Monday, June 29, 2009

A Bunch of Little Ones

I came across a young family in Breakwater Park this morning and sat right down to sketch them. Kids and dogs were going every which way. It was good gesture-drawing practice for me, and I ended up with some energetic pencil sketches that I liked very much.

I knew the sketches would lose some of their oomph once I started to ink and colour them. But I did it anyway, because it was the colours that really attracted me to this subject in the first place. These sketches don't do justice to the gorgeous blue sky and water and the colours of the lifejackets and clothes. I mean, who could resist a scene like this:

So here's what the pencil sketches morphed into--a bunch of little colour sketches, and the memory of a perfect June morning.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Poking a Thing With a Stick

Yesterday, workers were fixing something on the roof next door. The official term for it was probably "calibrating the flux regulator assembly" or something. Basically, they were poking a Thing with a stick.

I like the way my inner chatter goes away when I draw something I don't understand. Usually, that inner voice is jabbering away--"Now I'm drawing a window. The ledge sticks out a bit. Now there's a curtain...." But when I draw a gizmo, the inner voice goes, "Okay, there's a thing-y. And that other thing. And a doohickey sticking out." Eventually, it gives up and just grunts. I think it's good for me. It forces me to draw what I see instead of what I know. (Or what I think I know.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prince George Hotel - Finally

After three tries, I finally finished this sketch. My first attempt was interrupted by rain and I had to retreat to a coffee shop. A couple of days later, the road accident happened (see Monday's entry.) Then we had the power failure (see yesterday's entry.) But this morning, before work, I was able to sit on the bench and finish the sketch. All day I looked forward to coming home and putting the colour on it, and tonight I was finally able to do that.

I've got some reservations about the results. I struggled with the colours (how to handle white on beige on cream?) And I would make the whole drawing wider next time--obviously it's too tall and narrow, and let's not even talk about the way the tower sticks out like that. But every time I look at this sketch, I'll remember how eventful this week has been!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

Just after five o'clock last night, the power went out. At the time, I was working at the library, but news soon started trickling in--big fire at the electrical substation a few blocks away, power out in the whole downtown area, no chance of having it restored anytime soon. So we closed the library, and you can guess what I did after that! My first few sketches were ridiculous. Check out the one below, for example. Yikes! The subject was just too big and complex for me. So I decided to focus on just a small piece of the scene, and ended up with the sketch above. I like that one better. But the fire truck left before I was finished! Click here to read a news article about the fire.


Monday, June 22, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye

This morning I was sketching the Prince George Hotel when I heard a thump and smash. I looked up just in time to see an elderly gentleman fall into the road. His white cane flew onto the sidewalk in front of me. He'd been hit by a car!

By the time I reached him, he was already trying to stand up, but bystanders came running over and told him not to move. There was glass all over the road, and his arms were cut, but--amazingly--it didn't seem as if any bones were broken. The car window was smashed and the driver was very shaken up. He was made to sit down on the bench where I'd been sketching.

I wasn't much help to the police, because I hadn't seen the accident happen. At the time, I was staring at my sketchbook.

When the accident happened, I was inking the top left-hand window. You can see where I only finished two of the four lines around the lower pane. Afterward, I was cold-blooded enough to take a few photos, but not to continue sketching. Besides, my hands were shaking! I'll go back another day to finish this picture. Click here to read a news item about the accident.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day, Pops!

Happy Father's Day to the one who taught me to tie my shoes, balance my chequebook, and pour a nice cold beer with just the right amount of foam. Thanks for being the wind in the sails of this blog. This one's for you, with much love. xoxoxo

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sipps on a Drizzly Day

This morning at Sipps I had the best of both worlds. It was like being indoors and outdoors at the same time. I could enjoy the drizzly weather and draw without getting my sketchbook wet. While I was drawing, a sparrow hopped through the window in front of me, snatched a muffin crumb off the floor, and flew out the door behind me. I tried to get a photo, but that was one speedy little bird!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I walked over to the university library yesterday to do some research, and came across these students, who were protesting the Iranian elections. They were singing and chanting "Where's my vote?" and "This is a selection, not an election!" I sat on a low wall across the street to sketch them. Click here to read a newspaper article about the protest.

Monday, June 15, 2009

City Hall Again

I decided that last week's picture of Toronto City Hall was a bit too tame and ordinary. So I took the same line art (luckily, I had scanned and saved a copy) and tried to jazz it up. I started by making the sky bright yellow, and from then on, the process was like being on roller skates--almost out of control. I lost my balance about a hundred times and only barely managed to keep it together. I'm not sure about the result, but the process was pretty darn exciting!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Poppies and Irises

I love to paint flowers, but my picture doesn't hold a candle to the real poppies and irises in this garden on King Street East. I saw them this morning when I was out for a walk. They were just stunning! I stood on the sidewalk to do the pencil sketch. Later I did the ink version and coloured it at home. I'd like to try this one in watercolour sometime. I think it would be easier to reproduce the colours with paint than with markers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Conference in Toronto

I went to a conference in Toronto last week and learned a lot of things that will be useful for my job. I also learned a lot of things that will be useful for my sketching--thanks to the fabulous view of City Hall from the window of my hotel room.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beat Beethoven Run

The orchestra plays a Beethoven symphony. Four or five hundred people start running. They try to cross the finish line of a 4 km or 8 km course before the music stops, 50 minutes later. Before long, the crowd is cheering and clapping, the orchestra is playing like mad, the runners are pouring across the finish line, and the City Hall clock is bong-bong-bonging eleven o'clock. Is that a great way to spend a Sunday morning, or what?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All-Day Staff Meeting

Today was our annual Staff Development day. An expert came to teach us about Excellent Customer Service. For five hours we learned how to appreciate other people ("I really appreciate the way you handled that situation") and how to honour and validate the experiences of others, and to draw them out and get them to express their feelings. The first hour was devoted to the importance of humour in the workplace. Funny hats were worn. One of our managers dressed up as a bunny. Jokes were told and phrases like "effective listening" and "mirroring" were used. I have to go lie down now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

About Face

At Peter's Place this morning, the man at the middle table sat facing the back of the restaurant. It posed a dilemma. The tables are small. If I sat facing him, we'd practically be eyeball to eyeball. But it would seem rude (and backward!) to turn my back on him. So I squiggled into the remaining seat and sat back-to-back with him. It was a tight squeeze, but at least I was facing the front of the restaurant--aka "the right way round." When he got up to pay his bill, I realized he was the mayor--a man who apparently isn't afraid to shake up the natural order of things and look at the world from a fresh point of view. Probably those are qualities that helped him to get elected!