Sketch-It

Plein-air pen and wash on paper


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546 From the Other Side

This house is huge, probably 3 stories plus an attic. It is located near the top of Prideau Street close to Nob Hill Park. I made a sketch of it last year when it was throwing shadows from a morning sun. This afternoon the other side was turned away from the light. I prefer to have a light and a dark side when sketching, so that the subject building has definition.

546 Prideau Street.


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Apartment Building on Newcastle Avenue

This morning the weather was perfect for a walk and some sketching.

I ended up on a bench along the waterfront with my back to the sun. Problem was that the shadow cast by my hand on the paper made it difficult to see my lines, as I was wearing sunglasses.

Apartment Building

Some editing indoors did not improve the overall appearance.

I will go back here some time in the future to make another sketch, as I like this building. It was designed by Gerry Ellins, a local Architect who is still around, for the owners of the Madill forestry company, which is no longer existing in Nanaimo.

Around the year 1998, I was hired by Mr. Chuck Madill to investigate and make recommendations for upgrades and repairs to mitigate water ingress problems. At that time, I was an employee of an engineering company, which is also no longer operating. However, this building is still a prominent and attractive looking landmark close to downtown overlooking Newcastle Island and the channel.


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Common Foundry.

This is a very nice little store where they sell fountain pens and carbon inks to go with it. In the window of this store it says “Stationery well curated“. The building is part of a cluster of small retail buildings, attractively renovated in heritage style.

Across the street from it is a mini park with a bench under a tree that I used occasionally to sit down and sketch. There are two views from that spot; one looking at some buildings and trees on the hill across the highway, and the other one looking at the Common Foundry store.

The Common Foundry. Sketch in 8×10” sketchbook.

Over the years, I probably sketched this a dozen times or so. Today, when I was almost finished, we got a cloudburst. I had to run for cover and stand pat for 20 minutes.

In the afternoon the showers kept coming and going. The studio seemed to be the ideal place to shelter and make a painting from my collection of photographs.

Nanaimo Commercial Street, on hot pressed watercolour paper, 8.5×11”.

I may do this again tomorrow as it is stimulating to work on real water colour paper of 100% cotton fibre while having my favourite CBC radio station playing music in the background.


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Recent Sketches around Nanaimo.

Lately, the weather seemed reluctant to improve as it persists in presenting rain and cold winds. However on exceptional days I venture out to find a spot to sketch. I have two sketchbooks that I use these days. A 6×9 inch and an 8x11inch, both have about 60 lbs cheap cartridge paper or pulp. It wrinkles a bit when applying a light wash. Real water colour paper is much nicer to work on but it is expensive, which I find inhibiting.

Another sketch of the shacks at Pipers Lagoon.
Fitzwilliam Street at Wallace in the Old City Quarter. New York pizza, which is one of our favourites, is located on the corner and an office building is visible as a backdrop.
A Monday morning sketch, one of three, made during the “Plein Air Nanaimo” group outing of this morning, in the vicinity of the yacht-club, with Protection Island in the background.
Second one of today’s sketches. This is a shack with a security gate to allow members access to the ramp going to the docks.
Another half-hour scribble of some old building close to the yacht-club with a cutoff view of the Regency Condo on the left. I settled down in my little sketching stool and got to enjoy the company of half a dozen Canada Geese, that were trampling around me. They will continuously produce a buzzing sound, perhaps to express their dismay of me interfering with their activities.
View from City Hall. Mixture of old and new buildings in downtown Nanaimo.
White Sails, a popular neighbourhood bar. Restaurants and bars are open again, with some restrictions, and customers are flooding the places.
One of two foot ferries connecting Nanaimo with Newcastle Island, a provincial park.
Ramp to load railway cars onto a barge. I find this a fascinating structure. It probably dates back to the 1920’s or so. Steel elements are connected using rivets rather than bolts.
Millstone River Falls in Bowen Park, close to downtown. In winter time the water level is very high and the falls reach all the way across.
Moorcroft Regional Park in Nanoose. Too much white in this picture, however, it is not snow. Sometime, I may apply a greenish grey wash over it, and then again, maybe not.
Some old houses on Albert Street. I like the bench across the street as it is comfortable to sit on and to draw. One has to put up with second hand smoke from someone enjoying a cigarette with weed, also known as cannabis, marijuana or pot. It is no longer an exception, but rather common these days. We quit smoking more than 40 years ago, but I still like the smell of it, particularly a good Dutch cigar.
View of the shore and the waterfront walkway along Newcastle Avenue.
Some old houses on Newcastle avenue next to the Funeral Home.


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Quick Sketch

Someone put a comfortable bench in front of the old Railway Station with a view on a row of heritage houses across the street.

Houses on Selby Street.

The best part was that the people from the coffee house offered me a coffee while I was drawing. I will have to cut a mat-board and give them my sketch in return, the next time I am out that way.


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Studio Time

Recently, I spend some time in the studio to get back in the “groove”.

Shack Island.

Instead of going out for dinner once a week, we now go for a hike in a local park, take many photographs, and then have a late lunch on a patio of a bar. There are a lot of choices around town, as inside dining is temporarily closed in this province.

On a nice day, the cloud scapes are impressive. There is no pen and ink involved and it becomes a challenge for me to paint these scenes.

Pipers Lagoon at low tide.

When the skies became frustrating, I returned to an old standby; the blue house at the top of Albert Street. using a photograph.

Blue House.


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Cards from Denise

In the beginning of 2021 Denise MacNeill past away after a half year suffering from cancer. She was a great artist and caring person who was a member of Art 10, a co-op of about two dozen artists in Nanaimo. (www.art10gallery.ca). I am a member of this group.

She was known for her oil and acrylic paintings of coastal landscapes favouring the arbutus tree in magnificent colours and settings. We have an arbutus tree painting from the days that she shared a gallery with her dad in the Old City Quarters.

She also expressed her unbounded creativity by experimenting abstracts in various media. What struck me were the small greeting cards, about 3”x3” with interesting compositions that she made in series, packed in a little box.

When I visited her in the fall of 2020, she gave me a bag full of cards that she did not need anymore on the premise to put them to good use. I have been playing with these things for some time now, when I have a shift attending to the gallery averaging about two days per month.

Most of my cards are made using google earth with urban scenes of old towns and cities in Europe. Some from Nanaimo. Lately I have been using photographs of flower arrangements.


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One Hour in Twenty Minutes

Regretfully, I have been neglecting my website lately. Many excuses come to mind, but I don’t want to become too boring. So yesterday I had to go to my daughter’s place with the car to deliver and pick up christmassy stuff. Glad to be out after sitting at home for most days to reduce the risk of picking up this dreaded, mysterious covid thing.

On the way back I decided to find a building to sketch. I found an empty parking lot across the street from this building, the office of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. It is only about ten years old but looks a bit like a stately residence from the 1920’s or so. What attracted me are the variety if roof shapes and set-backs of the walls of this structure.

Fountain pen with carbon ink sketch in 8”x11” sketchbook with 60 lbs paper that wrinkles when applying a wash.

I had one hour time to do this, but took only 20 minutes. I had to hurry, because it was raining, so that the windshield wipers were turned on requiring to keep the engine idling, which I consider a ‘No No’.