas about totems I would like to craft.

The City narrative states:
On Top of the World is a three-part ceramic sculpture, designed to generate philosophical optimism about the viewer's life and existence. The turtle, dog, and the spiral interact to form a reassuring and celebratory environment. The clever and attentive dog symbolizes myth and paradoxes, while the turtle, carrying its home wherever it goes, represents history and experience. Both figures gaze towards the third vase, a spiral of pure energy, representing a timeless and all-embracing world.
Don't expect such high falutin text about any totems I might make.

Tahltan-Tlingit Mural

Dempsey Bob is a Tahltan-Tlingit carver from northern British Colunbia.  This carving is similar to the work of Haida artists Bill Reid and Jim Hart in that is assembles traditional symbolism in a non-traditional composition.  The workmanship and finishing are superb.

This 'Red Cedar Carving' stands about 3m high and is about 2.4 m wide.  One side is unpainted with the exception of the bentwood box while the other side reverses this with the figures painted in the traditional red and black and the box in a natural finish.  The theme of the panel is trade and sharing of ides and goods.
This was donated to the National Arts Centre here in Ottawa by Ridley Terminals Company who have enjoyed it for many years in their offices.  I'm sure they miss it.

An explanation of the work was on display;
"Northwest Indian people are divided into four main groups symbolized by the following crests: the Killer whale on the top of the carving; the Wolf on bentwood box; the Raven with the long straight beak on the left; the Eagle with the curved beak on the right.  The frog is part of the Raven crest and is shown in front of the Raven.

The Raven is holding the daylight.  When raven brought the light he also gave us knowledge.  This figure in front of the Eagle is female and the figure between the Raven and Eagle is a male.  They both represent the people.  The four main crests together represent culture, unity and completeness.  The bentwood box symbolizes trade because Northwest coast people used boxes for carrying trade goods.The rainbow, symbol of exchanges, ideas or goods."

Frontal Pole

Last weekend in Montreal it was cold and rainy so I stopped into the McCord Museum of history for a few minutes to sketch indoors. This frontal pole is beautifully integrated into an open stair well flanking the galleries.  It is about 10 m tall and is actually straight (my sketch book wouldn't lie flat for the photo).

This totem pole distinguished the front of a Haida long house in the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia.  It was carved in the mid 1900s and seems never to have been painted.  The symbolism of the creatures represented status of the family. Bears seemed to play a big part in that story. It must have taken a lot of time to carve, which speaks to it's cultural importance and the standard of life living beside the sea, that could support such craftsmen.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Fifth Avenue Doors

It has been slow in coming this year, but its finally below zero.  I'm having to find locations where I can draw from the car, or just do quick studies while standing, before my hand ceases up. I actually had to finish blacking in the windows indoors as it was cold enough that the ink in my my pen was not flowing.  Maybe its time to switch to pencil!

I often pass by these elegant doors to walk-up apartments in my neighbourhood  and finally took a few minutes to stop and sketch them. I made a mistake in trying to black in the transom window of the Grenville apartment as the building name is in a flowing 30's style script...should have added it larger.  In fact the detailing of several of the elements would warrant vignettes.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bytown Theatre, Ottawa

After sketching the Snowdon Theatre yesterday in Montreal,  it occurred to me that theatre marquees have sort of faded away in most cities.  One survivor here in Ottawa is a repertory movie house downtown near the By Ward market district.

Snowdon Theatre, Montreal

I was in Montreal yesterday and finally made it back to see the Snowdon Theatre.  I have been curious about it for years as you catch a glimpse of the sign from way down deep in the Decarie trench while driving into the city.  Its is no longer a cinema, but thankfully the wonderful art deco sign and facade have not been compromised.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Three Watchmen

This sculpture by Haida artist Bill Hart was installed a few weeks ago, near the National Gallery of Canada, here in Ottawa.  Its is 10m tall but seems smaller out in the landscape. It is immaculately crafted and projects a calm and reassuring presence. Chief Hart was compensated for the work, but nonetheless I regard it as a gift and am proud and pleased that the watchmen are now here guarding Ottawa and Canada.

As part of his training, Chief Hart worked with Bill Reid, another eminent Haida artist and like Reid has moved his work beyond traditional forms and motifs, while strongly integrating Haida cultural forms and legends. It is cast bronze which is not a traditional Haida material, but will be extremely durable and develop a rich patina get as it weathers.

Mutchmore School

I've been thinking recently about how schools, churches and municipal buildings have declined as important and notable architecture over the last 60 years.  In older neighbourhoods these buildings are proud symbols of community, now we seem to just build facilities.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Occupy Ottawa (crappy sketch & editorial rant)

I've stopped in a few times to the Occupy Ottawa site.  My curiosity was aroused by walking by the Wall Street park earlier this fall.  There, I was really struck by a sense of grass roots sincerity.  I saw older people who had made the time to make a sign and quietly stand at the side of the sidewalk to express their frustration.  In America people were more than offended, they were financially hurt and even devastated.  I saw ordinary folks who felt  compelled show up and express their frustration and moral outrage over the bail-outs and worse, what seems to be a 'business as usual' return to exorbadent bonuses and corporate short-term greed.  America has drifted a long way from the values of it's Puritan settler's values  - some good, but much bad.  

That brings me back to sleepy little Ottawa.  On the way home from church on Sunday I rode my bike to Confederation Park. We have a little copy-cat encampment here too. Lottsa tents, not so many people.  If the goals of the New York or London encampments are unclear, the realities of the injustice and inequity in those countries certainly are.  Here in Canada we, with the shameful exception of our native people, are enjoying the top 2% quality of life from a global and population perspective. I'm not an apologist for our governing parties, but I don't feel our system has let us down.

This all brings me to the sketch.  I suppose you have to live here to understand how incongruous tents are in an Ottawa park.  On Sunday all was quiet.  The campers had organized a free food kitchen and the park was very orderly and tidy - how Canadian.  That cynicism aside, I think we are in the very early days of this movement and I believe in time,  issues will be refined, leaders emerge and goals clarified.  My suspicion is that this will take years to mature.  Wish I could drop in on Wall Street more often, but the proxy will have to be Confederation Park.  The irony of the drawing is the eagle sculpture in the background, This is the Aboriginal War Vetran's monument. They are the ones who should be camping here.  Instead they organized themselves to raise money  and commision a sculpture commemorating their contribution to our nation.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Wakefield Covered Bridge

Wakefield is a village in the Gatineau hills about 35 km. north of Ottawa.  The  wonderful combination of  northern landscape and artistic and engaged community would be a good fit for me, but I have resisted that call all these years to meet my family and business responsibilities here in the city.  I manage to get up there more often in the winter to cross country ski that through the summer, but felt the need to visit this weekend.

In 1984, shortly after I moved to Ottawa, the covered bridge over the Gatineau River burned down.  The province replaced it with an eminently more practical and functional high speed steel and concrete structure, but the community still felt an emotional loss.  There was nothing else to be done but raise the funds, form work parties and replace the 1915 wooden structure.   Old log boom logs were sawed for structural bridge timber and  'town lattice' walls were constructed.  The roof and pine sides followed to keep structure  dry and lengthen the life of the bridge. The new, old bridge, was opened in1997.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

St. Alban's Sunday Gathering

When entering one of the oldest Churches in the city you don't expect to see a sound mixing board in the rear and  a drum kit and electric piano on the dais.
The building may be old but the congregation and their worship are very contemporary and informal.  I was a tad worried that drawing during the service might be seen as irrespectful or as 'cultural tourism'.  I should have known better as Reverend Mark is not about authority or piety. That's him in the centre, not behind a pulpit, playing his guitar and singing.

He's an interesting guy, who I have known for many years. He doesn't seem to use his family name at Church, but I first knew him as Mark Whittall.  He left a very successful career in business just a few years ago and studied to become an Anglican Priest.  He has recently taken on this urban church, located downtown and seems to guiding and enabling, rather than directing it's growing congregation. Apart from the physical set-up and wonderful mix of music, there is a broad cross-section of ages and backgrounds - which is markedly different than many older churches.  Sunday school is held at the back of the sanctuary because the basement is reserved for a 7 day week drop-in centre, Centre 454, which has helps people in crisis and transition get back on their feet.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Fall weekend in the Glebe

So for starters, the Glebe is a neighborhood of Ottawa, where I live.  It is an older 'streetcar' neighbourhood which means its compact and everything is in walking distance.  Last weekend was overcast but nice in a moody, sort of Canadian, fall way.  On Sunday we went for a walk and I managed to sneak a few sketches between chance encounters with acquaintances.

I bought a nice new small  moleskine watercolour sketchbook and I'm working on just starting into it with ink - no pencil blocking.  I'm also drawing while standing which makes it harder to control the pen. In short, trying to loosen up.

The pick-up belongs to my neighbour, Bill.  Its a fire engine red 1952 Chevrolet and to look at it's imacualte.  The working parts are however apparently feeling their age, as there are some repairs to be done.  Bill's son, John, was under the truck and the two of them were engaged in an arcane discussion  about whether the ' back end needs to be dropped out' or 'it might be easier to pull the engine'.  While, I didn't totally follow the conversation, I could relate to the situation of hobbies seeming to be more vexatious than recreational, not to mention the condition of some of my own aging parts.

The ostensible destination of our walk was the Farmer's market at Lansdowne Park.  This is a Sunday morning event which has really flourished over the past few years. It is a wonderful fit of the 100 mile diet, whole food and good eats in a neighbourhood that values those things, and more to the point, can afford it.  We bought several bunches of crispy heritage varieties of Apples and have enjoyed each and every one this week.  More expensive than the grocery store, but on several levels, it seems like good value.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

World Wide Sketchcrawl

October 15th was 33rd World  Wide Sketchcrawl day.    All over the world people get together to go sketching.  Some cities, like Seattle have groups as large as 40 people.  Here in Ottawa there were only 2 of us, but I think we'll find some company for next time.

It was fun to meet another USK member, Greg Manley, and share observations.  Greg is an architect and painter.  His work can be seen at .  We met at the War Museum and even though the skies were threatening walked over to the old mill by Victoria Island.  There are some old dams and generating stations, even vestiges of the the logging industry such as log flumes in this area.

We did several sketches and our last location was on the roof of the War Museum.  It turns out Greg had been the site architect for the construction of this building, but hadn't been back for several years.  The view of the Ottawa skyline from here is quite 'central park', with the long grass on the Museum's green roof in the foreground.

A succesful day - did some sketching, didn't get rained on and made a friend.

Postcards from Southport, New York

These postcards were done one morning last weekend in New York City.  This ship, the Ambrose, was built in 1908 and served until the mid sixties as a lightship in a couple of locations off Sandy Hook to mark the entry into New york harbour.  It is one of the ships owned by the Seaport Museum.

This wheelhouse stands alone on the dock under  the shadow of the Peking, a 377 foot sailing barque built in 1911.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Southport New York City

I had opportunity to visit New York this last weekend.  The only time I had to sketch was early each morning near our hotel before the boys woke up.  This area was the fish market, but has been gentrified and feels like Boston.

The Seaport Museum is closed temporarily but luckily Sal Polisi, master carver was in the workshop and I managed a quick look around.
I did not have much time to chat with Sal, but we did exchange cards and I would love to learn more about his work and role with the museum. 

This 1909 muscular little tugboat, the Helen McAllister is tucked in under the shadow of two other of the museum's larger vessels.

What a frustration to not be able to crawl all over those ships and sketch all day long.  I'm thinking that I would like to make another trip for that sole purpose. I am wondering if I could talk myself into a short 'artist in residence'  stay, or undertake some focused project.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Postcards from Niagara-on-the-Lake

Last weekend I went to Visit my old pal Kev to do some sailing.  We  had a fast crossing to the south side of Lake Ontario from Toronto and spent a couple of nights holed up in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It rained so I didn't manage to do much drawing.  The region has become a hotbed of small wineries, most of which give tours and offer tasting.

We rented bikes and visited a few of the local companies, including lunch at Jackson-Triggs, in their impressive new building.

This sketch was done on the inside of the menu with a borrowed ballpoint pen but added the paint  back on the boat.  Arriving in wet clothes on bikes  was not the best way to fit in with the silver-haired Mercedes and Lexus crowd, but the servers were gracious and gave us good explanations of their various varieties and blends.

Our next stop was Port Dalhousie where the Welland Canal links through to Lake Erie.  There was an original, narrower canal which is filled in and abandoned in places.  The port has a very well protected harbour and a lively entertainment district (code for bars).

Sunday, 25 September 2011

You can sail on the Ottawa River?

The Ottawa River is one of the world's grest rivers.  And yes, we sail here.  I sail on Lac Deschenes which is about 16 miles long and 3 or 4 miles wide, but extwnds another 16 miles before a major dam.  We get good winds, but seldom have any waves to speak of.

Today I just had to get out on the water,  so me and my faithful dog, "Sailor', took the boat up the river by ourselves. And what a glorious day it was to sail.  These late summer days are so precious, as fall and winter are mere weeks away.

There was a little motor sailor, "Half Moon",  at anchor at a small bay which is a good overnight stop.  I talked to the owners a couple of years ago.  They have been all over the place with this boat as it is easily trailerable..  They have taken it to Georgian Bay, Lake Champlain and the Brador Lakes.  A few of my friends are purists and degrade the craft, but the owners have had way too much fun and too many  adventures to care.

Last night I watched 'Master and Commander', as I do at least once a year.  ...Today was nothing like that.
No hurricanes, no cannons, no amputations, no unnamed speicies.

On the way home we had a nice following breeze.  It was strong enough and a dead run, so I didn't bother with the main'sl.  It was a little hairy drawing while steering with my feet, but who cares about a straight course anyway.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Cows Fly Home

This is one of my favourite pieces of public art anywhere.  It is beside the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa.  Locally the building is known as the 'Cattle Castle', as the Exhibition was agricultural for most of the 20th century. The piece was made by Tim Desclouds and Vic Charelbois and pivots as a weather-vane.

I have had opportunity to work with Tim Desclouds recently as he won the commission for the art along the reconstructed Bank Street in the Glebe neighbourhood, which is one of my projects.  Tim is a very down to earth guy. He is a teacher and coach and has no airs or pretentiousness about his art. It was interesting to hear him talk about the Bank street pieces to some of the construction workers last week.  He just explained it in straightforward terms that they readily accepted.

Back to the flying cows.  There is a poem from the 1851 Old Farmer's Almanac, on the plaque at the base, which provides insight into the sculpture.

The cows fly home on Sunday
Wind from the east is bad for man and beast
Wind from the south is too hot for both
Wind from the north is of very little worth
Wind from the west is the softest and best

The Five Sisters

For starters , I really can count - I only drew 4 of the 5 units of this block of row houses.   I started on the left side and didn't leave enough room for the last tower.  This building is a landmark along the Queen Elizabeth Drive close to my home here in Ottawa.

It isn't really called the Five Sisters, I just think of it that way, as each unit is different yet conforms to similar proportions, details and materials so as to be a unified family.  If I taught architecture, I would walk the first year class to this building, have them draw it, then reinterpret it in contemporary materials and proportions.

Given the era of the construction, I think each unit  would have names like, 'Faith', 'Charity' and' Hope.'  I wouldn't be too enthusiastic to have 'Chastity' or 'Temperance', but would pay extra to live in 'Grace'.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Never Travel Without a Skateboard

This the other part of last weekend's trip, checking out North Oshawa Park.
This was built by Newline, who seem to really know thier business.

So this isn't the park - it's the skate plaza in one corner of the park.  I think I mentioned in the Wild in the Praks post that skate parks are bowls and that the trend is towards plazas, which provide more urban types of elements.

My skateboarding consultant, Tommy, gave it 2 thumbs up.  Very smooth concrete, nicely proportioned rails, hubbas, steps, a neat bump in the middle and most important, nice 'flow'.
Tommy's vid can be seen here :

That's Tommy in the foreground, but tragically, I missed the turquoise  colour on the brim of his hat.  Imagine my guilt.  Dispite that grave ommission  the conclusion is: "it's gnar."

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hawk Ridge Totem Pole

My father-in-law, Irv Harrell started carving decades ago.  First it was decoys, but that evolved into very detailed and life-like carvings of all manner of birds.  He set that aside for a few years while planting out a tree farm in central Ontario, but recently pulled out his old chisels and gouges.  This new project is a Haida Indian inspired totem pole.  It will stand 5 m tall on the high point of the farm.  Traditionally totem characters represented Haida myths and legends, and reflected events or stories rather than spiritual or religious icons.

The top figure is the Watch Man who will look over the property. You can see his hat in the sketch.  Next is Raven who is a mischievous friend to man, followed by Hawk, in recognition of the frequent presence of hawks soaring over the farm.  Beaver with chewing stick  at the bottom recognizes the beavers who have at times lived on on the property and the relationship between man and other creatures.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Classic Summer Car

My pal Stephen Nourse has a classic summer ride. It's a 1981 Nissan 280 ZX that he only drives in good weather.  It's a 'driver' not a show car, but even at only 5,000 to 10,000 km.s a year it has piled up 273,000 km.s.  No worries, Steve just casually replaces parts as needed and the car still goes like a scared cat.

Monday, 5 September 2011

A Rocky Day

Today was Labour Day here in Canada.  The weather was cool and gloomy, but as it wasn't actually raining I went sketching for a couple of hours.  Quite unintentionally I ended up drawing stone masonry and stone sculpture as a theme.

 I have had a hankering to get up to Moorside, the Mackenzie King Estate in the Gatineau Hills for some time.  On the way into the property I met   John Shaw-Rimington of The Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada who was doing a dry laid stone wall demonstration.  Well, in fairness, his assistant Shim, was busy, while John chatted to interested visitors.  In addition to shattering the stereotype of what a mason looks like, Shim also demonstrated that it is possible to build very regular walls with rounded field stone.

John has a blog about dry stone masonry entitled Thinking With My Hands".

Mackenzie-King found the Moorside property in 1900 on a cycling trip.  He spent 50 summers there and over those years created an estate complete with perennial gardens and several faux ruins.  The largest is an amalgam of artifacts including a stone relief from the English House of Parliament that has been damaged by bombing in the second world war and the fireplace of his famous, great grandfather William Lyon Mackenzie.

Mackenzie-King had his "L'arc de Triumphe" constructed from a parts of a demolished building to commemorate his 1935 election victory.  It marks the edge the meadow which surrounds the house and the forest and looks like some sort of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" portal.

On the way back into town I stopped at the Remic Rapids on the Ottawa River where John Felice Ceprano has been balancing rocks as elegant and unexpected sculptures every summer since 1986.

People stop by all day long and John seems to be a constant presence, even on weekends and evenings. It is a popular destination for photographers, although you'd be better off to just buy the amazing photos John sells right there on site.

John is very friendly and chats and jokes with people  between moments of fiddling and adjusting small rocks and hefting large ones to start new sculptures.

Friday, 2 September 2011

1st Quarter Report

I started Sketch Journal 3 months ago as a personal project to practice drawing and learn a little about scanning, posting and the basic mechanics of the Internet.  It has been a really fun experience, complete with some personal growth and surprises.  As a means to benchmark this milestone, I thought I'd summarize the experience.

Practicing drawing was the fundamental goal.  I set a goal of doing 3 drawings a week and have been able to do least if averaged.  That was good, but the downside is that I haven't I been discriminating enough about what I posted.

When I review,my sketchbooks from the last three months the observation that emerges is 'the faster, the better'.  When I have time and block out in pencil, then ink over the drawing gets really stiff and not necessarily more accurate.  I'm thinking pencil structure should be reserved for  straightening out my wandering vanishing points and overall composition, and let the detail be a looser and implied.

I'm new to painting and loving how a little colour can pull together a vague line drawing.  The discipline here is to figure out when to stop.  I have been observing how my Urbansketcher mentors often use only a few colours and spill colours together.  That is a segue to what I have picked up from mining the USK site.

I've been studying not just the 'corresponandants' but also the 'members' work through the Urbansketchers site.  Like any journey there has been an evolution in what appeals in terms of styles to emulate. My 'hero' at this point is Luis Ruiz, who is an an architect from Malaga, Spain who draws prolifically with a nice balance of perspective accuracy and implied detail.  He is sparing and strategic in his use of colour.  In the words of a an architect colleague, Alex Rankin, he 'draws like an angel'.

Next up is, Mark Selander, a member from the Seattle USK group, who like me, is fascinated by heavy equipment but has taken it to a whole other sophisticated and delightfully wacky level in his day job as an illustrator.

Just as I'm struggling with my propensity to stiffen  and overwork my drawings I'm  trying to mediate  my attraction to the way architects have been taught to draw with the expressiveness of those who have come from art school backgrounds.    Here is a list of the people I am currently studying.

Marc Taro Holmes, a game character development artist from Montreal.

Rob Carey, an American teaching in Germany.

Liz Steele, a very well travelled Australian, tea loving architect.

Omar Jamillo,  who is originally from Ecuador and studied in Germany.  I'm not clear on whether he is an architect or landscape architect (like me) , but it doesn't really matter as he seems to be forging ahead as an artist.  He spent last summer in St. John's Newfoundland and is now on a one month gig sketching the Berlin Ballet company on tour - how cool is that?

There are a bunch of other people I watch, but the shift in interest has been towards a few people who draw people more than things.  Top amongst these are Thomas Thorspecken, who is a former Disney animator who now draws and writes about cultural events in Florida.  Not so much for the stories as the drawings.

I couldn't go to the second USK symposium which was held in Lisbon this summer.  I'm really hoping to get to the 2012 event and waiting with great anticipation for the announcement of next years venue.

Just recently the USK site posted its various chapter sites.  Seattle would be a hands down first choice to meet several of those sketchers, and to visit my stepbrother Mark Glyde. ( check out his blog, wish I could write like him- )  I've been thinking that next time I plan a trip I'll investigate if there is a sketchcrawl planned in that city, or even contact someone to go drawing with.  Which brings me to Ottawa.  I am member no. 4 here and have approached the other 3 about meeting up, but not yet organized a date.  That is on my 'to do' list.


This was the surprise.  I've had fun entering this international virtual society, but didn't expect to have so much fun with the techie side .  I have been watching my visitation statistics with great interest.  Not sure why I need an audience, so much as astounded with the idea that someone I've never met  would check out the site.  I have been hesitant to share the address with work colleagues and friends but have noticed that my passive posting of the URL on my limited Facebook page has attracted many visits. That being said, friends are not necessarily as interested as other sketchers.   The hits have accelerated this last month, but the real test will be repeat visitors.  I am trying to figure out how to install a more sophisticated analytics application to get a sense of that.  It may be distracting from my simple intent of just drawing, but it has been fun nonetheless.  My experience with blogging has prompted, Matt Mills,  a colleague at my office to start a photography site.  With some luck he'll help me figure out the tech piece.  He's off to a good start ...sort of modelled on the USK theme of telling a little story with each image.  Check it out - sent him a comment.

More drawing.  Ink without pencil (I think of this a drawing without a net).

More People.  I'm planning to participate in a life drawing group this fall. I did life drawing for a couple of years while in University and recon that is the best way to concur my fear of drawing people.

The challenge here is flow.  Trying too hard seems to cramp up my style.  I'm  aiming for expressiveness over accuracy over the next 3 months.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Deja Vous all over again

"same time, same channel"  "groundhog day"

Tonight after work I had a request from the boys to pick them up at the skateboard park ....and while dinner was cooking this was the scene - skate vids at the Mac.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Boys at the Mac

Our son Tommy is a skateboard fanatic.  Between skate sessions he watches you-tube skate videos and edits his own vids.

Through the summer friends often stay over for dinner or even all night and once its dark this is a typical scene at the computer station.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Mellos Sign

Melos is a classic diner located on the edge of the By Ward Market district of Ottawa.  The kind of place where you really don't need to look at the menu because all the standard choices are available - bacon and two, BLT, club on brown with mayo... even poutine.