Monday, 31 December 2012

Long Blades

I live very close to the Rideau Canal in Ottawa and in the winter skate frequently, like 3 or 4 nights a week.  The Rideau Skateway is about 7 km long. So up and back is good jaunt - usually about an hour on my wobbly legs.  For years I've wanted to get some speed skates, but never managed to get around to it.  This year I found some really cool long blades under the Christmas Tree,  perfect for a recreational skater like me.  They have cross country bindings on them, which means I can put my boots on at home and click into the blades when I arrive at the ice.  The canal is pretty rough and not yet open as of today, but I hope to try them next weekend at the speed skating oval at Brewer Park nearby.

So this is a fitting way to look towards the new year, in that its about moving forward with grace and speed...or at least, moving forward.  Last winter I sketched the cabins in Gatineau Park; this year I think the theme for my winter sketch outings may be the Skateway.

This closes out 110 postings this year.  I have some followers, and many friends who look intermittently, so to all of you, may you have health, and find beauty and gratitude in what each day presents this next year.

Soft Site

In the parlance of urban design a 'soft site' is one that is prime for redevelopment.  There are many of these in the Hintonburg neighbourhood of Ottawa.  Of course there are many variables, not the least of which is the asking price of the land.  I haven't been inside, but I imagine this small building would make more sense to demolish than renovate.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Reborn as a Taco Stand

After realizing that sketching grey buildings on on overcast day was not the route to dramatic composition, I found my way up to Wellington Street West.  This little building might have been a used car lot office originally, but has been creatively transformed into a little piece of Mexico.
Ole its a snow day!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Grey House, Grey Day

I've been looking to sketch this house for a few weeks.  Today was too cold to draw outside, but I managed to snag a parking spot that nearly had the angle I would have liked.  There are two large silver maple tees in the boulevard which is unusual on Hintonburg's narrow streets.   On hindsight, I might have chosen a more colourful subject on such a grey day - not even enough light for strong shadows.  Oh well, all part of the learning process.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Don't Look Now, but there's a Moose on the Roof

I've been spending some time in the Hintonburg neighbourhood lately as that is the location of the Stirling Avenue house project.  The nieghbourhood and Wellington Street West, in particular, have been undergoing a wonderful transformation and renewal over the last few years.  The street has branded itself as an arts area, but to visit, you might think of it as a foodie district with the number of new, small restaurants with innovative menus.

The law firm Beament Green, has contributed to the momentum of this renewal with a spirited building renovation complete with a moose sculpture on the roof.
Good for them.   Fun on the outside and serious on the inside.

The sculpture is actually a flat silhouette and was crafted by Charley Pachter.  This Toronto based artist is famous for his iconic moose sculptures and paintings, which manage to balance irreverance and respect while incorporating Queen Elizabeth.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Big Day on a Small Site

A surveyor will verify the grades tomorrow, but it seems the breaking-out of rock is complete.  John McRae has been using a large shovel to load the fractured limestone into trucks for two days to empty nearly the whole site to a depth of 1.5 -1.8 m.

The form materials were being delivered ready for forming of the foundation walls directly on the rock. Large packages of the styrofoam modules that will be assembled as insulated concrete forms were lowered into the hole with a special boom truck.  Even on a small project like this as much as possible is done by machine. The next step is is assembly of the forms which will likely take about a week, depending on the weather.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Pond Hockey

So, I'll start this with was pretty cold (-7C) and I have been trying to draw quickly with energy.  The problem is that my hand seems to turn into a claw after about 5 minutes. I did the sketch outside then retreated to my car to muddle and fuss and overwork with some paint.  

In any event, sketching is about the moment. Yesterday was bright and sunny and the pond at Brown's inlet was smooth and hard.  Perfect for some shinny. It doesn't get much more Canadian than that.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Chipping Out

We started removing rock on the Stirling Avenue project Wednesday. It is limestone and breaks fairly easily where it is weathered near the surface, but is much harder below about  60 cm. down.  John McRae is the excavation contractor and he has to really 'put his sholder into it' using the wieght of the machine to force the bit down into the rock which lifts the front of the tracks right off the surface. He handles that machine like a surgical tool.  I think if we taped a pen to the end of the hoe-ram he could sign his name.

We're not going down to a full basement, just for frost cover so we should be ready for forming foundations next week.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Hole in the Rock

Cathedral Hill is the name of a new condominium tower under construction here in Ottawa.  It requires an enormous deep excavation for its garage. The tricky part is that its all rock which requires both blasting and breaking to remove.  Fine in an open area or quarry, but it is immediately adjacent the historic Christ Church Cathedral. I'd guess they are about 8m down now and wonder how they will build a haul ramp as they get down to the bottom.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A walk in the Arboretum

Now and then I take my dog for a walk at the Arboretum at the Central Experimental Farm.

This willow tree has a particularly twisted trunk that looks as if the tree spiraled up while it grew.

The sketch below is what I think of as the Avenue of the Pines.  The inside rank is Ponderosa Pine which is not supposed to grow anywhere this far north.  Behind are Scot's pine, black pine and white spruce. My friend, Sailor, had a good sniff of each one, between chasing squirrels.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Tree House

This tree house is behind a home in the up and coming Hintonburg neighbourhood here in Ottawa.  It sits up in a maple tree and must be fairly well hidden and a green retreat in summer when the trees are in leaf.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Unused Garage

Unused may not be the right term here, as you can still get to the door of this garage, you just can't get a car inside.  The tree is a Manitoba Maple which was apparently trimmed at some point, but the remaining trunk angles off in front of the garage door and over the neighbouring property.

The garage itself is also unusual. I'm guessing it was a multiple bay garage which was truncated at some point.  Before or after the tree started growing, who knows.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Forming up in the Air

These elevator core towers have been under construction for several weeks at the University of Ottawa. There appears to be a double layer of steel reinforcing bar which has been done encased in separate pours of concrete.  The snorkley thing is a concrete pumper.  The rest of the building is beginning to fill in the the spaces between the towers which will structurally stiffen the whole structure.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

2nd Ave. E of Bank

Behind many of the buildings with shared driveways in the Glebe, there are open parking courts with informal configurations and often large trees.  Despite their utilitarian purpose they can be very charming places.