Plein-air pen and wash on paper

Leave a comment

Goats on the Roof.

A popular destination in the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area for tourists and local visitors is ‘’Goats on the Roof.’’ in Coombs.

It started out years ago with a few quasi agricultural type buildings under a ‘’green roof’’, occupied by goats. Over the years it developed into a rural shopping centre or market with imported merchandize from China, Mexico, and who knows where else. Needless to say that it includes an ice cream bar, donuts shop, coffee shop, bakery and other goodies.

What attracted us today was the Italien restaurant, the Cuckoo. The menu and service is excellent and comes highly recommended. However, the prices they charge for their alcoholic beverages is outrages.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed the visit and the dinner and I managed to make a sketch of their fruit and vegetable sales shack while sitting in the autumn sun and enjoying a coffee with oatmeal raisin cookies; my favourite past-time.

Produce vending shack of the Goats on the roof compound, in Coombs, BC. The Italien Restaurant building in the background.

The goats were outside today, on top of the roof of the main building. Even though the tourist season is pretty well finished, it was very busy today; hardly any parking spots left.

During our visit to nearby Qualicum Beach, I made a sketch of this grocery store, a complicated building, while Gerda did some site seeing and shopping.

One corner of the Qualicum Foods grocery store.

Years ago I did provide structural engineering services for the architect of this building. He designed many prominent buildings in the Qualicum Beach and Parksville area. The man was very creative, like a sculpter, but his work involved complicated structures.


Departure Bay

This morning I had to run some errands, requiring the use of the car.

I used the opportunity to stop at Departure Bay to make two sketches. The first one was hurried as it looked like it was going to rain. Only two colours were used, sap green and dioxazine violet.

Houses along the beach at Departure Bay.

After a while I took a short break and the sun started to peak through the clouds, now and then, providing shade and colour to the scenery, which I find inspiring. Again sitting on a log on the beach, I sketched the houses cascading down the hillside, an area of town referred to as as Sherwood Forest with Sugarloaf Mountain at the top.

Sherwood Forest neighbourhood.

Both sketches were made in my new 7”x10” spiral bound sketchbook with the trade name Fabriano 1264. I really like this paper as the pen glides nicely across the surface and the paper (pulp) is sized to receive water colours very well. It is cheap, so nobody has to feel inhibited to try new things or to take some chances here and there.

Leave a comment

Comox Valley

Yesterday we had to go to Courtenay for a reception. We decided to make it a day trip and do some site seeing and sketching.

First we settled down in Comox in a large park adjacent to the downtown area and the harbour, aptly referred to as Marina Park. It was very hot, close to 30 degrees, but we found a shady spot and there is usually a cold breeze coming of the ocean.

The park was seemed to be very popular and busy as it featured shelters, a playground with a water park and a large parking lot with free parking. I made a sketch of this elaborate wooden structure. It seemed to me like a modern park shelter with an alluring design. The palm tree as a landscaping feature was bothersome; it blocked my view and these things belong on Islands like Hawaii, not here.

After lunch we sought refuse in the air conditioned library in Courtenay before we ventured out again. This time I found a spot in a park in Courtenay along the river, Simms Millennium Park, where another elaborate wooden structure is located.

Corner of a band stand in Simms Park.

This one seemed quite a few years older to me than the one from this morning, perhaps a centennial project. It has a really complicated design with beams, columns and struts in all directions, sitting on top of large concrete pedestals above a concrete platform. Maybe placement above the flood level of the Courtenay River was part of the design criteria. Not very elegant but probably a proud or boastful project for members of the carpenters union at the time it was built.

I had my hands full just trying to sketch this one corner during the time available to me.

My new 8”x8” sketch block, 1264 Fabriano product, was used for both sketches. I am very pleased with the quality of this paper.

Leave a comment

My Playground

This morning I got a coffee from Ronald MacD and sat down on a bench in a quiet playground nearby to make a sketch in my new sketch book.

I decided to try my hand on this complicated playground structure. Soon after the place became flooded little monkeys, sometimes referred to as kids, that were climbing all over this thing. Probably a daycare operation taking out their customers to let them unwind from an abundance of energy. It did not bother me as they ignored me.

I tried out my new 8”x 8” watercolour block from Fabriano. It is made from 100% pulp in sheets (30 pieces) of 120 lbs paperweight, properly sized to accept watercolour paints. For the low price I paid for this, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this product. It is referred to as Fabriano 1264.

playground structure.

Leave a comment

Farmers Market

Every Saturday morning during the summer there is a farmer’s market on Pioneer plaza in downtown Nanaimo.

It is a pleasant event with live music provided by our local keyboard player, Marti, who plays a variety of melodies and rhythms that get your feet tapping along.

I bought a coffee and some oatmeal raison cookies, settled down in a corner and did some sketching of the happenings in front of me.

Farmer’s Market

Leave a comment

Duncan B.C.

Yesterday we visited Duncan just to have something different to do and to look at.

It has a pleasant downtown area and an open air museum called Forestry Discovery Centre. Years ago we took our grandsons over there quite often as it is a great place for kids of all ages. Unfortunately, teenagers are not likely to go on day-trips with grandparents anymore.

This is all about forestry, history and present day harvesting of timber. It has very interesting interior displays and a few hectares of forestry with walking trails to look at equipment used over a hundred years ago as well as more recent, say 50 years or so. A train ride around the site is included in the admission fee. This and a large playground with picnic areas makes it attractive for kids of all ages.

After lunch we went to the downtown area where I found a spot to settle down and make a sketch of the city hall before driving back home.

Duncan City Hall in 8” x 10” sketchbook

Leave a comment

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.

1 Comment

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.

Leave a comment


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.