Plein-air pen and wash on paper

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Sunday’s Inventions

More rain to keep me indoors and add another picture of Newcastle Avenue with colours.

Newcastle Avenue Looking North.

I had to cut out some trees and move some other ones to expose the houses and apartments. Some of the colour choices  also received preferential treatment.

Last night we attended a spectacular  concert by the Vancouver Island Symphony (V.I.S), which got me in the mood to take some liberties with the subject in this little painting. That evening’s program was titled “Epic Inventions”. The music played after the intermission was composed by Pierre Simard, the conductor of this orchestra. It was a fascinating performance of contemporary music with a full orchestra and choir, a performance that left the audience breathless.

This was the last performance of this season. The program for the new series starting in the fall looks very promising again; enough for us to get season tickets.

The V.I.S. is a professional symphony orchestra that calls the Port Theatre in Nanaimo their home. The classical music performances are very entertaining and are highly recommended; check out their website at


New Castle Avenue in Colour

Today I made several tries at painting using yesterday’s pen sketch as a starting point since the weather is keeping me inside.

If a painting is not to my liking, I turn the paper over and use the other side; happens a lot. If both sides don’t work, the paper gets chucked. Sometimes Gerda wants to keep it to cut out small sections. Anyways this is another one that is painted on the back of another picture.

Newcastle Avenue Looking South.

Not perfectly happy with it, but had fun painting while listening to the opera on CBC radio, in a dry and warm place.



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Newcastle Avenue

A 50 feet high, steep slope separates Newcastle Avenue from the seawall below. This walkway/bicycle trail combination along the waterfront is very popular all year round.

I made two quick sketches there yesterday as we had a break in the weather, one on my way out of downtown in the morning, and the other on my way back in the late afternoon. It shows more or less the same buildings viewed from opposite directions.

When I got home and looked at it again, the large white areas  in the first sketch still project ‘snow’ in my mind although we left the prairies many years ago, white snow seems to leave a permanent imprint on your brain. It is actually spring green along the bottom with a blue sky along the top .

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More of the Same

A repeat of the steel frame on Church Street using a 140# hot pressed watercolor paper from Opus that I got at a reasonable price. First I suspected that it was a student grade, however it turned out to be a genuine cotton rag surface that accepts the paint nicely.

Some changes were made compared to yesterday’s version. It is now displayed in the window of “Artzi Stuff” located next door to this construction project.

Framed on Church Street

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The erection of this steel frame for a new building on Church Street was just completed when I took the initial photograph about a week ago.

There used to be a bookstore at that location specializing in maps and nautical charts.  It was an interesting place to browse a variety of books on different subjects, and over the years I bought several books there. Unfortunately, it followed the same route as several other bookstores in the downtown area, in  whatever it was that made them decide to depart.

This picture is based on a photograph I made in the morning with the sun illuminating the construction site from the back.

My daughter works for the steel detailing company that detailed the steel beams and columns for this project. In this activity the dimensions of each part are calculated and depicted on a drawing showing all the information necessary to fabricate that item in a structural steel fabrication shop.

The footprint of this steel framed assembly appears to be trapezoidal rather than rectangular. This anomaly probably added significantly to the complexity in detailing each of the pre-manufactured steel components that need to fit perfectly when they are assembled at the construction site. It looks to me like it came together flawlessly.

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Chase River Estuary

This estuary  park is located at the south end of Halliburton Street. It is a natural setting with a boardwalk leading visitors to an observation platform. The Chase River traverses this little nature reserve before it discharges into the ocean. It is more of a creek than a river in the summer.

It is one of my favourite stops along the southern bike route. Today I decided to make a sketch from this spot using only a brush; no pen or even a pencil. However I did make a little value sketch to be used as a ‘blueprint’. This park looks fairly grey  in wintry colors as only a few bushes and the grass have already turned green; a yellowish spring green. Some of the colors in my sketch are just a result of wishful thinking.

It is not a subject that I typically choose  when plein air sketching. In this type of scenery there are no man-made or rigid elements to ‘hang your hat on’; not even a shed, a wall, a fence or some rock formations that could be helpful.

Nevertheless, time was flying and I had fun doing this without any visitors during the time that I was sitting there. This scene or location calls for a repeat sketch as it could change dramatically when most of the trees will have their leaves, probably in a couple of weeks.



We visited Vancouver for two days and got rained out over there instead of at home in Nanaimo. It is nevertheless an interesting change of scenery with a skyline of tall buildings that seem to be popping up everywhere like mushrooms with interesting shapes and detailing. It is also a town with too many people who appear to be in a rush all the time, particularly when driving a car. Parking your vehicle is somewhat of a challenge or a huge expense or both.


I tried to make a sketch on Granville Island, but could not focus; too cold. Instead I checked out a variety of baking products at the market.

The second day I parked the car in Kitsilano’s residential area and sketched this back lane scene along Arbutus Street  and Whyte Avenue, using the front seat of the car as a studio.