Plein-air pen and wash on paper

Leave a comment


During the Spring break for schoolkids the Nanaimo Museum is sometimes flooded with enthusiastic visitors to participate in self-guided programs and activities. This requires some assistance from volunteers to monitor the excitement.

Today I tried to keep myself busy during the quiet periods with some sketching, sitting in a corner of the gallery with a vantage point that allows me to see what is going on and to use as a subject to draw with my fountain pen.

The feature show in the gallery is called “Nanaimo Mysteries”. It is a fascinating collection of short stories about Nanaimo’s notorious past, designed and assembled by a talented team of museum personnel. The following introduction is posted at the entrance to this exhibit:


My sketch for today turned out thus; no mysteries here:


Leave a comment

Morden Mine.

Saturday was my turn to host the Art10 show at a downtown gallery on Wharf Street together with Patricia M. This exhibition will be there during the month of March showing paintings and 3-Dimensional work from the Art10 membership.

I made four pictures of the Morden Mine head frame and tipple for this event, that are located in a small provincial park on the south side of Nanaimo. I have been fascinated by these structures ever since I came to Nanaimo. The first one in this line-up of pen sketches with watercolours shows the woodframing as it existed prior to 2006 before these guide-beams collapsed and came to rest on a concrete floor that covers a very deep vertical shaft.

It is the only significant mining structure still existing on public property; a physical reminder of the thriving coal mining industry and a memorial to the first immigrants that started this community about 150 years ago enduring many hardships to survive in small settlements centred around coal mines; now amalgamated and referred to as Nanaimo.

Recently, I learned from reliable sources that the Friends of the Morden Mine Society ( was successful in persuading the BC Government in starting much needed rehabilitation work on this 100+ years concrete structure this spring, hopefully in time before it collapses in its entirety.


Ucluelet and Tofino

We stayed for a few days in Ucluelet and Tofino to hike along the beaches such as Longbeach and the Wild Pacific trail thus working up an appetite. Many restaurants were closed, but the one that was open for business in Ucluelet(Heartwood Kitchen) served up excellent dinners. We had no rain this time, instead, nice cold (-2 degrees Celsius) and sunshine weather. I have not done this for a while, but did take the time for some quick sketches from the front seat of the car.

This is a yellow house in Ucluelet close to the Aquarium.

Some typical retail, residential buildings in Tofino. Not my favourites but could not find an empty parking spot with a view on more interesting architecture. It seems to be a very busy town even in February.

Leave a comment

October Sunshine

The last few days were perfect for bike rides and pausing in a warm sunny spot to make a sketch. This picture is a view of the lagoon in Swyalana Park near the downtown core, showing Cameron Island and its reflections.

Next is a view of the city core as seen from Machleary Street, where the Malaspina Lodge used to be since 1925 or so untill it was demolished about a year ago. I made use of one of two lawn chairs that were left at the site to sit down and make this sketch.

The sketchbook (6″×9″) that I carried in my backpack was too small to record all the big and small buildings and trees that were spread out in front of me at the bottom of the hill. I have to return with better equipment hoping that the chairs will still be there and before the empty site is filled up with another apartment building.


Last Sunshine Days

We enjoyed exceptionally nice weather this week to go outside and make some sketches before the upcoming rain season directs us indoors.

This is a 9″x16″ drawing of the Howard Johnson. Rumour has it that it will cease operations before too long. It is obvious from the architecture has it has been here for 50 years or so.

These two quick sketches were made along the waterfront on 6″x 9″ sketch block to try out my new sailor fude pen.

1 Comment

Made in Canada

When searching the internet for Canadian made watercolour paper one gets many products from other countries and a lot of them coming through vendors from the USA. However, one paper maker from Montreal pops up, called Saint Armand.

I had to try this out and purchased their panoramic sized pad with 30 sheets of 150 lb. water-colour paper in a 9″ x 20″ size. It has a soft cottony surface, more absorbent than the common brands of paper but still produces crispy ink lines.

When in Steveston with some time to kill, I tried out my new paper and made this pen and ink drawing that I rendered two days later at home with some colours. It will take some more tries to get comfortable applying water colours on this Canadian product.