Dec 11, 2012

Fitzroy Shops

This week the sketching was in the Fitzroy area of New Plymouth. I have to admit that I don't go here very often and when I do it's to go to the beach, which is really great. Although the beach is nice, I always felt that Fitzroy might not always be everyone's destination. It doesn't seem like a place that people go to but a place that people move through.
On one of the last Christmas shopping weekends... at lunch time... and near an intersection, I watched time-poor and desperate drivers become careless and precarious. Are these Christmas shoppers or is it always like this?

Nov 12, 2012

Bruce's Dairy

Bruce's Dairy - A corner store that is on a corner and beside a roundabout. This seems like a pretty good location to me. It had a steady flow of traffic but I didn't draw any cars today since there weren't any that stayed long enough.
While I drew this building, I witnessed the death of a car. It looked like it had overheated. I could hear the mobile serviceman informing the owners that it would take more to fix the car than they had originally paid for it. I watched them all leave soon after. The owners came back with a rental car and loaded all of their belongings into it. After they drove away, a tilt-bed truck later came for the body. It reminded me of the time that my car died. It was in the middle of nowhere and that was reasonably difficult to sort out. Now this car, coming to a stop here (or just to the left of my sketch actually) is in town and right across the street from a place that sells pretty much everything.

Nov 8, 2012

Devon Street in New Plymouth

Here is some more downtown sketching in New Plymouth done about two weeks apart. Devon Street would be the main retail shopping street and this intersection at Currie Street is, in a way, the centre of town. This divides Devon Street East and Devon Street West and the address numbering increases in both directions, starting from this corner. The centre of town!
This next one took about a week of lunches to finish. A nice shady spot on Devon Street West about three or four buildings down the street from the other drawing's point of view. You might be able to figure out which building this is in the other drawing too. (Hint: The tallest one.)

Oct 23, 2012

Pukekura Railway

The New Plymouth Society of Model & Experimental Engineers offered rides on miniature coal-powered steam engines for a dollar. 'Pukekura Railway' (as it is named) is a small double loop track in central New Plymouth. From a distance, these tiny trains seem like toys but they are actually pretty cool (and reasonably powerful) little engines.

Oct 19, 2012

Devon Street - October 2012

Just an older building on the main shopping street here in New Plymouth. I have a feeling that I may end up colouring this one since I took my time on this one and that the building in the centre is a bright red colour.

Oct 13, 2012

New Zealand Villas

New Zealand has quite a few wooden houses that are nearly 100 years old. The 'villa', as they are called, is a single-floor bungalow, made of local timber, and have dashes of ornamental details. The house that I live in is about 90 years old and has decorative plaster ceilings (another common villa characteristic) in nearly every room. Every now and then one of them disappears and is replaced by the new and modern.

Oct 7, 2012

24-hour Booksale

The annual 24-hour charity booksale. Everyone here is browsing though a stadium full of donated books. This is a sketch of the final hour where either the procrastinators or the penny-pinchers are here to get a deal. In the final minutes, the speaker kept announcing better and better deals as I was drawing in an attempt to move the large hoard of books.
(I've always been curious to know what type of person comes out at, say, 3.00am to look at books, but I'll never know - I'm not that type of person.)

Sep 27, 2012

Morley and St Aubyn Streets

This is a pretty cool older building on the corner of Morley and St Aubyn Streets is now home to a florist. I liked the surplus of signs in the one area (including four 'Stop's).

Sep 9, 2012

At the Govett-Brewster

Whenever I sketch inside the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, my drawings look a bit strange. Images of a surreal dream. Looking over a half-wall to a lower floor was a rotating mobile sculpture made of steel, lit brightly from one side and casting a shadow on a grey wall. In front of that was a video projected onto a hanging panel. I could imagine that if I didn't describe the scene a bit more you would be wondering what you are looking at.
The next two were from a different show at the same gallery, about one year earlier. One was an overhead view of some visitors watching a group of musicians interpret the different pieces. The other is another strange drawing of the result.

Aug 27, 2012

Peggy Gordons

This weekend, with the Taranaki Sketchers, the location was Peggy Gordon's Irish Pub. This isn't the first time sketching here. I've been here before. Strangely enough, I've never drawn the outside of the place.

Aug 21, 2012


I was sitting on the steps of St Andrew's Church in New Plymouth on the corner of Courtenay and Liardet Streets. I was watching the receding busy one-way traffic, the fire fighters in the hall across the street and paying attention to the details of the traffic lights as I sketched. The 'squeegee bandits' were out on the corner as well. These are a group of young people who are making a bit of cash by washing windows at red lights. There is a bit of controversy about this right now. It's in the newspaper occasionally and they may or may not be allowed to continue due to complaints. From what I was observing, they are generally polite with everyone and have no problem if you don't want a wash. Ironically, the only public menace on that corner was the van of teenagers driving around the block over and over again, yelling at them to 'get a life'.

Aug 5, 2012

The Arizona

The Arizona. A local greasy food seller open Wednesdays to Saturdays. Hours vary but are from 3pm to 4-5am. This implies that it is catering to a certain demographic of people that like to come into town in the evenings. The sign says, "... since 1965" so there certainly has been a market for this kind of place for some time now.

Aug 3, 2012


I like alleys (that aren't too scary). They make an urban environment more pedestrian and the finding of a secret shortcut satisfies the explorer in me.

Jul 29, 2012

Rainy Inside Days

There is this Phoenix Palm tree in front of my house. I have this love/hate thing for it. I love it that it seems tropical (since I'm from Canada originally) but I've had to go to the doctor's two times so far because of it. This type of tree has really sharp spikes that become infected easily and can easily go through leather gloves.

Jul 8, 2012


TATATM - Taranaki Aviation Transport And Technology Museum
A pretty cool, yet underfunded, museum on the edge of New Plymouth, New Zealand. If you like old things, this has a surprisingly large amount of stuff to browse though. The items are sorted into different zones and all the museum volunteers there are likely experts in at least one area. Lots of things to draw - I did a couple:

A Harvard (T-6 Texan) - I think it crashed locally and they are restoring it. The propellor might look a bit small in this drawing since they don't have a right sized one. (It's also wood! An actual one would be made of metal.) Still, I think it looks better than a display with NO propellor. The rest of it seems in pretty good condition.

This is a general view of a part of the 'Communications' section. Again, so much to see and draw. This is quite a good place if you're into ancient or retro. I suspect that a large percentage of the items on display are restored to a functional state by the volunteers too.

Jul 5, 2012

Old and New Buildings

I don't really have any type of story to go along with these ones - Just a digitally coloured version of an old sketch. I liked the mix of different ages of buildings.

Jun 17, 2012

Tikorangi roadsigns

At one of those small junction towns -  a school, church and maybe a handful of houses.
(Digitally coloured version done at home the next day - Original sketch below.)

Jun 6, 2012

Tale of Two Cities

I wasn't planning on posting these two sketches. They are a bit rushed and not really my best. After finishing my second one, I noticed that they say something about city shopping areas.
They are both drawn while looking out the window of coffee shops. The top one is done downtown on the main shopping street and the second one, below, is done in a coffee shop that is in a large-format retail park. Without really getting in to it, I just have to say that I really prefer the main street shopping to the way that commercial areas are trending to be.

May 27, 2012

Irish Pub

My local sketching group had chosen an older and central part of the city as this week's drawing location. (For those that don't know, we pick a place, meet, split up, draw, arrange to meet again for a drink and to look at each other's sketchbooks.) It was a cold and damp weekend. I think everyone else was drawing outside! I was pretty sure that I didn't want to do this as well. I could just as happily sit down and have a coffee somewhere and draw at the same time. I've done some of my better drawings in cafes.
Stumbling around looking for a spot to draw, I felt compelled to enter an Irish-style pub. An 'Irish' pub can appear anywhere at anytime if someone thinks that the business will work. All you need is to sell some Kilkenny and Guiness and you're away. But I've been in this pub before and it seems more authentic than some. By authentic, I mean that by walking into this place you get the impression that this could really be a piece of Ireland transported here. I don't know how old this establishment is but it's not new, which I think helps the illusion. It's not shabby, but it looks used, like this is a place where people meet. There are also odd bits of collected curios resting on ledges that surround appropriately framed pictures - the type that would take some time to collect.
As I sat there, I noticed how the different international beers (that are on tap) have their own shaped dispensing spouts. I have to admit that I ordered a beer from the tap that I thought looked the best. So there must be something to that. So I sat there - sipping and drawing. Much warmer than the rest of the group, surely!

Apr 30, 2012


The Waitara Railway Preservation Society collects, fixes and runs old trains on an unused train line in Taranaki, New Zealand. We were invited out to sketch some of the cool old stuff like parts, engines and cars in various states of restoration. (Train above is a NZR TR from 1957.)

Apr 8, 2012

Headstones in the cemetery

These two sketches were done some time ago - one original and one digitally coloured. (I think it looks more like a graveyard in black and white.)
While I was there I noticed a headstone for the Viking Lander out of the corner of my eye. (The 1970's Mars Mission?) Surely, not! At the very least, wasn't it on another planet? (I explain it better on my other blog.)

Mar 11, 2012

At the edge of urban

My local sketching group decided to meet at the edge of the city where suburbia blends into rural. It was a great day and a quiet and pleasant place to sketch.
My parents have a old picture of a very tiny me in their backyard and on the other side of the fence is a cow. I've never remembered the farm behind us. I've always known it to be a sea of suburban houses that has always been there. As I was sketching this scene, I wondered how many more years that it would be until this area is subdivided and paved.
(At edge of urban - Part 2)

Feb 19, 2012

Taranaki Cathedral

This week, I just got out of the summer sun and drew a picture in the shade of some large trees. This is the back of the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary. Although it's over 150 years old, it's only become a cathedral about two years ago. With the old British stone church architecture, it seems to me to be a bit out of place in New Zealand. Still, it was pleasant enough to sit under a tree and draw it as if I was drawing somewhere else.

Feb 13, 2012

St Aubyn Chambers building

I wouldn't say that this is an ordinary apartment building since it has this rounded shape (on the corner of St Aubyn Street and Queen Streets, New Plymouth). That being said, there is this plaque on the wall of it stating that it is historic. The inscription also mentions that the bottom floor, where people live now, originally was a service station! (as in a gas/petrol station!) The top floors were as they were but maybe offices or similar and motorists would drive in underneath. Weird!
I've asked some people who have lived their lives here if this is true, and apparently, it is. Taking this into consideration, I'd have to say that these days, it's looking pretty normal - a shadow of it's former self - but I still like it.

Feb 8, 2012

Super Bowl Monday

I don't always watch the Super Bowl. Actually almost never. Since I'm living in New Zealand it doesn't really get hyped down here as much as in North America. It's shown on TV and it's possible to watch it live on the right channel but the game is always on a Sunday! New Zealand is already busy doing Monday when it's Sunday in the States so I also am at work when it's on too.
This year, Super Bowl Sunday was on the same Monday down here that just happened to be a New Zealand national holiday called Waitangi Day. For those that don't know it, it's basically the anniversary of a signing of a piece of paper between western colonists and the local indigenous people. Some modern Maoris (the people living in New Zealand first) don't think that they really got a fair deal when they signed it (and are possibly right). As a result, there can be mixed feelings about it but one thing that everyone loves is the day off. I know... I'll watch the Super Bowl!
I decided to bike into town to watch it at a local sports bar that was advertising that they were going to show it. On my way there, I was going to cut through the town square to save time (and pedal-power). I was stopped by a quite large gathering of people in a civic Waitangi Day celebration. I forgot about that. As I got off my bike and waded through the groups on my way to the other side, I noticed my lack of personal culture. On New Zealand's national day, everyone was watching a group from Samoa singing and dancing. And then there's me, (actually a Canadian) going to see an American tradition.
Walking up the street on the other side of the crowd, I could see that most pubs weren't showing the game. I knew that there was one place that advertised that they were putting it on their 'big screen'. Even they also showed golf and cricket on the other TV monitors though. As an infrequent sports fan of all types, I appreciated the high percentage of Americans here available to talk football and point out things that I would have missed. I made most of this sketch early in the game since it ended about 4 hours later. I made another illustration later that is a bit more finished that describes the strange end of the game. You can see it on my other blog.

Feb 5, 2012

Red-Hot Drawing - Part 2

So after that "Red Hot Week" of sunny weather (see my previous post), this week has been rain-tastic! As a result, I've been doing a bit of inside-type of artwork. Here is one that is a colourized version of the red street scene from last week.

Jan 26, 2012

Red-Hot Drawing

Since the Sketchcrawl, we've had some great dry sketching weather. Still going strong with red ink right now, here is a scene of sunny Gill Street in New Plymouth. Looking towards the building on Liardet Street and across from Centre City (shopping mall).
This took about 3 lunches to do this one and gave me a hint of sunburn. More red.

Jan 21, 2012

Four Square

The local corner store - These days, most urban places have a local convenience store. Author William Gibson said that a convenience store could be the kind of place that can sell you everything that you might ever need while most others carry things you can't imagine that you would actually want.
In New Zealand, this kind of store is called a 'dairy'. There is a chain of stores down under called Four Square that are like a large dairy or a small supermarket. These are my personal favourite - local, casual and retro-looking Mr Four Square.

Jan 8, 2012

Te Kupenga International Symposium 2012

Te Kupenga International Stone Sculpture Symposium 2012.
Every two years in New Plymouth the local stone sculpture society holds a large stone carving event with local and international artists. I was on the coastal walkway next to the sea when I drew this. In the background is the downtown shopping mall. Nice weather and with lots of people still on holiday vacation made this year's symposium quite popular with the public.
Drawn in ballpoint pen that stopped working several times because the dust that accumulated on the page. Coloured at home from memory using Photoshop. My colours are maybe more vibrant than the real thing on the day. No wind and LOTS of dust gave everything a bleached look colour-wise and my lungs are probably still a bit gritty. I've been up to where the locals usually do their work before. Here's a link to that post.