Wednesday, June 26, 2013

El Mirador apartments

Sketching El Mirador apartments reveals the wonderful proportions of each of its parts as well as the ingenuous ways in which the facade is composed.

I've wanted to sketch the front elevation of this gem of a building in the downtown for a while now, but have been hampered by the fact that, across the street from El Mirador, I would need to stand in front of a full window in full view of a large architectural firm. This makes me nervous. That firm has now moved, and the window in question is vacant. Unfortunately, I had the wrong kind of ink in my fountain pen for the sketch I had imagined, so I'll have to do this again. However, I don't mind the resultant effects.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Let the little children..."

'Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” '  Matthew 19:13,14 (NIV)

A series of sketches from last week-- the kids sleeping.
I am sure they did not appreciate me turning the bedroom lamp back on after falling asleep.

The week can become pretty stressful with our hectic schedules and weekly demands, and as parents we are often dragged down to our kids' levels as we test each others' patience, usually losing the battle.
Seeing them asleep at the end of the day is a healing moment, allowing us to forget all the day's frustrations, giving us opportunity to reflect, seek forgiveness, receive Grace and strength... unbeknownst to them, our kids minister to us in profound ways, and I am grateful.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Polar Blue

It's another cold rainy day, so it's back to the glass exit stair at MacEwan University. I filled up my pen with some new Noodler's Polar Blue ink this morning, and am appreciating the change in character produced just by changing ink.

May holiday sketches: Linden, Alberta

At Country Cousins Restaurant in the little village of Linden, Alberta -- a place I visited on my very first trip to Alberta over a decade ago -- on the way back from Drumheller to Edmonton. The perogies and pies are worth the stop.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

construction at the Federal Building and the Alberta Legislature

 Construction at the new entry pavilion of the Federal Building is at its peak, with the steel structure complete and cladding being installed, while the restoration of the Legislature continues. It's been a long while since anyone last saw the dome of "the Ledge" as it is meant to be seen, but I actually don't mind the way it is shrouded -- like a Christo installation -- buildings often look the most exciting while under construction/renovation, because it's such an event.

Monday, June 17, 2013

May holiday sketches: Drumheller

Our last place to stay during our May excursion in mid/southern Alberta was Drumheller, a place I had first visited during my very first trip to this province about 12 years ago. Drumheller is perhaps most famous for the Royal Tyrrell Museum -- the cornerstone institution for showcasing and researching the region's rich paleontological resources. The town has successfully themed itself as "the dinosaur capital of the world".

However, to me the interest lies in its relatively recent history as a booming coal mining town along with the many communities that surrounded it. During its heyday in the mid 20th century, this portion of the Red River valley attracted thousands of young men from across Canada (and even Europe) to work the dangerous mines for some quick money -- not unlike Fort McMurray today -- until oil was discovered in Leduc just south of Edmonton, and natural gas quickly became the fuel of choice. After the first coal mine opened in 1911, there were 139 mines operating at its peak, but just as quickly as the boom began, the bust occured with equal force resulting in the last site (the Atlas Coal mine) closing in 1979. Visiting the many (ghost) towns and artifacts of the area reminds us of this boom and bust nature of the Canadian west, the strength of ambition, and the precariousness of how we live, as manifested in these settlements.
the view from our hotel... the badlands landscape across the Red Deer River

at the Royal Tyrrell Musem of Paleontology
by the Royal Tyrrell Museum
the quirky "Old Grouch's" diner in town

a long abandoned bridge used by the mining cars, and the Red Deer River
Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site

Saturday, June 15, 2013

May holiday sketches: Dinosaur Provincial Park

Our third UNESCO Heritage site on our holiday excursion in May was Dinosaur Provincial Park. It seems to be much less known than the area around Drumheller, the other badlands destination in central Alberta. Dinosaur Provincial Park seems more stark, expansive, but fine-textured, and almost surreal, as if out of a science fiction novel.

Unlike the soaring Rockies which were formed primarily by immense tectonic forces that pushed rock up into the skies, the badlands are a result of erosion, with an emphasis downwards into the earth. It is therefore a completely different experience, but both seem to rely on the flatness of the prairies for their dramatic impression.

Unfortunately, we only had half a day here (leaving only one sketch).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jasper Avenue westwards and St Joseph's Basilica

A view westwards along Jasper Avenue, away from the downtown... St. Joseph's Basilica sits prominently along this commercial strip; while I have never been inside, its popular fame outside the city perhaps rests on it being the place where Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones were married decades ago.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

before the storm

Another cold rainy day, which saw its climax in the afternoon with a thunderous hail storm complete with a tornado warning, meant drawing from indoors again. This view was an hour or two before the warning started to take effect.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

summer (?) in Edmonton

Unlike the last time I sketched the 104 Avenue corridor, today's view is much greener... this year's spring seemed non-existent, with a long winter and a sudden summer... although it felt like a return to early spring today with a dreary 8 degrees Celsius at the time of this lunchtime sketch.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

motorcycle triptych...

The past week's motorcycle sketches, arranged as a triptych.

Friday, June 7, 2013

May holiday sketches: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump


The second UNESCO World Heritage site we visited was on the way from Waterton Lakes  back to Lethbridge -- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. (ヘッド-スマッシュト-イン・バッファロー・ジャンプ). It's a beautiful site, with an extraordinary expansive view across the plains from up on the cliff. The landscape becomes especially poignant with the knowledge of its cultural and historic significance as one of many places in the region where the Blackfoot drove herds of bison down the cliff as a method of hunting-- a practice that continued for about 6000 years until the 19th century.

The interpretive centre at the site, built in 1987, is nestled into the cliff and is almost invisible from the highway below. Its main entry hall showcases two bison lurking nervously (?) at the edge of a man-made precipice, perhaps about to plunge to their deaths...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

May holiday sketches: Waterton Lakes National Park part 3

Two more mountain sketches from the Waterton townsite in the early morning

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May holiday sketches: Waterton Lakes National Park part 2

 Sketches from a 2 hour boat ride on Waterton Lake... on the water we crossed the US border on this cruise--my first time in the US in 12 years and my first experience of Montana. Because the scenery is always moving, it was a good opportunity to do some quick successive doodles, like cartoons, but I struggled with capturing any sense of the expansiveness of the whole experience.

a more detailed sketch a day later, during breakfast

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

...and more motorcycles...

 Three lunch hours' worth of motorcycles from last week...

Monday, June 3, 2013

May holiday sketches: Waterton Lakes National Park part 1

Our recent week-long holiday in May was a bit of  a "Grand Tour" of southern Alberta, beginning in Lethbridge to attend a conference but moving along southwest towards the US border to Waterton Lakes National Park, then back north to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, eastwards to Dinosaur Provincial Park, and finally to Drumheller before returning to Edmonton. I recently learned that of the 16 Canadian sites designated on the UNESCO World Heritage List, there are 5 in Alberta, and we ended up visiting 3 of them for the first time on this journey. 

These are some of the first sketches  at Waterton Lakes National Park... 

 The town site was full of bighorn sheep roaming everywhere. They congregate at the town in May, but disperse into the wild for the rest of the year.