Vancouver skyline

As winter returns, so does the snow on the nearby mountains. This is the view from Cambie Street near City Hall looking north.

Airport totem

This is a detail of one of the faces on the totem pole located inside Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Entitled "Celebrating Flight," the 12 metre-high (40 ft) carving is the work of celebrated Northwest Coast Native artist Don Yeomans. There are numerous works of art in the airport. This one is located in the link area between the domestic and international terminals.

I had a few minutes to myself at the airport the other day and drew this while parents watched their children playing around the base of the pole.

Waiting on the sidewalk

Two Asian men sitting on the sidewalk at a coffee shop on Robson Street, at the corner with Homer. The men with the briefcase were waiting for someone to arrive. The young woman was with them and paced up and down. They had an extra chair, but she didn't want to sit down. The imagination runs...

For more posts on Robson Street, see this post , of the square, or this one, of the public library.

499 Drake Street, Vancouver

Every time I go by this condo in the Yaletown area, I stop to look at how intricately this narrow entrance was conceived and developed. It's an odd mix of European-inspired design, with lots of stairs and plants and strange gargoyles resting on columns. Known as "Grace," the rest of the building consists of tall residential towers. It's a unique building. Residents use fingerprint scanners to gain access to the main doors and elevators.

More info:

End of the line

This historic streetcar seems to have reached the end of the line. The European-built tram is part of the collection of the Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway, a heritage line that runs between Granville Island and the Olympic Village station. This particular streetcar is sitting near the intersection of Ash Street and West 6th Avenue and looking rather forlorn behind the chain link fence and the grass growing at its base.

The Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway did not operate during the Olympics to make way for the special Bombardier train that ran during the Games. The railway web site says the line is scheduled to reopen this year, but so far the grass keeps growing and nothing else seems to be happening.

Vancouver skyline

A view of downtown, looking westward from Clark and First Ave.

Marriott hotel outside Las Vegas

On the west side of Las Vegas, a short distance from Red Rock Canyon, this hotel is an oasis from the lights and traffic of downtown. We recently stayed for a few days while on a short vacation and thoroughly enjoyed the stay. The Spanish-style architecture and palm trees in this desert climate are perfect.

I sketched this from our balcony on the third floor as we were packing up on our last morning.

Vancouver's shrubbery

Many of Vancouver's sidewalks are green pathways around pruned hedges, trees and all kinds of large shrubs. Sitting in a temperate rain forest zone, the city is a lush, green garden most of the year.

This was drawn at the corner of Cambie and West 29th, just south of Queen Elizabeth Park, looking north towards downtown. I liked the tunnel effect of the shrubs near the bus stop bench.

An interesting totem

This totem stands right next to the pedestrian path that winds under Burrard Bridge overlooking False Creek. The carved figure seems to rise out of the trees and bushes.

The city of Vancouver is built on the land of the Squamish First Nation, descendants of the Coastal Salish Aboriginal peoples.

The Trader

This statue stands outside the Edmonton Public Library. Called "The Trader" it commemorates the pioneering history of the city. In the 1790s, Fort Edmonton was established as one of the northerly trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company.

I enjoyed sketching this on a hot, sunny day.

(More sketches in the blog archive in the right column)

Downtown Edmonton

I visited Edmonton for a media conference. This is a view of part of the downtown area, looking north along 99th Street. The building on the left with the pyramid and the tall tower is Edmonton City Hall. The wavy-shaped building across the street from it is the Art Gallery of Alberta, designed by Randall Stout.

To get a better sense of the Art Gallery, click on this link to see a photo taken from ground level.


A fellow passenger on the plane heading to Edmonton.

Some previous sketches on similar themes:

Dusk at Kitsilano Beach

People enjoy relaxing on this beach during the day and also after the sun goes down. The big old logs provide convenient and natural seats and backrests.

I tried this one with a thick ink pen and marker.

Lady Gaga

Watching CNN's Larry King interview singer Lady Gaga a while ago, I thought I'd try a little sketch of her as she stared into the camera. In the conversation, she talked about how she's a big fan of Michael Jackson's music and also an admirer of Madonna.
On this day, she certainly seemed to borrow aspects of their look.

You can see an excerpt of the interview here:

Lady Gaga interviewed by Larry King

(To see more drawings, check out the blog archive on the right)

Bridge on a cloudy day

This is a view of the Granville Bridge, looking northwest from 7th Avenue. Typically for Vancouver, we've had a lot of overcast days in recent weeks. Sketching outdoors often requires dodging raindrops. The bridge and the traffic, as seen from this side of False Creek, seem to my eyes to get swallowed up by the condominium towers of Yaletown.

For a different perspective (from under the bridge), see this earlier post, found here.

Skateboarder at the corner

Waiting for a friend at the corner of Cambie and Broadway

Palm fronds next to the fabric store

I found this large palm-like plant interesting. I have to say I'm still surprised when I come across palm fronds in the Pacific Northwest. We seem so far from the more tropical climates where they thrive.

This rather healthy plant grows next to the Natural Textile Company. It's on Oak Street in Vancouver, between 7th and 8th Avenue. The simplicity of the store window and the thickness of the leaves just around the corner make an interesting contrast, I think.

Whistler village

This is an attempt to represent some of the scenery visible from the village in Whistler. The area is too beautiful to adequately capture in a sketch. I attended a business conference there and drew this one morning from the sixth floor balcony of the Cascade Lodge. The view is looking to the north-west over the rooftops of several other buildings.

For more information about Whistler, site of several events of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, see here.

Fishing boats in False Creek

A large number of fishing boats moor in a sheltered corner of False Creek, near Vancouver's Granville Market and just east of the Burrard Bridge. While much of the fish is destined for wholesalers, some is also sold to the general public. It's a nice spot to watch boats coming and going.

Rural setting

Here's another view of the landscape just outside Antigonish, Nova Scotia. It's a rural area with a mix of forests and clearings along the northern coast, which lies just south of Prince Edward Island. Homes range from small cabins to large houses with barns.

It seems to me that a lot of the residents are involved in lobster fishing. As you drive in this area you see many fishing boats up on blocks, parked in back yards for the winter, and piles of lobster traps arranged near them. With the return of warmer weather, these folks will be busy.

Birch Trees

I like the white bark on birch trees. Seeing these, it reminded me that for hundreds of years these trees were the main source of building materials for canoes built by the natives of the woodlands and by the French voyageurs. According to the encyclopedia, builders needed between eight and ten trees like these to build a single canoe. The bark is very light and waterproof.

These were just outside our room where we stayed in Nova Scotia.

Pomquet Beach boardwalk

This boardwalk connects Pomquet Beach with the forested land and the road back to town. Marshy land lies between the sand dunes (at our back) and the trees beyond. The beach is a quiet place in March, with ice still clogging the mouth of the St. Lawrence and the waterfront. People enjoy walking their dogs here on brisk, sunny days.

Nova Scotia

We recently visited Antigonish, Nova Scotia, to watch some women's hockey. (My daughter's team was playing in a tournament at St. Francis Xavier University.) While there, I had the opportunity to do a few drawings near the town. This was one of the views in Pomquet, an Acadian area about 10 kilometres from Antigonish. It was founded in the 1770s by a group of five families who made the journey from St. Malo, France.

Nova Scotia has many forests, rolling hills and ocean beaches. The coast near Pomquet faces the Northumberland Strait and lies opposite Prince Edward Island.

Chinatown street lamp

Vancouver's Chinatown is graced by these streetlights, featuring a dragon on top and a decorative element underneath. Every street corner has these. I sketched this one at the intersection of Main Street and East Pender.

Cambie Bridge

Done very quickly on my way home. I was trying to get a sense of the sweep of the Cambie Bridge as it crosses over False Creek. This is looking south, with Vancouver City Hall at the top of the next hill.

A night at the symphony

We went to hear the Vancouver Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre. It was a great experience. Elegant hall, friendly and pleasantly affordable.

The program featured music by Dvorak and Respighi. I had a small pad in my pocket and sketched contentedly while absorbing the sound washing over the audience.

On the street at Robson Square

The rain let up the other day and so a lot of people were taking advantage of the good weather for a stroll downtown.

We are on Robson Street looking north-west toward the Vancouver Art Gallery. I had never read the inscription on the building before. For legibility, I shortened it. The actual inscription reads "Placed Upon The Horizon (Casting Shadows)". Here's the likely explanation in this flickr post.

Chinese garden in winter

One of Vancouver's most interesting sights is the Dr. Sun Yet-Sen garden in Chinatown. Built between 1985 and 1986, it sits within the safe confines of a walled enclosure. To build it, workers used techniques handed down from the days of the Ming Dynasty. Fifty-two workers from China worked alongside Canadians for about a year to finish the complex without the use of nails, screws or glue.

It's a quiet place that invites reflection. The pond is surrounded by many plants.

The garden is named in honour of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, one of the militants who overthrew the Qing government, the last Chinese imperial dynasty. He became one of the pioneers of the Republic of China and was its first provisional president in 1912. His memory is revered by the people of both mainland China and Taiwan, a rather unique feat. He is often referred to as the "Father of the Nation."


At church

Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral, Richards and Dunsmuir Street. Built of sandstone on granite foundations, the cathedral is a Vancouver landmark. Construction was completed in 1900.

More here

Boats in False Creek

This is a view of Vancouver's False Creek looking north from Leg-in-Boot Square, which is a pedestrian space near West Second Avenue. The buildings of Stamps Landing are in the background.

Vancouver Aquarium

We recently spent a few hours at the aquarium. Located in Stanley Park, it's Canada's largest and hosts over 300 species of fish and many types of mammals and reptiles. The dolphins and Beluga whales are among the most popular attractions, but the tanks hold so many varieties of sea life that there is something to pique everyone's interest.