Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sketchcrawl - Old Train Interior

Our September Sketchcrawl actually happened a week early so that we could visit the Alberta Railway Museum before it closed down for the fall. It was a lovely day for it and the train cars were very interesting, but my trip was plagued by disaster.  I had wandered around some of the cars and settled down to sketching this antique smoking car when I realized that my water bottle had come undone and was leaking into my bag.  Unfortunately my bag is water resistant and my camera was swimming in a small pool of water contained by the bag.  I had to take immediate action.

I removed the camera and my soggy wallet and dumped the rest of the water outside.  Then I had to slog back to my car, damp things in hand.  I left my drawing stool and water bottle behind.  I spread out all the wet things in my trunk to dry out, switched all the non-wet things to my backpack, and then went to the washroom to collect some paper towels so I could clean up the spill.

Then I lost the train I had been drawing in.  I spent half an hour wandering in and out of all the cars trying to find my folding stool.  There are four different sets of cars and I had not taken any special pains to remember which one I had exited because I assumed I would find my things when I got back.

So... the last train in the row of trains is longer than all the others and it runs behind a little warehouse.  The end of it is some ways down the road.  In my preoccupation I hadn't noted that I was passing the warehouse, so I was searching all the short trains, convinced that someone had taken my things.

Eventually I decided to backtrack more systematically and I discovered my mistake.  Everything was exactly where I had left it, except the puddle of water which people had tracked all over the room.  Sigh.

After that I didn't have a lot of time to sketch and my inks were shaky anyway.  I gave up a bit early and after our group dispersed I went back on the rural roads, parked by a little church and had a calm couple of hours painting beside a duck pond.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Today I finished this painting I started last week, out in a field not far south of my house.

I ended up on this three-foot-tall dirt hummock in the middle of an enormous weed patch.  I liked the way that the weeds rose up around me and framed the field.  Sadly I muffed up the composition.  If I had the chance to re-do this, I'd use a bigger board so I could include the plants on the left, and I'd pull the sunflower above the horizon.  Next time I'll take more reference photos and do some composition sketches to start with.

Acrylic on hardboard, 9x12".

Friday, August 23, 2013


I'm still enjoying these odd little sketches.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blackfoot Beaver

I thought it was a bit shameful that I didn't make it out to paint very often this year, what with the cycling and all, so I decided to remedy that by going out to Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Park.  It didn't look like it was going to be an auspicious trip.  I started late, and I got a bit lost on the way, second-guessing myself and then third-guessing and then getting stuck waiting for a train.  I finally made it there only to discover that I was at the wrong entrance, but it was too late to remedy that.  While walking I realized that it was very hot and humid and I didn't feel very good at all.

I started out along one of the trails looking for a lake, and then wasted time trying to find a viewpoint from which I could actually SEE any lake.  The water level was so high that it was puddling around the bottom of the heavy brush surrounding the lake and I couldn't work my way around to any area that was dry enough to sit on that didn't have trees or bushes in the way.

I eventually gave up, went down the other trail and after a bit of exploring I discovered this shallow bit of water, surrounded by reeds and thorn bushes.  There was an old wooden platform to sit on but I found a dry spot right on the edge of the water.

After I had set up and spend some time painting there, I heard a splash.  I was hoping for waterfowl but instead I got this beaver.  It swam out a few meters away from me and then spent quite a long time chewing on the stick, stripping it of bark.  It left, but came back some minutes later, dragged the stick away, then came back and dug another stick out of the muddy lake bottom.  My whole time painting was punctuated by periods of industrious beaver chewing.

It is interesting how similar beavers look to capybaras when they are in the water.

Anyway, I got everything laid in while I was there, and then finished it up over a couple days at home.  I got some really nice close-ups of the beaver with my camera.  I really like how the logs on the left turned out and the backlit grasses.  The bottom of the painting is not so successful, I may end up cropping an inch off it.

But anyway -- the first decent painting of 2013!  I believe this is my 77th painting.  Hopefully I can get closer to 100 by the end of the year.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Sketchcrawl - Mango Peelers

The last sketch from the Heritage Festival.  I believe this was behind the Guatemala Pavilion, which always has Mangos Locos -- mangos on a stick rolled in chili and lime.  This is one of the more popular items at the festival, and they have piles and piles and piles of mango boxes in the back and obviously a dedicated (if small) cadre of mango preppers.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sketchcrawl - Dancer

I managed to catch one of the girls in ethnic dancing gear still for long enough for me to sketch her.  These were all done from life, no photos.  I believe this was one of the Croatian dancers.  They wore jingling coin vests for one of the dances.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Sketchcrawl - Heritage Festival

The August Sketchcrawl was held on the first day of the Edmonton Heritage Festival.  I always do a bit of sketching there but this time I had a couple hours to wander around and sketch random people.  Here are a couple stilt-walkers and a lady wearing a bright butterfly caftan, tidying up the dresses in one of the African tents.

The best thing about the stilt-walkers was that the stilts all had baby shoes on the bottom.  I saw them again the next day and they were wearing completely different costumes.