Dec 1, 2014

Not summer yet

The weather lately has been shocking and more rain for this weekend too. People dressing down to battle the elements.

Oct 19, 2014

Rainy Weather Sketching

The local sketchers made the call to sketch inside on this soggy morning so I've been practicing drawing plants today. 
(This is in the Fernery at Pukekura Park.)

Sep 28, 2014

Optimus Prime

I just got back from my original hometown in Canada, visiting family and friends. Lots of nostalgia and memories! We drove by my old school where, back in the 80's, we discussed the details of the latest episode of the Transformers. This time (in 2014), at a hotel across the street from the school, was a real Transformer. We stopped by and checked it out. Sure enough, it was the real deal. It was an Optimus Prime that I overheard was used in the some of the driving shots in the movies. The truck had Kentucky license plates and was in town for a truck show. Lots of people were stopping by and the kids with the ear to ear grins would shout something to their parents like, 'See?! I told you it was an Autobot!' At first I thought that there were security guards walking around the truck but it turns out that they were just cops who also stopped to check it out (and to snap a few selfies).
(I protected the identity of the cop in this picture... not because he was a police officer, but because I didn't want to get a transformers fan in trouble for not working!)

Sep 11, 2014


So I'm in this Irish pub in New Zealand. I've always thought that this place does a pretty good job of being an authentic pub that could be in Britain somewhere. Yes, I know... probably Ireland, but the decor of the inside is for the most part catering to Britain as a whole. When I was there I asked the guy next to me if he was from the UK and he gave me an "Aye'. I asked him, "does this place seem like a pub that could exist on the other side of the world?" He though about it but decided that it didn't. It turns out that even though the look inside isn't bad, it's just the fact that it is in New Zealand that prevents him from accepting the illusion.
When I was having a pint, I kept looking at this poster. It's been a while since the movie came out and it's now regarded as one of the least historically accurate movies out there. Also, it's an Australian actor playing a Scottish character in an American movie on a poster in an Irish pub in New Zealand. Does that make this object tacky and cliche? Now that the Scotland independence vote is about a week away, it's probably more relevant than it's been in years.

Aug 11, 2014

Taranaki sketchcrawl in New Plymouth

A model of a pre-historic shark (Megalodon) is suspended in the air as hungry visitors eat lunch.
One more week until my presentation on urban sketching at Puke Ariki. Since I haven't really been drawing tons lately, here is a post featuring a couple from my archives that didn't make the blogs. (I guess this is a B-Side Sketch post.) These two are of the museum/library that is currently hosting an art show of nearly 100 local artists called 'Homework: Taranaki art Now'. I was lucky enough to be selected and am organising a sketchcrawl on Saturday, the 16th of August at 1.30pm to 3.00pm. It starts with an introduction and slideshow and then after that, everyone goes out drawing. At 3, there will be a display and sketchbook swap so if you're interested, bring your sketchbooks and whatever art medium you prefer. 
The Mobile Library, in the back of Puke Ariki. It's a bus that travels around and stops at strategic places for readers to take out books from a rotating on-board selection. Stops usually included locations out-of-the-way and near retirement homes. A local school lost their library in a fire and that is another temporary stop until a new one is built.

Jun 15, 2014

Devon Street Homework

Back in 2012, I did this drawing from the bar across the street. Over a beer, and more importantly, a big bowl of wedges and sour cream I happily sat here for a while and sketched. In my blog, on the original post, I wrote:
"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."
At the beginning of 2014, I kept my word to myself and digitally painted this one, walking by several times in those weeks to see what colour everything was. I took my time and then entered it into a large art show in this part of New Zealand. With the large number of artist entries, I was honoured that it made the show selection. You can see it on display until August 24 at Puke Ariki. On June 25th (from 6.00 to 7.30pm) there is a meet the artists event and I plan to be there with my original sketch. And a couple months later, on August 16th (1.30 to 3.00pm), I'll be giving a presentation about Urban Sketching and getting everyone to have a go. A mini-sketchcrawl. If you're in New Plymouth that weekend, grab your preferred art supplies and come down to do some drawing!
Original 2012 sketch
Link to the exhibition website

May 18, 2014

Honeyfield Fountain

On the left in this sketch is the Honeyfield Fountain. It's pretty old and is along the Coastal Walkway and a railway. The original idea was that was for people coming into New Plymouth by train. It would light the way at night and was a good idea if you were thirsty. (Soft drinks companies make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen anymore.) The train station would have been behind the the large round tree somewhere. The station and the passenger rail service here are long gone. Now it's just a fountain but it is at a corner where two roads feed cyclists and pedestrians on to the popular sidewalk by the sea. I guess in a way it's still doing it's job of refreshing the travellers. 
Last year a car missed the corner and drove right through it. I actually thought that was it since it was a direct hit. Just the base of it was left where it used to be. After a year with some specialist fix-it guys, it's back and looks maybe better than ever.
(Of a sketching side-note, every time I draw a phoenix palm tree, I tell myself, 'this is the last time you draw one of these!' But... I'm always happy with the result, so I don't know. We'll see. It's like a chain-link fence that way.)

Apr 1, 2014

Lepperton Ride-On Lawnmower Race Day

So we went to a country school gala day to draw. To those not in New Zealand, this is a school fair that is a fundraiser. The classic raffles, food, bouncy castles, and skill games are all there. But Lepperton turned this one up to eleven and had the 2nd annual Ride-On Lawnmower Grand Prix. It really is what you expect and what it sounds like. You can modify your tiny tractor to some degree but the engine has to be legit. Then they set up a race track in the sports field and say goodbye to the lawn.
Maybe it's a little bit bogan (which is a downunder redneck) but it's all good fun and raised thousands of dollars for this small rural school. It was really sunny and hot so I took some video so I could document this but not have to sit in the sun. I went to sit in the shade and did a drawing of the little kids quad bikes. This is where kids paid a few bucks to race around a circle of hay bales and tires on throttled-down mini quad bikes while wearing oversized helmets. Half of them loved it and the other half seemed terrified. They certainly weren't as fast as the real racers on the day but maybe one of these kids will get a chance to compete in the big leagues in a future gala day.

Mar 16, 2014

Tunnel to the Sea

This is a view through a pedestrian underpass connecting the sea to downtown New Plymouth. It's like a tunnel under a series of 3 bridges: a 4-lane road, a train bridge and a pedestrian bridge for a walkway that hugs the coastline. One direction opens to the centre of town and I drew this view first (The bottom sketch). The way the pavement takes a right curve, a lone gate pole, and terraced seating beside a stream that flows under another road makes this a pretty weird drawing. When I finished this one, I took a look and if I had never been there, I'm not sure if I would be able to tell what this was a sketch of. So I didn't blog it right away. A few weeks later, I wondered if drawing another one towards the water would help illustrate this area. It turns out that the seaside one is pretty weird as a drawing too. At high tide the waves were crashing at the mouth of a stream that empties into the salt water.
I invite people who haven't been to New Plymouth to let me know what they think of these two. If you didn't read my description, would these, visually, make any sense at all?

Mar 2, 2014

Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

 People in New Zealand really seem to like American cars. There's a festival called Americarna, that as a finale, has about 500 cars in a night parade and then the next day a show. This year they decided to close down the main shopping street (and some side streets) and just have it in the centre of town. It seemed pretty ambitious but I think it was a good idea. It was very popular. You can see in the photo that these parked classics take of a good number of city blocks. The good weather also helped.

As always, my favourite is the Pontiac Trans-Am (as long as there is a firebird on the hood). When I was a little kid, I had a friend who had a cousin who had an older cousin who had one of these. It was the fastest trip to McDonald's that I ever had. As a result, I can still remember the fear of the acceleration and respect for what this thing can do.

Feb 3, 2014

Super Bowl Monday

I can't believe it. I'm not really a sports guy but I have to say I love the Seahawks. As a true Seattle fan, it's a novelty just to see them IN the playoffs, but to be in the Super Bowl and actually win it is another thing again.
To watch it in New Zealand, Super Bowl Sunday becomes Super Bowl Monday due to the International Date Line. All the 12th Men need to take the day off to watch it live. (Sorry, Work!) Sometimes, New Zealand's national holiday, Waitangi Day, lines up and is on a Monday at the right time. This happened the last time that Seattle was in the Super Bowl and on that day, a New Yorker named Frank was also at the pub that I was at. We watched the Seahawks lose together. Randomly, he just happened to be at the same place as me again today and we caught up. Frank was showing me a few of the bets that he had made just before the game. One of them was a $5 bet for the first points in the game to be made by a safety. Even though it had 50 to 1 odds, it happened 12 seconds into the game and I'm still in disbelief that you can make (and even win) such a thing. Apparently he has even made and won this wager once before too!
(PS the people in this sketch are not Frank and I. I was wearing my Cortez Kennedy 96 jersey!)
Two years ago, I did this sketch while watching it and it had a strange end to the game.

Feb 1, 2014

Devon Street Sidewalk

One last one from January. Warm summers days with bright day sunlight. I usually like to find some place in the shade to draw during these months. Devon Street, with the storefront overhangs and rows of trees is always appealing. As I looked down the sidewalk, I was trying to draw the very bright sunny bits and the oasis-like shady bits. I really wanted this to be a drawing of shade, I guess.

Jan 30, 2014

Tupare Garden Market

New Plymouth organised a garden market set up at Tupare Garden. For those that don't know the place, there's this reasonably large old house set on this manicured hillside. Once a large residence, this park now makes a pretty good location for country market stalls, food and music. From my perch under a tree, I could sketch people from above while listening to the different musicians. There was one who was singing current popular music in a slow and jazzy style. A mellow lounge singer version of Daft Punk's Get Lucky still pops into my head from time to time.

Jan 29, 2014

Power Pole

When I was younger, I thought that in the future... there wouldn't be any telephone/power poles. All wires would be below ground. It's like that in some cities and newer subdivisions but I don't think they will disappear in my lifetime. A good part of the world is pretty wired up and by this I mean lots of slapdash looking jobs. Way too many wires on some. No design. Unplanned. Just keep adding more and more weird crap to them.
This pole that I drew is near where I live. A big cement-y pole with some wood beams cross-strapped here and there. This one also has some heavy-duty lines on the top that go in all directions before being herded down a tube that runs the length of it. It's not going to win any engineering awards. I also like how the streetlight is just bolted to the side of an old piece of wood that is bolted to the centre. 
The newest addition to the Pole of Shame is the bottom bit. Nationwide, New Zealand is currently being hooked up to fibre-optic broadband internet. That bottom pod thing is what that is. With that of course comes another hefty cable. You can follow that one down, and then up, and then to the right. The funny thing is that even though everyone is around digging holes and laying underground cables everywhere, our pole gets one of these babies. Well, you wouldn't want to ruin the current aesthetic that we already have going on here.
Nasty cabling isn't unique to this country. I know some countries load up their points with even way more wires. However, I think that each place does it their own way and that you can tell what part of the world you're in just by the style of crappy wiring that is around you.

Jan 26, 2014

Old and New

An old grave behind the cathedral with a new headstone.  The top of this one has the same sculptural 'cloth over an urn' that was on the stone from a sketch in August. The other one didn't seem that new so maybe this style is one of those 'timeless classics' that families keep choosing throughout the years. 
(This is also a similar view to a sketch from a couple years ago. A hot day and drawing in the shade under a tree. The tree on the right here is the same tree on the left in the red sketch.)

'Red' sketch from 2012

Jan 17, 2014

2014 Te Kupenga Stone Sculpture Symposium

Almost two weeks ago, we were down at the water's edge to draw the 2014 Te Kupenga Stone Sculpture Symposium. This basically is stone carvers from around the world getting together in one public place here in New Plymouth to make a bunch of work in front of an audience. I drew Nigel Scalon working away on his first cuts. I saw him again yesterday working like crazy to finish up. He had one day left before all work was stopped, tools removed and the public is allowed to freely walk around to see (and touch) the different pieces. After another week, there is an art auction at the site.

This event happens every two years. Last year, I ended up colouring my sketch and the two blue ones are from even a little bit earlier when we went to go draw at their club working site. (Click the pics to enlarge.)