Tuesday, December 9, 2008

En Plein Air, or just plain comfy?

I love the view from our loft.  Actually, the view from just about anywhere up here is lovely given the right light and time of day.  I think I've painted this particular building in the foreground about 8 times now!   I went over to the Gunbarrel after I did these two, and sketched inside while I nursed a bowl of soup.

This sketchbook is just about finished.  I just have to paint the back page, and it's done!  I get such a kick out of making these little books.  Can't wait for our Mayan Riviera trip in January; two weeks of painting blue-green water, palapa roofs and palm trees instead of snow, pine trees and timber frame buildings.  I said a change (a change), will do you good.

Monday, December 8, 2008

On the Greyhound

Here's the sketchbook page that I used to do the lino cut.  The bus trip reminded me of bus trips past; taking a Greyhound at 20 when I moved to Las Vegas with my brother's girlfriend Kathy, and home again a few months later.   I took another one to Brandon, Manitoba a year later when I went there for University.  Both trips were long but fascinating.  Not so sure I'd use it to cross a country anymore, but I do love that sense of adventure.  

Where'd My Van Go?

Where'd My Van Go?
Originally uploaded by sketchalina
I started this sketch while stopped at a road closure between Kelowna and Penticton. I got only as far as the line drawing of the rear view mirror when the road reopened and I had to move on. I figured I'd finish it the next time I was caught, or even pull over somewhere where there was a great view forward and in the mirror and catch it then. I got to Penticton and left the van behind our building while we drove the Jeep up the hill for the night. Of course that was the night the van was stolen. Now that the model (the van) was gone and never to be seen again, I thought I'd play with the page.

I'm reading a book right now called "The Van Gogh Assignment", about a writer who's given three weeks to write an article about Van Gogh for his magazine.  During his research he puts together some facts about Van Gogh that were at that point unknown, and unearths an overlooked drawing from the bottom of an old box of photos in someone's forgotten attic!  Great book.  It's by Kenneth Wilkie, written in 1978, and is still a great read for any Van Gogh fans. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Austin - and my first ski run in oh, eight years!

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
Did this portrait of Austin last night. I love his crazy curls (and everything else about him). Can't wait until he's home for Christmas. I did this off a photo I pulled from his facebook page.

It's finally snowing again, and we just got back from doing our first few ski runs of the year. My first run on skis, actually, in eight years! I've been snowboarding, but after my last bump on the head, which resulted in an ambulance ride and basically missing a Christmas thanks to a painkiller induced haze, I've decided it's time to go back to my roots. I spent my teen years and early 20's skiing, racing and instructing. I switched to boarding so Aus and I could learn together when he was 10. It feels good to be back. Turns out it IS just like riding a bike. I felt pretty solid on my feet. Yay!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12:15 Greyhound to Kelowna

I found myself on the bus to Kelowna today. My brother and I had swapped cars last week; my shiny new convertible for his old van. I headed to the parking lot on Friday, van keys in hand, when I discovered it wasn't there. Hmmm. Who steals a 1998 Transport Van?! Apparently someone. I've been stranded these past few days, and finally yesterday hopped on a Greyhound to go pick up my car. I did a sketch on the bus that later turned into my first lino cut. What an interesting process, thinking only "light, dark". I'll be doing more of these.

It made me think of the poem that Austin wrote for Grip Magazine when he was in high school. It's a poem born of the emotional scars he bares because his mother (me) made him ride the Greyhound back at Vancouver. When I was a kid, we had to WALK to Vancouver. Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. I'll find the poem and post it. It (like Austin) is very cool.

Ah, found it!

Bus Ride - by Austin Holm
The rough and tumble trundling
of the bus jolts me along an Okanagan road.
Outside, one farmer's field melts 
into another
into another
into another.
Like skin coloured M&Ms:
who's to say if it's melting
in my mouth or hands 
eyes or brain
or if it melted before I even saw it.

Roadside landscapes are fluid:
They just go round and round.

Hours on a bus can be like that.

The girl in front of me is beautiful,
and smiling and cold and still wearing the heavy perfume of last stop's cigarettes,
flavouring her with a kind of hidden mysticism.
She reminds me of a Japanese temple:
coins clinking into coffers
and prayer bells ringing to the olfactory backdrop of the monks cigar tainted breath
and slow burning sticks of oriental incense.

I am wondering
if she is coming or going.

I'm afraid I'll lose my ticket and just wander from stop to stop
the Austin on the Bus
going round and round, 
until they find me out
and kick me off
into an indistinct farmer's field.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mary Ellen and Rob are coming for dinner tonight, along with Ingrid and Dan.  We're making a big roast beef dinner.  I'm excited to give ME and R their wedding gift; this portrait of the girls.  I took some photos while we had the girls earlier this month, and did this on Friday evening.  It's the first portrait I've attempted in pastel.  They were fun to work with.  I didn't think I'd be able to get enough detail, but while unpacking all the boxes from the storage locker I found some pastel pencils I didn't remember I had.  I used them along with the fat chalk pastels.  I'm happy with it.  I stole one of the frames from a piece I did years ago that I don't really love and we popped it in there.  Done!

We raided the storage locker on Friday, unearthing all kinds of art supplies and paintings.  We took it all up the hill and went on a painting hanging frenzy.  The Apex condo looks like a Carol McQuaid Gallery!  They're mostly snow scenes, many from when I lived in Whistler.  Fitting for a ski condo.  It's getting homier and homier here.  Love it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Life Drawing Session at M Hermesh's studio

I went on line to find M. Hermesh's contact info because I'd heard many months ago that he does a life drawing session at his home studio. The session was great - lots of good banter - wonderful atmosphere. Michael showed us around his studio on the break. It was wild to see his sculptures in their 'developmental' stages. I love his work. Here's a sketch of his now famous 'Frank the Baggage Handler' I did out at Red Rooster Winery a while ago.

 When we were done we shared our work and a glass of wine. I'll definitely be back!  Here are a few more from the session

Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Guns of Snow!

When we were out sketching yesterday I was eyeing up these snow guns.  They're interesting, and they sure can crank out the white stuff when they need to.  Less than 2 weeks until the hill opens - I'm thinking we'll be seeing these hard at work over then few days.

When I wandered into the village and discovered that the store was open, it was like one of those scenes out of a post apocalyptic movie - wandering is silence for half the movie, then opening a door and finding humans.  These ones had fresh veggies and dairy products to sell.  Yay!

lady walking upside down

I just discovered Karen Jurick's blog www.differentstrokesfromdifferentfolks.blogspot.com/, where loads of people try out a weekly painting challenge then post to the blog. This challenge was to draw from a photo upside down, then post the result right side up. Not too happy with my first attempt, but it was fun. Her head may be too small for her body, but her right ankle is nice ;-). There's some great work on the blog, and Karen's writing and challenges are interesting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Minors

no minors b
Originally uploaded by sketchalina
I went to Life Drawing in Kelowna yesterday with CT, and she ended up coming back to Apex with me for the night. Greg's away, and it was really nice to have the company. There are still just a handful of people up here - pre season. We ate, drank wine and told each other stories all night. Today we went for a wander and found (of course) a great sketching spot. I sketched this; she sketched me in my giant parka sketching this. Wish I had her drawing to post here, but it wasn't finished. She's just headed back to K-town, and I here on hermit hill. There's still some unpacking to do, but I doubt that's going to make it onto my priority list for the evening.Here are our sketches from life drawing yesterday. There was an open house going on at the Rotary Centre, so our model was draped. These stripes posed and interesting challenge. They kind of worked as contour lines on her body. Fun.

My sketch is the one with the stripes.  The other is CT's.

Friday, November 7, 2008

timmy's window

timmy's a
Originally uploaded by sketchalina
Sat in the Bellevue Cafe in Penticton and sketched this today. It's interesting with this road between our two cities out of commission. So much of our day to day experience now revolves around where we are; where we aren't and what we need or want that's on the other side. End of the work week, and we got in the Jeep and drove down to Princeton, had dinner, then drove up the Coqu to Peachland and into Kelowna. Total trip time? Just over 4 hours. Not bad for a road trip, but as a commute between home and the office it's a bit excessive. We'll load up the Jeep with what we need for the next week and head back up the hill on Sunday. Somewhere in this back and forthing I need to clear enough stuff out of the Kelowna apartment for my parents to be able to move in comfortably. I'm so looking forward to having them closer (well, it'll be closer once the road re-opens). I miss them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What is this word 'next'??

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
My most recent work project came to a close this past week. It's like being let out of school at the end of the year! People keep asking me what I'm going to do next, but I think I'd like to avoid 'next' for a while, and just enjoy sketching, playing music, cooking, writing, and hanging out with the people I love. I'm packing up the Kelowna apartment and we're moving into the ski condo for the winter. We have season's passes all lined up. I bought five new hat and scarf sets in New York last week to keep my head warm, and I'm ready to hibernate. I say that now; I may be missing human interaction by sometime next week and make a run for the nearest city. My parents are moving into this lovely apartment we've been living in in Kelowna, so at least I have some place to run to.

One of the things I kept dreaming about while I was working was having time to sketch again. I finally made it out there yesterday; did this one and another of a building facade on Bernard Avenue. So many people stopped to talk - I really enjoy that part of sketching outside. Now I can't sleep, so I've spent the last several hours laying out my sketches into books on my Mac. I'm using iBooks. It's very cool. If you're on my list this year you may be getting one ;-)

This morning I'm flying down to Penticton. The road is still out between these two Okanagan cities due to a large crack in the earth thanks to this summer's construction. We can't drive it anymore, but we can get cheap flights on these cool little airlines (Southern Skies, Coastal Pacific) for about $55 each way. It's not that much more than the cost of gas in the SUV! I'm heading down there to shave the head of my dear and beautiful friend Mary Ellen. She's donating her long red hair to help make a wig for cancer patients. She's one of my heroes, for this reason and many more. We have radio coverage and someone is coming from the paper as well. Hopefully we'll inspire others to do the same. I'm off the list however, since my hair currently isn't long enough to make a wig for a Pixie!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life Drawing in Kelowna

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
I called my friend CT and asked her if she wanted to go to the life drawing session at the Kelowna Rotary Arts Centre. It was great - good model, good group. We really enjoyed it. All my sketch stuff was locked in a storage locker, so it was jump in with watercolour or nothing. It felt a little out of control, tough to get good dark shadows in a hurry, but good fun. This model had the most amazing hair; all kinky and twisty - interesting from any angle. I'll definitely make this group again. Not next weekend however, since we'll be in NEW YORK!! I'm so looking forward to it. Not sure how much sketching will get done since we're there so briefly and have so much we want to see and do. I think i'll call it an 'inspiration' adventure instead.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kelowna's Dolphins

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
Finally, after six months of being neck-deep on a work project, I escaped the office and got outside to sketch. Other than doodling on my notepad during conference calls, I haven't drawn a thing. I felt a little rusty at first, but that great brain shift feeling (the reason for sketching in the first place) was waiting there to welcome me back. My job will be winding up in a couple of weeks, and I'm so looking forward to just sketching and writing. Yay. Oh, and of course taking on coaching clients again.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Donny's house

Spent the bulk of the week in Vancouver at Donny's house. This kitchen is one of my favorite places in the world to hang out. Brother Greg flew down, I picked Austin up from university, and we all had a good family bonding session, making battered fish and chips with the cod and halibut Donny and the kids caught on their last trip. It was funny to look at Donny's three kids, all at that age where they think their siblings are a cross to bear, and know that 20, 30 years from now there will be no one they'd rather have dinner with.

I drove out to Richmond to pick Greg up after he landed. Why oh why are there no street signs in Richmond? It's like a concentrated planning effort to keep people lost when they go there. Add to that the sky train construction and what should have been a 20 minute drive turned into and endless circling, trying to hone in on a target. I found it funny that, after I waved to a car in the next lane to ask if I'd passed Westminster Highway (for the third time, seriously) the next car that drove past me waved my window down and asked me the exact same question! A request to the City of Richmond: signs, please. You'd reduce your traffic by at least 50% because people wouldn't have to do all these extra loops trying to figure out where they are.

That's all.
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Fibonacci's Roastery & Cafe

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
We spent the weekend in lovely Nelson BC, weaving our way through their hilly streets, looking at the beautiful, funky houses built into the slope, eating at fantastic restaurants (Red Fish and Max and Irma's Kitchen were two of our favourites).

Tonight is Italian Night with the girls. I just found out that because it's at my house I don't have to do a thing except open my door. Gotta like that! I thought I'd be spending the day cooking, but now I'll spend it working on some vintage watercolours of Kelowna instead. They're all sketched, just waiting for some colour washes. I'm doing them from old sepia museum photos, but I think I'll add a hint of colour.

I popped into Fibonacci's this morning, mostly for breakfast, but also because i've been wanting to paint this beautiful machine, and I knew sitting and sketchbooking would make me feel good. It did. They were playing a recording of Carrie Catherine's performance there last week, which we were at. She's a great songwriter, wonderful story teller, and has an easy, graceful bluesy style.

Being in Nelson this weekend, I got this idea that it'd been cool to do some more sketchbook trips, but make an accompanying video, sort of a travelogue type of thing. I feel a new adventure coming on!

Now on to those watercolour washes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

From Sketchbook to Canvas

What to do on a snowy day in the Okanagan? Paint the beach in Vallarta, of course. This is painted from a sketch in my sketchbook. It's looking back from the round about at the beach in front of Olas Altas. I so remember this day, perched on a ledge, absorbed in what I was doing. I ended up being inundated with kids from a big Mexican family. They had a million questions (and statements, as kids usually do!) about art and painting and colours and the like. Very fun.

I look out my windows here in the house and see our little forest all covered in snow. It's still falling, and it's piling up nicely on the tops of each branch. Round about now I start to go squirrelly for some heat and sun. Time to hide the passport and credit card on myself.

Last weekend (or was it the weekend before) I took a couple of large canvi up to Apex and did my first two big acrylics from the sketchbook. I like working this way; it keeps me from getting all factual, like I would working from a photo, and keeps the colours more sketchbook-y. Fun.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Apex Musings

gunbarrel at night
Originally uploaded by sketchalina
I wanted to try capturing the light and colours out our window at night. When I started this background was all one big sheet of fog. As soon as I'd sketched the buildings it lifted to reveal this complex but very interesting pattern of shadow and texture.

There was a time when I painted exclusively from photos. I thought people who painted from real life were crazy, that you'd never get a good end result because the light and atmosphere kept changing, things moved or went away. Now I find that's exactly what I love about working 'plein aire'. I look at some of the sketches I've done over the last year, and the reference photo's I've taken just as I'm about to leave the scene, in case I want to make adjustments later. The photos never really show the good stuff. Perspectives may not be perfect, and it's more challenging to judge what's going on with angles and colour relationships when they're not flattened into a convenient two dimensions for us, but there's more freedom to interpret, to respond to what's there. I love it! It's so much more about the experience of doing it than it is about the result.
I painted this curled up in a corner table by the window of Fresh Tracks Cafe and Bistro while Greg hung out with his friend James and daughter Ashley. I keep intending to paint something simple, like the snow on the roof here, and then get caught up in all the other details in the scene. Oh well, it's all fun. I nursed a single Chai Latte through this whole sketch and almost but never dipped my brush in it once! I must have been deeply absorbed in what I was doing, because Greg popped in twice while I was here and we didn't even see each other.

Weekends up here are so relaxing. It's a half hour from our house in town, but a world away. I'm no longer drawn to shredding up the hill (my last venture there ended in an ambulance ride and a Christmas spent immobilized and stoned on painkillers last year) and love to just kick back, watch movies, have hot tubs, walk the dog. We talk and plan, cook, eat, dream, all the good stuff. When we get back to town we feel like we've had a break. Greg actually pulled the 'For Sale' sign off the side of the condo this weekend.

Now we're back in town. I have a presentation and a speech to write and we've got a host of 'must do's' beckoning. As we drove home we realized that there's not one evening this week when at least one of us isn't obligated to be somewhere. On the highlight side, there's a reception I have to attend for an award I've been nominated for (best home based business of the year - business excellence awards) tomorrow night. The busier we get, the stronger my desire to take March off and go hang out in Mexico for a month gets. Ha! An email just popped into my inbox from my friend Marcela in Mexico as I was typing that sentence. Coincidence? I think not. I love that stuff.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Double Whammy

How’s this for timing. We finally stayed home for an evening and watched Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Wow. And then, as our heads were whirling with what we’d learned, we turned off the dvd player to see Greenland falling into the sea yet again on David Suzuki’s ‘Arctic Mission’ on the Knowledge Network. It was like the TV Gods were orchestrating themselves to send us a message.

And then, to top it all off, when the news came on one of the lead stories was the Indian auto innovation, the Nano, that will have a kabillion more people on the roads contributing to our emissions situation. I have to admit for about 13 seconds I thought the Nano was a great thing. “Replace all the SUV’s with the cool little affordable low emission things and we’ll save the planet”. Nope. It’s “keep the SUV’s and add all the people currently walking to the carbon stew”.

The thing that shocked me the most? That currently it’s primarily North America making this mess. I really thought that with their huge populations, India, China and a host of other countries were doing things we couldn’t possibly compensate for by changing our lifestyles. Wrong. We keep doing what we’re doing in spite of our knowledge, and now these massive populations are following us down the same road. And why wouldn’t they. What will it take to start creating change? My hat is off to Misters Suzuki and Gore. And shame on all the people in positions of power and influence who look straight at the facts and then look away and pretend they didn’t see it.

It’s all overwhelming. What to do? When I feel like this, I like to drive around in my big ol’ SUV and just think. I always think best when I’m driving.

Looks like I’m going to have to come up with an alternative.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Coffee Maker

Greg hoped, prayed and hinted, and sure enough a beautiful Saeco Coffee Maker appeared under the tree. He thinks it's for him, but every morning when I hear the beans grinding and know a perfect cup of Jo is about to be delivered to me in bed I secretly know differently. There's snow on the branches outside the dining room windows. I'm inside listening to latin music and dreaming about warmer climes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cool Shadows and Faux Fur

Originally uploaded by sketchalina
Stopped by the beach yesterday on my way to the grocery store for a quick sketch. It was gorgeous sunshine and shadows when I arrived, but by the time I started with colour it'd shifted to that chilly, clear but grey thing the Okanagan does so well in January. The far side of this view is one of our favorite running trails; flat and scenic, it takes us down through the campgrounds on the west side of the lake, and once we build up the endurance it'll take us right to OK Falls. In the summer there would be bodies all over this scene, and swimmers crawling across the background, but right now it could be on the moon it's so quiet.

Ingrid invited me to join her 'girls group' this year, and our first get together was last night. I didn't really know what to expect, but it was an absolute blast. They get together once a month, pick a country or a theme and everyone brings an appropriate dish. Last night it was Morocco. I made a chickpea soup that was a complete disaster. I chucked it at the last minute. Luckily I had some Ginger Squares in the freezer that we didn't devour at Christmas so I took those instead. Moroccans do Ginger, no? How untypically Martha of me to be able to pull something homemade out of the hat like that. Usually the only thing in m freezer is cheater frozen appies from M and M's. All the food at the party was amazing. We feasted, then did one of those goofy gift exchanges where you can steal the gifts that are already open. I drew the last number which means I came home with the best gift - a big faux fur throw for Greg and I to curl up under to watch TV. Lovely. It was nice to do something that had nothing to do with networking or business building.

On that note I must sign off and go get ready for the Penticton Women in Business Lunch today!

Monday, January 7, 2008

And a Fresh New Sketchbook!

Finally broke out the ol' sketching kit. Other than painting a million or so gift tags for Christmas I haven't really sketched since our trip to Kauai in June. I don't know why I stayed away so long, since there's nothing else that gives me the feeling I get from sitting and capturing whatever is in front of me. This was fun to do. I painted this from a bench at the edge of the skating loop up at Apex. I love the skating loop. It's a scenic (how could it be anything else up here) 1 km track through the trees that they keep beautifully groomed with the Zamboni (if you don't know what that word means, you're not Canadian). Greg and I spend most weekends up here, at least in the winter. Mary-Ellen and Rob are here this weekend, along with her two girls and a few other friends. They came up to snowshoe, tube and play. Rob is here at the loop with Miss Lily, skating around and checking on my progress with each loop. The paint is literally freezing both on my palette and on the paper. I finally have to carry it in the to condo, holding it flat, and lay it beside the fireplace to let the glazes dry on the paper. Ice painting-how weird!
Now I'm back home and alone in the house for the first time since December 18th. Austin headed back to University last night. Greg's at the office. The house is strangely quiet. Truman the cat has come out of hiding and I'm back typing on the computer with a burgeoning to-do list and a cup of java by my side. I guess the holidays are over.

A Fresh New Year

Mary-Ellen and I moments before our dash across the snow-covered beach and our first plunge of the year into Lake Okanagan. I have to say it certainly cleared the old head! It was the perfect wrap up to what has turned out to be my favorite Christmas yet. We had the entire family together for the first time since... well really the first time ever at it's current size. We number 24 now with Mom and Dad, the five of us siblings, partners and now 13 collective kids. We set up 'kid nation' downstairs; filled it up with mattresses and sleeping bags, PS3 and Guitar Hero and pretty much let them fend for themselves for about 10 days. We threw the odd pizza down there and got a little video footage back. Everyone survived. As for the rest of us, it was all food and guitars, oh and amazing coffees from Greg's new machine. We must have gone through 10 bags of coffee beans. We topped it all off with a great new years party - champaign corks flying, lots of dancing, Kareoke-ing, Marisol distributing tequila shots and the five of us siblings playing guitar and singing harmonies. The Von Trapps on Tequila. We went until 5 in the morning. Even Dad made it almost that long. Not bad for an 83 year old. He got the best Kareoke score of the evening (and they wonder where we all get it from) and I have to say Mom won the prize for looking the most beautiful and elegant. The Bushby's joined us, as did Mary-Ellen and Dr. Rob - who has been telling his friends about the 'incredibly functional family' he spent New Years with. Don't know that I'd have labelled us as such, but we'll take it.