Sketching the World 2

Hong Kong, for me, is an urban sketcher’s treasure trove. It’s intense urban density is squeezed between sea and mountains. Where centuries old traditional chinese shops sit next to 21st century skyscrapers it is a modern city in an ancient culture.

Chun Yeung Street is a daily street market with a tram running down the middle. image

My wife’s ancestral village gate, now surrounded by the city  sketched during an ancestor’s festival.image

Lei Yue Mun, some of the freshest seafood dining in Hong Kong. It is a former fishing village with a view of Hong Kong Island across the harbour.image

A shop on a slope with goods stacked to the ceiling.image


Marching into Spring

by Peter Norman

100Hey sketchers. Here is an idea that may help us get to the spring thaw, an activity to keep us busy until the temperatures warm sufficiently that we can stay alive to complete an outdoor sketchwalk. Marc Taro Holmes, a major figure in the international urban sketcher organization, has issued a repeat of last year’s challenge to sketch 100 people in one week. It was tremendously successful last time and I’m sure it will be again. This year’s dates are March 5 – 9.

While it sounds daunting it need not be. The sketches can be as simple or as detailed as you like. The awful picture at the right shows the first few I attempted for last year’s challenge. I realized quite quickly that the sketches deed to be much simpler if I was ever to complete the task.  It was great fun and great practice. For information and ideas on the challenge check out Marc’s Citizen Sketcher site here. You can follow the challenge as sketchers post their work and even add your own.  Take a look at some of 2017’s results here

I need a locater beacon

by Peter Norman

I’m told that in 2017-18 Calgary has received the most snow ever recorded. That would probably why it has been suggested that we put avalanche warning signs on the snowbanks. This one is in the parking lot behind my office. I approach my vehicle with caution, and very quietly so as not to set off a slide.

Snow lot

This sketch was done in short sessions, ducking out he back door for a few minutes at a time, with frequent dashes to the indoors to thaw my fingers. It takes awhile but it works. Nevertheless, I am looking very forward to spring and more pleasant sketching.

Winter Urban Sketching

Last summer I was able to take advantage of the sunny warm weather and do a series of sketches on the Stephen Avenue mall, some of which are posted below. Last November, I was fortunate enough to be in Hong Kong where the subtropical sun made outdoor daily sketching a pleasure. I shall post and describe those sketches in a another blog.

Back home in Calgary, in the cold and the dark, I wondered if it was possible not to mention practical to do the same in our northern winter. Here is what I found out!

On January 14, the forcast was plus 6 degrees, I grabbed sketchbook, pencils, pens and watercolours and headed to Olympic Plaza. Nothing says urban winter like skating.5C3E28A7-0139-4616-817D-9DD03E7E8505

On January 30, I was less brave and sought out an indoor yet mostly public and still urban in a sense. Taken from the fourth floor food court where coffee is available.image

On February the tenth, my courage returned and I headed over to the old courthouse. At minus four degrees my fingers got cold after 30 minutes and its hard to draw details with gloves on.imageDid the water-colour later, at home!

February 13, Chinook conditions, have sketchbook will travel, Stephen Avenue.image

My conclusion about winter sketching is that it is quite possible, best above plus 5 degrees. Dress warm, have a hot drink and a seat pad or stool because benches and concrete steps can sap your body heat afer a time. Looking forward to meeting everyone on a future sketchcrawl

Sketching the World

Vietnam was a pleasant surprise! I began only 2 years ago to carry my sketchbook with me when I travel so while on a rather intense tour of Vietnam last October I was ready when we had free time to make a visual record of our visit.

The first sketch is of an historic storefront in Hoi An Ancient Town across from which is a comfortable coffee shop serving that delicious thick Vietnamese coffee.image

This one was sketched from another coffee shop ( my favourite condition for sketching ) in Ho Chi Minh City.image

I started this one on the street trying to capture the vendor ladies but finished it later from my photos. The bustle of the street life, the colours and diversity were a challenge to capture.image



Hidden In Plain Sight

I have often found Calgary to be a city which is very underestimated in its beauty. Living at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it’s easy for it to be overshadowed by the majestic natural vistas that abound just an hour away from the bustling city. But if you’re willing to take the time and explore, there are countless beautiful urban scenery and details to be discovered right in our own backyard. I wanted to share some of my favourite sketches of my home from the past few years.

The first is the view from my old desk at work towards the Bow Valley Square buildings, downtown. Each of the four highrises in the building are situated on a corner of one city block, so from my vantage from the 12th floor across the street, it always seemed like looking out through a tunnel.


I confess that this next one was done from a photo, but it was such a chilly day! I caught this shot over lunch in Chinatown, with everyone rushing to get indoors.

Calgary - Chinatown

Winter sketching outdoors is actually enabled every few weeks when the warm chinook winds blow in! This was finished over couple days during a particularly warm January.

Calgary - Downtown

The agony of beginning

by Peter Norman
Welcome to the Calgary Urban Sketchers. Our hope is that this will become a gallery, an information sharing network, a billboard of events and a home for the urban sketchers of the Calgary area. We invite you to reach us through the Contact page and request access to this site. We will respond with everything you need to write your own posts and upload your images. Keep in mind that this is a new venture and that there is a steep learning curve involved. Beginning a new site/ blog on behalf of urban sketchers of Calgary is a daunting task for one who has never seen WordPress, much less used it to construct something legible (I’m initially resigned not to shoot for attractive). The learning curve is littered with landmines, just waiting for me to press an ill-advised key and blast away hours of work.
Nevertheless sketchers, I will WordPress on and soon we will have a useable, postable site for the dedicated sketchers of the Calgary area.
I’m sure that with a lot of time and effort, the work will become easier as the tasks become more familiar and committed to memory. In the meantime, stand by. The Calgary Urban Sketchers platform is almost ready to receive your fabulous artwork. Now, where did I see the instructions on setting up a gallery, hmm…