Plein-air pen and wash on paper

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Late Afternoon

Yesterday afternoon, the conditions were perfect to sit and draw. There was a cool wind blowing of the ocean and no loud buskers in the park.

Subjects to paint remained the same as always, so I sketched the bandstand again.

Band Stand in Maffeo Sutton Park.

I noticed now that the values of the shadows are not compatible, which makes the building appear to float above the grass. A bit like a space ship or UFO.

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Island Trip

Yesterday, Gerda and I went to Courtenay/Comox, about 120 km north of Nanaimo. We visited the downtown areas as tourists.

I managed to get some sketch time in both towns from a spot in the shade with a cool ocean breeze.

Filberg Heritage House located in a community park along the waterfront in Comox.
Buildings on Sixth Street in Courtenay, close the England Street intersection.

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The last few days have been extremely hot here on the Island.

I seem to find myself returning to the same spot in Maffeo Sutton Park, under a tree and about 20 feet away from the water in the hope to get some cool breezes.

Today was the first time that a very moderate breeze blew in of the ocean. What a relief.

Houses on Newcastle Avenue. This image as seen from the park. The embankment was omitted.

This image with some of the same buildings was posted on this blog on June 17 with the embankment shown.

Close-up of house on Newcastle Avenue. This image from across the street at the top of the embankment. My little folding chair was set up in the shade of a huge Maple tree.
Colliery Dam Park, on Monday morning with the plein air Nanaimo group outing. It was too hot to focus; instead I watched people swimming or just sitting around. To get convincing darks with watercolour is always a challenge for me. It is either to faint (not dark enough, or non convincing) or too muddy. So, this time I got my pen out and scribbled with the black ink between trees, to pass the time.

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Morden Mine

Every year the Nanaimo Museum has an exhibition of paintings and photographs showing local work that relates to the history of Nanaimo and vicinity. This year the theme is monochromatic imagery; not necessarily in black but any colour can be used. I like these kinds of events and look at them as a project.

I did go out to take photos of the renovated structure back in April, but inadvertently displaced them, thus the decision was made to use older photographs. I still want to go out again for a day this summer to make new photo records and to sketch the new and renovated look of the old coal mine.

The particular photograph used for this picture was taken before the wooden guide structure inside the concrete head frame collapsed during the winter of 2005. I chose it because of the interesting complexity created by the light allowing you to adventure into abstractions of some areas within the structure.

Morden Colliery head frame and tipple. The blue spot at the top was unintentionally created by the digital photography process.

This concrete coal mining structure originates from 1914 and was recently restored.

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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.


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.